Underlying the polling related to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and same-sex marriage is a snapshot of a society still encumbered by gender disparity. The juxtaposition of the masculine and feminine highlight an unhealthy hierarchy. The order of things is disordered.
Commentary By: Daniel DiRito
I’m always amazed at public opinion…especially when it provides some insights into human nature in 21st century America. Over the years, I’ve always marveled at the prudish obsession with all things prurient.
I could be wrong, but I suspect a majority of Americans would rather allow their children to watch depictions of violence on television and at the movies than anything remotely sexual. In some ways, I understand how this happens, but in my moments of lucidity, I wonder why we never take the time to understand or alter this seemingly incoherent ideation.
To find evidence of this phenomenon, one need look no further than the polling relevant to same-sex marriage and the military’s policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Despite the occasional outlier, it’s fairly safe to state that more Americans oppose same-sex marriage than favor it. At the same time, numerous polls in recent years suggests that a significant majority of Americans are in favor of allowing gays to serve in the military. I find those two incongruent positions fascinating.
First, a look at the latest polling on both issues.
Public attitudes about gays in the military have shifted dramatically since President Bill Clinton unveiled what became his administration’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy 15 years ago today.
Seventy-five percent of Americans in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll said gay people who are open about their sexual orientation should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, up from 62 percent in early 2001 and 44 percent in 1993.
Today, Americans have become more supportive of allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the armed forces. Support from Republicans has doubled over the past 15 years, from 32 to 64 percent. More than eight in 10 Democrats and more than three-quarters of independents now support the idea, as did nearly two-thirds of self-described conservatives.
(CBS) Most Americans continue to think there should be some legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples, and 30 percent say same-sex couples should be allowed to marry – the highest number since CBS News began asking this question in 2004.
Twenty-eight percent think same-sex couples should be permitted to form civil unions, but more than a third – 36 percent – say there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship.
Americans’ views on this issue have changed since 2004, although opinion has not changed substantially in the last two years. In November of 2004 (soon after the presidential election) just 21 percent of Americans supported the idea of same-sex couples being allowed to marry.
Majorities of both men and women support some form of legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples, but more women (36 percent) than men (24 percent) back the idea of same-sex marriage.
With regard to DADT, it seems fairly clear that the country is ready to embrace gays serving in the military. Virtually every constituent group agrees. As such, it would be difficult to contend that the favorable response is due to the vague or uncertain nature of the survey question.
With regard to gay marriage, the results are more nebulous. Don’t get me wrong, there’s little doubt that the trends are encouraging. In fact, one could make the argument that a narrow majority of Americans actually favor some recognition of same-sex relationships. Defining the specifics of that recognition would likely provide less encouraging results.
I’m intrigued by the disparity. On the one hand, it seems that patriotism and a desire to defend one’s nation elicits thoughts of equality on the part of the electorate. In other words, if gays are willing to kill and die for their country, by God, we shouldn’t deny them that opportunity. [Wave flags now] On the other hand, who a gay person chooses to love and how that love is recorded by society apparently elicits thoughts of moral rectitude on the part of the electorate. [Cover eyes now]