Crossposted from Amplify
Earlier this week a post in the Feministing Community tipped me off to the fact that Senator Paul Sarlo, a senator from my own state of NJ, had a poll up on his website asking the very important question, “Do you support same-sex marriage?”
Now, while I commend Senator Sarlo for wanting to look into his constituency to understand how the people he represented felt about this issue before voting I still have to criticize this approach for a few reasons.
First off the methodology is seriously flawed, since the poll only asks for an e-mail address (and accepts votes even without one, apparently) there is no guarantee that the voters come from his own legislative region, and no guarantee that the same people are not voting repeatedly, giving him a very skewed view of what the people really want. I’m not the only own who noticed this either – there are reports that The National Organization for Marriage(NOM) has been telling all their members to vote NO in this poll. Even if these reports are not true, the flaw is there and the chances that no individual has taken advantage of this and voted multiple times or voted out of district are slim.
Secondly, and more importantly, reducing peoples civil rights – their rights to be united with a partner that they love and given all of the same legal rights and respect as an “opposite marriage” – to an internet poll just seems wrong to me. Perhaps its simply a sign of the times but, personally, I feel that basing a decision that will affect the lives of so many people on a stupid internet poll is just callous and makes a mockery of the rights that same-sex couples and their allies have been fighting so long to receive.
A very apt commenter from Amplify points out another important flaw in this poll:
“My other problem though with the way it’s set up is that the options of yes, no, and undecided are limited. Many people are a definite yes or no on this issue, but I think that people should be able to explain their undecided opinion. Maybe they support civil unions, but not marriage.”
I suggest we send Senator Sarlo an e-mail or letter, from the heart, explaining why this method is just a little off. Below I have included part of the message I intend to send him, just to get you started:
I commend you on your desire to connect with the people of your district on important pieces of legislation, such as decisions concerning same-sex unions. However, I would like to suggest you find a better way to connect with the people you represent- go out and talk to them, put out a request for letters concerning the issue – something that gives the issue a little more respect than simply ticking off yes, no, or undecided on a web-page that anyone around the world can access and vote on. Please, give this decision the respect it deserves.
The senator’s address is listed on his website, at the bottom. Also, he provides this online form as an easy way to get in contact with him!