Inevitably, NOM will whine
June 6th, 2013
If there is one thing that annoys the National Organization for (not your) Marriage more than any other, it’s the notion that they are one the losing side of history, that marriage equality is inevitable. No one wants to think of their efforts as pointless, and especially not an organization that has hefty salaries to pay.
For example, in their amusingly titled blog post “The Tide Has Turned! Victory in Illinois” in response to the failure of the Illinois House of Representative to vote on equality, Brian Brown begins his declaration thusly:
Dear Marriage Supporter,
The myth of gay marriage inevitability died last night in Illinois! [emphasis in the original
So it must have been a bitter feeling that crept into his soul when he saw the results of a Pew Poll:
Yes, 59% of those who support NOM’s position recognize that equality is inevitable and that any money thrown in NOM’s direction could be better spent on reinforcing their own marriage (or, for that matter, on booze and hookers).
Gallup asks how many gays
February 18th, 2013
The Gallup Poll people have conducted a rather massive survey – 206,186 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia – asking one simple question:
Do you, personally, identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender?
Gallup then ranked the states by most to least, and news and bloggers were quick to find that ranking interesting. Which was, in itself, interesting in that it illustrated that most folks don’t understand polls and that Gallup is more than happy to play into their ignorance.
Margins of error for individual states are no greater than ±6 percentage points, and are ±3 percentage points in most states. The margin of error for the District of Columbia is ±6 percentage points.
In other words, the ranking is all in the margin of error.
But the national margin of error is much smaller, +/- 1% (95% confidence). And the overall finding is pretty close to what we’ve long calculated here at BTB: 3.5%.
And it’s not exactly news either. Gallup told us back in October that the percentage was 3.4%, along with a lot of other inside-the-margin-of-error details. And this poll appears to be an extension of the last.
But, in any case, we are finally getting a number into general circulation that is probably more accurate than the old Kinsey 10%. (Though I’m sure we would all find it interesting what was in the heads of the three to four percent which refused to answer either yes or no.)
NOM’s fantasyland poll
November 9th, 2012
Cue the calliope, Kellyanne Conway is back with some more charmingly imaginative polling numbers. And just as a creative mind can almost believe that the beribboned wood-carved creations bobbing up and down are a real pack of wild horses, if you dream real hard and listen to the music, Conway’s polls can almost seem just like real ones.
But even at the Happiest Place on Earth, the music stops. And the wooden horse is just a wooden horse.
And, so too, when the giddy moment of make-believe ends, Kellyanne Conway’s “polls” remain nothing but tools for frauds and manipulators to try and convince themselves and others of things that simply are not true. And so it is to Conway’s ‘the polling company, inc.’ that the National Organization for Marriage has turned for consolation over Tuesday’s losses.
In some sad delusional effort to flash bright lights and play jingly music, NOM brings us this:
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today released the results of a nationwide survey of voters conducted on Election Day that shows 60% of Americans who voted in the election favor marriage being the union of one man and one woman. The survey, conducted by respected pollster Kellyanne Conway’s firm ‘the polling company, inc.’ is consistent with a national survey they conducted this past September showing 57% of Americans then believed marriage should only be the union of one man and one woman.
“The outcome of the marriage votes in four very liberal states has caused some to speculate as to whether the American people have changed their views on marriage. This scientific poll shows that the answer to that is, ‘no’ they have not changed,” said Brian Brown, NOM’s president. “This survey shows that 60% of voters believe marriage is one man and one woman, which is consistent with the 57% result ‘the polling company’ found in September.”
How was that poll conducted?
Conducted by the polling company, inc., the survey interviewed 800 randomly selected people who actually voted.
You may note that the familiar language about “statistically valid random sampling methodology” was not used. Instead they opted for that phrase most associated with convenience sampling. And cues one that their results have about the same reliability as one would find by “randomly selecting” people at your local mall. That is, not much.
And the question?
Do you (ROTATED) agree or disagree that “marriage is between one man and one woman”?
Well let me ask you, do YOU disagree that marriage is between one man and one woman? I don’t. I’ve been to several marriages that were between one man and one woman. I just also happen to believe that marriage is between one man and one man or one woman and one woman.
Which pretty much means that this means nothing. It’s a garbled response to a deliberately confusing question asked to people that were not selected to reflect the populace or the voters. But it’s presented as though it has meaning.
It’s kinda sad, really.
When your best bet is to present a fantasy, a whimsical ride on a merry-go-round, you pretty much have no reality to rely on. And you know it. When you resort to candyfloss polling, it’s because you know, you know with certainty, that any real poll would show you a world much more real than you can stand seeing.
And while this kind of nonsensical fairy-tale alternate reality may be appropriate for light lifters like Brian Brown, it’s embarrassing to see educated once-thoughtful people like Robert George or Maggie Gallagher associated with this level of story telling and myth mongering.
Gallup poll asks if you’re LGBT
October 18th, 2012
In April 2011, Gary Gates, a demographer at UCLA’s Williams Institute who specializes in the gay community, announced:
An estimated 3.5% of adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and an estimated 0.3% of adults are transgender.
While I thought his number was in the ballpark, I was decidedly unimpressed with his methods (averaging averages, adopting the lowest possible estimates, and not separating mens’ and womens’ sexuality). And I placed little reliance on his report.
However, over the summer, Gates worked with Gallup Polls to have the following question asked to over 120,000 people:
Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
With a sample size so huge, they can assign 95% confidence that they have less than 1% error margin. In other words, this is really rather accurate.
don’t know/refused …….. 4.4%
There is some very interesting data that can be mined from the detail. For example, though no one has ever illustrated that there is any racial differentiation in orientation, those identifying as gay differ by race: Black 4.6%, Asian 4.3%, Hispanic 4.0%, White 3.2%. The error of margin overall is less than 1%, but the subpopulations have less statistical confidence and this difference may well be within margin. However, as ‘common wisdom’ (which is often neither) assumes that blacks are less likely than whites to identify as gay, this is a statistic worth noting.
And, of course, there’s age:
As is pretty consistent with such polls, LGBT identity drops with age. This is generally understood to reflect a greater willingness in younger respondents to so identify. And that does likely play a role.
