Seeing is Believing

Friday, April 10, 2009


Two states have legalized same-sex marriage in the past two weeks, but when it comes to public opinion, supporters of gay marriage are still a minority. That minority is on an upward trajectory though and Scott Barclay, political scientist at the State University of New York at Albany, explains why: newspapers.

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Comments [12]

Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Of course, if one side starts shooting again, as opposed to this random spate of slaughter, more like the abortion debate, or back when it was the State at Kent State, the other side will quiet it's activism real quick. Yet, their point is already made, really, and change happens ever so slowly. Emphasize and exacerbate Nixon's paranoia, emphasize birth control and debunk chastity pledges.

Since my first radio program, I have tried to steer the debate toward discussing the prevention of unplanned pregnacies, promoting adoption and mentoring. Don't shoot me!

Apr. 17 2009 03:29 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Oh, and anonymous, I long ago premised that supporters not appeal to Obama to intercede as they demanded of Clinton on gays in the military. We didn't need that level of divisiveness added to the Administration's problems. Let the courts and legislatures and the citizens who vote in referendas feel the heat from both sides, instead.

Apr. 17 2009 03:01 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Hey, I'm sure a substantial number of American men are uncomfortable being alone in a public restroom with a black man or a Senator - at least one - but that doesn't make it right to have separate facilities.

Apr. 17 2009 02:54 AM
Jack from Chicago

Bob, you appear to be a skilled practioner of the fallacy of favorable enumeration.

Americans' view of this issue is clear and stable. Indeed, majorities of Americans have consistently opposed legalizing same-sex marriage – from 53% opposed in a summer 2003 survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, to 55% opposed in an August 2007 Pew survey. The 2007 poll found 36% of the public in favor of allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed, about the same as in 2003. "

Apr. 16 2009 11:27 PM

While I enjoyed this peice, I cannot agree with the assessment that newspapers had this great effect on gay marriage.

We know that newspapers cater to a much older crowd, we know that they are dying on the vine....and suddenly they have all this influence?

While there are man papers that endorsed gay marriage....the overwhelming opinion of the public is that they are still against "gay marriage".

What is changing public opinion is the younger generation who dont seem to have a problem with it...and as people get to know more and more gay people in their's then that people realize that gays are not the stereotype...they are really not that different from you and me...wanting the same things.

Apr. 16 2009 01:48 PM
Looks Like Rush

Public opinion influenced by...newspapers?

RAOFL, NOT worried.

Apr. 14 2009 01:36 PM
Cassi Brunson from Pueblo, CO

Iowa and Vermont have legalized same-sex marriage with in the last two weeks. Media has played a major role in this issue from the begining. Although the public opinion is the minority about this situation media has helped in many ways. To begin, a form of media, newspapers, was one of the main causes for the upward trend in the issue of same-sex marriage. Studies done by scientist Barclay, suggest that the more newspapers discussed the issue of same-sex marriage, the more people would really have to sit down and think about the situation. This then resulted in the increase of people who were initally against the situation, to be more open to it.
Media is a powerful source to use with issues such as same-sex marriage. Other issues would be gun control or even the 2008 elections.
In my opinion, I think it is a good thing that the media continues to talk about this situation and force people to think about as well. With so many people against same-sex marriage, it would be a "goal" to get the public more involved and to change their beliefs.

Apr. 14 2009 12:45 AM
Ray Y. from Ohio

WWSHD? very funny!

"anonymous": The same sex marriage ban affects many people very seriously. I would argue that it is the opponents of equal rights who are doing the "pushing". The courts are seeing that it is a human rights issue.

I don't think it is a "litmus test"--people on the coasts are of course more liberal and supportive of equal rights. That their constituencies prefer candidates that espouse equal rights is not really that surprising.

