Monday, August 3, 2009

Knowing gay people, and the Catholic effect

A few months ago, Gallup released a poll showing that favorability towards gay rights is strikingly affected by knowing someone gay. Not surprisingly, conservatives are much less likely than liberals to report that they know anyone gay. Of course, we know they do....they just don't know it yet.

As Harvey Milk used to tell us, we have to come out, and come out, and come out again to effect the change we need.

Meanwhile, we have discussed several times a recent study which has come out on how view on gay rights vary from state to state (here and here). This shows a lot of difference across the states in support for gay rights. The paper, Upcoming in Gay Rights in the States: Public Opinion and Policy Responsiveness Jeffrey R. Lax and Justin H. Phillips Columbia Univ. American Political Science Review, Vol. 103 (3), 2009 is now getting press.

The statistic getting the most attention? As reported in USA today,
Want to predict which state might move next to legalize same-sex marriage? You might count Catholics. The higher their percentage of the population, the more likely the state is to... support gay rights. ....

"Six of the eight states where 50 percent or more of the public supports gay marriage are the states with the highest proportion of Catholics, ranging from Rhode Island at 46 percent to New York and California at 37 percent."
Could it be yet another example where the Bishops are out of step with the people of the church? Gee, what do you think?

Perhap the most important point in the study is this:
“The most important predictor of whether a state has a particular policy protecting the rights of gays and lesbians is public opinion,” said Phillips. “Public support for a policy matters far more than how liberal the voters or government officials are in general. For same-sex marriage, majority support seems sufficient for it to be adopted.”

And building majority support comes from, you guessed it, knowing gay people. Which is why it tracks with age: younger people are more likely to have friends who are gay.

But here's the scary quote:
Interest groups and voters opposed to marriage equality and other non-discrimination policies have influence far beyond their relative share of a state’s population. They can block equality measures even when there is a significant majority favoring them.

So the Pro-H8 people can actually be a tyranny of the minority, and strip rights away that a majority approves, with their lies and their hate.

Contemplate that for a while.

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