Marylanders support marriage
January 25th, 2011
First a little venting. If you are a research and polling company and you put out a press release about your latest poll, put the friggin thing on your website so people can read it!
Gonzales Research conducts a recurring poll about issues of importance in Maryland. And their results provide additional support for the quest to achieve marriage equality in that state (I’ll provide a link when I find it). (WaPo)
In the poll, 51 percent of voters say they would favor a law in Maryland allowing same-sex couples to marry, while 44 percent opposed such a law and 5 percent gave no response.
The poll has a 3.5% margin of error.
Another ill-contrived circumcision study
December 8th, 2010
Should there be any researchers reading, let me give you a bit of advice: gay sex and straight sex are not identical. While most heterosexual men do not have penises inserted into their anuses with regularity, this is not an uncommon part of the sexual practices of many gay men.
And further, the easiest way that a gay guy can become infected with HIV is through anally receptive unprotected sex. That isn’t new, surprising, or even contested.
Yep, HIV transmission among gay men in the US is primarily due to taking it bare up the butt. And any research which seeks to understand factors contributing to HIV transmission which does not consider that simple fact is a complete waste of money and time.
And today we get word of yet another Wasted Money Study on whether circumcision impacts HIV transmission between gay men. Reuters:
In a study of more than 1,800 men from the U.S. and Peru, researchers found that overall, the risk of contracting HIV over 18 months did not significantly differ between circumcised and uncircumcised men.
Over the study period, 5 percent of the 1,365 uncircumcised men became HIV-positive, as did 4 percent of the 457 circumcised men, according to findings published in the journal AIDS.
Well, gee, that information would be useful to know… if the study wasn’t conducted in a mind-numbingly stupid way.
Because, you see, that study doesn’t take into consideration whether the men were engaging in receptive or penetrative anal sex. I just assumes that gay men pass HIV to other gay men in some unknown and mysterious manner. Maybe by osmosis.
Well guess what? It really doesn’t matter one iota whether a bottom’s penis is circumcised, pierced, tattooed, or wearing a funny hat if he has semen up his butt. And any study that focuses only on whether a penis is circumcised – but not what you’re doing with it – is going to provide useless information.
I will give this study partial credit for even wondering, as a side note, whether circumcision impacts the transmission of guys who are using their penises in penetrative anal sex. And while they couldn’t bother to craft a study that looked at that issue, they did at least ask. Kinda.
And guess what?
The researchers did find some hints that circumcision could be protective among men who primarily had insertive sex with other men. Among men who said they’d had insertive sex with their last three male partners at least 60 percent of the time, circumcision was linked to a 69 percent lower HIV risk.
That difference, however, was not statistically significant, which means the finding could be due to chance.
But the truly stupid aspects of this Wasted Money Study isn’t limited to having no concept whatsoever about how HIV is transmitted. It also made these glaring errors:
Male circumcision is far more common in the U.S. than in most other countries, and 82 percent of the 462 American men in the study were circumcised, compared with just 6 percent of the 1,360 Peruvian men.
D’ya think that this may be a material difference in populations? That perhaps there are differences between the cultures, practices, or even extent of HIV exposure between the two countries?
All of the men in the study reported having sex with other men and were considered to be at increased risk of HIV infection because they were already infected with the genital herpes virus (herpes simplex type 2), which can make people more susceptible to HIV.
So we’re talking about men who potentially have open sores… which are known to be ways in which HIV enters the body… but all that can be ignored to discuss the results of circumcision.
None of which discouraged declarations based on the results of the “study”
Taken together, the results “indicate no overall protective benefit from male circumcision” when it comes to male-to-male HIV transmission, write the researchers, led by Dr. Jorge Sanchez of the research organization Impacta Peru, in Lima.
No, Dr. Sanchez, taken together the results indicate an incredibly stupid study which tells us absolutely nothing whatsoever about circumcision and HIV transmission and was a complete waste of time and money. I really hope that my tax dollars did not fund your folly.
We don’t really need studies that inform us that anally receptive men don’t reduce their HIV risk by becoming circumcised. They also aren’t benefited by having flocked wall-paper or a charming haircut.
But I, for one, would be interested in a study that looked at whether HIV transmission could be reduced by means of circumcision among anally penetrative men. That question has not been answered (this Wasted Money Study, notwithstanding) and it would be beneficial to know whether circumcision is a risk mitigator among this subset of gay men, and to what extent.
And, I guess they did add that recommendation to their nonsensical reporting of their results.
They add that studies should continue to look at whether circumcision affects HIV risk from insertive sex and do so in larger, more diverse study groups.
Yeah. Ya think?
An obvious but necessary report about depression
December 6th, 2010
One of the tools used by those who deeply desire to make your life more stressful and difficult are statistics about depression. Because, yes, gay people suffer higher levels of depression.
And while it’s pretty obvious that being treated with contempt by the government, many families, more than a few churches, about half the politicians, and a whole lot of society would certainly seem like a cause for depression and a threat to mental health, anti-gays would like society to believe that homosexuality is inherently a cause of mental illness, if not a mental illness itself. They argue that somehow homosexual behavior (because “no one is really gay”) is so obviously against “natural law” that the depression we feel is really guilt and shame over our deviance.
Now a new study provides evidence of the correlation between family support and mental health. (Time)
Now a study reveals for the first time the impact that a supportive family can have on the physical and mental health of gay, lesbian and bisexual children. Researchers led by Caitlin Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Project, a research, education and policy initiative designed to better understand the role that sexual orientation has on family dynamics, found that teens from families who supported their sexual orientation were less likely to abuse drugs, experience depression or attempt suicide than those in less accepting families. The teens in the more supportive environments also self-reported higher levels of self-esteem and self-worth.
