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Posts for February, 2011

If you don’t like it, you gotta ban it?

Rob Tisinai

February 19th, 2011

NOM is trumpeting a new Maryland poll about same-sex marriage:

By a 54-37 margin, Maryland voters believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, according to a new poll released today by Lawrence Research.

And here’s the question they asked:

As far as you personally are concerned, should marriage be between a man and a woman, or should it also be available to same-sex couples.

Emphasis added, for one simple reason: This is not an either/or question!

People could say, without contradicting themselves:

Yes, I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman, and yes, it should also be available to same-sex couples.

Just as they could say:

I believe everyone should abstain from alcohol, and I think it should be available to adults.

or

I believe birth control is wrong, and I think people should have the option of deciding that for themselves.

So much for Live and let live.  So much for letting people make their own decisions. So much for any conception of liberty.  If, “as far as you personally are concerned,” you disapprove of something, it never occurs to NOM that your respect for freedom might keep you from trying to control your neighbor’s life.

Nope, according to NOM, if you think something is wrong, then you want impose that belief on everyone.

This attitude pops up again and again.  Remember Miss America contestant Carrie Prejean?

Well I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one way or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And, you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that, I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that’s how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman.

Taken literally, she’s offering support for marriage equality even as she expresses her personal belief that it’s wrong. That’s not what she intended, but it’s what she said, without even realizing it.

Obama’s just as guilty:

I’m a Christian. And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.

If he’s offering this to explain why he opposes legalizing same-sex marriage, he’s failed.  He can believe exactly what he said and still support marriage equality.

I suppose, then, it’s not fair to single out NOM for this. They’re just the latest perpetrators.

My hunch is that NOM is so blind to their own assumptions, they didn’t even realize they weren’t asking an either/or question.  Another possibility, though, is that they knew exactly what they were doing.

Look at the opening phrase: As far as you personally are concerned, should marriage be between a man and a woman…

It’s almost as if they added “As far as you personally are concerned” as a deliberate attempt to distract people from the issue of legalizing same-sex marriage.  As if NOM knew the wording would let them dishonestly claim for their own side those respondents with a live-and-let-live attitude, those who think it should be legal despite their own personal disapproval.

As if they knew they could then distort these results to understate Maryland’s support for legal equality.

So which is it? A careless mistake or a conscious manipulation of the question?  I bet the answer depends on whose mind you’re looking into:  that of Maggie Gallagher (a canny operator) or Brian Brown (a blundering bull).

Ultimately, I see one lesson take away from this. We need to add another weapon to our rhetorical arsenal this one for people who are more comfortable with liberty than with homosexuality:

You can disapprove of something and still think it should be legal!