Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Wed Jun 12 16:00:17 MDT 1996

Maybe America isn't quite as bad as it often seems...

>NEWS from the
>Human Rights Campaign
>1101 14th Street NW
>Washington, DC 20005
>email:  communications at
>Wednesday, June 5, 1996
>                  Americans Think Measure Should Not Be a Priority
>WASHINGTON -- There is no clear consensus  among Americans on the
>so-called Defense of Marriage Act, according to a poll conducted
>for the Human Rights Campaign, the largest national gay and
>lesbian political organization. The survey also found Americans
>overwhelmingly believe this issue should not be a legislative
>priority, and that it will not be a litmus test for candidates.
>     According to the national poll of 1,022 Americans conducted
>between May 31 and June 2 by The Mellman Group,  37 percent of
>Americans support the bill "defining marriage as only between
>men and women for the purposes of federal law," while 29 percent
>said they oppose it.
>     This lack of agreement was confirmed in another line of
>questioning. A total of 39 percent of those polled said they
>think this legislation is unnecessary, while 31 percent termed it
>necessary; a full 30 percent said they were not sure of the
>importance of such a law.
>     "There is no consensus among Americans on the Defense of
>Marriage Act," said David M. Smith, communications  director of
>the Human Rights Campaign. "These results indicate the Republican
>strategy of using the gay marriage issue as a political strategy
>is failing to gain traction with voters and has the potential to
>     While opinion on this bill remains muddled, an overwhelming
>majority of those surveyed agreed there are more pressing issues
>facing Congress than attempting to outlaw same-sex marriage.
>Only 13 percent said that "passing this law should be an
>important priority." A total of 73 percent said "there are lots
>of other issues" that are much more important than creating a
>federal statute to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
>     Further, this legislation is more likely to be viewed as
>apolitical ploy than as an attempt to strengthen the American
>family. More Americans (32 percent) accept the view that "this
>law is just an attempt to play politics, scapegoat gays and
>embarrass supporters of civil rights for gays, and is not really
>very important" than adhere to the view that "gay marriage is a
>real threat to the American family and it is important to pass
>the law" (27 percent). Only 27 percent said they believe gay
>marriage is a threat to the family; 41 percent would not even
>venture a guess.
>     This issue will not be a litmus test for candidates in
>November, according to the poll. Only 17 percent said a
>candidate's vote against the Defense of marriage Act would be a
>"very convincing" reason to vote against that person. By
>contrast, 54 percent said a candidate's vote to cut Medicare
>would be a "very convincing" reason to vote against that
>     Another indication of the low political resonance of this
>issue: Only 10 percent of those polled said they would be very
>likely to vote against a candidate with whom they otherwise
>agreed if he or she opposed this law. Six percent said they would
>be very likely to oppose a candidate with whom they otherwise
>agreed if that candidate supported the Defense of Marriage Act.
>     The bill was introduced last month in both the House and the
>Senate. One of its primary co-sponsors is Senate Majority Leader
>Bob Dole, the certain Republican nominee for president.
>     "It is sad that after a distinguished 35-year career in
>Congress, Senator Bob Dole will end his Senate career with a bill
>that is nothing more than cheap election-year gay-bashing," Smith
>"Doesn't Congress have anything better to do?"
>     The poll results are based on a national survey of 1,022
>adults interviewed by telephone between May 31 and June 2. The
>study is based on a random-digit dialing probability sample of
>all telephone households in the continental United States, which
>ensures that every telephone household had an equal chance of
>participating in the survey. The margin of error for the sample
>as a whole is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent
>confidence level. The margin of error for subgroups varies
>and may be larger.
>     The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian
>and gay political organization, with members throughout the
>country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign
>support and educates the public to ensure that lesbian and gay
>Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in
>the community.
>                                            - 30 -

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