Various groups are touting polls that they claim show at one extreme 70% of people opposed to gay marriage, and at the other 65% in support. What’s the real picture?

The cause of the disparity is party my old bug bear of questions asked as an agree/disagree statement grid. I have railed about these in the past, but in short, while such questions have their specific uses, they are extremely vulnerable to bias.

Let’s start with basic principles. If you are seeking to find out what people’s opinion is on same-sex marriage, a good place to start is a question along the lines of “Do you support or oppose legalising same-sex marriage?”. A possible drawback with this is the issue of civil partnerships, which colloquially many people may think of as gay marriage. Given the issue currently at hand is whether to allow couples of the same sex to marry or just enter a civil partnership, we should really make that clear in the question.

This is basically the approach ICM took in their Sunday Telegraph poll:

“You might be aware that currently the law allows gay people to enter civil partnerships but they cannot get married. The Prime Minister, David Cameron wishes to legalise gay marriage but some senior members of both the Catholic Church and the Church of England are opposed. Do you support or oppose the move to legalise gay marriage?”

They found 45% supported legalising gay marriage and 36% opposed gay marriage, with 19% of people saying don’t know. YouGov took a similar approach, but offered people a three way choice – supporting gay marriage, supporting civil partnerships but not gay marriage or opposing both gay marriage and civil partnerships.

Since 2005 same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil partnerships. While civil partnerships offer the same legal rights as marriage, same-sex couples are not able to marry. Which of the following best reflects your view?
I would support same-sex marriage
I support civil partnerships, but would oppose samesex marriage
I oppose both civil partnerships and same-sex marriage
Don’t know

They found 43% support for same-sex marriage, 32% support for civil partnership but not gay marriage, 15% opposed to both and 10% sayibng don’t know. Clearly the proportion of people supporting gay marriage is almost identical, but the more nuanced options for those opposed to gay marriage has led to some people who would otherwise have said don’t know giving an opinion.

The other two polls at the extremes were both agree/disagree statement grids. The poll that showed the most support for same-sex marriage, from Populus, asked:

Do you agree or disagree with the following statements?
Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships

They found 65% of people agreed, and 27% disagreed with 8% saying don’t know. They also asked whether people agreed with the statement that “Gay couples should have exactly the same rights as heterosexual couples” which was agreed with by 76% of people. The tables make it unclear whether the order of the statements was rotated, or whether they were asked in the order presented with the marriage question first.

The Populus question itself is fairly straight forward, the higher level of support is probably due to the the agree/disagree statement structure – it is asking if people agree or disagree with a statement in favour of gay marriage, casting it as an issue of equal rights.

Compare and contrast it with this poll conducted by ComRes for the Coalition for Marriage, which asked if people agreed or disagreed with the 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”

This is essentially asking if people agree with a statement opposed to gay marriage, casting the it an issue of a minority imposing their views on the majority. Asked that way, 51% agreed with the statement and 34% disagreed (so inferring that only 34% supported gay marriage).

Finally the 70% figure being quoted by opponents of gay marriage comes from this poll by ComRes for Catholic Voices, which asked if people agreed with the statement that:

“Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman”

70% of people agreed, with 22% disagreeing. Here we have a statement that doesn’t even mention same-sex marriage, being rather overinterpreted by people for their own ends. Perhaps the logical inference is that anyone agreeing to this statement must be opposed to the laws on marriage being changed so that same sex-couples can marry (though, by the same rather tendentious logic, one could infer that 70% of people must think that divorce should also be made illegal), but in this case, we have other questions in other polls that actually asked directly about gay marriage, so we can be fairly certain that 70% of people are not interpreting the sentence that way.

I would again urge people to be cautious about polling questions asking if people agree/disagree with a loaded statement. It is rarely the best way of asking a question and carries with it risks of bias. If there are a conflicting polls on a subject, do not cherry pick those that suit your own views – take a broad look across all the polls. In this context, when the argument is cast in terms of equal rights a majority support gay marriage, when cast as a minority imposing their views upon the rest a majority are opposed – when asked simply and directly just under half are in support.

