First, the poll asked how people viewed the morality of different sexual behaviors : sex between unmarried adults, sex between people under 18, sexting and sexual emails, and gay sex. As expected, sexual acts between gay people were disapproved of, although not quite as much as sex <18 years of age, and not near as much as sexting.
Next, I looked at their data about the acceptability of gay people in different roles in the community. These answers were broken down by the level of comfort.
I was surprised that strong majorities approved of gay people serving as police, judges (despite the Judge Vaughn Walker issue in the Prop8 case), doctors, or elected persons with relatively little "very uncomfortable" beyond a baseline 12%. Curiously, the most vehement response AGAINST anyone was the idea of a gay clergy person. That means that some number of people (around 12% or so) who have no problem with a gay policeman, are uncomfortable with a gay clergy person.
From this selective analysis, I take away two broad points.
First, the marriage equality issue must be separated from the religious aspect of Holy Matrimony in the political sphere. Too many people absolutely disagree that gay couples can be blessed as a couple. Therefore, we must frame the political debate about civil marriage and educate people in how that differs. This includes explicit statements separating what people do in their faith communities from civil law. Yes, I know that they aren't necessary, but we need to make the line bright.
Second, in these and other data from the poll, there appears to be a baseline of about 12% who are completely opposed to any rights for gays, who view gays as immoral, and are always negative. These are the core opposition: the NOMmers and their like. They are not going to be moved. They are implacable foes. Where we have to fight the battle is in the moveable middle.
And that means reaching people in faith communities. Sure, over 50% of lay Catholics and mainline white Protestants are pro-marriage--but we need those numbers to be closer to 60 or even 70% if we are to achieve civil equality. Just as we all need to come out at work and at home, I believe the full participation of LGBT in churches, active participation in religious life, will help. I have to hope that seeing devoted gay couples living faithful lives together will move some of those in the middle from the slightly disagree to sort of agree columns in these polls. Simply by being us, we can make a difference.
And TEC, by recognizing us as couples like any other, could play a big part in this. I think the challenge for GC2012 will be huge: you will need to resist codifying gay relationships as "less than," and fight for the same blessing for everyone. Otherwise, you would commit the ecclesiastical equivalent of domestic partnerships for The Gay Folk. And separate is never equal.
Well, we'll see, won't we?
Update: From the mouths of babes, a great column in the SMU student newspaper (of all places)
The truth of the matter is that what we have here-to-fore referred to as "same-sex" marriage is no different than any marriage between opposite-sex couples. In both cases, two people come together in love and unity to declare, before God, their unending love for one another. It makes no difference whether it is a man and a woman, two men, or two women. Ultimately, holy matrimony derives its sanctity from the love that both partners share for one another, and not from the genitalia with which they were bestowed....
Gay men and women across the country are not fighting for "same-sex marriage;" they are fighting for "marriage."
I hope that GC2012 will make that so.