On the heels of a poll commissioned by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), showing growing support for marriage equality among mainline Christians, a new poll reveals that religion played a major role in passing Proposition 8 in California that rolled back marriage rights for gays and lesbians.
People who identified themselves as practicing Christians were highly likely to support the constitutional amendment, with 85 percent of evangelical Christians, 66 percent of Protestants and 60 percent of Roman Catholics favoring it.
The poll also showed that the measure got strong backing from voters who did not attend college (69 percent), voters who earned less than $40,000 a year (63 percent) and Latinos (61 percent).
The GLAAD poll, while containing some good news for gay and lesbian people and their struggle for rights across the board, mirrored this poll showing that “48 percent of voters oppose the idea of making gay marriage legal. Forty-seven percent support it, while 5 percent are undecided.” The GLAAD poll was nearly identical with 49 percent of those polled opposing same-sex marriage with 47 percent in support.
Both polls emphasize two things for the LGBT community. First, is the issue of education. As GLAAD president Neil Giuliano stressed, gay and lesbian people need to come out and make their presence known. LGBT people need to be on the forefront in every area of society, showing that our families are no different than any other family and in need of the government’s rights and protections just as heterosexual families are.
Secondly, the LGBT community needs to find a way to move this issue to the courts—preferably the United States Supreme Court—where the issue, like women’s rights, Jim Crow laws, and interracial marriage before it – can be settled once and for all, even if the majority of people still oppose it.
If we had left any of the aforementioned rights up to the tender mercies of the majority, I can guarantee that African-Americans in my state of South Carolina would still be drinking from separate water fountains and forbidden to marry outside their race.
This issue is too sensitive—too important to the very real lives of very real people and their children—to be left to the whim of religious beliefs and under-educated voters.
The LGBT community must take its lumps for its failure to properly educate enough voters about the reality of our lives in the wake of this defeat. But, it is also imperative to move this issue in the courts and hope that they do their job, as they have done with past issues, and spare the minority from the continuing tyranny of the majority.