UPDATE: Sean Fear in the comments section has pointed out an Angus Reid question on gay marriage. They asked a similar question to YouGov, but without some of YouGov’s explanatory text:

Now, thinking about same-sex couples. Which of these statements comes closer to your own point of view on the legal recognition of same-sex couples in the UK?
Same-sex couples should be allowed to legally marry
Same-sex couples should be allowed to form civil partnerships
Same-sex couples should not have any kind of legal recognition
Not sure

Their results were again pretty similar to YouGov and ICM – they found 43% in favour of gay marriage, 34% in favour of civil partnerships but not marriage, 15% opposed to both.


96 Responses to “How many people support gay marriage?”

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  1. Good research, however the rights of a minority should NOT be decided by a tyrannical majority.

  2. Why do pollsters do this? Surely it ends up damaging their credibility. Couldn’t they refuse to run obviously skewed polls or do they just do whatever their paymasters want of them?

  3. Anthony

    The Comres one for Catholic Voice appears to ask a completely clear question to me, not sure what your problem is with this. You could hardly get a less ambiguous statement than “Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman” (IMHO).

    You seem to be making a presumption that because other polls found different results for their wording etc, this in itself means that the 70% in favour of the status quo can’t be right and the different result must simply be because of the way people interpreted the question. Whereas the poll/question should be looked at on its own merits.

  4. Furthermore, the really skewed one must be Anthony’s first example, which inherently implies that opposition is only from the churches, which is completely wrong and misleading. This is bound to lead to a bias in the answering from people who don’t do church or religion, pushing them more to favour the alternative to the church’s alleged view, in this case pushing them to say they “support” rather than “oppose” gay marriage.

    Obviously hard to quantify how much difference this would make, but don’t anyone pretend on here that it wouldn’t change at least a few % or so, especially in the less decideds.

  5. Mr Weeble – the short answer is pollsters can and do refuse to run polls that ask skewed questions.

    In my experience in the overwhelming majority of cases it is possible to come to a position where both the client and the pollster are happy with the questions, on the rare occassion when that doesn’t happen the poll simply doesn’t go ahead.

    I’ve done it in the past, but I wouldn’t name names. Bob Worcester has gone on the record and said he once refused to poll for James Goldsmith as he would not agree to MORI changing his questions to make them fair and balanced.

    Ultimately if a poll gets asked, then the implication is that the pollster considered it fair and balanced. Whether they were right or not is really a matter of judgement, these things are rarely black and white and there is no such thing as a perfect question.

  6. BT Said:

    the really skewed one must be Anthony’s first example, which inherently implies that opposition is only from the churches, which is completely wrong and misleading.

    I disagree, it implies that the opposition is being *led* by the churches, which I think is fundamentally true.

    If your interpretation is correct then do you think that the question inherently implies that support is only from “The Prime Minister, David Cameron ” since no-one else was mentioned?

  7. BT – the inclusion of the church (and of David Cameron) in the ICM question does have the potential to skew answers and it could do either way! People who dislike David Cameron or like the church may be more likely to go one way, people who like David Cameron or dislike the church may be more likely to go the other.

    It’s perhaps notable that the proportion of 2010 Conservative voters supporting gay marriage is higher in the ICM poll that mentions David Cameron’s support than in the YouGov poll that doesn’t. Overall the two questions have a similar result though – so it may be that people who dislike David Cameron are being pushed in the opposite direction.

    (The same no doubt applies to the mention of the church, but since the two polls don’t have a comparable cross-break by religion there is no obvious way of evidencing it)

  8. BT Says

    “Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman”

    Oh dear. You are aware that it isn’t defined as life-long aren’t you? And that the bible seems to have other ideas (Solomon had how many wives?).

    More seriously (and logically) it doesn’t preclude it being defined as this and something else, just that we shouldn’t prevent it being defined as this.

