Of course not, but that’s the argument of a recent Op-Ed in the Raleigh News & Observer. Seriously? I bring this up as it looks like we’re going to be having a Constitutional Amendment against gay marriage on the ballot in NC next year. If I was teaching a class in research methods, I would seriously assign this Op-Ed as a lesson in how not to draw conclusions from statistics. A sampling:
Each year, the American Legislative Exchange Council issues a report, “Rich States, Poor States,” ranking the economic health of the 50 states. In 2011, all of the top 10 economically healthy states identified in the report have laws affirming that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, nine of them in their constitutions. By contrast, the 10 bottom-ranked states for economic health all undermine marriage in their laws.
First, one should mention that ALEC is a Republican group. Not surprisingly, they rate states that have conservative public policies throughout to be better for business. And, of course, those states don’t like gay marriage. And, of course, all those horrible librul states with anti-business measures like environmental protection and workers rights are bad for business (and good for gays).
Secondly, nobody could be dumb enough to suggest that this is some sort of direct causal relationship, rather than a coincidence of the many other features the states involved have in common? Yes, they could:
This is no accident. Strong marriage laws lead to strong economies [bold in original], because marriage produces future workers who are balanced, stable and healthy.
Riiiiight. I’m sure all the unstable families in MA, Iowa, etc., are ruining the education system because people are too freaked out by their gay neighbors being married to study and go to college, etc. Nice to know that this is the level of thinking we are dealing with behind our state’s newest proposed constitutional amendment.
Political scientist-wise, I’m going to be really curious to see how this unfolds. As regular readers know, public opinion on this issue has been moving amazing rapidly and has changed a lot since all the measures in 2004. A recent PPP poll suggests that although North Carolinians don’t much like gay marriage, they like even less the idea of re-writing the state Constitution on the matter:
61% of North Carolinians want same-sex marriage to remain illegal, as it is now by statutory law, and only 31% want it to be legal. But 55% also would vote against the Republicans’ proposed constitutional amendment prohibiting marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships for gay couples. Only 30% would vote for the amendment.