Thursday, March 19, 2009


A POOCH BY ANY OTHER NAME: Derrick DePledge’s blog today reports on a new scientifically conducted poll showing widespread support for the civil union bill passed by the house and now in the senate.

Derrick is usually a pretty sharp cookie and his analyses are perceptive even if we don’t always like what he has to say.

Today he quibbles with one question and frankly we just don’t get it.

The question in the poll says:

*”Couples of the same gender should have access to the legal privileges and protections of marriage as couples of the opposite gender -- as a matter of civil rights.”

But DePledge says:

Although the poll found broad support for civil rights for same-sex partners, the way the questions were framed shades the results. Respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with statements that affirmed equal treatment for same-sex partners.

There was no question, for example, simply asking whether people support giving same-sex partners the same rights, benefits, and responsibilities as married couples under state law, which is what the bill would do. Instead, the questions were framed around equal treatment, dignity and respect, and civil rights.

Frankly, we just don’t see how the question is substantively any different than DePledge’s, except that it shuns the use of buzz words that evoke emotional responses

What’s the difference between “couples of the same gender” and “same sex partners” other than the use of the word “sex” to evoke emotional reactions using equivocation to bring to mind images of same gender couples having sex?

What’s the difference between “legal privileges and protections” and “same rights, benefits and responsibities” other then it seeks to intimate special privileges rather then equal protection using another “loaded phrase”, equivocating on the word “privileges” to intimate that it is a privilege not a right people are seeking?

And what’s the difference between “of marriage as couple of the opposite gender” and “married couples under state law” other than that the use of the words “opposite gender” serves to remind people already predisposed to an emotional reaction that “they” are not like “us”?

If anything the question asked is clearer, uses less hot button wording and is a much more accurate depiction of the proposed legislation than DePledge’s- other than the spelling error in “privilige”.

DePledge’s preferred query reflects a mentality- perhaps unconscious- all too common among many journalists who tend to sensationalize an issue, preferring to whip up an emotional frenzy among readers rather than avoid pushing those buttons.

Besides- that’s what we do all the time Derrick so quit moving in on our turf.

Here, for the record, are the four questions and the results that DePledge listed.

*”Committed couples and their families, regardless of their sexual preference or orientation, should have the same rights. That’s the bottom line -- we should treat people equally.”
81% agree
16% disagree
3% don’t know

*”The civil unions bill is just one more example of how the Hawaiian culture believes in treating everyone on the islands with dignity and respect.

”64% agree
25% disagree
11% don’t know

*”Couples of the same gender should have access to the legal priviliges and protections of marriage as couples of the opposite gender -- as a matter of civil rights.”

64% agree
31% disagree
5% don’t know

*”It’s clear that the issue of legal rights for gay and lesbian couples is not going to quiet down until gay and lesbian families receive equal protection under the law. The Legislature should quickly pass the civil unions bill.”

62% agree
31% disagree
8% don’t know

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