Oh, and as for “helping” your kids by trying to make them heterosexual… well, Exodus isn’t going to like this study much.
Ryan points out, for example, that parents who tried to show support by attempting to change their children’s sexual preferences — in order to help their children become more accepted in school and society — were instead perceived as rejecting their child’s individuality and sexual expression. “What we showed was that by trying to prevent a child from learning about their sexual identity or from being part of support groups, or by telling them they are ashamed of them or not talking about their sexual identity, these kinds of reactions are rejecting behaviors that are all linked to negative health and mental health outcomes in children when they become adults,” says Ryan.
Now those who believe that Teh Gheys are a threat to all that is good and dear will just ignore this study. They aren’t that much invested in reality to begin with, and they are quite suspicious of things that challenge the “Truth” that the have chosen to believe.
But this study will be quite useful to decent folk who aren’t really sure what to do. It lists specific responses – dos and don’ts – for how to keep your kid feeling supported and healthy.
Pew: strong support for DADT repeal
November 29th, 2010
The Pew Forum released a poll today which continues to document the public’s support for repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
As the Pentagon prepares to release its highly anticipated survey of military personnel about the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, most Americans (58%) say they favor allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the armed forces. Fewer than half that number (27%) oppose allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly.
That is a fairly static statistic, with little change over the past five years. And, as has been the case for years, support for repeal is broad with strong Democrat support and nearly as many Republicans favoring repeal as opposing it.
It is sad to see politicians pandering to a subset of a demographic to continue discrimination that is not wanted by the American people.
DADT Survey leak: most troops don’t care
October 29th, 2010
The survey of troops and their families about their attitudes on repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has been completed and the results have been compiled. And while the analysis of the results continues and the report will not be available until December 1, some information has been leaked to the media. (WaPo)
A majority of active-duty and reserve service members surveyed by the Defense Department would not object to serving and living alongside openly gay troops, according to multiple people familiar with the findings.
The survey’s results are expected to be included in a Pentagon report, due to President Obama on Dec. 1, regarding how the military would end enforcement of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law that bans openly gay men and lesbians from serving in uniform.
Some troops surveyed – but not a majority – objected strongly to the idea of serving with gays and said they would quit the military if the policy changed, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly share details of the survey.
Terms such as “a majority” and “some troops” are probably useless at this point for anything other than political positioning, but considering that it had been feared that only those most motivated by anti-gay animus would answer the survey, I am encouraged by this leak and am hopeful that the end result will not be a document that will allow Senator McCain much ammunition in his war against openly gay soldiers.
Pew Research: for first time, majority of Americans do not oppose same-sex marraige
October 6th, 2010
The Pew Research Center has released its annual report on public opinions on same-sex marriage. And while Pew does show support levels for marriage equality that have been observed in other polls, they are reporting the same sort of uptick in support that others have shown. According to Pew, marriage is now supported by 42% and opposed by 48%, the first time that they have observed less than half opposing equality.
Polls this year have found that more Americans favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally than did so just last year. In two polls conducted over the past few months, based on interviews with more than 6,000 adults, 42% favor same-sex marriage while 48% are opposed. In polls conducted in 2009, 37% favored allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally and 54% were opposed. For the first time in 15 years of Pew Research Center polling, fewer than half oppose same-sex marriage.
Pew provides a great deal of breakdown on exactly who is supportive and who is opposed. And while the results are predictable (supporters are younger, educated, Democratic, liberal, and female), there are sizable portions of non-traditional supporters who now favor equality:
38% – men
35% – Southerners
34% – high-school or less
30% – African Americans
28% – age 65 or older
24% – Republicans
16% – “conservative” Republicans
14% – white Evangelicals who attend church weekly
While some of these numbers are small, they are the one which give me the most hope. If a quarter of all Republicans (and 1 in 7 conservative Republicans) support equality, then it can no longer be assumed that the party will hold together much longer in ideological opposition to decency.
These smaller percentages still influence the conversation at the senior center or the church potluck and challenge presumptions that might otherwise yield near unanimity of opposition to our rights among some demographics. And all of these categories show increases in support over the last year.
NSSHB on gay percentages
October 5th, 2010
Indiana University’s Center for Sexual Health Promotion has released its National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, what is dubbed “the largest, most comprehensive national survey of Americans’ sexual behavior since 1994.” As part of its extensive review of American sex practices, the NSSHB also provides information on the prevalence of gay people in the population.
Determining the size of the LGBT community is difficult. Even defining it can be a challenge.
I define a homosexual as someone who exclusively or predominantly experiences romantic and/or sexual attraction towards persons of the same sex. A bisexual experiences significant romantic and/or sexual attraction towards person of both sexes.
But measuring such characteristics can be problematic. Because same-sex attraction occurs in small percentages of the population and because there are few ways of measuring attraction that can be applied across a large study sample, calculation of the size of the gay and bisexual subpopulation relies on self-reporting, a notoriously flawed method. Self-reporting is only as accurate as the participants’ honesty with themselves and with the survey and requires that there be some agreed upon definitions.
Further, sexuality can be complex. I once had a conversation about sexual definitions with someone who was dating a MTF transgender friend of mine. While he was attracted to her femininity and appearance (she’s a beautiful woman), there was also the fact that she still had a penis.