But over time one would expect some creep in the numbers over time such that in newer polls the 30- 49 demographic was no longer a decrease from 18 – 29. Instead, I think we are seeing the same pattern now that we have seen for decades. So I’m not certain that ‘today’s new attitude of youthful acceptance’ fully explains that phenomenon, unless we assume that some go back into the closet in their 30′s.
Personally, I am beginning to suspect other factors that may play some part. Here are but a few possible other things to consider.
The most drastic shift is from the first to second demographic. This time also reflects a very common shift in relationship status from single and dating in your 20′s to married in your 30′s. It is possible that this reflects an internal perception of free and available to someone who is committed to a specific person of a specific sex (most often the opposite sex).
After 30, the demographic LGBT identification gradually decreases, but there really isn’t a comparable increase to “not-LGBT” identification. Rather, “don’t know / other” seems to take up the slack.
This could be entirely due to “the closet”, but I don’t think the closet lends itself to any identity other than “no! LGBT? no, no, I’m not that, no-sirreee, not me!” So I wonder whether this reflects something else.
It could contain elements of older same-sex attracted persons who see “lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender” to be an identity that reflects a way of life, a community, a worldview. Perhaps this is a person who thinks, “Joe and I? No, we don’t go out to bars and all our friends are straight and we just aren’t part of all that. So I’m just not sure how to answer that question.”
Another option is that as age increase, there may be a willingness to let go of some presumptions and limitations. Perhaps unexpectedly you found yourself attracted to some random stranger of the opposite sex and it threw your self-perception on its ear.
I don’t have data to support any of that speculation – and I doubt there is ready data to address it either way – but I introduce it as a few alternate possibilities to help explain the curve. I don’t know that these explanations have much validity, but I’d like us to think outside of the box a bit.
And the poll seems also to have presented some data that challenges another assumption that we have held to:
There are two dialogs that I’ve heard about the financial condition of gay individuals and families: either gays are flush with cash (when we call for more gay specific advertising) or living in poverty (when we call for increased services). I don’t think this supports either assertion, though it could serve either.
It seems that a larger percent of the less affluent identify as gay and the wealthier are less likely to do so. But this follows more or less the age breakout. Which one would expect. Generally those who are in their 20′s are likely to be making less than those in their 50′s. So I’m not sure there is much there.
However, that being said, it is true that a larger percent of the poor identify as gay than do the rich. On the other hand, 2.8% of those making over $90,000 identify as LGBT, a percentage higher than any of those who are over the age of 50.
So while that is interesting, it does not clearly support (or refute) either assertion. And all of the variables are probably within the margin of error of the subpopulations anyway.
Because we are such a small percentage of the population, and because questions about sexuality and sexual orientation can seem to either be intrusive or a threat, surveys simply cannot answer definitively the question as to our size and we are limited in the amount of trust we should place on any of this.
However, that being said, I think that we can say with confidence that at least 3.2 percent of the US population identifies as LGBT.
Is the Telegraph’s John Bingham a lying scoundrel or a blithering idiot?
June 8th, 2012
John Bingham, the Social and Religious Affairs Editor on the Daily Telegraph, is either shamelessly lying in promotion of his opposition to equality in Britain or he is the biggest dunce to ever grace the pages of that newspaper. Bingham, without a moment’s hesitation repeated the “conclusions” of a “poll of homosexual people” paid for by Catholic Voices in order to bolster their claim that civil partnerships are enough and that the nation should not allow gay people equality.
The first poll of its kind in Britain also found that only a minority of gay people believe redefining marriage should be a “priority” and only half said that having the opportunity to marry was important to them personally.
By now our readers are well familiar with the difference between a poll that seeks to find out how the populace feels about a subject and a “poll” which uses loaded language, confusing questions, and a series of statements and prior questions in order to get a completely false and unrepresentative “conclusion” that can be used deceptively for public relations purposes. Clearly, Bingham is not a reader.
ComRes does not easily provide the methods used for sampling. The one item we do know is that their survey of “homosexual people” excluded “heterosexuals” and “refuse to answer” but includes the categories “gay/lesbian” and “bisexual” and “other” (ah, good old “other”). And considering that this is a candidate for (if not the very) worst example of a loaded poll that I’ve reviewed, I think it is far more likely than not that it too was rigged. [Update: it was an "online survey", a polling method a step or two higher than "asking my friends and family"]
Here were the questions. Yes, you will laugh. Yes, you will find yourself muttering, “God, Bingham is a dunce not to see through this!”
- Does each of the following apply to you or not?
- I am in a Civil Partnership
- I am not in a Civil Partnership but would seriously consider it
- I do not ever intend to be in a Civil Partnership
- I would get married to my partner if the law permitted it
Each category allows for “applies”, “does not apply”, and “don’t know”. So a person in a Civil Partnership might answer yes or no to marriage, but the deliberately ambiguous language encourages a “doesn’t apply” response from those who strongly support marriage, but are currently partnerless.
- Does each of the following apply to you or not?
- I am against marriage as an institution
- I support marriage as an institution but only between a man and a woman
- It is important to me that marriage is extended to same-sex couples
- Insisting that Civil Partnership and marriage remain separate and distinct worsens public attitudes towards gay people
Again, it encourages those who oppose marriage as an institution to say that it is unimportant that marriage be extended to same-sex couples – a number that the Catholic Deceivers wanted to be as low as possible.
But now on to the question that qualifies this as a serious contender for “worst poll ever”. I mean even Maggie Gallagher wouldn’t put out this poll – and that’s really saying something.
- Do you agree or disagree with these statements?
- David Cameron is only trying to extend marriage to LGBT people to make his Party look more compassionate rather than because of his convictions
- Generally speaking the best environment for children is to be raised by their own father and mother in a loving relationship
- Marriage is more about love between two people than it is about rearing and raising children
- I think redefining marriage is a priority for gay people
- True marriage equality would mean that same-sex couples could marry in places of worship as well as in civil locations
- Faith groups should be forced to allow gay weddings in places of worship
- There is no need to change the law on marriage because Civil Partnerships give all the same rights as marriage
How do you even answer this bullsh!t? Now do you think that “redefining marriage” is a “priority” for gay people? I don’t, so I would “disagree”. But then again I’ve never met a gay person who wanted to redefine marriage at all, though I know plenty who very much want to join the institution just as it is – except without discriminatory entrance requirements.
