For years, Christian right leaders have been warning that the trend toward legalizing same-sex marriage was going to cause a massive backlash of angry Americans, even going so far as to claim that it’s going to cause another civil war. A new poll pretty much destroys that idea.
Conducted by Alex Lundry through his firm TargetPoint Consulting and obtained by POLITICO, it singled out the views of one person, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, who predicted in 2012 — before Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act were struck down — that the Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage would cause “a revolution. You will see Americans saying, ‘You know what? Enough of this.’ It could explode and just break this nation apart.”
Conducting his poll at the beginning of June, Lundry didn’t find much support for that kind of revolt when the quote was read to respondents, with 59 percent overall disagreeing with Perkins. Of people who said they were opposed to gay marriage, 58 percent said they wouldn’t do anything, despite disagreeing and being disappointed in the decision.
“Only one directly mentions the word ‘revolution,’ five voters threaten to leave the country, and a scant fifteen people (3% of opponents) mention any form of protest,” reads a prepared polling memo. “Clearly, there is no real threat of widespread calamity should we extend the freedom to marry to gays and lesbians.”
Support for gay marriage is at 56 percent, with 37 percent opposed, squaring with public polls. Asked to rate the degree of their support, 44 percent said they “strongly” support legalization, with only 28 percent opposed.
There were always two models for how this was going to go. The model favored by the Christian right groups was that Americans would rise up against this outrageous break with tradition, or alternatively that it would spark another Great Awakening or a “mighty move of the spirit of God” or some such other rot, and that they would win the battle over LGBT equality. The other model — the realistic one — was that after an initial spasm of strong opposition a decade ago, people would get used to the idea, stop finding it so threatening and slowly come to accept it.
That has been the pattern throughout American history. And it ends with overwhelming acceptance of equality and the marginalization of those who oppose it (and then the same people who opposed it often claiming that they were for it all along). That was pretty much the inevitable result, but people like Tony Perkins have to pretend otherwise both because of their ideological zealotry and because you don’t keep the money flowing in by sounding defeatist.