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Marriage equality and rapid societal change March 6, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Marriage equality, US Politics.

Fascinating point made by John Dickerson on the Slate.com political gabfest this last week or so on the issue of same-sex marriage in the US. David Plotz had asked was there no leading Republican Presidential candidate in favour of same, and the answer was a vehement no, and Emily Bazelon’s response was to the point, ‘what are you talking about, were you expecting instant change from five minutes ago?’ and as Dickerson said, ‘the Democratic Presidential candidate wasn’t in favour of same-sex marriage until ten minutes ago!’ (they jest in terms of minutes, mostly).

But Dickerson continued that:

‘The CBS poll in the Fall of 2012 24% of Republican voters supported same-sex marriage, now in the Winter of (2013) 2014 40% do.

You never see that sort of movement particularly in the constituency that is so against it – to use a rough stereotype… that’s a lot of movement…that’s a lot there already’.

And Dickerson responded to Plotz’s question as to why no Republican Presidential candidate is in the field in favour of marriage equality by suggesting that that constituency is there to grab. Interesting that, but more so the sheer pace of change.

I wonder why that is? Is it that the issue is, for most – and I accept people take a sincere viewpoint to the contrary – actually once it’s worked through nowhere near as problematic as might be thought? After all, if one accepts the concept of civil unions then there’s little to stop movement to full marriage equality. Even so, there’s such rapid movement on this it suggests that at some level for all the talk of people feeling ‘threatened’ in actual fact the idea has been much better integrated into general attitudes than is sometimes thought.


1. lcox - March 6, 2014

There is some suggestion (http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2014/02/26/is-america-on-verge-of-secular-tipping-point/) that in some cases there may be tipping points for such things. I would take the overall argument with a bit of a pinch of salt but there may well be cases where large numbers of people simply haven’t bothered to think about something – or, particularly with religion, where significant numbers of people in fact take a position because they think it is expected of them to do so (and hence are particularly liable to stop taking that position once they think it places them in a minority / makes them look foolish).

If true, this may work better for some things than others – contraception, say, as against abortion. Given that churches and right-wing groups actively choose which of these issues to try and turn into Issues in the public sphere, the implication would be that they are making a strategic mistake by trying to take a stand on gay marriage. Of course the data may itself be dodgy in both cases – as with voting for the Front National, people may say things to pollsters which reflect not what they actually think but what they feel is expected of them, in which case the whole thing is a hall of mirrors (the more so if politicians then take up positions based on such polls).


2. Jim Monaghan - March 6, 2014

My son’s partner comes form deep in Ohio. He tells me that community there is either or both a church or school. You are are not in , perhaps both, you sort of don’t exist. Social help is basically voluntary and run through the above. Imagine Ireland if McQuaid had his way and everything was run through the churches (as are schools and most hospitals. Funnily Iran is a bit like t hat


3. Polling on same-sex marriage | The Cedar Lounge Revolution - April 7, 2014

[…] relative speed that public opinion has in general shifted in sentiment towards support of same-sex marriage has been seen also in polling in the US and the UK. I’m not sure there’s an absolute contradiction in relation to the figures in terms of […]


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