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Organized anti-marriage crowd: 'Look at the poll - but only the part that we can exploit!'

by Jeremy Hooper

So far this morning, we've seen both Focus on the Family and the Alliance Defense Fund tout a recent Washington Post poll as being reason why D.C. residents should get to vote on marriage equality. ADF:

Alliance Defense Fund and Stand4MarriageDC attorneys appealed a court order Monday that denied their motion to keep a D.C. marriage redefinition law from going into effect on the projected date of March 3. The attorneys represent Bishop Harry Jackson and other registered voters who are seeking to give the 59 percent of voters in the district who say they want to vote on the D.C. Council’s new law that changes the legal definition of marriage the opportunity to do so. [Source]


Last year, the District Council approved a same-sex marriage ordinance. It goes into effect next month.

A Jan. 28 Washington Post poll showed that 59 percent of adult D.C. residents believe voters should be allowed to vote on marriage.

But here's the thing: Yes, in that 1/28 WaPo poll, 59% of polled District residents did suggest that the issue should be put on a ballot (with 4% having no opinion) However -- and this is a HUGE however -- almost the exact same number (56%) said that they feel gay and lesbian couples should be able to marry (with 9% having no opinion there). So it's not like D.C. residents are clamoring to roll back the city council's decision. On the contrary, the polls suggest that a majority are happy with it!

The reason, we suspect, that the "should vote" number is higher is because of lack of information. Not everyone fully understands the mechanics of all this, and "the people should vote" does sound, anecdotally, like a nice idea. Some folks surely misunderstood the poll question and thought that a vote was needed in order to grant marriage. Again: Not all citizens are well versed in the goings-on of local government, and it's easy to think that voting is fair. Not every person has been forced to consider the implications of voting on civil rights. Plus, of course, the anti-gay folks at groups like FOF and ADF have spent considerable time and energy muddying the issue, acting as if the majority always has a right to vote on any and everything. This disinformation campaign has surely convinced a few more to go the "should vote" route, regardless of where they stand on marriage.

The bottom line: It's crazy disingenuous for our organized opposition to turn to this one poll and suggest that it speaks to their cause, when it in fact does the opposite! True to "pro-family" form, they are taking advantage of complexity, both in terms of this polling data set and the D.C. public's knowledge of our representative democracy/constitutional republic. Once again they are muddying where they can and should be elucidating, for the purposes of marring where people can and should be marrying.

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Your thoughts

So any readers here planning a March DC wedding?

Posted by: LOrion | Feb 24, 2010 3:45:56 PM

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