america’s bitter half

Earlier today at a wide-ranging press conference at the White House–only his eighth since being handed the presidency–George W. “Fabulous” Bush said that government lawyers are looking at ways to prevent gay marriage, according to an AP report carried in The New York Times.

I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and I believe we ought to codify that one way or the other and we have lawyers looking at the best way to do that.

The scariest part of this, to me, is that he thinks that his beliefs are worth enshrining in law. Of course, it doesn’t surprise me; this is the same man who said to assembled world leaders during a 2001 trip to Italy, when asked to explain himself, “I know what I believe and I believe what I believe is right.” His is an administration built on faith, not on fact.

In related and similarly disheartening news, a recent Gallup Poll suggests that the public apparently has taken a more conservative shift on gay rights just in the past two months, with the drop in support attributed to a “backlash” against the June Supreme Court decision legalizing sodomy.

For all but one segment of the population–those with post-graduate eduation, among which support for legalized homosexual relations rose a mere 2 percentage points from May to July, itself inside the poll’s 3 percentage point margin of error–support dropped during this period; the overall drop was 10 percentage points from 59 percent in May to 49 percent in July, its lowest point since 1996, while for some segments of the population, the downward trend was even more dramatic. Among Blacks, for example, support for legalized homosexual relations dropped from 58 percent in May to just 35 percent in July, a decline of 23 percentage points.

Americans’ acceptance of the concept that “homosexual relations between consenting adults” should be legal had–up until this month–slowly increased, from a low point of 32% recorded in 1986 to the high point of 60% this May. But two separate Gallup polls conducted this month show a dramatic reversal of this trend. A July 18-20 poll found 50% of Americans saying that homosexual relations should be legal, and a just completed July 25-27 poll confirms the substantial drop in support, with just 48% of those interviewed saying such relations should be legal. Thus, the level of support for legal homosexual relations has dropped 10-12 points in a period of just two months.

Declining support for acceptance of homosexuality appears in the responses to several other questions asked in May and again in the most recent July poll. While 54% of Americans said that “homosexuality should be considered an acceptable lifestyle” in May, only 46% say so now.

Support for allowing homosexual couples to “legally form civil unions, giving them some of the legal rights of married couples” has fallen from 49% in May to 40% now. The current reading on this measure is the lowest out of the seven times Gallup has asked the question since October 2000.

Not only do two out of three people in this country, then, believe that I should not have the same civil privileges granted by marriage if entering into a relationship with someone I love, but one out of every two believe that it should actually be illegal for me even to be in a relationship with another man, that there should be laws against my having a consensual emotional and physical relationship with another adult male.

It is so sobering to look around today and realize that perhaps half of the people walking by me on the street, or working beside me in my office, believe that my private relationships should be criminalized.

Toronto, already a favorite city, looks better and better every day.

One thought on “america’s bitter half

  1. ?I know what I believe and I believe what I believe is right.?
    Can we say “Circular Logic”?
    Canada does indeed continue to look better and better. I read an article the other day saying that all the extremely forward-thinking revolutions going on now may just be a last-ditch effort of their current head to be remembered, and his much more conservative almost-assured successor will likely reverse a lot of it, and is expected to be a bit more Bush-friendly. (Wow, too many hyphens for one sentence.) I’ll try to find it.

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