    You can see that there are one or two problems with the question…

  9. Thanks Anthony.
    NB Your observation is your second paragraph iin your reply to me 14.58 is interesting. Shows how fickle human nature can be I suppose.

  10. The Sheep

    My marriage vows certainly included the lifelong bit, and I can’t speak for Solomon (NB If you look, it doesn’t suggest he was right to do so!).

  11. http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/43971/two-in-five-britons-endorse-same-sex-marriage/

    This Angus Reid poll from August 2011 gives similar results to Yougov and ICM.

  12. More problems for Liam Fox and all those who would like to rush him back into the Government. The BBC is reporting as follows: –

    “Former Defence Secretary Liam Fox has been told to repay £3,000 of parliamentary expenses claimed for a second home where he allowed his friend Adam Werritty to stay rent-free.”

    Parliamentary Standards Commissioner John Lyon called this a “serious matter”.

    I know it’s probably a bit of small change for Fox, but trousering £3k, if not illegally then certainly in clear breach of the expenses policy, should debar him from a future senior position in public service shouldn’t it? Ditto David Laws, or am I missing something here?

  13. @ Crossbat11

    I find the timing of your post and the thread subject matter quite funny, given the rumours that were around.

    In regard to the thread subject matter, if I were asked about this by a pollster, I would tell them that I did not have an opinion about marriage. We are in a world were inequality should not be tolerated. The same way as racism should not be accepted. If Gay people want to get married in a church that allows this or in another venue, then they should be allowed. The people that are against it, would be similar in my mind to the Bar Owners in the US, who put up the ‘whites only’ signs.

  14. Just received this tweet:

    David Colquhoun @david_colquhoun
    RT @d_williams_: just received embargoed press release for march 20 saying “the health and social care bill has now received royal assent”

    And it is still supposed to be debated on Monday in the HoL. If true then what a farce.

  15. Re NHS Reform, I think the royal assent press release is a hoax.

    http://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2012/march/health-and-social-care-bill-third-reading/

    I can’t see the bill being passed for a few weeks.

  16. @R Huckle
    “Re NHS Reform, I think the royal assent press release is a hoax.”

    Thank you. I hope so too.

  17. A very interesting analysis Anthony.

    I was becoming very uncertain about what polls were actually saying on this topic.

    You have cleared it up nicely.

    Thanks.

  18. BT Says…

    While I respect your opinon, its very very clearly a leading question. There are leading results one way and the other (Populus). The ICM poll shows it clearly and without bias as far as is possible while setting the agenda out and unsuprisingly goes down the middle.

  19. BT, I support gay marriage, and I would agree with the statement that:

    “Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman”

    After all, no-one’s proposing abolishing that kind of marriage, so it will still be defined that way. It already has other meanings (not all marriages are life-long, not all are sexually exclusive), and the same-sex marriage proposal is to add more, not to take any away.

    The question seems to me to be asking whether we should remove that definition of marriage, not on whether we should prohibit the creation of others.

  20. BT Says…

    Well what other bits of your marriage vows would you like to be in the definition, because most of them aren’t in that one. Vows != definition.

    And legally the definition explicitly allows (and within the church has always allowed) for it not to be lifelong.

  21. Good Evening All.

    BT:
    Thank you for your posts on this issue on marriage.
    ‘Catholic Voice’ is one of the new youth movements in catholic renewal which has warmed the cockles of this middle aged man at least.

    There is a very interesting article in The Economist on a similar movement in the Anglican Communion.

    More important matters. Wales tilt at the Grand Slam, and Mervyn Davies, RIP

    Politcally the sexual ethic has some significance I think, as there is a constituency out there which feels that we are being ‘got at’ for being married, with children, trying to be faithful to one person, believe they have a right to have a discreet cross on their clothing, have a right to decide who comes into their homes. Liberty.

