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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 27, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 21
Focus on the Family head: 'We've lost on marriage'
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Focus on the Family head: 'We've lost on marriage'

Gallup poll shows he's right

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

In a stunning admission, Focus on the Family head Jim Daly told an interviewer that he believed the Christian right has lost the battle against marriage equality.

The interview appeared May 22 on WORLDmag.com, an online publication advertising 'Today's news/Christian views.'

Daly has been president of Focus on the Family since 2005, when the organization's founder, James Dobson, retired.

Interviewer Marvin Olasky asked him, 'We're winning the younger generation on abortion, at least in theory. What about same-sex marriage?'

'We're losing on that one, especially among the 20- and 30-somethings; 65% to 70% of them favor same-sex marriage,' Daly replied.

'I don't know if that's going to change with a little more age - demographers would say probably not. We've probably lost that. I don't want to be extremist here, but I think we need to start calculating where we are in the culture.'

A loss on the marriage issue would be a serious blow to Focus on the Family, which has made opposite-sex marriage one of its organizational cornerstones.

'Our budget has always been roughly 90% toward the bread and butter - marriage and parenting issues - and 10 percent toward policy,' Daly told Olasky.



A new Gallup poll released May 20 confirmed Daly's fears.

For the first time since Gallup started polling on the issue in 1996, results showed that a clear majority of Americans favor legalizing same-sex marriage.

In response to the question, 'Do you think marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages?' 53% said Yes.

When Gallup first polled on this issue in 1996, only 27% of the respondents were in favor.

Since May of last year, the number of supporters has jumped 9%.

Gallup found that 69% of Democrats and 70% of self-identified liberals support same-sex marriage.

In contrast, only 28% of Republicans and conservatives agree.

In the 18 to 34 age group, a whopping 70% believe same-sex marriage should be legalized. This is an increase of 16% in the last year.

Only 39% of those 55 and older favored legalization of same-sex marriages, although even this number is higher than in past years.

Women also favored the proposition at higher rates than men.

The Gallup poll is the fourth in a three-month period to find a majority of Americans favoring marriage equality.

PRRI released a poll May 19 showing that 51% favor legalizing same-sex marriage. According to the PRRI survey, a majority of Catholics and Protestants support allowing same-sex couples to marry.

In March, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found 53% of Americans believed it should be legal 'for Gay and Lesbian couples to get married.' In April, a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll concluded that 51% were in favor.

The Gallup organization appreciates the political implications of all this polling data just as much as Daly apparently does.

'At the moment, those advocating changes in constitutions and laws to allow same-sex marriage in additional states can take heart in the apparent shift in national sentiment in their direction,' Gallup wrote in a statement.

Other analysts agreed.

In a Huffington Post article published May 20, Robert P. Jones, CEO of PRRI, said the new polling data may signal 'the beginning of the end of the same-sex marriage debate.'

Jones pointed out that 'the debate is no longer between secular Americans who support same-sex marriage on one side and religious Americans who oppose it on the other.'

According to Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, 'With six national polls now confirming that a majority of Americans support the freedom to marry, it's time for Focus on the Family and other anti-Gay industry activists to move on and, ideally, redirect their resources toward tackling the real problems Gay and non-Gay Americans could be confronting together in these tough economic times.'

Daly, however, pledged that his organization would continue to fight for a traditional Christian view of marriage.

'We'd say, 'The piece of paper that you get at the state to recognize your marriage is worthless. It's like registering your car,' he told Olasky.

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