Saturday, December 6, 2008

Newsweek: A Gay Marriage Surge???

I was reading an online article for Newsweek titled, A Gay Marriage Surge. It discussed the slow-but-sure acceptance by the American public of same-gender relationships. The report notes what I have long known: the younger you are, the more likely you are to support not just full & equal rights of GLBTQI people, but full marriage equality: nearly 5 out of every 10 of those aged 34 & younger support same-sex marriage, as compared to 4 in 10 for those aged 35 to 64, and 2 in 10 for the 65+ group. Women also tended to be more supportive of gay marriage (44%) than did men (34%).

Apparently, also the way you view marriage affects your support of equal marriage rights: two-thirds of those who see marriage as legal matter support gay marriage, whereas, two-thirds of those who see it as a religious matter oppose gay marriage.

To me, the Newsweek poll shows the American public’s schizophrenia where equal marriage rights are concerned, and some people's hangup on the word "marriage". While only 39% of those polled approve of actual gay marriage, more than half (55%) are OK with same-sex couples forming “civil unions”--the separate-but-unequal version of what heterosexuals have always had the luxury of taking for granted. These numbers both represent gains since a similar poll was taken in 2004 (when 33% approved equal marriage rights & 40% approved of “civil unions”).

When asked about specific rights (like inheritance rights, health insurance & other employee benefits, Social Security benefits, hospital visitation, adoption rights & serving openly in the US military), relatively big majorities of those polled said they approved of such rights for GLBTQI people (the lowest approval was for gay adoption rights with 53% approving; the highest was for hospital visitation rights at 86%).

The poll also showed that support for the so-called “Federal Marriage Amendment” (FMA) has begun to wane with most respondents now against such an amendment (52%). In 2004, a plurality (47%) favored the FMA. As an aside, voters in Colorado’s 4th district mercifully kicked the hateful Marilyn Musgrave, the principal sponsor of the FMA in the U.S. House, to the curb in the Obama landslide this year. In a year when Prop 8 in California & Amendment 2 in Florida were approved by voters, this sliver of good news was particularly satisfying.

One more nugget of information that proves what I’ve always believed: If you personally know a GLBTQI person, you’re more likely to support equal marriage rights for committed same-sex couples. The report shows that, while in 1994, only a little more than half those polled knew a gay person; in 2008, that proportion increased to more than three-quarters!

That just proves to me the importance of smashing down the closets that hold our lives & our hearts captive. I have long believed that the best thing any of us who have had to spend even a moment of our lives in hiding can do to help not just ourselves but the cause of GLBTQI equality is to start living our lives out loud, because if they know you, it’s harder for them to hate you…at least that’s been my experience.

Newsweek also includes a nice slideshow of gay rights fights around the world, A Changing Tide.

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