But absent a question that actually makes sense and reflects the views of the people being questioned, 39% “agreed”. I don’t even know what that means. But John Bingham thinks it means something so he parroted what the Catholic Deceivers fed him.
And look at the loaded “Faith groups should be forced to allow gay weddings in places of worship”. Obviously “forced” is thrown in there to make martyrs of the Catholic Deceivers. Say “no” to forcing and you don’t support marriage. Say “yes” to forcing and you hate religion and are tying to impose your will on people of faith.
But even beyond that, it’s vague and meaningless. Does that mean their places of worship? I would say, “no, Catholics should not be forced to allow gay weddings in Catholic Churches.” But that isn’t the issue in Britain. Rather, Catholics are trying to deny gay people the ability to marry in any places of worship, even those who are petitioning the government to allow them the religious freedom of conducting marriages in their own churches. So I could say “yes, Catholics should not be allowed to block gay weddings in churches that are none of their business”.
And after all of that confusion and nonsense and deception and intentionally vague wording, we come to the question that they are trying to drive: Do you agree or disagree that “There is no need to change the law on marriage because Civil Partnerships give all the same rights as marriage.”
Huh? I’m hearing double negatives so could you repeat the question?
And joy of all joys, they got 26% of respondents to say that they agreed. Yeah, mostly older and mostly rural, but hey they managed to get some positive response to that.
Which brings them to what they surely saw as the icing on the cake. Get ready to laugh. This is the question that would have led any responsible newspaper to say, “I’m sorry, we don’t print bullsh!t here.”
- Do you agree or disagree with these statements?
- I’m glad I was raised by both a mother and a father because it means I can relate to both sexes
Really? Could they be more obvious? And what on earth does that have to do with the decision to support marriage rather than civil partnerships?
Okay, at least they didn’t follow it up with, “And why do you hate your Mum and Dad?” But to the credit of British gays, only 37% fell to the temptation to support Mum and Dad. So that question slipped out of the article somehow.
But while championing the completely bogus numbers in this completely bogus poll would have been dishonest, they went for the big lie. And having the mental competency of the average church mouse (or having not one smidgen of personal integrity), Bingham went along for the ride.
Looking at results for this ludicrous nonsense, Bingham announces
The poll suggests that support for changing the law to redefine marriage among the homosexual community could be more lukewarm than previously thought.
Or it suggests that Catholic Deceivers are a bunch or liars and you are a complete fool. I’m betting on the latter.
Another Thought on the Polling Paradox
June 1st, 2012
I want to add another thought to Timothy’s comment here about the gap between polling and vote results on marriage amendments. He raises an excellent point that a good portion of the explanation for the gap — at least as far as how the gap was written about in this particular AP article — ignores the logical fallacy of comparing today’s opinion polls to votes taken four to ten years ago.
And yet we have seen mismatches between what the polls tell us leading up to election days and what finally happens in the voting booth. Let’s take Maine in 2009 as an example. By the end of October, polling showed that those supporting or leaning to support Question 1 was at about 42 percent, while those opposing or leaning to oppose Question 1 were at 52%. But what happened on election day? Question 1 passed 53% to 47%.
The paradox does exist, but I think a lot of people are looking at it wrong. Polls asked about whether people think gay people should be allowed to marry. Because that’s the question polls ask, people are generally inclined to agree that others peoples’ marriages are other peoples’ business.
But as I said before when I expressed my concern that Maine was going to loose despite what the polls said, by the time people go to the voting booth the question isn’t whether gay people should marry or not, but whether their children should be “taught homosexuality” in the schools. That’s a completely different question from what the poll asked. As I said just five days before Maine’s vote:
Frank Schubert, who is running the Stand for Marriage Maine campaign has recognized something that is very fundamental in all politics. Former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Niel famously said that all politics are local. Schubert recognized that politics aren’t just local, but personal. It hinges on the question, “How will this affect me?” Karen Ocamb’s brilliant analysis of the California campaign which Schubert ran, which should be mandatory reading for everyone, describes very carefully how Schubert came to this conclusion:
During the Prop 8 Case Study workshop, Schubert said he, Flint and their team spent hours “looking at where people were and what we needed to do to reach them.”
What they found was that most Californians were very tolerant of same sex relationships. Schubert said:
“They didn’t see how gay marriage effected them, per se. It wasn’t their issue. It wasn’t something they cared to think about. It wasn’t something they wanted to talk about. It was an uncomfortable subject generally for them event to get their arms around.”
If we really want to win these battles, we need to begin with an understanding of this important truth:
Nobody Cares About Same-Sex Marriage
When I said “nobody cares,” I wanted to make the point that the average voter doesn’t care personally about marriage. It is this insight that our opponents have seized on and used to win the day every time. Thirty-two times we have failed to grasp this important lesson, and thirty-two times we have lost because of it. And every time, it was because we failed to grasp the real question that was before voters. Again, as I wrote in 2009 just five days before the vote:
Stand For Marriage Maine’s “positive” feel-good approach didn’t last long. They have a new ad out: …Notice how it’s loaded with all the bad stuff that you care about – out-of-state militant activists corrupting your values, gay teachers pushing their agenda on your children, militant gay activists in your schools and even your daycare centers. “IT’S ALREADY HAPPENED HERE! DON’T BE FOOLED!”
Here’s Protect Maine Equality’s response: …In a nutshell: please help someone else.
What the Yes on 1 folks in Maine did was make it possible to support marriage equality but vote against Question 1 because the changed the question before the voters. A year later, Maine’s campaign manager Marc Mutty made a startling admission on camera that their campaign message was the equivalent of slamming people over the head with “a two-by-four with nails sticking out of it,” adding, ” it’s the only thing we’ve got — it’s the only way. That’s the way campaigns work.”
There’s a popular saying about defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. As a political movement, ours has to be about the most insane of all when it comes to this particular issue. We keep coming up with messages that resonate with us, but which do not connect with the average voter. Until we recognize that nobody deeply cares about same-sex marriage — but they do care about other things which more directly affect them — then we’re going to keep on losing for a very long time.
