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Wednesday, January 16 2013

Catholics for Equality Voices Dismay Over New NYT-CBS Poll


Catholic Support for Equality is Rising!

Catholics for Equality Voices Dismay Over New NYT-CBS Poll:  Says Pollsters Aren't Clear in Questions

While many equality rights activists are applauding the new NYT-CBS poll which confirms that most American Catholics support some legal recognition of same sex relationships, Catholics for Equality calls on pollsters in the future to make more clear what they're asking in their surveys, as it drastically skews the support of people of faith -- especially Catholics.

The NYT-CBS poll found that:

“More than two-thirds of Catholic voters supported some sort of legal
recognition of gay couples’ relationships: 44 percent favored marriage,
and 25 percent preferred civil unions. Twenty-four percent said gay
couples should receive no legal recognition.”

So why are pro-equality Catholics upset?  This is good, right?

While this NYT-CBS Poll reinforces what American Catholics have known for a long time -- that our families don't want to see our lesbian and gay family members discriminated against by our government, and that means being able to go to city hall and get a legal marriage certificate, just like all our other family members can.

But too many of these polls (like this one) don't make it clear what Catholics are being asked, and because of this, our level of support is criminally skewed. To explain:

The Public Religion Research Institute last year released a national poll that found:

"If marriage for gay couples is defined as a civil marriage 'like you get at city hall,' Catholic support for allowing gay couples to marry increases by 28 points, from 43% to 71%. A similar pattern exists in the general population, but the Catholic increase is more pronounced."

While at the same time we understand, to accurately measure support trends in polls over time, pollsters tend to be consistent in how they word questions, pollsters need to understand that the terms they're using, like "same-sex marriage" and "civil unions," are confusing to most of the people they're surveying. 

Does "same-sex marriage" mean religious/sacramental marriage or civil/legal marriage?  And what's a "civil union?"  Not even Hallmark can find the words to convey what it means.  How can pollsters?

We applaud cutting edge pollsters like Dr. Robert P. Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute for understanding that being clear in your wording is vital to accurately measuring support for the laws and referendums that are being debated and voted on in our society -- especially when polling people of faith.  

We hope that all other prominent polling firms will recognize that they are trapped in the snares of their own terminology.  And because of this, their polling inaccurately measures public support, especially that of the largest faith community in the country -- American Catholics.

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