Friday, June 14, 2013

Super-majority of Americans Support Marriage AND Federal benefits

Another poll confirms the existing super majority in favor of marriage equality nationwide, clocking in at 57%-40% supporting allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. What is even more interesting is that the ABC/Washington Post poll also went on to ask whether same-sex couples should be given federal benefits and even larger group supported that: 63% to 34%. Of course, it is precisely this second question of providing federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples which is being considered by the United States Supreme Court in the Gaytterdämmerung case of United States v. Windsor. Currently law (the Defense of Marriage Act) prohibits the Obama administration to provide the benefits, so it, along with the ACLU and LGBT activists are arguing DOMA is unconstitutional. The American public agrees!

The poll has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points and was conducted June 5-9, 2013 of a representative nationwide sample of Americans.

One sad point in the poll is that even though Americans are moving strongly in favor of supporting equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, they are moving away from equal opportunity for racial and ethnic minorities in higher education. Only 22 percent of Americans in this same poll said that colleges should be allowed to consider race as a factor in college admissions.
 In a Gallup/CNN/USA Today survey in 2001, for instance, 87 percent said colleges should not be allowed to consider race as a factor in student admission decisions, vs. 76 percent in this poll.
Perhaps surprisingly, this survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds little in the way of racial or ethnic differences on the question. Seventy-nine percent of whites oppose consideration of race in college admissions, as do 71 percent of nonwhites, including 78 percent of blacks and 68 percent of Hispanics. In the 2001 Gallup poll, opposition was similar to its level now among nonwhites, 74 percent, while higher among whites, 90 percent.
Even political liberals in this survey oppose the practice, by a 2-1 margin.
Other research has found varying views on efforts to assist disadvantaged groups in areas such as college admissions, hiring and promotions, depending on the nature of the effort. Previous ABC News polls, for example, have found greater support for programs that give assistance but not preference, or that are based on income rather than race.
Frankly, I think Americans do not really understand how college admissions works, and think that colleges will go around admitting "unqualified minority kids" instead of qualified white (and Asian) kids. The Supreme Court is currently considering a case from Texas, called Fisher v University of Texas where race is just a factor in admissions and may use that case to ban the practice in admission practices by public (and possibly private?) colleges and universities. There is a wide range of "qualified" students who can do well in college and just because racial and ethnic minority students may have lower test scores on average does not mean that they are less qualified to succeed in college. There is a lot of research which shows that standardized test scores are more strongly correlated with a student's family income than their graduation rate in college.

The bizarre case about Fisher is that in Texas they switched to a race-blind policy of just selecting the top fraction of all high-school students in Texas and that alone made the University of Texas pool more diverse. When, the Supreme Court did not disallow the use of race in admission in the Grutter case a few years ago Texas abandoned its race-neutral scheme and started using race. They did not substantially enhance the racial and ethnic diversity of the colleges and university. So, even if the Supreme Court strikes down the University of Texas's current admission scheme they can always go back to the pre-Grutter scheme.

Anyway, along with the two Gaytterdämmerung cases in  Windsor and Hollingsworth v Perry, how the Supreme Court rules in the two race-related cases of Fisher  and Shelby County v. Holder will be something I will be looking forward to, and there are only 4 more days on which that will happen: Monday June 17, Thursday June 20, Monday June 24 and Thursday June 27.

Hat/tip to LGBT Think Progress

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