Before we get to the main act, here’s the opener. Hit TV series Glee’s first gay kiss has got actress and singer Victoria Jackson in a twist. This conservative with Tea Party views slammed the scene in her blog, getting her invited onto television. Whether she has used the opportunity to advance her case or make a bigger fool of herself, I shall leave it to you to decide.
Is Glee still showing on Mediacorp Channel 5? If they haven’t yet axed it, you can bet your virgin ass that this scene with the kiss will be cut before Singaporeans are allowed to watch it.
More seriously, buried in the online (“Breaking News”) version of the Straits Times on 19 March 2011 was this short report:
Majority in US back gay marriage: Poll
Washington – A majority of Americans say they are in favour of same-sex marriage, a poll released Friday found, reflecting shifting US sentiment on the issue.
Fifty-three per cent of Americans support gay marriage, up more than 20 percentage points from a low of 32 per cent in 2004, the poll of 1,005 adults conducted over four days last week for ABC News and the Washington Post found.
Gary Langer of Langer Research Associates, which produced the poll, called the findings a ‘milestone result that caps a dramatic, long-term shift in public attitudes.’ It was the first time that the ABC News-Washington Post poll, which has asked the same question since 2003, had shown a majority of American favoring same-sex marriage, the Post said.
It said other polls conducted by Pew Research Centre, the Associated Press and CNN had found similar trends.
Five years ago, only a majority of people younger than 30 supported gay marriage, but now majorities of those in their 30s and 40s do, the poll shows.
But, overall, Americans are still divided over gay marriage, with as many adults strongly opposed to same-sex unions as support them, and opposition to same-sex unions still strong among conservatives. — AFP
Like so much gay news, it never made it to the print edition. I have long noticed this pattern though I don’t exactly know why the policy is the way it is.
As the report says, it is a milestone event. I would have thought it important to shake Singaporeans out of their complacent thinking that acceptance of gay equality is still marginal in deeply Christian America, but evidently the Straits Times does not think so, omitting it from their more widely-read print edition. It’s not doing Singapore any service to keep our citizens ignorant of such an important trend.
This news story was foreshadowed by an article on Huffington Post by Charles Franklin dated 3 March 2011. It discusses the findings of a Pew poll, whose numbers are somewhat different from the ABC News-Washington Post poll mentioned above but still similar in terms of trending. Pew found in its Feb 2011 survey that 45 percent supported same-sex marriage and 46 percent opposed. Nine percent said “Don’t know”. The actual wording of the question was “Do you believe gay marriage should be legal?” While the Pew poll didn’t find support exceeding opposition, the figures are now so close that they are expected to cross within the next 12 months.
This is based on the fact that the trend is a relentless one over the long term, as this graph from Charles Franklin shows:
Besides being relatively consistent directionally over the long term, the rate of change is also considered by social scientists to be unusually fast. Very seldom does one see social attitudes changing at a rate as rapid as this on other issues.
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Then yesterday, a reader sent me a link to another Huffington Post article, which reported that Roman Catholics were more supportive of gay and lesbian rights than the general public and other Christians. This story reports on a study conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute which found that 43 percent of Catholics supported gay marriage and another 31 percent supported civil unions for same-sex couples. That makes a total of 74 percent who would recognise the relationship legally.
73 percent favoured laws that would protect gay and lesbian people against discrimination in the workplace, while 60 percent supported gay and lesbian couples’ rights to adoption.
69 percent disagreed that homosexual orientation could be changed and 70 percent agreed that messages (typically negative) from places of worship contributed to higher rates of suicide among gay and lesbian youth.
Only about 40 percent of US Catholics give their church high marks for the way it is handling the issue of homosexuality. In the Huffington Post article, Michelle Dillon, chair of the Sociology Department at University of New Hampshire, was quoted as saying: “Most American Catholics believe that one can be a good Catholic and disagree with the Vatican and the bishops on issues of personal conscience; gay marriage has clearly become another issue, along with artificial contraception and divorce and remarriage, which Catholics believe is not core to what it means to be Catholic.”