Most good studies try and observe both sexual identity and sexual behavior. Neither of these exactly line up with sexual attraction, (there are some who experience predominantly same-sex attractions but who neither identify as gay or engage in same-sex behavior, as well as some who fit in one category but not the other). However, when taken in conjunction, they can provide information as to homosexual or bisexual orientation. The NSSHB presents both.
Before we discuss the results, let’s look at the validity of the survey and the appropriateness of relying on its findings. The NSSHB is not intended to be a measurement of same-sex sexuality, but rather a measure of human sexuality in Americans at a particular moment. However, if it is of sufficient size and quality, it can be of use.
The study used probability sampling to survey 2,936 men and 2,929 women age 14 to 94. They randomly selected addresses from a pool of about 98% of the population. They adjusted for demographic distribution and invited those selected to participate. About 64% responded, of which 82% agreed to participate. The questions were answered at the participant’s convenience over the internet.
This sampling method is fairly good for the purpose of identifying participants. However, it is skewed towards those who wish to participate in sex surveys, a consideration that could either over- or under-represent gay people. The sample results were verified against separately collected data on sexual orientation.
All in all, this is a credible survey of a fairly representative sample of significant size and should be given weight and consideration when discussing the extent of homosexual and bisexual orientation.
In general, sexual identity measures best add to the understanding of those who are “in the gay community.” It includes those who think of themself as being gay, but would not include those who are closeted, ex-gay, religiously opposed to self-inclusion in the community, or even some who happily live in a same-sex relationship but who see their lives as outside of the community.
Additionally, for purposes of self-reporting, it is well known and understood that gay is under-reported and bisexual is over-reported within the community (we all know someone whose “bisexuality” consists of one drunken opposite-sex hook-up in college). So it is probably reasonable to assume that surveys share this bias as well
As time goes on, identity will more closely parallel attraction, but for as long as there are anti-gay activists and social pressures which disadvantage those who are openly gay, this measure will not fully align with sexual orientation as experienced.
The NSSHB study revealed sexual identity as follows:
92.2% – Heterosexual
4.2% – Gay
2.6% – Bisexual
1.0% – Other
93.1% – Heterosexual
0.9% – Lesbian
3.6% – Bisexual
2.3% – Other
Unfortunately, with “other” registering so high, it is difficult to give any sense of certainty as to what this means. Certainly asexual or “not really sure” can be included, but there may be other cultural factors at play which shift definition from “gay” to “other”.
But we can say that this study reveals that about 7% of men and about 4.5% of women identify as gay or bisexual. This result is significantly higher – for men – than the result of the CDC’s 2005 report which found gay/bi men to be 2.3/1.8% and gay/bi women to be 1.3/2.8%.
Based on the two reports, and due to the small percentages and the margins of error, “4-7% of men and about 4% of women” may be the best quantification we can use for gay/bi identification.
Another interesting observation can be made from the identity results. Adolescents boys (14 to 17) report 1.8% gay and 1.5% bisexual while adolescent girls report 0.2% lesbian and 8.4% bisexual. These identities probably reflect social pressures to a great extent and may tell us about sharp differences between teenage acceptance of male homosexuality and female homosexuality, and especially the chic status that bisexuality may have among teen girls.
In current American society, sexual behavior can be hard to translate into orientation.
Many people whose sexual orientation is virtually entirely heterosexual may have experimented with same-sex behavior at some point in their life and such responses may not well correlate with homosexuality. But there are those who may also be fully homosexual in orientation and identity who are currently partnerless or who choose not to engage in same-sex behavior. So it would be foolish to equate single sexual experiences with homosexuality or bisexuality or even same-sex attraction.
Some indicators, however may be better than others. For example, it might be reasonable to assume that men who perform oral sex on another man are more likely to be same-sex attracted than a man who lays back, closes his eyes, and says, “hey, a blowj*b is a blowj*b.” And there is probably not a significant percentage of the population who regularly are anal sex recipients yet who lack any same-sex attraction.
Figures at both ends of the age scale were lower than average (due to obvious reasons), but looking at those men between the ages of 20 and 60 who “gave oral to male” we find
4.4% – during the past month
6.3% – during the past year
10.3% – during lifetime
Men between the ages of 20 and 60 who “received penis in anus” were
1.9% – during the past month
4.2% – during the past year
7.9% – during lifetime
These calculations are composite from individual age groups (for example, 10.8% of 20-24 year olds have been anally receptive) and do not take into consideration the probability range. However, they do confirm that the 7% of men who identify as gay or bisexual is a minimum number.
Women between the ages of 20 and 60 who “gave oral to female” were
0.9% – during the past month
3.1% – during the past year
11.0% – during lifetime
These numbers correlate interestingly with the lesbian/bisexual identities as reported above, and confirm that the 4.5% of women who identify as gay or bisexual is likely a minimum number.
In addition to providing information about the prevalence of homosexuality in society, this study blows the myth off the assumptions about “what gay sex is.” About 40% of heterosexuals (age 20 to 60) have engaged in anal sex, and about 15% have in the last year.
Oral sex is even more predominant. For example, of men aged 30 to 39, 49.4% received oral sex from a woman in the past month, and 38.1% reciprocated. Lifetime percentages of adults ranges averaged in the high 80s for both.
When anti-gay activists rant about the “dirty and diseased” aspect of gay sexuality, they are deceiving both themselves and their readers. Both anal sex and oral sex occurs far more frequently between heterosexuals than between gay or bisexual people.
Do a majority of Americans support marriage equality?
