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February 07, 2010

Majorities polled in D.C. back gay marriage, medical marijuana

WaPo reports that polling shows a majority of District residents supports deciding on same-sex marriage via ballot measure, but also that a majority supports marriage equality:

Although most District residents are in sync with the council in support of same-sex marriage, there is widespread public support for putting the question to a city-wide vote.

Nearly six in 10 D.C. residents, including 83 percent of whites, favor making it legal for gay couples to marry.

The broad support for same-sex marriage in the District's white community cuts across cultural lines that divide opinions on the matter nationally. Regular white churchgoers nationwide generally oppose same-sex marriage, but two-thirds of whites in the District who attend services monthly or more often support same-sex marriage.

African Americans tilt against same-sex marriage. Thirty-seven percent of black residents back legal same-sex marriage. A slim majority opposes it, and the bulk of opponents say they feel that way strongly.

But some divisions are evident in the local black community on this issue, with sharp divides by church attendance and education.

People occasionally ask, "Why not hold a public vote if you're confident you would win?" There are a number of reasons: First, we have a representative form of government, not one based on plebiscites. if you think that making it easier to put measures on the ballot is the way to go, take a good look at California, which is a basket case.

Second, we already won by participating in the prevailing system. It has taken long enough to reach this moment, and I for one don't need another opinion.

Third, the eleven D.C. Council members who voted for marriage equality, and Mayor Fenty who signed it, all have faced the voters at least once since going public with their support on the issue. There is no reason why this issue and only this issue demands that voters confirm the decision made by their duly elected representatives.

Fourth, an initiative campaign would be expensive and rancorous — our opponents would make sure of it. As Bob Summersgill reported here last week, the financing for Bishop Harry Jackson's Stand for Marriage DC has come entirely from outside groups like Focus on the Family, National Organization for Marriage, and Family Research Council. The fact that we are convinced we are up to the challenge is insufficient reason to subject our city to more of those group's slanders if we can avoid it.

What we can and should do is continue public education efforts in support of equality for all of the families in our city. It is easier to change minds outside the context of a polarized election in which our adversaries have a well-established record of generating more heat than light. Planning for such education efforts is underway. Stay tuned.

Update: Yes, and (as we've said many times) it's just wrong to subject people's rights to a popular vote.

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