James Dobson has written a commentary for CNN’s webpage on gay marriage that is amusing both in its lack of logic and its misuse of statistics. The statistics come first, as he is claiming that the media provided “cover” for the Senate voting down the Marriage Protection Amendment by claiming that the public didn’t want the amendment:
Again this year, the amendment failed to pass by a wide margin, falling 18 votes shy of a required two-thirds majority. The final tally was 49 in favor, 48 opposed.
Rarely has there been a greater disconnect between members of the Senate and the American people who put them in power. With the help of the media, which laid down “cover” by claiming voters didn’t care about marriage, 40 Democrats, one Independent and seven Republicans turned their backs on this most basic social institution.
And this is where the obfuscation begins. He is assuming – falsely – that if someone “cares about marriage” then they must support the Federal amendment to ban gay marriage. That, of course, is not the case. I’ve seen this argument from many advocates of the amendment, that because state laws against gay marriage have been passed every time they’ve been tried, that proves the public wants the gay marriage amendment. But supporting a state law is different from supporting a Federal constitutional amendment. Dobson intentionally obscures that distinction.
And of course, the notion that the media provided cover for this is absurd. He knows, far better than most, that the parties perform their own polling on such questions rather than relying on what the media says. They take such polls district by district, state by state and nationally, and they want that polling to be as accurate as possible. I guarantee you that their internal polls make a clear distinction between opposition to gay marriage and support for a constitutional amendment banning it. If their vote was driven by polls, it was driven by their own internal polling, not by polls reported in the media.
Let’s examine the claim that traditional marriage lacks support in the court of public opinion. As it always does when conservative issues are being debated, the liberal press produced a series of trumped-up polls indicating the issue was of no interest nationally. However, there was another “poll” that the media completely ignored. In fact, there were 19 of them. They represented the 19 states in which voters overwhelmingly defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.
Not one state has chosen by popular vote to permit marriages between homosexuals. Support for the family has been affirmed in every instance.
In Mississippi, traditional marriage was approved by a whopping 86 percent majority. Other state votes registered similar wide margins: Nevada (70 percent), Arkansas (75 percent), Georgia (77 percent), Kentucky (75 percent), Louisiana (78 percent), Nebraska (70 percent), Missouri (71 percent), Montana (66 percent), North Dakota (73 percent), Ohio (62 percent), Michigan (59 percent), Oklahoma (76 percent), Utah (66 percent), Kansas (70 percent) and Texas (75 percent). Even states considered to be more liberal voted for traditional marriage, including Hawaii (69 percent), Alaska (68 percent) and Oregon (57 percent).
But again, it simply isn’t the case that because those states voted for state laws against gay marriage that they would therefore support a Federal constitutional amendment to do so. And numerous polls support that distinction. This ABC poll just before the Senate voted on the amendment showed that while 58% said gay marriage should be illegal, only 42% said that the Constitution should be amended to make it so. And on the issue of civil unions, 45% of the public favored them and 48% opposed them. Likewise, a Gallup poll in May found a statistical dead heat between those who favored a constitutional amendment and those who opposed it. Many other polls have found similar results.
But wait…Dobson is about to pull out the big (and profoundly silly) rhetorical guns:
So where does the issue go from here? Time will tell. It took William Wilberforce more than 30 years to bring about an end to Britain’s slave trade in the 1800s. Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of a protracted victory.
If the battle to protect marriage takes even five more years, liberal judges and activists will have destroyed this 5,000-year-old institution, which was designed by the Creator, Himself. Even now, they are close to achieving that coveted objective.
There’s empty rhetoric. There’s inflated rhetoric. There’s hyperbolic rhetoric. And then there’s the monumental, transcendental, all-time hall of fame stupidity of comparing the fight against gay marriage to the fight against slavery. Anyone who would make such a comparison pretty much gives up any claim to either logical or moral authority forever. The rest of this statement is standard religious right rhetoric – all conclusion, no argument. How will allowing gays to get married “destroy traditional marriage”? He doesn’t say.
Will Dobson’s marriage suddenly blink out of existence when gays can get married? Will people stop getting married, stop having children, stop loving each other and their children? Does anyone in the world actually decide whether or not to get married based on whether other people they don’t even know are or aren’t allowed to get married? Of course not. Dobson just skips right to the conclusion without bothering to fill in the detail on how or why this destruction would take place. That is predictable, of course, since there is no logical argument to be made for the conclusion. And when that happens, you just have to keep repeating the conclusion over and over and over again and hope no one bothers to ask.