September 17th, 2010
Last month the New York Times reported that there were 17 states in which a majority of residents favored marriage equality. I dismissed it as wishful thinking. But today there is an AP poll out with numbers that are even more fantastical and which suggests that support for equality is increasing at an unexpected rate.
NCC10. Should couples of the same sex be entitled to the same government benefits as married couples of the opposite sex, or should the government distinguish between them?
58% – Yes, should be entitled to the same benefits
38% – No, should distinguish between them
3% – Don’t know
1% – Refused
NCC12. Should the Federal Government give legal recognition to marriages between couples of the same sex, or not?
52% – Yes
46% – No
2% – Don’t know
Additionally, there were a couple questions and responses which suggests that anti-gay complaints about “activist judges” may not be an effective strategy.
NCC4. And how about these, which do you agree with more?
35% – If a majority of people want something to happen, the rights of a few shouldn’t stand in the way
62% – The rights of everyone should be protected, even when that means saying no to something the majority of people want to happen.
2% – Don’t know
1% – Refused
NCC18. Which comes closest to your view?
41% – Judges should interpret the laws as narrowly as possible, taking into account only what is
clearly the intention of the lawmakers
56% – Judges should interpret laws broadly, taking into account the broader interests of the
3% – Don’t know
This was based on a telephone survey (land and cell) of 1,007 participants around the third week of August and has a sampling margin of +/-4.5%. This was a survey of the populace, not of voters.
I still have difficulty in claiming that more than half of Americans support marriage equality. However, even if this poll is an outlier or an anomaly, the days are gone when anti-gays can claim that “the vast majority of Americans” oppose recognition of gay couples.
Irish eyes are smiling at you
September 15th, 2010
From Ireland Today:
Just over two-thirds of people (67 per cent) believe gay couples should be allowed to marry, according to an Irish Times /Behaviour Attitudes social poll.
In addition showing strong support for gay marriage, a significant majority (60 per cent) also believe civil partnerships for gay couples will not undermine the institution of marriage. A large majority (91 per cent) also say they would not think less of a person if they revealed they were gay or lesbian.
If I translate that correctly, there is some percentage who support marriage for same sex couple because they fear the civil partnerships undermine the institution. Personally, I think there is merit in that argument.
Ireland’s civil partnerships law become effective in January and politicians are already planning ahead for full marriage equality. I wonder if the Pope is noticing the same correlation as the rest of us?
CBS Poll: support increases for couples
August 27th, 2010
CBS has a new poll out which asks a slew of questions on a broad range of subjects, and a few of them related to gay issues.
Supporting gay marriage, however, is a very different and very public matter… The American people — including over 80% of Republicans and even 40% of Democrats — oppose same-sex marriage. NOM has already proven in races from New York to California that it is a particularly bad idea for Republicans to support gay marriage.
First up was marriage:
q57 Which comes closest to your view? 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?
40% – Allowed to legally marry
30% – Civil unions
25% – No legal recognition
5% – don’t know / no answer
We are now seeing some consistency to support for full marriage equality. In April, CBS reported 39% in favor of equality, and this confirms that April’s response was not a fluke.
But more importantly, the opposition to any legal recognition appears to be weakening For quite some time, nationally the polls have revealed a fairly even 1/3 split between marriage, civil unions, and nothing. At 25% is the lowest I’ve seen reported in the “nothing” category.
As for Maggie’s assertions about Republicans, they just don’t seem to hold up to the facts (like so very much that she says). Actually, Maggie and other opponents of gay couples also appear to be losing their sole demographic.
According to this poll, only 37% of Republicans oppose all recognition, while one in four Republicans now support marriage equality with an additional 34% opting of civil unions. Considering that well over half of Republicans now support couple recognition, this may well help us understand the party’s silence on both of the recent Massachusetts and California judicial decisions and the “congratulations” response to Kel Mehlman’s recent decision to come out. And Maggie’s increasing appearance of anger and depression.
Next came DADT:
q58 Do you favor or oppose permitting gay men and lesbians to serve in the military? Do
you favor/oppose that strongly or not so strongly?
54% – Favor strongly
21% – Favor not so strongly
10% – Oppose not so strongly
9% – Oppose strongly
6% – Don’t know / didn’t answer
No real surprises. As we have long known, large majorities of Americans favor gay service personnel (including 70% of Republicans). This number is up about 5% from earlier this year, mostly from the undecideds.
What is interesting is that 61% of Americans who have served or are currently serving in the military agree (sorry, Elaine Donnelly).
But then CBS skewed their own survey by asking the question a second time, but this time emphasizing “openly announcing their sexual orientation”.
q59 What if they openly announce their sexual orientation? in that case would you favor
or oppose permitting gay men and lesbians to serve in the military?
This is odd phrasing; “openly announce” suggests some form of aggressive activism.
Further, by asking again, CBS implies that this should change your answer. Any time a pollster asks, “yeah, but what if…” it will almost always result in some who question their first response and instinctively change it.
The poll would have been much more accurate had it simply asked the first question with the word “openly” before gay. I very much doubt that q58 would have had different results, as that is what most people would think they were answering anyway. But by asking a second loaded question, the “favor” numbers dropped by 11%.
NY Times: 17 states support marriage equality
August 24th, 2010
The New York Times released a graph in which they claim that 17 states have support for marriage equality at 50% or higher. I think that’s a pipe dream; the polls I’ve seen simply don’t support it.
But, nonetheless, there is value to be found in looking at the progress made in the past decade and a half. And even if their numbers are off by 5 to 10 percent, there are still a sizable number of states that either support equality or soon will.
