February 12, 2010
Posted by: Chris
More very encouraging results from a new ABC News/Washington Post poll released today showing the public is evenly divided on whether gay couples should be able to marry, with 47% in favor and 50% opposed.
That statistic is remarkable most for how much it contrasts with the nation's elected officials, from the president on down, who overwhelmingly oppose marriage equality. I would venture to say that less than half the percentage of Democratic politicians back gay marriage as do their partisan supporters.
Also striking is the degree to which the South stands as a bulwark against our basic equality. Without my home region living up to its long and ugly history of civil rights intransigence, support for gay marriage would be overwhelming -- not that overwhelming support on a gay rights issue necessarily translates into political action by Democrats and Republican moderates.
Fortunately, the dustbin destination of hetero-only marriage laws is every bit as certain as it was for Jim Crow segregation. Two-thirds of adults under 30 support marriage for gays and -- for the first time ever -- a majority "strongly favor" our full equality.
Let's be clear about what this means: it should be clearer than ever that our civil rights movement is not over whether we win but how soon; it is inconceivable that Congress would pass, or the states would adopt, a federal constitutional amendment banning gays from marrying when two-thirds of young people are with us, and half the population overall.
So enough with the pussyfooting in Congress and the White House. Barney Frank needs to sign on today as a co-sponsor of DOMA repeal (the Respect for Marriage Act), and we need clear backing from the House and Senate leadership, as well as the White House.
The new ABC News/WaPo poll also shows support for civil unions reaching historic new levels, a full two-thirds of the public now believes we are at least entitled to all the same legal rights as heterosexual couples. In addition to DOMA repeal, which would still leave gays in most states with no federal recognition of their relationships, the Congress needs to take up federal civil unions legislation, ensuring equal recognition without regard to bias at the state level.
Finally, the Post offered some detail on the marriage numbers, which suggest that on marriage as on Don't Ask Don't Tell, a small percentage is more supportive of our civil rights when we are described as "gay and lesbian" as opposed to "homosexual." Not coincidentally, gays have for decades now preferred the former over the latter designation.
If you haven't already, I'd also encourage you to sign the Freedom to Marry Pledge announced this week by Evan Wolfson's FreedomToMarry.org and its new online coordinator Michael Crawford, who did a great job spearheading the marriage movement here in Washington, D.C.
Posted by: Chris
THREE UPDATES: at the end of the post.
Nate Silver notes that opposition among Republicans to repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell has stiffened, even as overall public opinion remains strongly in favor of President Obama's pledge made in the State of the Union Address. His graph shows the percentage of Republicans only in favor of allowing gays to serve openly in the military.
Silver attributes most of the difference in the results to question wording and polling methodology, and certainly on those points we have to defer to his judgment.
But I also bet that at least some portion of the decrease in GOP support for repealing DADT springs from nothing other than President Obama's public pledge to do away with the policy. For way too many Republicans, backing by Obama is all they need to know to join his opposition.
UPDATE: A CBS News/New York Times survey confirms broad support for repealing DADT. The margin favoring allowing gays to serve in the military is 70% to 19%. Among that 70%, the percentage backing service by openly gay soldiers and sailors stands at 58% to 9%.
UPDATE: Politico's Ben Smith points out that even within the CBS News/New York Times, there is substantial disparity, based in large part on whether the DADT question was asked concerning "homosexuals" or "gay men and lesbians." Not surprisingly, "gay men and lesbians" polls better, adding to the total that "strongly favor" allowing gays to serve openly:
UPDATE: A Washington Post/ABC News poll shows even stronger support -- 75% of Americans -- for repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell. Not surprisingly, men, the elderly and conservatives are less supportive, as is knowing someone who is gay:
The percentage of Americans who say they support gays openly serving is … far above the 44 percent who said so in May 1993. In the new poll, majorities across party lines favor such a policy, with support among Democrats (82 percent) and independents (77 percent) higher than among Republicans (64 percent).
The poll also reveals several sharp demographic divides. Men (65 percent) and seniors (69 percent) are far less likely than are women (84 percent) and young adults (81 percent under age 30) to say that gays should be allowed to serve if they have disclosed their sexual orientation. Knowing a gay person makes a big difference: Among those who say they have a gay friend or family member, 81 percent support allowing gay people to serve openly, compared with 66 percent who say they do not know someone who is gay.
March 16, 2008
Posted by: Chris
Former Blade editor Lisa Keen has an interesting analysis this week that shows Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are closely splitting the vote in districts with large gay populations:
Counting almost 34,000 votes in 39 heavily gay precincts across eight cities, Clinton has won 52 percent of the vote, compared to Barack Obama’s 48 percent. The neighborhood precincts surveyed included those in Boston, Dallas, Key West, Los Angeles County, Northampton, Mass., Provincetown, San Francisco and South Beach.