Least logical marriage article of the week
June 1st, 2012
The Associated Press put out a real dud of an article this week pondering why the polls show majority support for marriage equality in the country but the votes in the states all went against us.
For now, however, there remains a gap between the national polling results and the way states have voted. It’s a paradox with multiple explanations, from political geography to the likelihood that some conflicted voters tell pollsters one thing and then vote differently.
“It’s not that people are lying. It’s an intensely emotional issue,” said Amy Simon, a pollster based in Oakland, Calif. “People can report to you how they feel at the moment they’re answering the polls, but they can change their mind.”
California experienced that phenomenon in November 2008, when voters, by a 52-48 margin, approved a ban on same-sex marriage in the state constitution.
No it didn’t. Polls leading into the Prop 8 election showed that 48% of voters opposed the proposition (i.e. “told pollsters one thing”) and 48% voted no (i.e. then DID NOT vote differently). The poll numbers of those supporting the bill along with those ‘uncertain’ reflect the number voting for Proposition 8.
And as for the “paradox”, it’s only confusing to people who don’t own a calendar. Comparing current polling numbers with votes that are up to a decade old may make for sensational writing, but it’s logically absurd.
In about May, 2011, polls began to (unexpectedly) show that a majority of Americans support marriage equality. Other than North Carolina (in which the polls were mirrored in the vote), every single one of those “way the states have voted” occurred in 2008 or before. Oh, the paradox. Oh, the gap.
And that says noting to the irrationality of comparing national polls to state elections.
It’s pretty simple. Anti-gays went first for the low-lying fruit: Southern and other anti-gay states. Then they fought hard and employed a campaign of implied threats and blatant dishonesty to win in California. But with each election it has become clear that they are reaching – or have reached – their apex and their margins of victory are growing razor thin. There’s no mystery, there’s no drama. And soon – perhaps as soon as November – there will be no further advances of their anti-gay agenda.
Incidentally, Amy Simon opted not to respond to the offer to clarify her explanation.
Another ABC Poll, yet more good marriage news
May 23rd, 2012
23. On another subject, do you think it should be legal or illegal for gay and lesbian couples to get married? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?
39% – strongly legal
14% – somewhat legal
7% – somewhat illegal
32% – strongly illegal
8% – “Oh, gee, I don’t know. Do you like my hair?”
Analysis of the full polling demographics (pdf) suggests to me that those who believe that God has ordained them to dictate to you the details of your life are not shifting on this issue. But they are rapidly losing influence over everyone else.
Christie to Republicans: put marriage on the ballot, the people will vote for it
February 2nd, 2012
Sometimes I am tempted to think that the prominent Republicans in this country just wish that marriage equality was already the law so that they didn’t have to talk about it or make promises to “the base”. Last year, New York Senate Majority Leader Skelos (who could have single handedly stopped the bill) put the question to the Senate after enough Republican votes were secured so that he could vote no while the bill passed. Today New Hampshire Republicans tell us that they are far too busy on fiscal matters for their supermajorities in each house to even consider repeal this year.
And now New Jersey Governor Christie has this to say about his new decision to direct Republican lawmakers to support a bill that would create a November referendum: (Bloomberg)
“The polls that I’ve seen show that if this goes to the ballot, I lose. How much more magnanimous could I be?”
There’s a whole pile of ways that can be interpreted and we can only guess as to what it means. While I think he bets on the polls being wrong, my best guess is that what he really wants to say is, “Stop asking me about that. I don’t care. Really, I couldn’t care in the slightest.”
NOM’s sad little dishonest “survey”
February 2nd, 2012
What do you do when all the polls are against you? What do you do when accurately reporting social attitudes demonstrates that you are outside the mainstream and that people aren’t buying your arguments anymore. What do you do to justify your continued ‘defense of the family’ when it becomes clear that ‘the family’ doesn’t want your defense?
Well, if you are the National Organization for Marriage, you make sh!t up. And what better way than to conduct your own “survey” of the attitudes of Washington voters and pass it off as meaningful. Here’s what they say about their little survey.
When reminded that Washington State has a civil union law for gay couples, 57% of voters say it is not necessary to redefine marriage. 72% of voters think state lawmakers should work on other issues rather than same-sex marriage. A nearly identical number -71% of voters—believe the people should decide the marriage issue; only 9% think legislators should decide the matter.
“If the Washington Legislature wants to change the definition of marriage, which 57% of voters oppose, NOM calls on them to give this decision to voters. Thirty-one other states have been able to vote on the definition of marriage, and Washington voters deserve the same opportunity,” Brown said. “Voters have made it clear in this survey that they alone should decide the marriage issue—not legislators. Let the people vote.”
But reading the actual survey is just funny. They tried everything they could to get desired results from this “survey” and still Washingtonians didn’t give them what they wanted. And while the survey is meaningless from a social survey standpoint, it does illustrate how dishonest NOM actually is willing to be.
First, NOM stacked the deck. Choosing an age sample that understated those under 45 and overstate those over 65 by about 3-4%. They also found a sample that is 36% conservative and 34% liberal on social issues. In Washington. And in a state that voted for Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama (with an 18 point spread), their sample is 37% leaning Democrat and 35% leaning Republican.
And then NOM played the ‘push poll’ game, setting up language to try and jostle participants into giving them an answer that they can use for political gain. It’s a very common tactic of politicians, but it is despicable and immoral when used by a group that pretends to be protecting the voters.
The first question is about whether the participant is a voter. No problem. But then it is followed by three ‘set-up’ questions designed to place the participant as an opponent to the legislature: 2) is Washington going in the right direction or wrong track, and 3) how would you rate the job performance of Gov. Gregoire and 4) the legislature. Rating categories were excellent, good, only fair, poor, other.
“Only fair” is an interesting option. Usually “fair” stands alone, as an indication of acceptable but not particularly laudable. However, by adding “only”, NOM poisons this option and takes it from “okay” and implies a failure. This intentional shading was necessary in order to push the participant into being suspicious of the legislature and governor.
And then come the marriage questions. And the first one is just laughable obvious.
5. As you probably know, since 2010 Washington has had a civil union law which gives gay couples all the legal rights of married couples. Now some people want to pass a new law, which changes the definiton of marriage, so that it is no longer between a man and a woman, but between any two people. Do you feel it is necessary or not necessary to pass now a new law which changes the definition of marriage in this way?
