Tag Archives: polls

Marriage Equality Poised for Historic Gains in November

15 Sep

This November voters in four states are poised to make historic votes on marriage equality. Maine, Maryland and Washington have voter initiatives to create full marriage equality; Minnesota faces the latest in a decade-long string of state constitutional amendments to limit marriage to heterosexuals. What makes the 2012 elections especially interesting is the history of marriage equality votes. No state so far has adopted marriage equality through direct voter approval, depending instead on legislatures and courts. More significantly, all 28 states that have presented voters with constitutional amendments to ban equality have succeeded. It seems very likely that this November will see a major shift in these trends.

MAINE: In 2009, the Maine legislature approved marriage equality, replacing the existing limited civil union law. Anti-gay forces pushed the law to the ballot and defeated it 53-to-47. Since then, Mainers United for Marriage has worked diligently to change hearts and minds through a massive public education campaign. Question One on the November ballot will give voters a chance to re-establish full marriage equality in the state. The most recent poll shows the Question passing 57-to-35.

MARYLAND: Maryland also has limited civil union rights; it is also one of only three states that recognizes same sex marriages from other jurisdictions. Last March after strong lobbying from Marylanders for Marriage Equality and other groups, the legislature approved a marriage equality bill which was signed by the Governor. It was promptly referred to the ballot by anti-gay organizations as Question 6. Equality is polling strong in Maryland as well, at 57-to-37; it received a big boost — especially among the state’s African American population — when President Obama expressed his support in May.

WASHINGTON: Earlier this year Governor Christine Gregoire pushed the legislature to pass a marriage equality bill, which it did. As with Maryland, the bill was promptly referred to the voters as Referendum 74. Washington United for Marriage has mounted a strong public awareness campaign that also seems to be paying off. A poll released this week shows equality leading 56-to-33.

MINNESOTA: Unlike previous congressional election years, there is only one state with a marriage ban on the ballot this year. Minnesota is one of the few states with no law regarding same sex marriage at all. The Republican-led majority in the legislature passed an amendment in 2011 which requires approval by the voters. Minnesotans United for All Families is working hard to make their state the first to reject such an amendment. The vote on this measure is tighter, but the ban seems to be failing 43-to-49 in the latest polls.

True equality can only happen when the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is overturned and every citizen of every state has the right to marry the person they love. With every poll putting equality outside the margin of error and with most surviving even if all the undecideds swing negative, there is reason for optimism. Victory in just one state would be revolutionary; providing and protecting equality in all four would signal a sea change in American attitudes.

Real Leadership Pays Real Dividends

30 May

It has been nearly a month since President Obama announced his support for marriage equality but the ripples are still being felt. Opposition to civil equality for LGBT Americans has hit an all-time low, with 53% supporting marriage and only 39% opposing it. Even with the extraordinary exposure that this supposedly controversial topic has received, people are moving in the direction of fairness.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the African American community, as shown in recent polls. Nationally, their support of equality jumped from 41% to 59%. In Maryland, where voters will be asked to weigh in on a marriage referendum in November, numbers look good. This is largely because of a complete swing in African American support, going from 36% to 55% in the past month. Even in North Carolina, where marriage equality was just defeated, black opposition dropped eleven points since the President’s announcement.

The recent burst of support from African American leaders and celebrities on the heels of the President clearly has had an beneficial impact. The NAACP, Julian Bond, Colin Powell, Jay-Z, and Chris Rock all announced their support. This visible shift in the black community has made it easier for voters to be comfortable with expressing support. Melissa Michelson, a political science professor at Menlo College in California, says blacks are more likely to confront the issue simply because of the esteem they hold for Obama.

It says, “If Obama can be for gay marriage, I can be for it too.” It’s now a safer position to vocalize. We would hypothesize that it would increase support because now the environment has changed.

That’s what leadership can do. As this article points out, Obama has in fact been more supportive of the LGBT community than any prior President. As frustrating as his occasional reticence can be, his actions speak loudly. When his words join those actions, the nation follows.

Election 2012: Compare the Candidates with Your Own Positions

3 Jan

Let the voter beware!

As the nation prepares to have the Republican slate of Presidential candidates become even more confusing with today’s Iowa Caucuses, TSM has found a useful tool for understanding where all the hopefuls stand on eleven key issues. This very useful matching tool presents a simple question (as it might be framed in a debate) and then gives a number of possible answers. After selecting the best match for each topic, the user is presented with a top three match. The candidates included are the seven active Republicans (Bachmann, Gingrich, Huntsman, Paul, Perry, Romney, Santorum) and President Obama. This provides one with the opportunity not just to see where the Republicans stand, but to see just how different our President is than those who would compete with him.

As with any tool, this one has its flaws, but they are minor given how clearly it illustrates the intentions of the candidates. TSM’s biggest objection is the heavy focus on things that have cropped up in recent budget battles (taxes, Medicare, Social Security, Defense) at the expense of any mention of job creation and the limited presentation of civil rights (marriage equality, but nothing on reproductive choice (talk about misogyny) or freedom of speech and assembly). Based on the way the tool works, this is probably a result of needing clear statements from all the candidates on any issue presented, but it still leaves some big questions about all eight included hopefuls. The other challenge  also arises from the way the answers are provided. In at least three cases, we were unable to pick a single answer that matched our preferred position and had to select “None of the above” (For example, the question on immigration I checked “none of the above” because all of the options were blatantly racist, as none of the options regarding marriage equality were acceptable). This is because the options given are real answers from the candidates. If your answer isn’t there, none of them would be a perfect match. It is easy, however, to highlight each candidate’s stand on each issue for more information.

Come November, we’ll have to choose between President Obama and one of the sailors on the Republican ship of fools. There will be a lot of noise and confusion between now and then. Let’s be careful to remember where the candidates really stand on the important issues.

Click here to take the quiz yourself.

New Poll: More Americans Understand Equality

18 Mar

Normal Married Couple

In one more piece of evidence that evolution is real, another poll released this week indicates a majority of Americans support full marriage equality. (53%, up from 36% five years ago!) In the wake of another recent poll showing equality tied with oppression and the strong margin by which Americans oppose defending DOMA in the courts, this is a truly heartening sign of progress.

Despite what some antiquated moralists would have us believe, marriage equality is a matter of civil rights and civil law. Marriage is a union between two loving people, creating a new family. As long as the state puts itself in the business of licensing those unions, the law must provide them equally or establish a set of second-class citizens by law. No-one gets to decide what rights another person should have based on their personal biases.

The news today is wonderful. As Salon.com points out, however, the margin is slim, and the opponents of equality are well organized. Those that support equality should take heart that the tide of public opinion is turning but must also act on this knowledge. Don’t just support marriage equality with pollsters: prove your support with your vote.

In the not-too-distant future, people will wonder what all the fuss was about. We’re living on the edge of real change. We must work together to ensure that the light of reason shown by this new poll is not obscured by any further clouds of distortion and bias.

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