Rhode Islanders support marriage
August 19th, 2010
Greenburg Quinlan Rosler has conducted a poll of
Maine Rhode Island residents for the Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders about marriage attitudes in Rhode Island. Although this is a gay-sponsored poll and I have a problem with one part, it does not appear to be conducted in a way that would provide significantly invalid results.
The first 15 questions were either demographic or related to general political issues. Then there were several questions on gay issues. The first three were:
Now, I’d like to rate your feelings toward some people and organizations, with one hundred meaning a VERY WARM, FAVORABLE feeling; zero meaning a VERY COLD, UNFAVORABLE feeling; and fifty meaning not particularly warm or cold. You can use any number from zero to one hundred, the higher the number the more favorable your feelings are toward that person or organization. If you have no opinion or never heard of that person or organization, please say so.
16. Gay and lesbian people
45% responded with warm feelings
18% responded with cool feelings
61% the average response number
17. Gay rights groups
35% responded with warm feelings
27% responded with cool feelings
52% the average response number
18. Currently there is a bill being considered in the State General Assembly that would allow equal access to marriage for same-sex couples. Churches, clergy and other religious institutions would NOT be required to perform same-sex marriages. Do you favor or oppose this bill?
34% – Strongly favor
23% – Somewhat favor
12% – Somewhat oppose
20% – Strongly oppose
10% – (Don’t know/refused)
I’m not sure to what extent that the warm/cold questions influenced the answers on marriage. As they were not particularly leading, I doubt by much. And “allow equal access to marriage” is somewhat more likely to yield positive results than “allow same-sex couples to legally marry”, but again this may not be consequential.
However, I do think that reminding participants that religious institutions are not required to perform same-sex marriages can play a roll in driving polling results. Though on an issue this divided, perhaps not by more than five or six points and then likely would mostly show movement between the “favors” and “don’t knows”.
So even with this poll’s flaws, I think it is probably fair to say that a majority of Rhode Islanders support marriage equality and that opposition to same-sex marriage in Rhode Island is weak.
And probably the most important contributor to the support in Rhode Island is found in question 30:
Do you personally know or work with someone who is gay or lesbian?
79% – Yes
19% – No
Three quarters of military could not care less about repealing DADT
August 18th, 2010
It is becoming increasingly evident that the most significant disturbance that the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell could have on the morale of the troops may well be the annoyance of having to fill out a survey. Because they certainly don’t seem to be in any rush to inform the Pentagon of their concerns, if they have any.
A few weeks ago, the military brass had to come out and make statements encouraging soldiers to fill out their surveys. It was very important so that they could “understand possible impacts associated by repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law.” And at that time, they only had a 10% response rate.
Well, the deadline has passed and not many responded to the DOD’s appeal. (Wendy City Times)
Department of Defense spokeswoman Cynthia Smith told CNN that just two days before the Aug. 15 deadline about 104,000 of the 400,000 100-question surveys had been returned.
This is about the expected response rate for a long survey. But this survey was special; it was the opportunity for military personnel to weigh in on a matter which was before Congress and which some Senators are convinced is of great importance to them.
And they really just couldn’t care less. Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, said,
“From what we are hearing, troops have little interest in this survey and simply just don’t care about this policy change,” he said. “While the Department of Defense and Westat [ the research firm behind the survey ] are spinning the low response rate to the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ survey as expected and sufficient, neither are disclosing the fact that the military leaders have had to put significant pressure on troops on multiple occasions to even get this level of response.”
Nicholson added, “Some commanders and senior leaders have even told subordinates that participation is mandatory. These occurrences further degrade the credibility of this survey’s methodology and violate ethical standards that prevent researchers from compelling respondents to participate in survey research.”
Although Congress is fretting over the horrible possibility of troop morale being decimated, the men and women of the military have looked at this whole conflict and answered. With a collective yawn.
The Trib spins their own poll in an odd way
August 16th, 2010
Rex Huppke, writing in the Chicago Tribune, has an article today about a Chicago area poll they conducted on same sex marriage. I can’t find the poll results themselves, but the way they report it is downright peculiar.
They start and end with how immoral some find same-sex relationships, but their numbers – when they show them – don’t back that up. But even the numbers seem to be elusive.
Look at paragraph two:
Young, of Oak Lawn, says his opinions on homosexuality are grounded in his Christian faith, but his willingness to support gay marriage puts him in the minority among Chicago-area suburbanites. In a recent Tribune/WGN poll, 46 percent of suburban residents said they oppose legalizing same-sex marriage, while 40 percent approve and 14 percent have no opinion.
OK. Now look at paragraph six:
The overall opinion on legalizing same-sex marriage, when city respondents are factored in, is split: 42 percent oppose it, 42 percent support it and 15 percent have no opinion. The Market Shares Corp. telephone poll of 800 male and female heads of household from the six-county Chicago area has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
They tell us that suburbanites don’t like gay marriage so much, but that when city residents are included, the response is split. But look what’s missing.
Clearly – though the Trib doesn’t tell us so – the math requires that city residents split the other way; more city residents have to approve of marriage equality than disapprove. But since the Trib decided not to share that fact, we don’t know by what extent.
You would think that “Chicago residents support gay marriage” would be an interesting headline. Or at least worthy of making the story.
And the three examples that the Trib ran with to share the residents’ perspective: One supports civil unions but not marriage (but only as a live and let live idea), one opposes both marriage and civil unions, and the sole supporter of marriage thinks that same-sex relationships are immoral. Not a single example was given of those who think that same-sex relationships are a good thing.
