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Posts Tagged ‘commitment’

Marriage for Gay Couples: A Snapshot of Public Opinion Research

May 11th, 2012

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Given the President’s announcement of his support for marriage this week, folks are understandably searching for data on how his position will play with voters in the middle. Our four years of in-depth research into that question provides crucial insights—here’s a quick look at some key numbers from our July 2011 poll.

1. A strong majority of Americans say they will accept marriage for gay couples.

When asked how they would feel if gay couples could marry, 32% said they would be glad, 23% said they would not like it but it would be acceptable to them, and 37% said it would not be acceptable to them (another 9% said they didn’t know). So approximately a third of the country will likely be energized by President Obama’s announcement, and another third will accept it. Only about a third will find it unacceptable—and our guess is that likely very few (if any) of those folks were planning to vote for President Obama before his interview.

2. The “rights” argument may fall flat with the middle, but “commitment” can woo them.

Only a bare majority agreed that “marriage is a basic human right that should not be denied to gay people” (52%) and only slightly more thought that “not allowing gay people to marry is discrimination.” But 60% of respondents in our poll agreed that allowing gay couples to marry would “help committed couples take care of each other and their families.” That included 63% of Independents and 78% of those who rated themselves 5s on a 1-10 comfort scale with marriage. And 61% of all respondents thought the following statement described the issue of marriage for gay couples very well or pretty well: “I believe gay couples want to marry for similar reasons as anyone—to make a public promise of love and commitment.”

A solid 61% described this statement as convincing, including 37% who said it was very convincing:

Some people say that gay and lesbian couples who are truly committed to each other want similar things as the rest of us—to build a life together based on love and commitment, staying together through thick and thin. The Golden Rule is one of the most important values we teach our children—to treat others as we want to be treated. So if a couple is willing to stand up in front of family and friends and make a lifetime promise to each other, it’s not for us to judge, or to deny them that opportunity.

Those who thought that statement was convincing included 64% of Indepen­dents, 79% of those who rated themselves a 5 on the comfort scale, and 80% of those who said marriage would be acceptable but they wouldn’t like it (the grudging acceptors).

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Will the middle say ‘I do’ to gay marriage?

May 11th, 2012

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This piece was originally posted on Politico.

President Barack Obama’s announcement Wednesday in support of marriage for gay couples answered one key question: Where does he — and so his party — stand? Now the big question is: Are Americans in the middle ready to accept this?

That answer can be yes, based on our four years of extensive research into that precise question — if marriage supporters heed three crucial lessons about how the middle views this issue.

First, the “rights” frame is wrong. One word emerged during our nine rounds of research that described how Americans in the middle view marriage: commitment.

In fact, when undecided Americans were asked what marriage means to them, “commitment” came up four times as often as the word “love.” “Rights” never came up — not once. To folks in the middle, marriage is about making a promise to care for each other for a lifetime, through better or worse.

They often focused on the latter — because that is what makes marriage unique from other relationships. To them, marriage is about one thing: the obligation and responsibility that comes with making a public promise of lifetime commitment.

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Taking a Lesson from Down Under

December 5th, 2011

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This piece was originally posted by The Advocate.

It’s time.

That’s the tagline for the new marriage ad circulating like wildfire across multiple continents. Created by the progressive Australian group Get Up! as that country debates allowing gay couples to marry, the two-minute video tells the story of a relationship through the eyes of one of the participants. It depicts the initial meeting and romance, the arguments and everyday annoyances, the joyful times and the depths of grief, all culminating in a man getting down on one knee and proposing in front of the couple’s friends and family. The person behind the camera is finally revealed, and the viewer sees that it is another man, just as the two are being enveloped in congratulatory hugs on their engagement.

So why has this ad captured the hearts and Facebook statuses of so many marriage advocates and allies in the U.S., and could it be part of a strategy to move marriage forward in our own country? Third Way’s extensive research on how Middle Americans view the issue of marriage for gay couples — and how to move them to solidly support it — points to three reasons that a similar ad may be effective with the middle stateside. Read the rest of this entry »

Gay marriage: Don’t make it about ‘rights’

March 21st, 2011

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This piece was originally published in the Baltimore Sun.

“What do we want? EQUAL RIGHTS! When do we want them? NOW!”

Catchy — but it doesn’t sound much like a wedding vow.

When couples make that lifetime commitment to each other in front of friends and family on one of the biggest days of their lives, few of them cite the 1,138 federal rights they will gain by making the promise of marriage. And the words “tax benefits” rarely come up in the best man’s toast.

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Moving the middle on marriage

August 19th, 2010

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This piece was originally published in Politico.

This month, a federal district court judge in California struck down Proposition 8 — the state ballot measure that banned gay and lesbian couples from marrying — as unconstitutional, and the case is most likely to be settled by the Supreme Court. Although the decision has been stayed, many understandably saw it as a victory and perhaps an indication that legal arguments — not public persuasion — are going to be the fastest way to bring about equality.

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Grandma Knows Best

February 5th, 2010

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This piece was originally posted on the Huffington Post.

An elderly woman sits with her grandson.  She begins to tell the story of her family and her Catholic faith. She talks about her core values and says, “Marriage to me is a great institution. It works, and it’s what I want for my children, too.”

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