Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Rights and Reason: Majority Favors Law Against Gay Marriage

This from Will Lester of the AP:

More than half of Americans favor a law barring gay marriage and specifying wedlock be between a man and a woman, an Associated Press poll found.

The survey also found presidential candidates could face a backlash if they support gay marriage or civil unions, which provide gay couples the legal rights and benefits of marriage.

The poll, conducted for the AP by ICR-International Communications Research of Media, Pa., found 52 percent favor a law banning gay marriages, while 41 percent oppose it.

About four in 10 — 41 percent — support allowing civil unions, roughly the same level found in an AP poll three years ago. But 53 percent now say they oppose civil unions, up from 46 percent in the earlier survey.

The increase came largely from people who previously were undecided, the polls suggested.

Close to half those surveyed said they would be less likely to support a presidential candidate who backs civil unions (44 percent) or gay marriage (49 percent), while only around 10 percent said they would be more likely.

"I don't think it's a great idea, the whole idea of marriage is bringing up children," said Jim Martin, a 64-year-old engineer from Alexandria, Va. "If somebody was promoting it, I would vote against them."
Well, Mr. Martin from Alexandria is wrong. Marriage is whatever the parties involved choose to make it, and Mr. Martin's opinion on marriage is patently irrelevant. Not finding the raw poll data on the web, I can't comment on the question, but I'm intrigued as to exactly what was asked. I doubt it was "do adults have a right to set the terms of their relationships without restraint by others."

But whatever question was asked, it is disturbing that the rights of gays to the advantages of legal recognition of their relationships is denied them, simply because they are a pariah group in the eyes of many. The principle of individual rights has yet to animate this debate, and I find that appaling.

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