NATIONAL AFFAIRS by Gerard CalilhannaNews Weekly
Same-sex marriage polls flawed: National Marriage Coalition
, August 2, 2014
A longer, fully-referenced version of the following article appears in the attached PDF file.
Rodney Croome AM,
national convenor of Australian
Marriage Equality (AME)
During the last sitting week of Parliament before the winter recess, two polls were released claiming 1) that Australia had decided in favour of same-sex “marriage”, 2) that opposition to it had collapsed, and 3) that there was no reason to delay legislation.
This followed Ian Thorpe’s disclosure of his sexual identity in a paid television interview with Michael Parkinson, broadcast on Sunday, July 13. Thorpe’s disclosure of a private matter has nothing to do with redefining marriage, nor should it.
The next day, in the Financial Review, the senator for New South Wales, David Leyonhjelm (Liberal Democrat, NSW), announced his intention to introduce a same-sex marriage bill — one which, in his words, would “deregulate marriage”, by relegating it to the private sphere.
Right-wing columnist Andrew Bolt, in his blog, took issue with Senator Leyonhjelm, saying: “Truth is that marriage — the institution, tradition and ceremony — are indeed all public matters. Marriage is a social, not private, construct to bind men to women for the sake of their children, so that the next generations are properly socialised to the benefit of all.
“Then there is this problem with Leyonhjelm’s argument: if your choice of partner is entirely a private matter, and state intrusion on that choice silly and petty, then why have any state definition of marriage at all?
“Why not allow polygamy and incestuous marriage as well? Isn’t that the true libertarian position?”
Ian Thorpe’s public self-disclosure and Senator Leyonhjelm’s proposal to “privatise” marriage come in the wake of long-running campaigns waged by Labor and the Greens to promote same-sex marriage.
Labor opposition deputy leader Tanya Plibersek has sought to legalise homosexual marriage, preferably with the support of a co-sponsor from the Coalition, and has called upon Prime Minister Tony Abbott to grant Liberal and National party members a conscience vote on the issue.
In May, South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young introduced legislation in the Senate to recognise same-sex marriages contracted overseas.
She has insisted that such a change would leave the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act intact. But, in reality, it would introduce a rival definition of marriage to the current one, and would undermine the traditional definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.
The week after Ian Thorpe’s televised interview, two polls appeared.
To great fanfare, the Crosby Textor Group published the results of a survey commissioned by the Australian Marriage Equality (AME) lobby organisation. Crosby Textor is the Liberal Party’s national pollster.
The survey had a relatively small survey size, n=1,000, with a margin of error claimed at ±3.1%, and this was used to make a wide number of claims.
The full survey data itself has not been made available to date. The question order and structure have not been revealed, but can be inferred from three articles by Mark Textor, Lisa Cox (Sydney Morning Herald, July 15, 2014) and Patricia Karvelas (The Australian, July 17, 2014).
The Crosby Textor poll boldly asserts that a record 72 per cent of Australians favour “marriage equality” (with strong support across all key demographics), and that three-quarters of the population, including a majority who oppose same-sex marriage, favour a free vote.
But closer scrutiny of the kinds of questions asked casts doubt on the veracity of the whole study of only 1,000 respondents. The devil lies in the available detail.
The most that can be said for the polling is that it reveals a growing base level of support for homosexual marriage, as indicated by the 39 per cent, identified by Newspoll, as being “strongly in favour”.
In this respect, Newspoll has far greater credibility than the Crosby Textor poll, but it has its own problems.
In terms of polling to be used to change existing laws, the onus should be upon the pollster to reveal a population basis for this change. The claims of both polls clearly fall short.
What little is known of the questions that Crosby Textor posed to participants does not fill one with confidence about the accuracy of its conclusions.
The wording of the questions was poor and clumsy. The number of people sampled was too small to justify Crosby Textor’s conclusion that such a high proportion of respondents were “strongly in favour” of marriage equality.
The upshot of all this is that, despite the enormous, sustained propaganda push by politicians, journalists and the mass media, according to Newspoll, 47 per cent of respondents are still finding their way on the issue.
The Coalition can and should retain its policy in favour of traditional marriage and not be swayed by these “results”. Same-sex marriage inflicts great harm on the institution of marriage, and all marriages, by virtue of its complete redefinition.
Gerard Calilhanna is coordinator of the National Marriage Coalition. A much longer, fully-referenced version of this article appears in the attached PDF file.