Look Left

Chait, Jonathan
March 2004
New Republic;3/15/2004, Vol. 230 Issue 9, p10
The author claims that most Americans are far less likely to support gay marriage than the national press has realized. For many in the media, efforts to expand gay rights simply constitute progress; efforts to arrest that expansion constitute culture war. Indeed, press coverage of the gay marriage debate offers a perfect case study of the degree to which journalists' socioeconomic assumptions influence their reporting.The operating premise of most of the recent news coverage has been that Bush's support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is an extreme move that may satisfy his conservative base but risks alienating voters in the middle. But what if Bush's support for the amendment banning gay marriage is not just a sop to his base but a way of appealing to swing voters? I should say here that, for my part, I believe gays should have the right to marry, and I find the amendment morally abhorrent. But I'm far less confident than others in the press that most Americans share my view. When you look at the polling data, you discover that Americans are divided even on the legality of gay relationships--not marriages, mind you, just relationships. Unsurprisingly, the public rejects gay marriage by a far wider margin. Support for amending the Constitution--which people are generally more reluctant to do to--is naturally lower. But, here too, the results are at best ambiguous. [D]ownscale swing voters are substantially more likely to support an amendment banning gay marriage than the more libertarian suburbanites "Time" focuses on.


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