Vote counts from those precincts in Houston considered to have large LGBT populations were not yet available.
Obama was the preferred candidate in the heavily gay neighborhoods of Boston, Northampton, San Francisco and Chicago; Clinton won in Dallas, Key West, Los Angeles County, Provincetown, South Beach and New York (the latter based on exit polling).
The numbers offer a striking contrast to those gay exit polls from California and New York purporting to show Clinton with the overwhelming advantage among lesbian, gay and bisexual voters: 63-29 in California and 59-36 in New York. I've already offered some reasons for why these exit polls provide a distorted view of LGB support, but another is relevant when they are compared to the voting in gay districts.
Exit polls -- like the Knowledge Networks online survey that surfaced during the transgender debate over the Employment Non-Discrimination Act -- are general public surveys that include anyone who self-identifies as lesbian, gay or bisexual. These surveys include large numbers of people -- mostly bisexuals -- who don't necessarily self-identify as a part of the "LGBT community" and are not active participants of it.
Putting aside the more incendiary question of which is the more valuable measure, it's clear given the various disparities that they measure two very different things.
(Table of gay voting districts via Dallas Voice)
February 15, 2008
Posted by: Chris
The polls are all over the place but they do suggest that Barack Obama is already succeeding in closing the gap on Hillary Clinton in the crucial battleground of Texas, as he has done in so many other states.
Among the surveys:
- Rasmussen: Clinton 53, Obama 38
- Insider Advantage: Clinton 48, Obama 41
- Texas Credit Union: Clinton 49, Obama 41
- American Research Group: Obama 48, Clinton 42
Andrew Sullivan notes another surprising data point from the ARG poll: Clinton only leads Obama by 2 percentage points among Latinos.
Considering the unique Texas primary-caucus delegate system is weighted in favor of African American districts -- because they voted in greater numbers than Latino districts in the last congressional elections -- Obama's position looks very strong.
January 22, 2008
Posted by: Chris
A new survey highlights just how skewed the evangelical view of gays is from that of other Americans, including even Christians who are "born again" but not fundamentalists -- believing the Bible is the inerrant word of God.
Asked which of a list of social issues were "major problems" for the country, those named most often by Americans generally were poverty (78%), the personal debt of individual Americans (78%), and HIV/AIDS (76%). Four other issues were named by about half the general population: illegal immigration (60%), global warming (57%), abortion (50%), and the content of television and movies (45%).
Only about one-third of Americans generally listed us gays as a "major problem," whether defined as "the political activities of homosexual activists" (35%) or "homosexual lifestyles" (35%).
Evangelicals, on the other hand, listed abortion (94%) most often as a "major problem" for America, followed by personal debt (81%), the content of television and movies (79%), and the gays -- activists (75%), and our "lifestyles" (75%). Doesn't that just about sum up the fundamentalist Christian worldview: an overarching concern that someone, somewhere is having too much fun?
The survey did reach a few additional interesting conclusions:
- party affiliation matters, even among evangelicals, confirming that there are very religious folk who nonetheless separate out their own theological beliefs from politics;
- the same holds true for born again Republicans, who are significantly more concerned than born again Democrats about homosexual activists (61% vs. 38%), and homosexual lifestyles (58% vs. 43%)
There's a caveat in how the Barna Group, an organization affiliated with evangelical causes, identified "born again Christians" and "evangelical Christians." Rather than allowing them to self-identify, respondents were asked if they agreed with a series of theological beliefs and the Barna Group decided if they qualified (how perfectly fundamendalist of them!).
Regardless, I can't help but ask which list looks more like the one by Jesus of the Gospels? The evangelical obsession with abortion, sex on TV and gays, or the average Americans' concerns about poverty, personal indebtedness and HIV/AIDS?
November 29, 2007
Posted by: Chris
A new survey released today claims that almost two-thirds of likely GLB voters in the Democratic presidential primary support frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama trails with 22 percent and John Edwards with 7 percent. I've posted a much more thorough analysis of the poll on Gay News Watch, but here are a few nuggets:
- Obama and Edwards register about the same support among gays in the poll as they do with Democrats generally, meaning Hillary's higher GLB numbers represent fewer undecideds among gay voters, who the survey found are much more politically involved.
- Even as the only candidate backing gay marriage, Dennis Kucinich managed just 5 percent support in the survey.
- Rudy Giuliani was the top candidate for half of GLB Republicans in the poll, with John McCain managing just 23 percent, Mitt Romney at 11 percent and Fred Thompson at 10 percent. Not surprising results considering Giuliani is the frontrunner generally and his gay rights record and positions are markedly better than the others.