57% Not Necessary
7% Don’t Know / No Response
Any two people. Hmmm. Like, say, siblings or parent and child or fundamentalist Mormon and his unwilling 14 year old bride, or you and the girl down the street that put out a restraining order on you. Any two people… yeah, that’s just a lie. Not a misstatement, not a convenient term for a complex issue. Nope. Just a lie.
And is it “necessary now”? Well, considering the economy and other issues of concern, having 36% say that it’s necessary now is a HUGE failure for NOM.
6. Who do you think should decide what the definition of marriage is in Washington state: should it be defined by the courts, or should it be defined by the state legislature, or should it be defined by the voters of the state?
8% Defined by the courts
9% Defined by the Legislature
71% Defined by the voters
12% Don’t know / no response
Okay. That’s probably somewhat reflective of their views.
7. If you were able to speak today with your local state legislator, would you tell him or her that passing a new which charges the definition of marriage is something you want the state legislature to work on at this time, or would you tell him or her that the state legislature should work on solving other problems?
23% Work on marriage law
72% Work on solving other problems
4% Don’t know/no response
Again, colossal fail for NOM. A quarter of Washington residents think that marriage equality is more important than anything else.
But here is the clincher. Here is the question to which everything was geared. Here is the answer that NOM has been driving for:
8. And if you were able to speak today with your local state legislator, would you tell him or her to vote for this new law which changes the definition of marriage, so that it is no longer between a man and a woman but between any two people, or to vote against this change?
42% Vote for new marriage law
49% Vote against marriage change
10% Don’t know / No Response
Having done everything they could to stack the survey population and the skew the poll to show that “the people” don’t want equality, still they couldn’t get more than half to say to vote against the bill. Having gotten participants to agree that it wasn’t necessary or more important than other matters and that it should be up to “the voters”, still 42% said to vote for the “any two people” bill.
Oh, NOM, you are a sad little group, aren’t you? Unethical, immoral, dishonest, and still losing your culture war over the hearts and minds of decent people.
Minnesota poll: anti-equality amendment close
January 31st, 2012
Public Policy Polling found:
Q2 Should the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?
8% Not sure
Q3 Which of the following best describes your opinion on gay marriage: gay couples should be allowed to legally marry, or gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not legally marry, or there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship?
37% Gay couples should be allowed to legally marry
34% Gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not marry
27% There should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship
2% Not sure
Q4 Do you think same-sex marriage should be legal or illegal?
10% Not sure
This is not good news. Generally, in marriage polls the undecideds all go to the anti-gay position.
Washingtonians support equality
January 8th, 2012
The residents of the state of Washington support equality. With a strong margin.
The University of Washington, Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race & Sexuality operates the Washington Poll, a non-partisan telephone survey of registered voters. They have a relatively decent accuracy record and can be considered a reputable measure of the attitudes of the voters in the state.
In October they conducted a poll of the attitudes of Washingtonians about marriage equality and are finally releasing the results. The key finding is:
Next year the legislature could pass a law allowing gay and lesbian couples to get married. If that happens, there could be a referendum in which voters would be asked to approve or reject the law. If such a referendum were held today:
Would you vote YES — that is, to keep a law in place allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry OR would you vote NO, against the law — to make it so that gay and lesbian couples could not marry?
47% – Yes – keep law in place – strongly
8% – Yes – keep the law in place – not strong
7% – No – against the law – not strong
31% – No – against the law – strongly
7% – Undecided
The breakout was skewed pretty much as one might expect with Seattle area residents supporting marriage by 63% with Eastern Washington dropping to 43%. Democrats were 84% supportive with Republicans at 24% and Independents at 54%.
When presented with multiple options, support for full equality dropped.
43% – full equality
22% – everything but the name (status quo)
15% – limited domestic partnership benefits
17% – no rights at all
3% – don’t know
However, the poll illustrated something fascinating. Many of those who prefer full legal rights without the status of marriage would still support the legislature if they voted for marriage and would vote to uphold such a bill if brought to referendum. Even a quarter of those who prefer limited rights or no rights at all would vote to uphold the decision of the legislature.
With this sort of evidence, the legislature should feel confident in supporting equality.
What Coloradans support couple rights?
December 13th, 2011
Quick answer: almost all of them.
The Public Policy Polling firm has released its latest polling of Colorado residents. Granted they are a Democratic polling firm, but the questions seem to be presented without obvious bias or leading so this poll is probably is a pretty fair reflection of actual views and can’t be dismissed as partisan push-polling.
And the best way to describe the views would be to say that the residents of Colorado are fairly evenly divided about whether “same-sex marriage should be legal or illegal”, but they very much believe that gay couples should either be allowed to legally marry or form civil unions.
So, which Coloradans support marriage equality? Not much surprise there.
Asking the “should be legal” yes or no question:
80% of very liberal
78% of liberal
55% of moderate
49% of women (as oppose to 41% illegal)
46% of men (as oppose to 45% illegal)
70% of Democrats
51% of Independents
48% of Hispanics (as oppose to 43% illegal)
47% of Whites (as oppose to 43% illegal)
60% of 18-29 years old
52% of 30-45
49% of 46-65 (as oppose to 41% illegal)
But that doesn’t necessarily say that those outside these groups were all for banning rights. Actually, healthy minorities support full equality:
24% of Conservatives (but only 8% of “very conservative”)
20% of Republicans
44% of “Other” (not White or Hispanic)
32% of older than 65 (with an additional 12% not sure)
All of which is very good news. But when you ask the three part question (marriage, civil unions, or nothing) the support for couple recognition is much stronger. The “marriage” response is slightly lower than in the legal v. illegal response, but a good many of those who did not support legal marriage do support civil unions.
So who supports some form of couple recognition? Three quarters of them. Every single category other than “very conservative”: 68% of Conservatives and 60% of Republicans and 59% of racial “other” and 65% of the older folk. Even 46% of “very conservative” Coloradans agree.
Last year the legislature played a political game to kill the Civil Unions bill in a committee. Let’s hope this poll gives them a bit more courage to do their actual job this year and vote in this very popular option.
