LA Times accused of using skewed poll in showing support for same-sex 'marriage'

After the Los Angeles Times ran a piece citing a “nonpartisan” survey showing that the majority of Californians support same-sex “marriage,” Mollie Hemingway from Get Religion accused the poll of being skewed as it was conducted by a group that explicitly supports same-sex unions.

On July 22, the LA Times ran an article by Ann M. Simmons titled, “1 in 4 Californians have grown more supportive of gay rights, survey finds,” citing a “Washington D.C. - based nonprofit” group as conducting the poll.

Simmons wrote that that the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) “examined the attitudes of Californians toward same-sex marriage” in a “nonpartisan” poll that was comprised of random phone interviews with more than 3,300 residents over the course of two weeks in June. The institute focused their research on examining the “attitudes” of Californians towards the Proposition 8 measure, which passed in 2008 and defines marriage as between one man and one woman in the state.

“An overwhelming majority of Californians – 75% – said they favored laws that would protect gays and lesbians from job discrimination, 69% said they supported allowing homosexuals to openly serve in the military and 56% favored allowing gay couples to adopt children,” Simmons reported.

According to PRRI, the poll results also found that if a vote similar to Proposition 8 were held tomorrow, “a majority of Californians said they would cast ballots in favor of allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.”

“We have some good evidence here of the way the wind is blowing … in a more positive direction for the rights of gays and lesbians,” Robert P. Jones, chief executive of PRRI, told the LA Times.

Despite Simmons identifying PRRI as simply “nonpartisan” and “nonprofit,” Mollie Hemingway on the Get Religion website – run by noted journalist Terry Mattingly – claimed that the group has a vested interest in supporting same-sex “marriage.”

Hemingway wrote on July 23 that “nowhere” in the LA Times story “will you learn that PRRI is a liberal group when it comes to same-sex marriage.”

Funded by the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, Hemingway said the purpose of the poll, according the group, was to “survey California religious communities and help develop religious education strategies supporting gay equality.”

Mainstream media, including the LA Times and others who have already reported on the poll findings, said Hemingway “didn’t report that the poll was designed with advocacy in mind.”

“You know what would be a good story for the mainstream media to look into in light of the real world data – such as the vote in 2008?” she asked. “One where the attitudes of Americans who oppose same-sex marriage are not caricatured or dismissed but fairly presented.”

Hemingway's critique of the mainstream media's depiction of same-sex “marriage” acceptance in California comes at a time when the state is awaiting a decision from a U.S. district court judge on whether or not Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution.

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