Newsweek Poll Shows Increased Tolerance for Gay Rights

I have little doubt that sooner or later same-sex marriage will be legal in most of the country–and western civilization will not collapse as a result. A Newsweek poll shows that support is increasing, even if lagging behind support for civil unions:

Americans continue to find civil unions for gays and lesbians more palatable than full-fledged marriage. Fifty-five percent of respondents favored legally sanctioned unions or partnerships, while only 39 percent supported marriage rights. Both figures are notably higher than in 2004, when 40 percent backed the former and 33 percent approved of the latter. When it comes to according legal rights in specific areas to gays, the public is even more supportive. Seventy-four percent back inheritance rights for gay domestic partners (compared to 60 percent in 2004), 73 percent approve of extending health insurance and other employee benefits to them (compared to 60 percent in 2004), 67 percent favor granting them Social Security benefits (compared to 55 percent in 2004) and 86 percent support hospital visitation rights (a question that wasn’t asked four years ago). In other areas, too, respondents appeared increasingly tolerant. Fifty-three percent favor gay adoption rights (8 points more than in 2004), and 66 percent believe gays should be able to serve openly in the military (6 points more than in 2004).

But is the glass 86 percent full or 10 percent empty? While 86 percent do support hospital visitation rights, ten percent are opposed. As Steve Benen writes:

I have to wonder just how hateful and callous a person would have to be to hold this position. It’s one thing far-right folks to hesitate when it comes to gay people getting married, but if they’re not even comfortable letting gay people visit their partners in the hospital, their hatred has blinded them to any sense of morality.

Fortunately such hatred is expressed by a declining minority.

Update: Here is an example of how some on the right see the issue from American Power:

The most striking finding, however, is that a majority of 62 percent of Americans say religious beliefs are central to defining marriage, with a plurality of 41 percent of Americans seeing marriage as exclusively a religious matter.

This is why radical leftists attack Americans who are religious traditionalists as “Christianists.”

For gay rights activists to achieve their goal of full marriage equality under the law, they must marginalize Americans of faith who reject a redefinition of culture away from traditional or scriptural foundations.

Marginalizing such people does sound like a worthy goal as long as they believe they have the right to impose their views upon others. This is not out of any opposition to people practicing Christianity or any other religion. The point is that I don’t care if people are straight or gay. I don’t care if people are Christian, members of any other religion, or no have religion at all. What I do care about is when any of these groups believes they have the right to impose their views upon others.

The founding fathers wisely decided to form a secular government characterized by separation of church and state. Any individual has the right to live their life based upon the rules of a religion but not the right to force others to live under their religious laws. Under our system of government religious rules should not be the sole justification for civil law. That is a tradition worth respecting. Even ignoring the fact that the meaning of scriptural foundations is open to a wide variety of interpretations, scriptural foundations are not a justification for continuing discrimination.

Our traditional foundations sometimes must also change over time. Our country has a strong tradition of discrimination against other groups besides homosexuals. We broke with those traditions, and it is long past time to break with the tradition of discrimination based upon sexual preference.

Don’t Panic About Palin 2012–Yet

The winner of the 2008 election hasn’t even taken office yet but CNN is already polling for 2012. The results:

  1. Mike Huckabee – 34%
  2. Sarah Palin – 32%
  3. Mitt Romney – 28%
  4. Newt Gingrich – 27%
  5. Rudy Giuliani – 23%
  6. Bobby Jindal – 19%
  7. Charlie Christ – 7%

Note even all conservatives are thrilled with this. Hot Air writes, “Tough choice. Do we go with the blue-collar populist social con who’s soft on immigration? Or do we go with Huckabee?”

Fortunately a poll this far before 2012 is primarily a test of name recognition and has little predictive value with regards to who will actually win. After the 2000 election Joe Lieberman led many polls for Democratic nominee in 2004 due to having been on the ticket, but he went nowhere once people actually started campaigning and voting. Having been on the ticket in 2004 didn’t help either John Kerry or John Edwards compete in 2008.

What is distressing is that sixty-six percent support the top two candidates who are from the religious right. Huckabee, who does have increased name recognition after running in 2008 even edges out Palin (but within the margin of error). The rest aren’t exactly social liberals either (considering the compromises Giuliani made in running this year). As I discussed yesterday, the religious right is currently the base of the GOP. A candidate they support will receive a boost in support, but also alienate far too many people for such a candidate to be likely to be viable in a national election.