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Correction on Zogby Post

October 21, 2010, 2:49 pm | By Nick Sementelli

An earlier post on this blog commented on a Washington Post profile of Arab-American Institute head James Zogby. The post misidentified Mr. Zogby with his brother John Zogby of Zogby International Polling. We have removed the post and regret the error.

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October 19, 2010, 2:29 pm | By Nick Sementelli

Our friends at Church World Service and Sojourners have a great new blog series out called “Mythbusters” in which they dismantle false statements about our current immigration system.

Today’s post by Yvette Shock at CWS takes on the myth that all undocumented workers have crossed the border without permission to get into the country–a claim reinforced by political ads like this one in Nevada. As Yvette notes:

As many as 45% of all immigrants who are currently undocumented entered the country through a legal port of entry and with the proper documentation. They may have overstayed a visa — a civil, not criminal infraction – but they were never part of that shadowy scene featured in the campaign ad.

This is an under-reported point. Opponents of reform capitalize on the visual of immigrants illicitly sneaking across the border to ‘prove’ that they are criminals who have something to hide. This false implication feeds the misguided argument that border security is the silver-bullet solution, providing ample cover for those who would rather score political points on the issue than propose reasonable solutions for the immigrants who are already here.

The reality that almost half of the population we’re talking about entered the country with official approval does a lot to start exposing these tactics as simplistic demagoguery.

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Faith Gets Better, Ctd.

October 18, 2010, 4:16 pm | By Nick Sementelli

Last week we highlighted some “It Gets Better” videos from people of faith and invited others to share their own. Here’s an explanation from FPL Board Chair Meg Riley:

To make it easier, we’ve started a playlist on our Youtube channel to put them all together. You can add your own by putting a link to it in the comments section of Meg’s video.

Here’s a few other of our favorites:

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Faith Gets Better

October 14, 2010, 1:14 pm | By Nick Sementelli

The recent rash of LGBTQ youth suicides has served as a tragic catalyst for a discussion about adolescent harassment and bullying. Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project has served as an inspiring example of a constructive response that is hopefully helpful to the millions of LGBTQ youth out there.

Savage has gotten some pushback, though, from religious readers upset by the criticism of religion in many of the videos. While it’s certainly inaccurate to paint people of faith with a broad brush, it is true that many harassers believe they have explicit or implicit religious approval of their actions. When conservative religious leaders pull support from political candidates who apologize for hateful remarks and peddle pseudo-science lies in major newspapers to exculpate their intolerance from blame, it’s not hard to see why some might look at religion suspiciously.

So while I think there are some fair critiques of Savage’s approach to religion, I think his “don’t tell it to me” response to those of us upset by these abuses of our faiths is right on.

Pro-equality people of faith need to speak out against those leaders who use religion to justify ignoring the real threat of harassment and discrimination. We need to stand up for our values, and spread the message that faith is really about compassion and defending the dignity of all God’s children. That’s why I was excited to see people like Bishop Gene Robinson, Kimberly Knight (videos below) and Jeremy Burton sharing their own powerful stories.

I hope more people of faith, straight and gay, will do the same and I invite them to send us their messages so we can feature them here on the blog.

Check out more inspiring videos at YouTube channel!

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Polling Marriage: Words Matter

October 13, 2010, 2:20 pm | By Nick Sementelli

Last week we highlighted some of the top findings about the Tea Party and Religious Right from this year’s American Values Survey by Public Religion Research, but the comprehensive poll has a lot more good information beyond just the toplines.

The poll found a significant increase in support for marriage equality over the last two years, a finding that matches Pew’s report last week and the long-term trajectory of this issue from a fringe position twenty years ago to an almost even split today.

(Graph from FiveThirtyEight)

But the PRRI poll suggests that these numbers may actually be under-estimating support. When those opposed to marriage equality were asked a follow-up question clarifying that it would only apply to “civil marriages like you get at city hall,” support skyrocketed 22 points, from 37% to 59%.

To be clear, the survey didn’t directly ask the motivations for these results, but it appears that respondents made a particular connection between legal marriage and religious ceremonies. The swing in opinion after the clarification suggests that their opposition may have been rooted in the mistaken belief that marriage equality would require their religious traditions to perform such ceremonies.

While myths like this can be difficult to dislodge, PRRI’s finding should come as welcome news to supporters of marriage equality. The reality is that gay and lesbians marrying is no grave threat to religious liberty, and this data suggests that efforts to ameliorate those fears can help change minds.

Update: James leaves a good comment that marriage equality is a better term than “gay marriage” and “same-sex marriage” as they communicate a separate kind of marriage. Most polls don’t make this distinction, which is why it crept into the post, but on review, the PRRI poll doesn’t so I’ve changed the wording to be more precise.

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