on language

What If We Asked Voters to ‘Not Prohibit’ Instead of ‘Permit’ Marriage?


Hey, it turns out that the words you use matter when you ask folks whether they support gay marriage! Unbelievable, we know. But that’s what stat whiz Nate Silver gleaned when looking at polls that framed marriage as something the government should allow or something the government should not prohibit. See the difference? Americans are more likely to support same-sex marriage legislation if they’re asked whether the government has a right to regulate it (versus keeping it a private matter); support declines when you phrase the scenario where the government “permits” two dudes to wed.

It’s that crucial difference that has Silver slamming Equality California on the way it phrased, literally, the situation.

And it’s part of the same language debate that was, at least in part, at the center of the “secret” Poll 4 Equality survey, which quizzed Californians to learn which terminology generated the most pro-marriage support.

Funny how Gallup and ABC/Washington Post surveys managed to score the same data … and publish it in newspapers.

(Photo: UCC)