All News Love and Sexuality

AP Poll Asked the Wrong Questions

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published in the National Catholic Register‘s blog. It is reprinted here with permission.

By Bill May

A poll released by Associated Press on July 18 showed the lowest support for redefining marriage since they started their current polling methodology in 2013. The poll was conducted during the second week in July, less than three weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark decision that redefined marriage across the country.

Only 42 percent either supported or leaned toward making it legal for same-sex couples to marry compared to 48 percent in April. The poll also indicated that people were split on whether or not the Court should have redefined marriage in the first place, 39 percent approving and 41 percent disapproving.

While some may be encouraged by what seems to be a drop in support for “same-sex marriage,” the change is not significant given variations over time and the margin of error of the poll. However, there are reasons for hope for those working to restore recognition of the reality of marriage in the law. Questions asked in polls can be prejudicial and are often mislead by seeking opinions on half-truths.

The question asked of respondents was, “Do you favor, oppose, or neither favor nor oppose allowing same-sex couples to be legally married in your state?” Yes, the Supreme Court did make it legal for same-sex couples to marry, an idea that seems harmless and charitable on the surface to many. The real issue, and therefore the real question that needs to be asked, pertains to what the Court had to do to permit same-sex couples to marry.

In reality, they deleted from the law the only institution that unites kids with their moms and dads. That is the consequence of changing marriage between “a man and a woman” in the law to marriage between “two people.” Sure, men and women can still marry, but fewer and fewer young people are marrying, partly because marriage has now seen as an adult centered institution separated from children as sociologists tell us. This has led to increased children in poverty and the consequences of increased fatherlessness, including increased delinquency and school dropout rates, higher incarceration rates as adults, and greater likelihood of living in poverty as adults.

Without marriage as the civil institution that unites children with their moms and dads, it is not legal to claim that there is any unique value for men and women to marry before having children, because that reflects a discriminatory bias against same-sex couples, violating the principle of “marriage equality.”

When the referendum on redefining marriage was put to the voters in Washington state in 2012, the original ballot language recognized that marriage was being redefined, but the language was challenged in court by gay rights advocates claiming that it would prejudice voters against the measure. In other words, they proposed hiding the fact that marriage was being redefined in order to fool the voters and defeat the referendum. Incredibly, they were able to get a judge to agree with them, leading to a change in ballot language, thereby misleading people into thinking the question was merely about whether or not same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

What would the response have been if the question asked by A.P. was, “Do you favor or oppose eliminating the only institution that unites children with their moms and dads in order to allow same-sex couples to be legally married in your state?”