MARRIAGE AND THE POLLS

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 21 2004 @ 11:25pm

A new ABC poll shows clear public opposition to a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The margin is 58 percent opposed to 38 percent in favor. Some of the responses depend on the question asked. But under no wording does support for an amendment go much above 55 percent – nowhere near the level of support needed to amend the founding document. Now we know why Bush is so cagy. As to equal marriage rights as a separate issue, the public opposes them – but by the lowest margin I can remember: 55 to 41 percent. Among the under-30s, there’s support in the region of 55 to 42 percent. Around a quarter of Republicans support equal marriage rights. When I look back on the last decade and a half of debating this (and, personally, I’ve always focused on public education, not legal suits), this is an enormous change. Ten years ago, around 70 percent opposed and 30 percent supported. In ten years of non-stop advocacy, we’ve gained ten points in favor and seen the opposition drop by around 15 points – a net gain of 25 percent. I predict that in ten years time, there will be clear majorities for what is a very minor and humane reform. When public opinion is moving this fast, does it make any sense to enshrine a single position in the Constitution itself?

A DIFFERENT CONSERVATIVE: Here’s a touching obit of a brilliant loner of an intellectual, David Levy, a man who resisted the blandishments of the new left and the easy bromides of conservative ideology. A right-winger who could send a bottle of champagne to Christopher Hitchens in prison (Hitch had been disrupting a speech by far rightist Enoch Powell) and who also spent energy constructing a tropical garden in south London is a man whose passing is worth lamenting.