August 23rd, 2011
Shocking, simply shocking! A new study has determined that some men are attracted to both male and female persons. Or, at least, sexually stimulated by watching them have sex.
This new finding contradicts and earlier one which denied evidence of existence of bisexuals, but was flawed in its population selection. (NY Times)
In both studies, men watched videos of male and female same-sex intimacy while genital sensors monitored their erectile responses. While the first study reported that the bisexuals generally resembled homosexuals in their responses, the new one finds that bisexual men responded to both the male and female videos, while gay and straight men in the study did not.
Both studies also found that bisexuals reported subjective arousal to both sexes, notwithstanding their genital responses. “Someone who is bisexual might say, ‘Well, duh!’” said Allen Rosenthal, the lead author of the new Northwestern study and a doctoral student in psychology at the university. “But this will be validating to a lot of bisexual men who had heard about the earlier work and felt that scientists weren’t getting them.”
Ah, but we can’t really be certain, can we? After all, heterosexual attraction in men is determined by response to lesbian porn (hetero porn is inconclusive, as gay men may find the presence of men stimulating).
But what if these are just guys who are attracted only to lesbians and not women in general? Huh? Then what? Maybe bisexuals are really transgender lesbians! What about that?
Okay, enough silliness. But it does strike me as odd that we have to have studies to figure out if the person sitting there in the room with you exists.
Fascinating gay penis facts
July 18th, 2011
It appears that the National Institutes for Health helped fund the analysis of a survey about how penis size effects gay men. And this has the Traditional Values Coalition nearly sputtering with indignation.
Crazy Lou sent out a press release claiming that
At least $9.4 million for a 10-year study that included a survey of gay men to determine average penis sizes, “…to better understand the real individual-level consequences of living in a penis-centered society.”
Of course that wasn’t true. The funds were apparently but one tiny part of a larger grant and the purpose wasn’t to determine average penis size. Actually the findings included much more, such as: (Fox News)
The study reported, among its findings, that gay men with “below average penises” were more likely to assume a “bottom” sexual position, while those with “above average penises” were more likely to assume a “top” sexual position. Those with average penises identified themselves as “versatile” in the bedroom.
While previous studies have found that for heterosexual men, penis size was significantly related to comfort in a swimsuit, not much study of the penis was focused on gay men. And the researchers figured if anyone knew about penises, it was gay men.
And there was lots of fabulous info: the bigger the penis, the less likely to lie about it; smaller guys wish they were bigger, but no one wishes they were smaller. I have no idea how I missed this study when it ran in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.
But, seriously, there were some findings that are important. Those few (7%) who believed that their penis was “below average” fared significantly worse than other men on three measures of psychosocial adjustment. Also, men with above average penises were significantly more likely than men with average size penises to report having ever been infected with gonorrhea/Chlamydia/urinary tract infection.
All in all, what a great way to start the week. Penis fun facts and pissing off Crazy Lou.
And no. It’s none of your business.
ADF’s new “survey” is ignored
June 17th, 2011
A survey with +/- 0% margin of error has found that the best ice-cream is rocky-road. Yeah, probably Haagen-Dazs.
That’s all fine and good, but its useless unless you know that the survey consisted of asking myself what ice-cream I would like at the moment.
Although… maybe strawberry… hmmmm
Well back to my point.
The Alliance Defense Fund has released a new Surprising and Shocking Survey that pretends to report that Americans really-o truly-o don’t want Teh Gheys to marry:
Contrary to recently released studies that suggest increasing support for homosexual “marriage,” an extensive national survey reveals just the opposite.
Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) commissioned the study through Public Opinion Strategies. It reveals that 62 percent of Americans believe “marriage should be defined only as a union between one man and one woman.” Fifty-three percent of Americans participating in the study “strongly” agreed.
Well, gosh, that should shake things up. Right?
Except, of course, that the reputation of Alliance Defense Fund is so abysmal that everyone assumes that they are just lying. That’s what liars do, after all.
So no media has even blinked. None.
Well, the Christian Post, Charisma News, and the ever-wacky Dakota Voice all trotted it out as though it were legit (when will Christian media tire of being patsies of political operatives pretending to be religious?). And several alternative media sources have reported the story about ADF’s bogus polling and how it is nothing more than propaganda. And the Sacramento Bee ran the press release in their “unedited press release” section.
But no mainstream press, not even very conservative mainstream press, ran with this story. It simply isn’t credible. As the Colorado Independent noted:
The group says 53 percent of Americans strongly agreed with the statement and only 35 percent disagreed.
But CitizenLink provides little other data on methodology. There is no list of questions asked, no tabs breaking down how various constituencies were chosen or how they answered and in what percentages.
The poll was reportedly commissioned last month by the conservative Alliance Defense Fund. The firm that conducted the survey, Polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, is tied to Republican Party causes and has been linked to unethical election campaign strategies in the past. According to Raw Story, the firm was charged with violating Virginia polling disclosure laws and was accused of using push polls to influence elections in favor of Republican candidates.
You know, it must be embarrassing to realize that everyone knows that you are lying. Everyone.
An important indicator of future equality
May 25th, 2011
Anti-gay activists have many catch phrases and arguments, but ultimately they all boil down to one thing: they believe homosexuality to be morally wrong. And, until recently, America has agreed and voted accordingly.
Which makes the following graphic very very interesting:
May 22nd, 2011
Sunday afternoon musings – those who are not fond of my pontificating may want to pass this one by.
There is something magical about the name Gallup Poll. Gallup may not be the most accurate of all polling agencies, but their duration and history lend an air of credibility, especially when confirming what other polls are finding. So when on Friday the Gallup Poll announced that Americans now support marriage equality by 53% to 45%, it gave an emotional confirmation to what we have already seen from major polling all spring.
Yes, a majority of all Americans now believe that same-sex couples should have the legal rights to marriage.
But what does that mean?
Let’s start with what it does not mean. This does not mean that a majority of Americans personally approve of same-sex marriage. Legal acceptance and approval do not necessarily go hand in hand. Nor does it mean that we will from henceforth win all of our battles in either the legislature or in the ballot box. Anti-gay campaigns have proven successful at appealing to fear and – for at least a while – changing public attitude.
