by Brandon McGinley

A poll released today by Public Policy Polling indicates that, despite President Obama’s declaration of support for same-sex “marriage” and despite widespread efforts to stigmatize supporters of traditional marriage, only 35% of Pennsylvanians support redefining marriage.

“But wait,” you might say, “I heard that all the polling is going against marriage?  And isn’t the real story from the PPP poll that African-Americans now support SSM?  And wait a minute…39% support SSM, not 35%!?”

You would think all of these things, of course, because that is what the PPP press release stated, which was unquestioningly picked up by news outlets.  But let’s take a deeper look at the numbers, which you can find in the full report, here.

On the question, “Do you think same-sex marriage should be legal or illegal?”*, it is true that 39% in the poll say “legal.”  But the next question introduces another option: civil unions.  When presented with the full range of options, only 35% support redefining marriage.  And this is the relevant statistic: given the whole range of policy options, including other forms of government recognition, how many think that marriage itself should be redefined?  The answer is 35%.  And 61% are opposed to redefinition.  That is, and I can’t stress this enough: 61% of Pennsylvanians think that marriage is between one man and one woman.

We can apply this same analysis to the most misleading story to come out of the PPP poll: that African-Americans in Pennsylvania now support SSM.  It is true that, given only legal/illegal SSM options, 42-41% chose “legal.”  But what about when civil unions are in the mix?  Only 31% of African-Americans in Pennsylvania support redefining marriage; and, again, 61% oppose.  There is no “race-gap,” and there is no momentum for same-sex “marriage” in Pennsylvania.

Now, a well-informed reader might object: “How can you say there’s no momentum for SSM in PA?  Even using the civil unions question, support for SSM has increased from 29% to 35% since PPP’s fall 2011 poll of PA?  And what about youth, who overwhelmingly support SSM!?”

Firstly, we must admit that, in concert with the rest of the country, support for same-sex “marriage” in Pennsylvania has increased since last year.  I’m hard-pressed, though, to define a 61-35% shellacking as momentum.  More than that, and to the question of youth, support for SSM among 18-29 year-olds has declined  since last year.  Whereas in 2011 50% in this age group supported SSM with 48% opposed, now only 48% of young people support SSM, and 50% oppose.  You read that right: younger voters, who are supposed to carry same-sex “marriage” to inevitability, oppose redefining marriage by a 50-48% margin.

In fact, there is a much larger age gap in the generic Congressional ballot, which shows 18-29 year-olds supporting Democrats by 26-point margin.  If the support of younger voters heralds inevitability, then the GOP should just pack up and go home; but of course we know that this is not the case.

So let’s review: 1) Pennsylvania voters oppose redefining marriage, 61% to 35%.  2) African-American voters oppose redefining marriage, 61% to 31%.  3) Young voters oppose redefining marriage, 50% to 48%.

Despite misleading media to the contrary, today’s poll confirms what most Pennsylvanians already intuitively understand: this commonwealth strongly supports traditional marriage.  And it is time for our legislature to let the people enshrine this widely-supported and fundamental institution in Pennsylvania’s constitution, where activists judges can’t usurp the power of the people.

*Itself a misleading question, since it assumes that same-sex “marriage” is an intelligible concept, which it is not.  In fact, that is the issue at stake: not whether a legitimate concept called “same-sex marriage” should be legal, but whether “same-sex marriage” is a legitimate concept at all.  That is, it’s a question of definition, not legality.  It has been shown that when polls are conducted in terms of the proper definition of marriage, support for traditional marriage increases.