Even more interesting than the results of the survey, however, are questions about its methodology. The poll was conducted by academics at Hunter College in New York, but for their sample of voters they relied upon a pool provided by Knowledge Networks, the same group that provided the sample for the Human Rights Campaign's controversial survey showing some 70 percent support for Barney Frank's gay-only, compromise ENDA.
HRC did a poor job of providing information about that earlier survey, and there are some hints about why in this new one -- which was paid for by an HRC grant but conducted by the Hunter College professionals. First and foremost is the demographic information on the Knowledge Networks sample group. According to Hunter College, the GLB respondents were 51 to 49 percent female to male, and 49 percent bisexual.
I noted in my post about the earlier HRC poll that a 50-50 male-female breakdown about GLB Americans probably grossly overstates the percentage of GLB Americans who are lesbians. Every indicator I've ever seen, from readership of GLBT publications to participation in GLBT events, has shown 60 to 70 percent (or more) of "us" are men.
Then there is the 49 percent of the Knowledge Networks pool that is bisexual. Again that is grossly overstated, from information I've seen over the years about the GLBT demographic breakdown.
Andrew Sullivan sees something sinister in those statistics:
So the poll is designed to reflect a pre-ordained political "community", rigged for PC purposes to inflate the numbers of bisexuals and lesbians. No big surprise which Democratic candidate won in a landslide: the candidate HRC has been supporting from the start.
I wouldn't go so far, at least not without additional evidence. But I do see how Knowledge Networks could back themselves into those numbers. Knowledge Networks "recruits its nationally representative sample of respondents by telephone and administers surveys to them via the Internet." So if they simply cull from the general pool of respondents those who self-identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual, then the more fluid nature of female sexuality might result in high numbers of both females and bisexuals.
The question, then, is whether we consider female bisexuals who may well be heterosexually married and not self-identify as part of our happy "LGBT community" to nonetheless "count" as GLB voters, etc. It's a question that brings to mind the earlier debate about transgender issues, and whether heterosexual cross-dressers are part of the "LGBT community."
My own take is that the information is useful, whether or not we consider it an indication of how "the gay community" feels about an issue, whether it's ENDA or the presidential race. The most important thing is to clearly identify just who the "we" we're talking about is, so that their opinions can be put into proper perspective.
If my suspicions about the Knowledge Networks system are correct -- and hopefully the LGBT press will delve further into the issue, both as a political story and just to get a better sense of who it is we are -- then we still don't have a good idea about the presidential proclivities of "the GLBT community," at least in the way that most of us mean when we use that (loaded) term.
As a side note, the Blade has published an interesting report
airing criticism about the methodology of HRC's survey on ENDA, though
it focuses more on the wording of the questions than on the
demographics. Curiously, when the Hunter College folks asked the
Knowledge Networks gay pool about ENDA, they got contrary results. Only
37 percent agreed that, "It was right to remove the protections for
transgender people from this bill in order for it to pass this year,"
while 61 percent said, "It was wrong to remove the protections for
transgendered people even if this makes it easier for the bill to pass
Of course that wording is just as treacherous, focused on "removing protections" for trans workers rather than ensuring protections for GLB workers, and grossly understating the political reality by saying that removing gender identity makes it "easier."
The survey also reminded us how woefully uninformed most GLB folks are, since fully 40 percent thought GLB workers were already protected from discrimination under federal law.
January 23, 2007
Posted by: Chris
Readers of this blog are certainly more adventurous in their choice of overseas destinations that
the readers of Out Traveler magazine. The latter named London their top non-U.S. gay hotspot in the magazine's 2006 survey, topping Paris, the previous year's winner.
Our own little survey yielded a tie at the No. 1 spot. After staying in the lead the entire time, Rio De Janeiro was finally caught in the poll's closing hours by Barcelona. I've already expounded at length about Rio's charms, and it has the extra draw of tres-gay New Years and Carnaval celebrations. Barcelona is another fine choice — a beautiful city with a thriving gay scene, its own gay beach (Sitges, just a 30-minute train trip away) and even the freedom to marry!
Another city with a celebrated gay Mardi Gras, Sydney, came in close behind our two leaders, tied with another Far East destination, Bangkok. In addition to Mardi Gras, Sydney hosts the annual Sleaze Ball and a huge Gay Pride celebration. Sydney is also a former Gay Games host city.
Montreal, which won the Gay Games bid for 2006 but then spurned the invitation to host a competitive, and financially unsuccessful, OutGames, followed next, along with Berlin, well known as one of the world's top leather destinations.