  22. I struggle to understand the difference between a civil parnership and marriage except for the words themselves.

    I was married in a registry office and therefore felt it was a civil contract. Gay friends of mine a few years back formed a civil partnership adopting the same name and I always thought of them as married until this recent debate.

    Does the impending legislation mean more then just that all formally recognised relationships whether between people of same or differnet sex are called marriage. Is there any requirement for churches to hold church weddings?

  23. Henry

    Perhaps this helps :-

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/14/gay-marriage-government-public-consultation?newsfeed=true

    The answer to your final question appears to be “No”.

    The proposal seems to realate only the “marriage” of same gender couples in a civil ( non-religious) ceremony.

    The DT reports CoE as saying :-

    ““Opening marriage to same sex couples would confer few if any new legal rights on the part of those already in a civil partnership, yet would require multiple changes to law, with the definition of marriage having to change for everyone,”it said. “The issue of whether marriage should be redefined to include those of the same sex is a more complicated picture than has been painted.”

    There does appear to be room for confusion & misunderstanding.

    This from another DT report will be the source of concern for some people :-

    “An official Home Office background paper says: “The UK Border Agency will require minor changes to application forms and staff guidance to highlight the changes to the law, and replacing references to ‘husband and wife’ with more neutral terms ‘spouses and partners’.”

    The Government does need to tread carefully with this .

  24. Henry

    I meant to draw your attention to the bit of that Guardian report which claims that heterosexual couples will not be offered the opportunity for civil partnership currently available to homosexual couples.

    This -in circumstances fraught with talk of discrimination-would seem to be a bizarre, & to some, offensive piece of discrimination.

  25. This is the consultation document :-

    http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/consultations/equal-civil-marriage/consultation-document?view=Binary

    I think there is wide confusion & misunderstanding about the issue covered at Page 3 , Section 1.7

  26. Pleased to read 2.12 at Page 9

  27. There’s a more recent poll from Angus Reid, for multiple countries, on gay-marriage. Showing Briton’s decidedly more reactionary than their Canadian & Australian counterparts, but not quite as much as Americans.

    http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/44437/australians-support-same-sex-marriage-more-than-americans-and-britons/

  28. COLIN

    Thank you for the clarification and references

  29. I was disgusted to see anti-Ken Livingstone ads on this page. I thought this site was supposed to be non-partisan.

    As a site I support, I had whitelisted UK Polling Report in Adblock Plus, but, have now reversed this decision…

  30. Jangly Mark

    I suppose the anti Boris ads were fair game and perfectly accepable?

    Frankly I find neither surprising, it’s a political site so adverts will be targeted to those with an interest in politics.

  31. Jangly Mark,
    Best advice is to put it back on your ‘whitelist’, and park your moral indignation. If you’d been here a few weeks ago you’d have seen plenty of anti-Boris ads. Anthony puts on a splendid site for everyone’s enjoyment, and that doesn’t come for free. If Boris wants to pay one week for ads and Ken the next, so be it, the shillings the same. The paid ads don’t bother me, or indeed many others….

    The ads you really need to worry about are the ones that ‘follow’ you based on your cookies. Best not to complain about them either in case you are the only one that can see them :-)

  32. Pleasure Henry.

  33. While I support Ken, I would have considered the same reaction to anti-Boris ads had I seen them. (I recently had a spell in hospital, so, they may have co-incided with that).

    The point is – Anthony has always been at pains to keep this site non-partisan.

    Ok…I’ll put the site back on Adblock’s whitelist tomorrow.

  34. AW explained previously that the ad space on the site is open to all. If pro Boris organisations want to pay up, the space is theirs. As with pro-Ken organisations, or any others.

  35. Just reading that GO is going to abolish national pay deals in the public sector in the Budget. Leaving aside the economic madness of this policy, if the Liberal Democrats are prepared to let this go through they are all but finished. Combined with 9% poll ratings and the fact that they intend to vote through the boundary changes, there won’t be a Lib Dem MP left standing in 3 years time.

