The HRC conducted a national telephone survey of 1,030 adults and concluded that “The majority of Christian Americans oppose the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, favor protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people from discrimination, and support anti-bullying laws.” But the HRC didn’t even ask Mormons, Muslims, or many Jews about their feelings. And it would be a huge mistake to assume that supporting equal rights automatically equals supporting marriage equality, especially since marriage still has a strong religious rather than civil connotation. Let’s see what the poll tells us and keeps hidden.
In their press statement released today, the HRC said their poll “found a majority of Christians, including Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Orthodox and those who identify as other Christian, support LGBT equality,” which is odd because according to their poll results, none of the respondents even identified as Mormon. Also, considering that they had a very low number of Jews and no Muslims included in their pool, their poll hardly reflects the many religious communities that hold powerful sway over marriage equality politics.
Remember, how Mormons funded Prop 8 hand over fist? And now they’re not included in a poll about marriage equality? Looking at the footage of Senator Diaz’s anti-equality rally in the Bronx two weekends ago, one also saw lots of Orthodox Jews holding signs against gays. It’s important to realize that Christians only play a part in the larger marriage equality picture and the HRC’s current poll offers no insight into how much other faiths figure into political landscape and messaging in this issue.
But for now, let’s see how their poll results break down:
Overall, 68 percent of Christians (compared to 70 percent of overall respondents) strongly favor or somewhat favor protecting LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
But let’s see what the poll did reveal about Christians:
Seventy-four percent of Christians (76 percent overall) favor a law prohibiting bullying and harassment against LGBT students or the children of LGBT parents.
Eighty-six percent of Christians (85 percent overall) believe their faith leads them to the conclusion that the law should treat LGBT people equally.
Seventy percent of Christians (74 percent overall) agree that when religious leaders condemn LGBT people it does more harm than good.
A majority of Christians (52 percent) also oppose the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, according to a March 2011 HRC poll by GQRR.
The HRC did acknowledge that “on issues of marriage equality, some in the faith community remain opposed.” But even though Christians may oppose DOMA, it doesn’t mean that they’d like blanket marriage equality nationwide. Perhaps they would still prefer that each state make its own marriage laws or even leave it up to a vote, which would still give LGBTs the shaft.
Also, in order to convince more religious people to support marriage equality with their voices, dollars, and shoe leather, gay orgs will still need to figure out how to counter or influence of church networks who hold a lot of sway over congregational voting patterns, especially in rural areas.
It makes one wonder what messages and conversations could possibly persuade congregants more than the words of their long time religious leaders.