Thursday, December 11, 2008

Proposition Hate. (part 2)

This will be an ongoing series of posts, some short and some long, and this one gets to report on an encouraging new poll published in Newsweek this week. Among the findings which support my belief that opposition to gay marriage is in serious decline and on the road to its ultimate extinction:

"Despite the recently approved state measures, public opinion nationally has shifted against a federal ban on same-sex marriage. In 2004, people were evenly divided on the question, with 47 percent favoring a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage and 45 percent opposing one. In the latest poll, however, 52 percent oppose a ban and only 43 percent favor one."

"Fifty-five percent of respondents favored legally sanctioned unions or partnerships, while only 39 percent supported marriage rights. Both figures are notably higher than in 2004, when 40 percent backed the former and 33 percent approved of the latter."

"When it comes to according legal rights in specific areas to gays, the public is even more supportive. Seventy-four percent back inheritance rights for gay domestic partners (compared to 60 percent in 2004), 73 percent approve of extending health insurance and other employee benefits to them (compared to 60 percent in 2004), 67 percent favor granting them Social Security benefits (compared to 55 percent in 2004) and 86 percent support hospital visitation rights (a question that wasn't asked four years ago)."

"In other areas, too, respondents appeared increasingly tolerant. Fifty-three percent favor gay adoption rights (8 points more than in 2004), and 66 percent believe gays should be able to serve openly in the military (6 points more than in 2004)."

The two biggest reasons for this ongoing shift seem to be generational differences and, quite simply, that more people report knowing someone who's gay.

"Essentially, the younger you are, the more likely you are to support same-sex marriage. About half of those aged 18 to 34 back marriage rights, compared to roughly four in 10 among those aged 35 to 64 and only about two in 10 among those 65 and older."

"In 1994, a NEWSWEEK Poll found that only 53 percent of those questioned knew a gay or lesbian person, that figure today is 78 percent. Drilling down a bit more, 38 percent of adults work with someone gay, 33 percent have a gay family member and 66 percent have a gay friend or acquaintance."

As more people come of maturity in a society where homosexuality is not as taboo (or illegal!) as it was even 20 years ago, the more homosexuality will be viewed through the lens of normality, creating a lasting legacy of equality. As with racism, it's a lot harder to be racist if you were born into and raised in a world where blacks were afforded equal rights. It wasn't until a 1989 episode of thirtysomething did we first see on network television two men in the same bed...and even that "risque" scene, which was basically a morning-after conversation, sparked huge protests. Now, 19 years later, such scenes (and much more) are commonplace and, more importantly, not viewed as being all that different from similar scenes featuring heterosexual couples.

To be crass, and I love to be crass, in twenty years a good percentage of the people opposed to gay marriage will be dead. I don't wish to hasten their demise, and I'd rather see their attitudes change organically, but hey, old people who vote are probably the biggest obstacle to gay marriage today. Time is on our side, not theirs.


Blogger lmha said...

Good post, couldn't agree more.

December 11, 2008 at 11:23 AM  

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