  36. @SWEBB

    “Combined with 9% poll ratings and the fact that they intend to vote through the boundary changes, there won’t be a Lib Dem MP left standing in 3 years time.”

    Not being partisan, but more observational; I’ve noticed that many Labour supporters constantly ring the death knell for the Lib Dems. Almost some form of vengeance for the breaking of some non-existent treaty.

    Is it a direct Labour tactic?

  37. My assumption would be a big split between responses from people in big conurbations like Greater London and the rest of the country. It would be interesting to see some research on that to see whether it’s true or is in fact a bit of a myth.

  38. Good Morning.
    I have just woken up to the news that the Liberal Democrats are proposing to establish a system whereby if I teach in a poor, low pay area, say Newry or Sunderland, my work will be less valuable than if i work in a prosperous area such as Surrey or Chipping Norton.

    How do they justify this?

    How do people who value the Union of the kingdoms justify this

    The Free Market arguments I know.

    Why is a nurse tending a sick child less valuable in an area of low pay and relative poverty less valuable in a area such as Twickenham?

    And Mervyn Davies, the greatest number 8 in the world: May He rest in Peace. Calon Lan and Bread of Heaven.

  39. @ Statgeek

    Not being partisan, but more observational; I’ve noticed that many Labour supporters constantly ring the death knell for the Lib Dems. Almost some form of vengeance for the breaking of some non-existent treaty.

    Is it a direct Labour tactic?
    ———————————————
    Yes.

    We want all the left-leaning Dems to support the Labour Party. Even New Labour was further to the left than the current LD executive.

    We want their supporters to realise that the Party which they supported ‘died’ when the LD MPs voted for £30k tuition fees & also for Lansley’s NHS Bill the first time it went to a vote in the HoC.
    8-)

  40. AMBER STAR.

    The Top of the Morning to you from a wet St Patrick’s Day morning in Bournemouth, the day the Celts triumph in the rugby at Cardiff and then at Twickenham- we hope.

    You are absolutely right about the Fib Dems. And now they will vote for the smashing of the public sector pay structures, marvellous are they not; saints Shirley, Vince and Simon.

  41. CHRISLANE1945
    I suspect the idea isn’t actually ‘lower pay for people in poorer areas’ but ‘higher pay for people in areas with higher living costs’ – it’s just that the website that shall not be named is spinning it in an anti-government way.

    Funnily enough, this is actually similar to Labour’s policy of a statutory living wage for London (and I’d assume, regional living wages for other areas) – if you live in an area of high-living costs, you should get paid more than someone in an area of low living costs.

    It’s also similar to Labour’s plan of changing the benefits cap to a regional system (or at least one which takes in to consideration the cost of living in London) – higher living costs means a higher benefit cap.

    It’s not a difficult system to defend – you have a certain level of pay, let’s say £15k/year.
    If you live in Area A, you have living costs of £12k and Area B, living costs of £13k.
    That means the person who lives in Area A has a discretionary income of £3k while B has £2k. Clearly unfair to person B.

    This is also the point of having a tax threshold –
    Person A and B both live in Area A – A’s income is £14k, B’s income is £12k. Their living costs are both £12k.
    If we tax them both at 10%, person B clearly is pushed in to poverty – while person A clearly still has £600 of discretionary income over their living costs.
    So a tax threshold equal to the cost of living prevents people being taxed on the necessities, so they’re only taxed on what is an excess.

    Marxists (and the left in general – who even if they’re anti-marxist should be schooled in Marx) should recognise the idea in the value of labour vs the cost of labour.
    Typically the wages paid (excluding wage regulation) on the lowest paid is equal to the absolute necessity of living – whereas the value of labour is Revenue minus Capital costs.
    Profit is the Value of Labour minus Cost of Labour.
    So any discretionary income paid to employees comes out of the profit – the socialist-left would argue that since profit eats in to the value of labour, the worker should retain all profits, while the capitalist-right argue that without profit going to the capitalist, there will be no investment and they must compete in wage costs with other employers.