If 42% of the area’s residents support marriage, you’d think that maybe the author could find one of them to interview. It’s odd, Huppke has written a number of articles that address gay issues and he doesn’t seem to have a history of animosity towards the gay community.
Fox poll on marriage equality
August 14th, 2010
Fox News has conducted a poll about same-sex couple recognition
Do you believe gays and lesbians should be:
1. Allowed to get legally married,
2. Allowed a legal partnership similar to but not called marriage, or
3. Should there be no legal recognition given to gay and lesbian relationships?
4. (Don’t know)
37% – married
29% – partnership
28% – no recognition
6% – don’t know
This poll shows improvement over past polls. For the first time in Fox’s polling, marriage was the favored option.
Less than half of Nevadans oppose marriage equality
August 14th, 2010
QUESTION: Do you support or oppose legalizing gay marriage in Nevada?
35% – Support
46% – Oppose
19% – Undecided
Although only 35% support legalizing gay marriage, the large undecided block suggests political shift in the past few years.
Opposition to legalizing gay marriage in Nevada appears to have thawed somewhat in the years since voters approved a state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
A 2002 poll showed 60 percent of Nevadans supported a ban on gay marriage and 36 percent opposed the ban. Also that year, two-thirds of Nevadans approved the Protection of Marriage constitutional amendment.
The large undecided block may also reflect the timing of the poll, which was taken after Judge Walker found Proposition 8 to be in violation of the US Constitution. Nevada has domestic partnerships which provide all of the state rights and obligations of marriage under a separate name, similar to California.
The poll also found that gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval, a pro-choice Hispanic Republican who supported the Domestic Partnership bill, has a significant lead over Rory Reid, the Democratic candidate for Governor. As best I can tell, neither support full marriage equality.
How to conduct a fraudulent “poll”
August 13th, 2010
Hello, my name is Timothy and I’m from Fraudulent Polling, Inc., a national polling agency. Can I ask you a few questions about issues that you will face in the upcoming election? Thank you.
First I’d like to get your views on some general subjects. Please answer yes or no to the following:
* Do you kill and eat little frisky puppies and fluffy kittens?
* Do you think that those who eat little frisky puppies and fluffy kittens should be entitled to special rights?
* Do you think that people should be forced at gunpoint to kill and eat little frisky puppies and fluffy kittens?
* Do you agree that an important role of government is to protect the weak from those who are depraved and a threat to others?
* Do you agree that inhumanity to little frisky puppies and fluffy kittens shows true depravity of character?
* Would you mostly support, completely support, or overwhelmingly support legislators who want to ban the slaughter and eating of puppies and kittens by passing the new Healthy Nutrition Act?
Press Release: A new poll found that by a huge majority, Americans support the Healthy Nutrition Act, a vegan-only bill which would charge anyone who engaged in the eating of any meat or any animal-based product with first degree murder.
Of course that is silliness. But it isn’t that far off the mark of what some unscrupulous characters do to try and convince others that their unpopular views have support. And they don’t get much more unscrupulous than Elaine Donnelly, the extremely wacky president of the anti-gay Center for Military Readiness.
Elaine has commissioned and released a new “poll” that claims that Americans oppose the overturn of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And it’s a doozie. In fact, it’s nearly a case-study of how to conduct a fraudulent “poll”.
And here are a few of the very obvious reasons why.
First, we checked to see who conducted the “research”. The political association of a pollster does not automatically disqualify their findings, but if there is strong ideological bent then one must question whether the poll is legitimate or simply propaganda.
In this case it is some outfit called “the polling company inc. / WomanTrend”. Sounds good, right? Sure, until you realize that the group is headed by conservative strategist Kellyanne Conway (whose husband was heavily involved in efforts to impeach Bill Clinton) and conducts “research” for the Heritage Foundation and other such organizations. Red flag, number one.
Then we looked at the options for answers. Rather than give a range of possibilities, most included only variations of the answers that supported Donnelly’s agenda. In some cases “I don’t know” or “neither” were not provided as an option, cuing the participant to instead select between choices that might not be optimal.
Then we inspected at the language and found it deceptive and dishonest. For example, look at this little phrase in the summary of the “poll”,
Respondents were informed at the beginning of the survey, “Throughout this survey, “gay or lesbian” and “homosexual” are used interchangeably.” Numerous questions throughout this poll employed the words “lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender persons”—terms that are used by leading advocates of overturning the law.
Well, that’s interesting. While it is true that “leading advocates” do use the term “lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender persons”, it is a complete lie that they use it in context of this law. Because while “transgenders in the barracks” may frighten the horses, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell does not impact transgender people one way or the other.
Finally we analyzed the order of the questions to see if they “push” the participants towards a mindset or a viewpoint before the big question is asked. And Conway and Donnelly’s questions were about the most blatant that I’ve ever seen.
We aren’t provided with the exactly language of the script but it appears that the following questions were asked in this order:
1. In 1993 Congress passed a law stating that homosexuals are not eligible to serve in the military. Please tell me whether you (ROTATE) agree or disagree with the following findings that are in the current law.
1.a. One finding says, QUOTE “The primary purpose of the armed forces is to prepare for and to prevail in combat should the need arise.” END QUOTE
1.b. One finding says, QUOTE “The military is a specialized society…that is characterized by its own laws, rules, customs, and traditions.” END QUOTE
OK, most everyone agreed to those two statements. These are not, of themselves, egregious questions, but they do set the tone and suggest that “the current law” has the right priorities. Let’s go on.