Trailing in the next pack were Amsterdam, which also hosted a Gay Games and draws its fair share of "sleaze/sex tourists." Amsterdam has long fancied itself the "gay capital of the world," and the bashing my boyfriend and I took on Queen's Day '05 didn't help that reputation. To my mind, however, the citizens and political leaders there responded with overwhelming kindness and support, in ways that wouldn't be matched by any other city on this list, including Rio.
At the tail end of the pack were the two winners of Out Traveler's polls, Paris and London, as well as Cape Town, which from all I hear is an amazing gay tourist destination, but outside the geographic and pocketbook range of many.
January 16, 2007
Posted by: Chris
Everyone knows the gays have a reputation for fabulous taste in all sorts of things, including travel destinations. As with fashion, urban neighborhoods and any given aesthetic trend, as go the gays, so goes everyone — eventually.
But apparently those of you (er, us) who subscribe to Out Traveler magazine didn't get the memo. In the magazine's 2006 "Readers' Choice" awards, the selections weren't fashion forward or even mildly creative. They were, in fact, the same choices the average joe schmo non-homo might make:
Favorite U.S. destination: New York City
Favorite foreign destination: London
Favorite island: Hawaiian Islands
Favorite gay resort: Key West
Remember, these aren't your run-of-the-mill 'mos making these choices. They're gays interested enough in travel to read a gay travel magazine chock full of new and different vacation ideas, along with the old stand-bys. So c'mon people, we're better than this!
Key West as "Favorite Gay Resort"? Maybe 10 years ago (or longer). It retains a modicum of charm amidst a sea of aging hetero cruise passengers, decked out in fanny packs and matching T-shirts. These days, Key West doesn't even qualify as the best (or most popular) gay resort in South Florida. That prize goes to trés-gay Fort Lauderdale.
The Hawaiian Islands? What is this — a prize package on "The Newlywed Game"? Yes, they're gorgeous (OK, I've actually never been.) But at least go with Ibiza or some place with a little spice. Mykonos, anyone? Lesbos? (The island, not the pejorative.)
New York as favorite U.S. destination? Of course the city is amazing, but can't we be a tad more adventurous, Out Traveler readers? Venture a bit more afield? At least you didn't pick San Francisco. (Oh wait a minute, you did — San Francisco Gay Pride as favorite gay event. At least Gay Days in Orlando came in second, though even it has seen hipper days.)
Then there's London as favorite foreign destination. Now don't get me wrong; I love London. It's the most truly international city I've ever visited. Give me London over New York any ole day. But again, can we be a bit more daring? Next to Tijuana and Toronto, London is probably the most commonly visited foreign city by Americans. Aren't we gays supposed to lead the crowd, not follow?
So we come to a new survey question (since Madonna eviscerated all competition — including U.K. fave Kylie Minogue — for greatest gay icon of all time. Besides, I knew you guys picked well when this weekend I saw, by complete coincidence, a VH-1 special dubbed into Portuguese that named Madonna the "No. 1 gay music icon." Note to Jimbo: Kylie didn't even make their Top 20.)
What ought to be the favorite non-U.S. gay travel destination? I've come up with 10 options, including London and staying with popular places including some that are a bit more off the beaten trail. Fully half of them are in Europe, and yes, I included my current address. I offer no apologies for that bit of complete objectivity.
So cast your vote! (Doing so won't take you off the site or stick you with spam, I promise.) And if you don't like my choices, don't hesitate to add a comment with alternatives.
January 10, 2007
Posted by: Chris
Three days into the voting, Madonna and Cher have commanding leads in our little survey question about who's the greatest gay icon of all time. As I write this post, Madonna has more than a third of all votes (35.7%) and Cher is not far behind with about a quarter of the tally (24.8%). Judy, Liza and Barbra trail distantly, and the rest don't even register.
I'm not at all surprised that Kylie Minogue has almost no backing here — though her fans can certainly be vocal. Our poll confirms that the U.K. survey that named the Aussie pop star the greatest ever was by no means representative of friends of Dorothy stateside. Yeah she's beautiful and been through rough times (cancer) — two of our gay icon criteria. But, sorry, she comes up short on talent; she's had only a small handful of hits stateside and there's not much behind the pretty looks — at least not for me.
Madonna and Cher, on the other hand, are obvious choices. Madonna has maintained peak popularity for almost a quarter century. And in the 40 years Cher has spent in showbiz, she's had so many comebacks I've lost count. Both have reinvented themselves to keep up with the times and to do their part to push the envelope. I would even agree that Madge gets the upper hand, if for no other reason than that she's shown more substance in her art.
I'll leave the voting open for a few more days to see if Cher can make up the distance, or Kylie can come back from her embarrassing early showing.