    So it’s also the point of a minimum wage – to make sure that wage minus tax is equal to at least the necessities (plus hopefully some discretionary income) so that capitalist-right’s arguments are countered.

    So the idea of necessary vs discretionary income is seeped in the ideology and policy of the left (and Labour), and for Labour (or Labour supporters) to just dismiss the coalition’s policy on regional pay out of hand is just pure partisanship.

    Hopefully this post won’t be viewed as partisan in reply – I’m hardly a coalition supporter.

  42. TINGED FRINGE.
    Good morning, and thanks for the long post.

    Marx: ‘Je ne suis pas marxiste’ (i think he said). I am aware of the dessicating calculating machine arguments to use ‘Nye’ on Gaitskell.

    I think they are fundamentally and philosophically wrong, whether from Marx and Engels who lived off the labour of irish working girls, or from the Coalition or from new labour or anyone else.

    Old fashioned viw this is: A child in sunderland is as valuable as a child in surrey. Itaque they get paid the same.
    Same for a nurse or a lady caring for my mum and her generation.

    Just make the pay a just wage. Rerum Novarum said it all in 1891- Leo X111.

    More importantly though the chess disaster on thursday was reversed last night in southbourne chess club with a huge victory over a top club player after a 90 move, two day game, adjiourned from last week, and now we have the rugby matches after godson’s footy. have a good day!

  43. A child in sunderland is as valuable as a child in surrey. Itaque they get paid the same

    But I’ve already explained why a policy of regional pay is exactly defending equal value of pay.

    Surrey employee gets £15k, their living costs are £14k – Sunderland employee gets £15k, their living costs are £12k.
    So the employee in Sunderland has more discretionary income (i.e what they can spend above the cost of living) – thus they are paid unequally to someone in Surrey who is effectively only paid £1k vs £3k for Sunderland.

    So what I’m saying is that you’re just looking at it through the wrong lens – living costs are effectively the same as tax, everybody has to pay them and they can’t be avoided.
    So discretionary income is the only fair way to measure the disparity of incomes between two people (or between profit and wages) – because that is the money that they can save, give away or spend on themselves.

    Which is the logic behind minimum wage, regional wages, regional benefit caps (which remember, is the only major complaint about the benefit cap) and tax thresholds.

  44. @ Amberstar

    It is not a gimic as you put it. I think it is another move to break the power of the Public Sector unions. A tactic i used myself when I first became a Production Director. Once national bargening stops then “divide and rule” is much easier. My main criticism of the Thatcher years was she failed to deal adequately with the Public Sector Unions.

  45. Chris Lane

    I can understand your concern-because I know you work in the public sector.

    It probably does seem strange to you that the pay of a teacher might vary depending upon the area they work in.

    There are three alternatives I think :-

    Enact a law requiring all private sector jobs be categorised & enforce a legal standard salary for each category, nationwide.

    Allow wage rates to reflect local supply & demand in both private & public sector , across the country.

    Continue with the existing system of local wage rates for private sector jobs & national wage rates for public sector jobs.

    The economic consequences of each are often debated & can be accessed readily.

    There are economic consequences, depending on the option you choose-consequences for individuals & consequences for the countries economy.

  46. “Once national bargening stops then “divide and rule” is much easier.”
    I suspect national bargaining won’t end – it’s just the unions will switch to discretionary income as their yardstick for national wages.
    So divide and rule would fail in that case.

  47. I remember the early 80s when public servants were treated rather badly, pay held down etc but with limited alternative jobs most of them moaned but got on with it.
    By the latter part of the decade maybe earlier in some areas there became a recruitment and retention problem so the Government started to spend more to make the jobs more attractive (less unattractive).