2. I will now read to you the opinions of two people. Please tell me which comes closest to your own view:
(ROTATED PERSON 1/PERSON 2)
Person 1: In considering this issue, Congress should listen mostly to advocates who want to overturn the law and to require the armed forces to accept professed lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in the military.
Person 2: In considering this issue, Congress should listen mostly to the four chiefs of staff of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, who have expressed concerns about overturning the current law.
This question pits “advocates who want to require transgender persons” against “the chiefs of staff who have expressed concern”. A completely false dichotomy. (Amusingly, in the footnotes they praise themselves for not using the phrase “gay activist group”). Not only is this not about transgender persons, but there is no mention that the repeal is supported by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
Yet, surprisingly, the support for person two was only 48% to 41%. Those pesky “advocates” and their transgender folk have more support than Conway and Donnelly like. So it’s time to smear the President.
3. In his 2008 campaign, Barack Obama promised that if he was elected President, he would seek to repeal, or overturn, the law regarding homosexuals in the military, often called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed the law in 1993. Do you believe he is assigning high priority to this issue (ROTATED) mostly out of principle or mostly for political reasons?
Not too surprisingly, 57% found that Obama’s imagined motivations for “assigning high priority” are the same as the same reasons that our community suspects for his doing damn well little on the matter.
But now that they’ve introduced sinister motivation, they now need to imply a threat:
4. Please tell me which comes closest to your own view:
(ROTATED PERSON 1/PERSON 2)
Person 1: If the current law is overturned, the military should attempt to change personal attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality and impose “zero tolerance” career penalties on anyone who disagrees for any reason, including religious convictions.
Person 2: Even if the current law is overturned, the military should not attempt to change personal attitudes and feelings toward human sexuality. Imposing career penalties on anyone who disagrees would discriminate against military personnel and chaplains who do not support homosexuality.
Ookie spookie. Those advocates want to engage in mind control and court martial those who go to church. Good wholesome Christian kids will be stockaded and chaplains will be beaten if they don’t endorse the radical militant homosexual agenda.
Scared enough yet? Oh, but there’s more. You knew it was coming…
5. The military should modify training programs to promote acceptance of openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in all military colleges, training programs, and schools run by the U.S. Defense Department.
Oh Noes! The children! They’re coming after the children!
6. Over the next six months, what should be the number one priority for Congress and the President?
(READ AND ROTATED. ACCEPTED ONLY ONE.)
Reducing Government spending/the deficit
Plugging the oil leak in the Gulf/cleaning up the oil spill
Winning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
Changing the law to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the Military
Well gosh, that proves that our legislators are Wasting! their Time! on these nefarious schemes because they can only do one thing at a time. And if DADT is overturned, jobs will be lost and pelicans will die.
And now, now that you know that it’s transgender advocates who are going against the most important purposes of the military and who are ignoring the concerns of military leaders so that they can push this unwanted effort to jail Christians and brainwash children, all of which is motivated by political cynicism, now let’s get your opinion.
7. Would you prefer that your elected representatives in Washington, DC (ROTATED) vote to overturn the 1993 law and allow homosexual persons to serve openly in the military, OR vote to keep the law as it is?
48% VOTE TO KEEP IT AS IT IS
45% VOTE TO OVERTURN
7% DO NOT KNOW/DEPENDS (VOLUNTEERED)
1% REFUSED (VOLUNTEERED)
And that’s how your conduct a completely fraudulent poll. It’s almost surprising that there weren’t questions about slaughtering puppies and kittens.
And amusingly, even after pushing the participants as hard as possible, less than half opposed repealing DADT. And even after trying to scare them with career penalties and brainwashed children, 34% of military members polled supported overturning DADT and enacting a “zero-tolerance” policy.
This is just downright funny. But what do you bet that John McCain ends up waiving it around in Washington.
CNN Poll: half of Americans think Constitution requires marriage equality
August 11th, 2010
Anti-gays like the National Organization for Marriage like to claim that Judge Walker thwarted the will of the vast majority of Americans by finding Proposition 8 to be in violation of the Constitution. Not so, according to a new poll from CNN:
37. Do you think gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to get married and have their marriage
recognized by law as valid?
37A. Do you think gays and lesbians should have a constitutional right to get married and have their
marriage recognized by law as valid?
No opinion 2%
Each question was asked of half their sample. The sampling error on these questions is +/- 4.5%
Marriage support in the Americas
July 22nd, 2010
Americas Quarterly gives a good summary of the current status of LGBT rights in the Americas. They also provide a graph of the support for marriage equality in the various nations. Based on the American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP), it provides more than a yes or no answer to the question of support.
With public policies toward gay marriage varying widely, this is a critical moment to look at citizens’ opinions with respect to same-sex marriage. First, we examine levels of support for same-sex couples having the right to marry. Then, we assess both individual- and national-level determinants of variation in that level of support. Analysis is drawn from data from the American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) survey, which includes 42,238 respondents from 25 nations in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean were asked this question:
We asked the following question: How strongly do you approve or disapprove of same-sex couples having the right to marry?
Responses were given based on a 1-10 scale, where ‘1’ meant “strongly disapprove” and ‘10’ meant “strongly approve.” These responses were then recalibrated on a 0-100 basis.
New Zealand researcher reports correlation between sexual behavior and childhood abuse
July 22nd, 2010
The New Zealand Mental Health Survey was a project between 2002 and 2003 in which 13,000 New Zealand residents were given face to face interviews on a number of subjects involving mental health. Dr. Elisabeth Wells of the University of Otago reviewed the data collected and announced that there was a correlation between childhood trauma and homsexuality (Otago Daily Times)
Information extracted from 13,000 face-to-face interviews clearly showed those with same-sexual or bisexual orientation were more likely to have experienced negative events in childhood, Associate Prof Elisabeth Wells said yesterday.
