Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lying by Omission

The folks down at the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) have quite a knack for making you laugh out loud sometimes.

If you go to the website of this organization leading the battle to keep same-sex marriage from happening around the country, you will see a lead which says, “NEW POLL: 57% of New Yorkers reject same-sex marriage.” I don’t know how long they intend to keep this “information” up, but it’s still there as of today, July 9, 2011, no doubt, to aid in justifying their efforts to kick all the legislators out of office who helped pass New York’s same-sex marriage rights law.

The curious thing is, if you look at the results of other polls, you find the opposite result:

Poll Date taken % in favor (% against)
Gallup May 5-8 53 (45%)
CNN April 9-10 51% (47%)
ABC March 10-13 53% (44%)
Pew Feb. 22-Mar. 1 45% (46%)

In other words, all other major polls available show the tide has turned and Americans willing to share their opinions with poll takers are now either in favor of same-sex marriage by a clear margin or at least at a statistical tie.

So where would NOM’s statistics come from?

It only took a minute to uncover the source of the misinformation. It’s true that 57% of those they polled answered "agree" to question #6: “Do you agree or disagree that marriage should only be between a man and a woman?” 32% disagree and 11% answered “Don’t know/no response.”

But then look at the very next question - #7 – “May I know your age, please?” and look at the age distribution of the people they polled:

7% - 18 - 39
15% - 40 - 49
31% - 50 - 59
38% - 60+
9% - no response

Only 7% are in the age group that other polls reveal approve overwhelmingly of same-sex marriage, and 69%, over two-thirds, are in the age group where most of the disapproval shows up across America.

Nowhere on the face of the website is there any indication the poll was adjusted to reflect this age difference. If you tried day and night to find a better example of a lie by omission, I doubt you'd come up with one. In fact, claiming 57% of New Yorkers are against same-sex marriage is a lie by commission as well; it's 57% of a group selected to represent those known from previous experience to be against same-sex marriage.

Never mind that the rights of citizens should not be decided by majority opinion but by rights established in the U.S. Constitution interpreted through judicial review. As we all know, policy can be established by all three branches of government, by executive order, through legislation, and as a consequence of judicial review. And it can be done both at the federal and state levels. And which of these many sources has authority is a question we tackle on virtually a daily basis.

Because popular opinion in much of the country has lagged behind the growing consciousness on the part of gays that they will get recognition of their rights only when they demand them, and because liberals are less likely to go to the polls than conservatives, NOM’s best means of maintaining a national homophobic ideology has been to try to urge that policy be established by public referenda. And in years when no elections are taking place, to try to discredit the decisions of courts and legislatures by showing how much they are at odds with “what the people want.”

The problem with that is that people change their opinions. What do you do then?

NOM’s strategy has been to try to tie the right to marry to good healthy child-rearing (as if that were the norm among heterosexuals), which they falsely claim is not possible for gay parents – when all studies show the exact opposite is true. NOM also uses fear by slogging away at the old canard that gays are a danger to children and that children will be taught, horror of horrors, that having same-sex parents is OK. And if you listen to Maggie Gallagher, you will hear the inference that this implies opposite-sex parenting is not OK, as if it were an either/or proposition.

NOM has come to be known as a center for deception.

No one should be surprised at this latest effort to twist the facts to serve their purposes.

But couldn’t they be a little less clumsy about it?


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