But it does mean that we will win. It means that the tipping point, that distinct moment at which change ceases to move at its previous trajectory and suddenly accelerates, has been reached.
And if we look at Nate Silver’s graphic of public opinion on marriage, I think that we can see something interesting.
If we look at the way in which public opinion has been going, we see – other than a bump leading into the 2004 elections – a fairly consistent rate of change. But around the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009, something happened. Something changed the scale such that the rate of increase in support and rate of decrease in opposition sped up dramatically.
Why did this happen?
I think I know why. I don’t have evidence for this conjecture, and history may prove me wrong, but I believe that a single international moment occurred which changed the way in which marriage equality was viewed both within and without the gay community: Proposition 8.
When Californians voted to ban marriage in our state, it caught the world by surprise. And, unlike marriage bans in Arkansas or Texas, this seemed personal. It seemed a deliberate insult.
Also unlike Arkansas or Texas bans, it pissed us off enough to protest. Publicly in the streets. In San Francisco and San Diego and Los Angeles. But also in Chicago and Detroit and New York and Omaha and Salt Lake City and Wichita and Marquette and Sault Ste Marie. Even in London and Paris and Amsterdam.
This was an unexpected response. Those who oppose marriage didn’t expect it, the voters didn’t expect it.
And we didn’t expect it. But something about the moment of this vote and this time in this state caught our collective discontent and channeled it around a singular event. Losing proposition 8 changed us as a community, for the first time we truly began to believe – all of us, not just the activists but club kids and conservative couples and militant queers and feminist lesbians – that marriage was a right to which we are entitled and which is worth fighting for.
And, just as importantly, it showed those around us that we truly care. It ceased being a matter over which we could politely disagree and became a position which defined friendship and family and faith.
And as a consequence, those around us changed. Reluctant and hesitant and fearful people decided that if they had to choose between tradition and those they love (and, yes, now they have to choose), they would give up tradition.
So where does it go from here?
I think that from now on – for a while, at least – we are going to see ever-increasing support until only the die-hards will still oppose civil marriage. Those who currently say “no” to pollsters will increasingly feel reluctant to be out of the mainstream and will respond the way that “everyone agrees”. The Aunt Thelma’s of the world will not only find that they do think that it’s time to let Sue’s kid (he’s such a fine young man) and his partner marry, but that they are rather proud of how modern and current they are.
And this will be followed – at a few years distance – by legislative change. Politicians are followers, not leaders, so they will not be ahead of the people on this issue.
But when the Minnesota Marriage Ban Amendment fails in 2012, as I predict that it will, this will be the end of calls by anti-gay activists to “let the people vote”. And if the Supreme Court has not invalidated such bans by then, we will see initiative efforts to reverse the anti-gay bans in states like Oregon, California, and Nevada.
None of which means that we can rest on our laurels or quit the fight. As they lose, anti-gays will mount ever shriller campaigns and they may get rather painful and the South will cross the line to full equality only after dragging its feet, kicking and screaming. But while there are still battles to go, we have won the war.
Gary Gates defends his LGBT estimates
April 9th, 2011
Gary Gates of UCLA’s Williams Institute has written an op-ed in the Washington Post defending his decision to estimate the LGBT population. Gates does not speak to the criticism about his methods, which is unfortunate.
He does, however, address a greater concern, one which I share:
These facts matter because legislatures, courts and voters across the country are debating how LGBT people should live their lives. All parties deserve to be informed by fresh research, not a six-decade-old study. We should be able to search the standard places where scholars and policy advocates go for information about the health and well-being of Americans — all Americans. Places such as the Census Bureau’s decennial count and American Community Survey, the premier sources of demographic data in this country. Or the National Health Interview Survey, a primary source of information about Americans’ health. Or the Current Population Survey, the preeminent source of information about the nation’s economic well-being. Or the National Crime Victimization Survey, where we get most of our data about experiences of crime.
But searching these sources for information about LGBT people would be largely futile. None ask questions about sexual orientation or gender identity.
How many LGBT folk are there?
April 8th, 2011
Some time ago I set out to discover to just what extent are gay and bisexual people infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). But to do that, I had to figure out just how many people are gay or bisexual. But, as I noted at the time, this is not an easy demographic to define:
To know how many gay people there are, one has to explain what one means by “gay person”. And there are several ways to approach this.
Just a few decades ago, self identification would be a useless parameter. Two men could have lived together for decades and been known to friends and family as a devoted couple without either being willing to be publicly identified as “gay” or “homosexual”. Even today, epidemiologists are careful to use terms such as “men who have sex with men (MSM)” so as to include for health purposes those who do not use LGBT identifications.
But sexual behavior is also not a good indicator. Some gay or bisexual persons may identify publicly as gay and yet for personal reasons choose not to be sexually active. A self-identified gay Christian, for example, may elect celibacy or may defer sexual activity until united in the bonds of a committed relationship but they are no less “gay” than the man with a life partner or the woman living for her next sexual conquest.
Perhaps the best definition would be those who are exclusively or primarily attracted to the same sex. But this definition might also include ex-gays and others who would object to being so identified. And for purposes of discussions of “gay community”, it’s hardly fair to include those who have no communion with other gay persons.
Others, thinking in terms of community, might include as “queer” all persons who do not identify at heterosexual. But to my way of thinking this is far too broad for our purposes, including asexual persons, anti-sexual persons, and those who choose to avoid labels, regardless of sexual attractions.
But, relying on what was, at that time, the best info available: an abstract of the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth put out by the Centers for Disease Control, I came up with an answer. And as the Survey allowed me to look at more than one possible definition – and as I got to the same result either way – I could state with a measure of confidence the following:
I think it fair to state that at least 2.3% of men are gay and at least 4.1% are “gay or bisexual”.
I think it fair to state that at least 1.4% of women are gay and at least 4.1% are “gay or bisexual”.
Although this is based on assumptions, by applying the above percentages it is reasonable to state that there are at least 5.3 million gay or bisexual men and at least 5.5 million gay or bisexual women above the age of 15 living in the United States, for a total GLB Community of at least 10.8 million people.
I have generally stuck with my limited analysis waiting for additional or better information. But now Gary Gate of UCLA’s Williams Institute has undertaken the task of assessing the available data and coming up with an answer to that elusive question.