    Last year I recall a conversation with my NUT member sister and 2 of her Teacher colleagues which got heated in places.
    In the end we kind of agreed to disagree on the impact of the pension proposals and what compromises would be sufficient. Where we agreed was that the proof of the impact would come in a few years when Teachers had realistic alternatives and if the overall package was not good enough (Pay, pensions etc) there would be a recruitment and retention (R&R) problem. My sister said it would come first with Head Teachers and I was not in a position to comment.
    As per Amber, this idea to abolish National pay structures signals that this R&R issue has occurred much earlier than I for one anticipated in some parts of the country.

    I’m surprised that anyone is surprised at the GO proposals as this was the inevitable consequence of the Academy process to allow not only local but school specific salary packages. If they are serious they need to address Chris’ point and alter budgets to reflect not just regional costs of living but also intake demographics so in a rough Sunderland School the head Teacher gets more money which they could choose to spend on Pay.

    It seems to me that a more flexible understanding of the need for variable packages by Teacher Unions would be helpful.

    The Health service and Local Government structures are already set up to be able to cope with local pay deals with little tweaking needed.

  48. @THE OTHER HOWARD

    @”t is not a gimic as you put it. I think it is another move to break the power of the Public Sector unions.”

    Yes I think that’s part of it.

    But there is an economic objective too.

    An elite cohort of workers in a low employment area, enjoying premium pay rates unrelated to local conditions , produces clear distortions .

    One might be that private sector employment is compromised, either by dint of a pay barrier, or a scarcity of workers . It might be that such a situation enhances the differential between the public & private sector -private sector being pushed towards low pay/low skill , leaving the local economy unbalanced.

  49. Also if the government is serious about rebalancing the economy toward the north, they’ll consider a policy of regional minimum wages.
    Where minimum wage = cost of living + small amount of discretionary income + cost of tax.

    That way, it’ll become more attractive for businesses to move north (due to lower wage costs), which will push up the cost of living in the north, which would push up the minimum wage (and effectively have a downward pressure on the south) – which would lead toward an equilibrium between regions.
    And everybody gets roughly the same discretionary income, so that becomes the measurement – which would be far better for left-wing ideology to live in, but that’s just a happy side-effect. ;)

  50. Very interesting polling analysis. How you ask the question is important for the polling outcome. So, in California, when we went through that whole Prop 8 ugliness, polls asked people whether they were opposed to or in support of the proposition. They weren’t really polling on the actual issue itself. The polls were thus misleading. The more accurate polls were those that asked people whether they favored or opposed same-sex marriage.

    The way a poll is worded can produce very different answers and responses.

    @ Craig

    “There’s a more recent poll from Angus Reid, for multiple countries, on gay-marriage. Showing Briton’s decidedly more reactionary than their Canadian & Australian counterparts, but not quite as much as Americans.”

    I don’t think their polling is accurate. I think their numbers reflect what they think Americans must think or should think. Their poll contradicts the numbers from CNN, Gallup, and ABC News/Washington Post, which all now show majority support for same-sex marriage. I trust those more than I trust Angus Reid.

    @ Henry

    “I struggle to understand the difference between a civil parnership and marriage except for the words themselves.

    I was married in a registry office and therefore felt it was a civil contract. Gay friends of mine a few years back formed a civil partnership adopting the same name and I always thought of them as married until this recent debate.”

    There’s a lot in a word. You didn’t ask your wife to civil union you or domestic partner you did you? Given the rights and responsibilities that come with marriage, even as you legislate to make civil unions equal, it will always be behind on the law. People don’t recognize a civil partnership.

    Marriage is a civil contract. The fact that religious officials may marry people doesn’t transform marriage into a religious contract.

    I know lots of gay couples who are reffered to as married and might as well be married but in fact they’re not legally married.

    “Does the impending legislation mean more then just that all formally recognised relationships whether between people of same or differnet sex are called marriage. Is there any requirement for churches to hold church weddings?”

    To my knowledge no. I think it’s a shame when you have an official state church that’s used as a place where every day citizens have the right to go and marry and yet you reserve that only for straight couples and not gay ones.

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