Ann Widdecombe has called for a referendum on the subject on gay marriage. She believes in doing this because the Coalition for Marriage carried out an opinion poll which showed that 51% of people thought it was unnecessary. This flies in contrast to previous opinion polls. The reason? I suspect it has to do with the loaded nature of the question asking whether they agree or disagree with this statement:
Since gay and lesbian couples already have the same rights as married couples available to them under civil partnership, they should not be allowed to redefine marriage for everyone else.
So lets look at just what was asked in the other independent opinion polls on the issue.
In 2004 Gallup carried out a UK, USA, Canada comparison, their question which had 52% should in the UK and 45% should not was:
Do you think that marriages between homosexuals should or should not be recognized in law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriage?
In 2008 the Observer ran an opinion poll that was 55% in favour of equal marriage to 45% against, that question:
Do you believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to get married?
In 2009 Populus ran a similar poll for the Times in which 61% agreed and 33% disagreed with the following statement:
Gay couples should have the equal right to get married, not just have civil partnerships.
Of course when is a question not a question? When it leads people by giving them information they did not already have. Of the four questions above one is loaded with the opinions of the group that is putting it into the field, the others are open and gauging of someone’s actual opinion at the time the question has been asked.
Yes only the Coalition for marriage had to ask a question that seemed to promote their opinion with a slightly misleading fact at the start. One thing that gay couple cannot do legally is have any religious content in their ceremony should they wish to have any, therefore not having the same rights.
Why would they be doing this?
Every opinion poll in recent years has shown that the people in the UK don’t care if marriage equality is extended to couples of the same sex. So if Ann Widdecombe wants to put it to the public vote go ahead. Seeing “bishops deployed against gay [sic] activists” over this issue as even she sees happening in such a debate will only strengthen the case for equality and probably even more calls to eradicate the Lords Spiritual from their seats in the House of Lords. Of course not all of those championing equal marriage are gay activists, certainly not the Prime Minister, nor the First Minister of Scotland.