Gates is perhaps the foremost demographer studying the LGBT community. The information that has now become recognized about where gay families are (virtually everywhere) and what census data could tell us about them came primarily from Gates and the Williams Institute. When his Gay and Lesbian Atlas came out in 2004, it tossed over the apple cart of presumptions about same-sex families existing only in the cities.
So Gates’ findings have been given a level of credibility that has not been questioned. He is a specialist talking about his specialty. And, to my initial smug pleasure, Gates arrived at estimations that are not far from my own.
- An estimated 3.5% of adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and an estimated 0.3% of adults are transgender.
- This implies that there are approximately 9 million LGBT Americans, a figure roughly equivalent to the population of New Jersey.
- Among adults who identify as LGB, bisexuals comprise a slight majority (1.8% compared to 1.7% who identify as lesbian or gay).
But while I am impressed by his scholarly contributions and defer to his understanding of demographics, I am shocked at some of his premises, methodologies and conclusions. I think that as he further continues his work that he should challenge some presumptions both in analysis and in presentation.
Perhaps the weakest possible method for reconciling variances between study results would be to average them. Not all studies have equal likelihood of accuracy, equal methodology, equal statistical significance, or equal credibility. Outliers ought not have the same input, and a survey of ten people does not carry the same weight as a survey of ten thousand.
Additionally, the purpose of a survey weighs both on questions asked and the conclusions drawn. And let’s not pretend that a survey of Californians says much about Americans as a whole. Which leads me to question the inclusion of both the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions and the California Health Interview Survey.
So I am troubled by a methodology described as:
However, combining information from the population-based surveys considered in this brief offers a mechanism to produce credible estimates for the size of the LGBT community. Specifically, estimates for sexual orientation identity will be derived by averaging results from the five US surveys identified in Figure 1.
I cannot tell from Gate’s description of his methodology whether he gave weight based on sample size or took other steps to smooth the results. Nor is it clear what sort of margin of error can be relied upon in Gate’s calculations.
But considering that we are talking about small numbers to begin with, I am concerned that “averaging results” can lead to results that are statistically meaningless.
Adopting the lowest possible estimate
I recognize and appreciate the value of estimating conservatively. This is the hallmark of a good demographer and demonstrates professionalism over advocacy. However, when dealing with a population which you know for certain is underestimated, it is not accurate to set the lowest estimate as though it were the the truest estimate.
And even if one is estimating those gay and lesbian people who so identify (as opposed to other measures), it is a given that public surveys under-count your population. There are virtually no people who will identify on a survey as being gay when they are not. But there are a not-insignificant number who do identify as gay – to themselves, their friends, their family – but who will not disclose their orientation in a survey.
So language that says “are” rather than “at least” falsely implies that the lowest number is accurate.
Male and Female Sexuality
Gates does note that the gay/bi breakout is not mirrored between gay men and lesbians. But I don’t think that he adequately emphasizes, or perhaps even recognizes, the extent and complexity of this difference.
Based on my experiences writing here, reviewing the literature, and discussing the issue with others who approach sexuality from different perspectives, I’ve come to conclude that male and female sexuality is very different. Men and women, and especially gay men and women, experience attraction differently, respond to it differently, and have differing incidences of fluidity in sexual desire.
So it is not only a simplistic presentation to ‘average’ the results of male and female sexual identity, but it presents a false picture of both. So while “Women are substantially more likely than men to identify as bisexual” is informative, the following is a useless statistic:
Among adults who identify as LGB, bisexuals comprise a slight majority (1.8% compared to 1.7% who identify as lesbian or gay).
A better set of bullet points – less likely to be distorted by dishonest or lazy media – would be to report what the demographics tell us about each group (to the extent that they do). For example, Gates would have been both more informative and more accurate to say:
- At least 3.5% of adults in the United States, around 9 million people, identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
- Of men, at least 2.2% identify as gay and an additional 1.4% as bisexual. Of women, at least 1.1% identify as lesbian and an additional 2.2% as bisexual.
And even that is not fully informative. Those of us in the community are well aware that identifying as bisexual rather than gay is often as much a matter of caution as it is a reflection of internal perception.
For some reason Gates found it necessary to discuss difference between the sexual identity, sexual behavior, and sexual attraction of Americans by looking to surveys in Canada, the UK, and Australia. I think it fairly obvious that distinctions between attraction and identity are driven to a large part by culture. And it is also fairly obvious that Australian attitudes do not well explain the identity of Americans.
While his estimates of gay men and gay women were sloppy, his estimates of transgender Americans are, at best, fanciful.
Gates achieves his estimate by averaging two surveys, one of which was at 0.1% and one of which was at 0.5%. This is nonsense. Frankly there isn’t enough data to make any credible estimate, and Gates should know better.
When you are averaging two numbers, one of which is five times the other, and both of which are pretty much in your margin of error, anything you come up with is little more than a guess.
Gates should simply have noted that there is an additional demographic, likely less than one half of one percent of the population, of persons who identify as being transgender and left it at that. Even “likely less than one half of one percent” is aggressive, considering the scarcity of raw data.
To put a numerical value (0.3%, or 700,000) is to distort reality and misapply his profession. This does a service to no one.
I was initially pleased by Gates’ efforts. Finally someone credible was attempting to answer that oft-guessed-at but seldom analyzed question as to just how big the LGBT community might be. And I also felt validated that his answers so closely mirrored the conclusions of my limited efforts. Points for me!
But upon closer inspection, this report is notable as much by its limitations and failings as it is by its effort to provide an answer.
I don’t disagree with Gates’ conclusions, necessarily. They are in the ballpark of reasonable, however shoddily he got there. And they serve a purpose in that they can – I hope finally – put an end to Kinsey’s 10% figures.
But this report should be treated as nothing more than a stepping stone. An interim effort on which future work can build. And it is on this that Gary Gates and I agree:
Understanding the size of the LGBT population is a critical first step to informing a host of public policy and research topics. The surveys highlighted in this report demonstrate the viability of sexual orientation and gender identity questions on large national population-based surveys. Adding these questions to more national, state, and local data sources is critical to developing research that enables a better understanding of the understudied LGBT community.