Selective reading of material to support presupposed right-wing views is David Barton’s forte, so it comes as no surprise that the pseudo-historian is using a shoddy poll on same-sex marriage by an ultraconservative organization to claim that very few Americans support marriage equality.
On WallBuilders Live yesterday, Barton and co-host Rick Green hosted Austin Nimocks of the Alliance Defense Fund to discuss their opposition to equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians. Barton and Green ended the interview by discussing the ADF poll which claimed that 62% of Americans were against marriage equality. ADF’s findings were something of an anomaly, given that most other recent polls show the majority of Americans are in favor of marriage equality, a number which even Republican pollsters admit is rapidly increasing. Unlike other polls, the ADF survey didn’t ask participants whether they believe gay and lesbian couples should be legally allowed to marry but instead asked if they agreed with the claim, “I believe marriage should be defined only as the union of one man and one woman.” As Dan Nejfelt of Faith in Public Life points out:
A key difference is that these polls focused on legality rather than the “definition” of marriage. Given that the political debate surrounding same-sex marriage pertains to legislation rather than the contents of the dictionary, it’s hard to see the relevance of ADF’s data. It certainly is interesting, but it’s not even close to a refutation of the overwhelming body of current nonpartisan opinion research pointing to majority support for legal recognition of same-sex marriage.
But for Barton and Green, the poll demonstrates that the country is united against marriage equality, which they say only has the support of a tiny but vocal minority.
Barton: If you can get a Christian spirit going, it unifies people like crazy. And that’s what we got going on the marriage issue, that’s what we have going on the school prayer issue. The other guys are screaming that it’s dividing. No. When it’s 82 to 18 that’s not dividing, when it’s 62 to 35 that’s not dividing, that’s unifying.
Green: Well the way to divide everybody is to take an issue where only 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 percent are for it and force it on the whole country.
Barton: That’s right. Oh, are you talking about gay marriage here?
Green: I’m not even sure 15 percent are for it. Even when we say 62 percent are for traditional marriage I don’t think you can say 38 percent are for gay marriage, but they might be saying ‘I don’t really know if I want to make that decision.’
Barton: See, that’s when you have to look in the polls to see who are strongly for it. And when you get strongly for, very few. And I love the point he made too, he said they want to do this against the will of the people, that’s why they file lawsuits. I mean, they did not give the people of New York a chance to vote on this, and typically they do not. They file lawsuits against marriage because they can’t win at the ballot box. This is the thing, when it comes to the people they can’t win, which is another great indication that this is a minority driving this agenda. It’s not a majority, it’s not a unifying issue.