President Obama’s words of several days ago are wholly inadequate to the task of winning marriage equality for all. At the same time, however, they do make a difference.
In February, SurveyUSA asked a sample of Minnesotan adults, “An amendment to the Minnesota Constitution on the ballot defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Will you vote FOR the amendment? Against the amendment? Or not vote on the measure?” These are the results.
Just after Obama’s announcement, the same company asked a sample, “President Obama says that same-sex couples should be able to get married. Do you agree with the president? Or disagree?” These were the results then. The margin of error is about 4% on both polls.
Marriage equality has never polled so well in the state as it did after Obama’s statement. Now, I realize that I am comparing two very different questions. On the other hand, that’s my point. Being able to phrase this issue as a question of agreeing with the president is no small thing, particularly for Minnesotans United for All Families, who are working to collect pledges from voters that they will vote against the amendment. The ballot won’t ask whether people agree with Obama, but once they’ve pledged, it matters a lot less. They’re still much more likely to vote in line with their pledge.
This is progress I can live with.