Apr. 13 2009 04:25 PM

I wish we could move beyond the issue of gay marriage to address actual issues that affect us all much more seriously.
In the 16 years that the radical Christian right -and let's be fair - radical gay activists have polarized the country with the term "gay marriage", we've managed to ignore the fact that the middle class is vanishing and the gap between rich and poor in this country has grown to frightening degree.
It's not just gay marriage, but abortion, school prayer, all the hot button social issues that have nothing to do with the rising income gap. So-called activists and the media wanted us to discuss ANYTHING but the rising income gap.
This has been great for their fundraising programs on both sides. But destructive for everyone else, gay and straight.
Among liberals, support for gay marriage (as opposed to asking why the state is even involved in marriage instead of restricting itself to civil unions for gay and straight couples) is seen as a litmus test/loyalty oath, and in certain coastal communities you can be blackballed for questioning gay marriage at all.
Call me Cassandra, but I believe that continuing to push for gay marriage, with the culture wars heating up again, is short-sighted, to say the least.
I continue to support civil unions for all couples, gay and straight. I continue to support the state getting out of the marriage business. Otherwise, I reserve the right to dismiss gay marriage as a frivolous issue when we are fighting two wars and have just eclipsed the $700 bank bailout with PPIP.
Gay marriage, whether it's discussed by the Christian right or fundraisers for the Human Rights Campaign, is, in many ways, a fake issue. And liberals are waking up to it, whether they feel "allowed" to say it or not.

Apr. 12 2009 01:55 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Ah, so fine a point on the matter!

Perhaps Hannity is so well-versed, but I doubt the general public with it's somewhat loser understanding or lesser acceptance of their religion's texts as "revealed truth" is. For example, the birthrate belies acceptance of prohibitions on birth control.

To paraphrase something from Peter Sagal on "Wait! Wait!" today, 'Imagine its 1989 and someone tells you, "In 20 years Iowa will accept gay marriage" and you say, incredulously, "Yeah, right after we elect a black President!"'

On a pragmatic basis, as opposed to a Scriptual one, it isn't such a large conflation. (Oh, why did Brooke have to throw in that verb a few weeks ago? Now everyone is using it.)

Apr. 12 2009 03:28 AM
David Rowe from Lawrenceville, NJ

At the end of the interview, it was interesting that Scott Barclay did not say that Rove was wrong about liberal elites pushed America in this direction, but rather that folks had less of a fixed-idea about same sex marriage, and thinks that the public will continue to migrate on this - along with Sean Hannity. His connection is to interracial marriage.

I've often heard this analogy to African American civil rights and interracial marriage comparison and it is indeed interesting.

For religious types like Hannity, there are significant discontinuites with the two issues: Unlike the biblical commands – in both testaments – against same-sex behavior, Scripture does not ground race in pre-Fall-into-sin social structures. In other words, the creation story tells us that the biblical writers viewed male-female unions, unlike slavery or racial differences, as normative and transcultural. To conflate civil rights with homosexuality, biblically, is apples and oranges.

Also on this subject, the Christian tradition has argued well (at least among themselves) that the Scripture shows considerable discomfort with the institution of slavery. Yet there is not the slightest indication anywhere in the canon that same-sex intercourse is anything other than an act of disobedience against God's created order, and to be avoided by the people of God, Jew and Gentile believer alike, in all circumstances. So don't expect the exact same movement by Sean Hannity and those like him!

Apr. 11 2009 02:37 PM
Mariam Touba from New York City

It is helpful to have Scott Barclay confirm my unscientific impression of the way major newspapers have unabashedly editorialized in favor of gay marriage for years. I do have to wonder how elevated they make this conversation: The New York Times, for instance, takes to suggesting that opponents are motivated by "bigotry.” Have these papers, in the interest of public inquiry and debate, allowed for any dissenting views in their columns? Has the New York Times, the employers of numerous otherwise conservative commentators on their Op-Ed pages, EVER allowed someone opposed to the so-called gay agenda access to their printed columns? This is a genuine question, not a rhetorical one.

Apr. 11 2009 11:14 AM

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