Saturday, July 4, 2009

Ohio Opinions on Gays & Lesbians (& guesses about Dayton)

The recent Quinnipiac Ohio Poll has some ten questions on gay issues, questions #30 through #40 at the link. The poll breaks down responses by various demographic categories. The big finding is that over 60% of those polled support a statewide anti-discrimination law and support for civil unions is 50%-50%. Gay marriage is still opposed by over 50%.

Theres's an interesting denominational split here, though. The poll asks three questions on degrees of recognition of same sex partnerships:

1. support marriage

2. support domestic partnership

3. no recognition at all

And then segements the responses by three denominational groupings

1. Catholic

2. Protestant

3. Born-Again/Evangelical

Of course full marriage recognition fails for all denominational groupings. Yet for Catholics the "no recognition" answer gets only 37%, vs 51% for born-again/evangelicals and 40% for Protestants in general. So a plurality of Catholics support some form of recognition, whether it be civil unions or civil marriage.

This pattern of Catholic support for gay issues tracks across the other questions, too.

Other results mirror findings in other national and state polls.

-Support for gay rights increases with education
-Support for gay rights increases with income
-Young adults (Quinnipiac uses an 18-34 age cohort) support gay issues at a higher percentage than the middle aged and seniors.

An interesting result is the born/choose issue, whether lesbians and gays are born that way or choose their sexual orientation. In this range young adults say lesbians and gays choose (51%), yet this does not affect their support for gay rights (66% support) and some form of recognition of same-sex partnerships (only 28% say "no recognition). The born/choose question also has the highest "don't know" answers, over 10% in all age cohorts and demographics.

For entertainment value, there is question that asks: "In general, do you think society is paying too much, too little, or about the right amount of attention to the needs of gays and lesbians? "

50% say too much, 15% say too little, and 24% say about right. I guess this is about media coverage of lesbian and gay issues; should gays sit down and shut up? Not likely.

Dayton Opinions on Gays and Lesbians

We don't know but we can make some guesses.

The Dayton Daily News has taken strong editorial stands supporting gay rights. Most recently on the don't ask/don't tell policy, which is a sore subject given the big defense community here. These editorials and news stories usually generate strings of homophobic commentary. Is the vitriol representive of ingrained local prejudice?

Considering how long it took gay rights to come to Dayton (requiring a key vote from the reviled Rhine McLin, and perhaps one of the many reasons she is reviled) one can surmise this is the case.

Daytonians (city and suburbs) are not highly educated, are not particularly affluent, and the supportive young adult cohort is leaving the metro area (Dayton has the highest rate of outmigration for this age group in the region based on a study from the 1990s). So Dayton is older, poorer, and less educated. Precisely the factors that lead to less support of lesbians and gays.

One can say this is the case for Cleveland and Toledo as well. The difference is that these lake cities are heavily Catholic (more the eastern & southern European variety) compared with the Dayton area, which seems to be more evangelical/fundamentalist. In other words they are more like Chicago, possibly the most gay-supportive metro area in the Midwest. And Cleveland and Toledo did pass antidiscrimination ordnances earlier than Dayton, and have moved (especially the Cleveland area) on recognition of same sex partnerships. So maybe the lack of a substantial evangelical community is a decisive factor for making for a more welcoming and accepting social and political climate.

Yet, this poll was a statewide poll. And evangelicals are 46%/46% split (!) on supporting anti-discrimination protection for gays and lesbians. So there is social progress, even with difficult customers like the born-again evangelicals.

1 comment:

Karla said...

Just thought I'd drop by and say hi and leave another thank-you for the detailed suggestions on moving to Dayton you gave me on the Dayton forum awhile back. I hadn't realized you had a blog until someone mentioned it. It will be fun to sift through now and then and learn more about Dayton.