Front-page news in Indianapolis: 5-year-old survey data on 'animus' toward same-sex marriage

In a front-page story this week, the Indianapolis Star reported on "the real reason behind opposition to same-sex marriage."

Prepare to be shocked.

Religion plays a role:

Why do you oppose same-sex marriage?
Indiana University sociologist Brian Powell posed this question to hundreds of people across the nation as part of a research project.
He was curious to see if what people say actually matches the legal arguments being made to justify bans on same-sex marriage.
The legal arguments are rooted in public policy considerations. The public responses decidedly were not.
From his survey results, published recently in the sociological journal Social Currents, here's one response that reflected the majority of opposition to same-sex marriage: "Because I don't believe God intended them to be that way."
"It's beastly," said another. A third: "Well, they're sinners."

What the Star doesn't bother to mention: While Powell's paper was published recently, the survey itself was conducted in 2010 — five years ago.

As you might have noticed, there has been a little publicity on the issue since then — and rapidly changing attitudes, from the American public to the U.S. president. 

"Advocacy research" is how one legal proponent of traditional marriage termed the findings displayed so prominently by the Star. Indeed, the newspaper notes that the paper is part of an amicus brief being filed by the Human Rights Campaign, a prominent gay-rights organization.

According to the paper, 65 percent of same-sex marriage opponents cited religious or moral objections. That doesn't sound too surprising.

However, the "representative responses" out of hundreds surveyed strike me as cherry-picked for shock value:

Because I don’t believe God intended them to be that way. No. I think it’s a travesty. 
I follow God’s commands. It’s beastly. 
It’s like sickness, some sickness you know. Mental sickness, physical sickness or something, but it is mental sickness. So it’s not natural. 
I mean, two—two girlfriends can live together as long as they’re friends. You know, if they don’t have nobody and they’re friends and they’re helping each other survive, if they’re friends, that’s fine. But when they cross that line of becoming lovers, then it’s sick, I think. 
Because my religion believes that’s an abomination. 
Because that, marriage, is a sacred thing between a man and a woman that is orchestrated by God, and the Bible clearly says that homosexuality is a sin, it’s perverted, and deviant. That’s all. 
I don’t know what promotes that kind of garbage. Well, they’re sinners. 
I think the reason why gays and lesbians want recognition of their marriage as being a valid marriage is because they want their dysfunctional sexuality viewed as normal, when I don’t think it’s normal.

If the Star were to ask random people why they support the government sanctioning only marriage between one man and one woman, would the responses use the same kind of terminology that the research presents as representative? I doubt it. 

Or would, as I suspect, the interviews reveal more subtle and nuanced expressions of concern, as the Washington Post discovered when it highlighted how traditional Oklahoma believers reacted to their lesbian friends' wedding?

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