People who had experienced sexual abuse as children were three times more likely to identity themselves as homosexual or bisexual than those who had not experienced abuse, she said. Also, the more adverse events someone experienced in childhood, the more likely they were to belong to one of the “non-exclusively heterosexual” groups.
We can expect anti-gay activists to immediately jump to Dr. Well’s conclusions and declare them evidence that sexual orientation is a product of environment (and therefore – by some strange logic – gay people are not worthy of civil equality).
I have not yet obtained Dr. Well’s study. But sight unseen there are glaring problems with this research.
First, we should consider the sample quality: (NZHerald)
The study questioned 13,000 people aged 16 and over on mental health issues. Ninety-eight per cent of the respondents identified themselves as heterosexual, compared to 0.8 per cent identifying themselves as homosexual, 0.6 per cent as bisexual and 0.3 per cent as “something else”.
Experiencing a same-sex encounter was more common than identifying as either homosexual or bisexual. Nearly 2 per cent reported they had been in a same-sex relationship, while another 3 per cent reported having experienced a same-sex encounter.
Either New Zealanders are unlike others samples of humanity or there is something wrong with the way in which the original study was conducted. By comparison, the US’ CDC report in 2005 found that 90.2% of US men identified as heterosexual, 2.3% as gay, 1.8% as bisexual, 3.9% as something else, and 1.8% didn’t answer the question.
Zero point eight percent is way outside the normal range of responses for sexual identity. This is such an outlier that it is difficult to give credibility to any conclusions drawn from this sample. Basically, of the 13,000 participants, only about 100 were homosexual and 75-80 we bisexual.
And even more oddly, it appears that more people have “been in a same-sex relationship” than the total combined homosexual and bisexual population. This seems peculiar and suggests that perhaps there is confusion either in the questions or in the way in which the survey was conducted.
Secondly, at least according to news reports Dr. Wells lumped anyone with any same-sex experience into one category regardless of identity or extent of sexual history.
The New Zealand Mental Health Survey by the University of Otago in Christchurch has found that people identifying themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or having had same-sex encounters are more likely to have experienced events such as sexual assault and violence in the home as children.
This seems to be a particularly poor way of identifying specific populations. Unless, of course, one is viewing any same-sex experience to be a troublesome act and you’re seeking to look for traits of sexual nonconformity.
Third, the study is based on face to face questioning. Researchers have long known that controversial or sensitive information is seldom accurately collected by this methodology. (Dominion Post)
Other researchers and gay rights advocates took issue with the study’s findings. Green MP Kevin Hague, who is gay and a former director of the Aids Foundation, said the research should be taken “with an enormous grain of salt”. “I think it’s pretty unlikely that there is any underlying real association.”
The more likely explanation was the way the study was done. “Respondents who are prepared to talk to interviewers about what may be the sensitive subject of their same-sex experience or attraction may also be the most likely to be prepared to talk to the interviewers about other sensitive subjects – in this case traumatic childhood experiences.”
Fourth, Dr. Well’s appears to have an understanding of sexual orientation that is non-conventional – one might even say that it closely mirrors that of another age, one which is seldom currently found outside of anti-gay activism.
“I suspect there might be some gay and lesbian people who will be indignant, but it is not my intention to anger them. You could say that if someone was sexually abused as a child, chooses to live as a homosexual and lives life well, then that is not a bad thing. But if they are living a homosexual life and regretting it, that is another matter.”
Dr. Wells may be speaking out of ignorance; she simply may not have read the literature on the subject before releasing her opinions. Or perhaps she is seeing her work as thwarting collected wisdom and research and instead justifying or advocating for reorientation therapy.
It’s hard to tell.
Finally, Dr. Wells appears to be taking leaps.
When a responsible researcher finds a correlation, they report a correlation. They may speculate as to the reasons, but they do not announce causation or linkage, association and they never conclude more than their study finds. Sadly not all researchers are responsible.
Again, we are going from news reports which may not be accurate:
She said there was no way of knowing from her study why there was a link between negative events in childhood and same-sex sexual orientation.
No. They was a correlation. Linkage assumes that the correlation is tied to causation, something that was not studied by Dr. Wells and about which she cannot speak.
People who either identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual, or have had a same-sex encounter or relationship, tend to come from more disturbed backgrounds,” Associate Professor Wells said.
That is simply not consistent with her findings. (stuff.nz)
Of those who reported sexual abuse or rape in childhood, about 15 per cent were non-heterosexual. Of those who had not had these experiences only five per cent were non-heterosexual.
Even if 15% of her sample came from a more disturbed background, the majority did not. It would not be truthful to say that gay/bi/encounter people “tend” to come from such a background when the majority did not.
I do not know if there is any validity to this study. I’ve requested the study and either Jim or myself will look it over. We will gladly give Dr. Wells any benefit of the doubt and should any of my presumptions based on news reports turn out to be hasty, we’ll gladly correct the situation. However, there are so many red flags all over the place that it seems unlikely.
But Dr. Wells did say something with which I agree.
Dr Wells said: “I don’t quite see how our findings feed into gay-bashing, although maybe I underestimate the ability of people to twist certain things.”
Yes, Dr. Wells, you have vastly underestimated the ability of anti-gay people to twist research to support what they wish to believe. And that was unfortunate.