Haters at the Tea Party

08.21.2012, 12:33 PM

David Badash, editor of New Civil Rights Movement, has a post up discussing the extremely low rate of support for same-sex marriage legalization among self-identified Tea Partiers.  The low numbers come from recent Washington Post polling, and they are really low – 6% support for legalization of same-sex marriage.  That’s lower than any other group, including Religious Conservatives (who, at 11%, are still overwhelmingly low).

I’d like to point out that NCRM’s headline for the story mischaracterizes the outcomes of the survey.  There is no shown casual link between a respondent’s opposition to ssm and their hatred for gay people, even if we might suspect a link.  Such a misrepresentation is akin to NCRM’s repeated criticism of NOM’s reporting of the Regnerus study – and both groups deserve to be called out on their manipulation of the facts.  Its an easy way to score points – but considering the recent focus on accurate reporting, we deserve better.

Criticism of the headline aside, regular readers know I am a sucker for statistics, so I still found the polling information they highlight to be fascinating.  I appreciated how deeply the poll digs down to understand particular respondents political identities.  It gives you a much deeper understanding of where the population stands on the SSM question.

I’m no fan of the Tea Party, I think they are guilty of oversimplifying issues all over the policy spectrum, and they’ve done nothing to heighten the level of political discourse.  Even so,  I was frankly surprised at this number, simply because I always imagined most Tea Partiers leaned towards a libertarian viewpoint which holds that our personal lives are none of the government’s business. 

Was this predictable, or is anyone else surprised?

6 Responses to “Haters at the Tea Party”

  1. La Lubu says:

    I think it’s predictable just based on my experience with the local Tea Party aficionados here in central Illinois—they view civil rights for gay and lesbian people in any arena as proof of government intrusion. Not just on marriage or civil unions, but anything: DADT, teaching that homosexuality exists in sex education classes, HIV/AIDS prevention, allowing gay and lesbian people to be schoolteachers, you name it. It’s weird; it’s almost like (from some of the rhetoric) the government created same-sex attraction.

  2. Bregalad says:

    Not sure if all the Tea Partiers are “haters” but whatever. I mean, they sure hate taxes, and I bet that’s what you meant, right? ;)

    I think the Tea Party movement is mainly comprised of two groups: 1) religious/social conservatives who are also fiscal conservatives and 2) extreme libertarian types who want the government to stop using the term marriage, instituting domestic partnerships for all instead.

    The first group is dominant in terms of numbers, but the second group is disproportionately represented in the Tea Party’s intellectual leaders, though they aren’t a majority.

    I have no good reasons for these beliefs. Just a hunch.

  3. Matthew Kaal says:


    My use of “haters” is a play on NCRM’s article title, which I think distorts the reality of the poll – sorry if that wasn’t clear. As far as hating taxes, I’m not sure that is an exclusively tea party trait…

    The WP allowed respondents to self identity as either Religious Conservatives or Tea Party types, which I figured would weed out many of the social conservative traditionalists. It would be interesting to know the real overlap between the groups.

  4. Jeffrey says:

    The NCRM is an activist blog. While I appreciate its efforts, pretty much everyone who disagrees with it is labeled a hater. I’m not sure, however, whether it reflects mainstream discourse.

    The Tea Party desperately tried to downplay social issues in the beginning, but the movement has largel been then over by social cons, the the moniker Teavangelicals.

  5. Bregalad says:

    Sorry, Matthew. Read your post waaay too quickly. I suspected you were using the term ironically given your other postings.

    As to the overlap between religious conservative and tea partiers, there certainly is some overlap in thought, but I suspect there are many religious conservatives who want more proactive governmental involvement in the economy, in contrast to the Tea Party. Personally, I know many religious conservative / social justice types that wouldn’t fit very well under the Tea Party label, in fact, most detest the Tea Party. For instance, one of New York’s largest evangelical-ish churches, Redeemer Presbyterian, believes this:

    In general, a church must be more deeply and practically committed to deeds of compassion and social justice than traditional liberal churches and more deeply and practically committed to evangelism and conversion than traditional fundamentalist churches. This kind of church is profoundly ‘counter-intuitive’ to American observers. It breaks their ability to categorize (and dismiss) it as liberal or conservative.

    That’s from Redeemer’s pastor Tim Keller. Now for all the religious conservative / social justice folks out there, there probably is an equal or greater number of Tea Party types, God help us, who think social justice is just too dang progressive (gasp!).

  6. JeffreyRO5 says:

    I think it’s a safe bet that most people who oppose same-sex marriage do so on the basis of their personal disapproval of gay people. How strong that disapproval is (is it hate or just dislike?) is subject to debate but since it seems to be off limits to discuss the role of homophobia in this issue, it’s hard to get to the facts. People who oppose same-sex marriage seem determined to convince us that their reasons are religion- or tradition-bound, or what’s in the best interests of children, even though these reasons are at best inconsistent, or worse, simply nonsensical. We know that some percentage of people who oppose legal same-sex marriage do so because they simply abhor/detest/loathe/hate/dislike/disapprove of gay people.

    Given the large or small role homophobia plays in forming the basis of opposition to same-sex marriage, it is reasonable to draw the conclusion that the group most widely opposed to same-sex marriage, here, the Tea Party, would contain the highest percent of homophobics. Whatever percent homophobia is in explaining opposition to legal same-sex marriage, that percent times the Tea Party’s survey-high opposition of 94% will result in a higher percent of homophobia than for any other group. Obviously I’m assuming that homophobia is equally distributed among all groups, regardless of whether it is the main or a lesser explanation for opposition.

    So I think the NCRM’s observation is credible. That differs starkly from NOM’s use of the Regnerus “study” to promote the hateful and peculiar idea that gay people are worse parents than straight people. The Regnerus “study” or more specifically the conclusions drawn in the article Mr. Regnerus wrote for Social Science Research magazine, is an opinion piece, since his data don’t support his conclusions. Mr. Regnerus has no data that show, for instance, that adults raised by gay fathers are more likely to consider committing suicide than adults raised by straight fathers, even though he makes that claim.