Debate over same-sex marriage rages so loudly, it’s difficult to hear underlying values


W
e raised the question of same-sex unions earlier and we received several lengthy comments in response. But this is such an urgent issue right now that we’d like to hear more of your thoughts.
    Just a few days ago, a new nationwide poll of American voters, conducted by researchers at Quinnipiac University, found that we oppose “same-sex marriage” by a margin of 55 to 36 percent — but our opposition is carefully nuanced. By nearly the same margin, this time 56 to 38 percent — we also oppose amending the U.S. Constitution to ban “same-sex marriage.”
    What’s more, the language makes a whole lot of difference in this issue.
    Here’s an example: Only 14 percent of Republicans support same-sex marriage — but 30 percent support “same-sex unions.” And, given choices of allowing “unions” or “marriage,” only 45 percent of Republicans opposed all forms of recognition of same-sex couples.
    In fact, summing up the responses of all American voters, most Americans favor some form of recognition. Given three choices by the pollsters — “marriage,” “unions” and “no recognition” — only 29 percent of voters said they want no recognition at all.

    Confusing? Yes, there’s no question this is a very difficult issue for researchers to explore. Nevertheless, it’s an urgent issue this year — and there’s great potential for political activists from all sides to distort the underlying values involved.
    Help us fine tune our understanding of these issues — as you see them. Tell us what this difference in wording means to you. Is “marriage” fundamentally different than a “civil union”? Do you think American attitudes are changing on this issue? What basic values are at stake here?

 

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