The Corner

The Carrie Effect

In the spring of 2009, a few states moved to gay marriage and public opinion seemed to shift abruptly in gay marriage’s favor. But by May of that year, support for gay marriage just as abruptly tumbled. Why?

I believe I was the first person, in the National Review cover story “The Carrie Effect,” to publicly credit the impact of Carrie Prejean.  Pre-Carrie, even most conservative media outlets avoided gay marriage.   Carrie gave Fox News and major radio talk show hosts a vehicle for talking about the issue that they understood and liked.  The general public was exposed to  the truth that the majority continue to oppose gay marriage and that gay marriage advocates are not about tolerance but about imposing their views and punishing dissent, I argued.

But now, a polling expert, Patrick Murray, founding director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, agrees about the Carrie Effect:  ”So what momentous event occurred in April 2009 to cause this shift in opinion? It was the Miss Universe contest, when Miss California, Carrie Prejean, announced that she was personally opposed to gay marriage. The ensuing media storm was fast and furious, with the number of press articles on gay marriage doubling during those weeks.” (He opines that public opinion has since reverted, but offers no specific numbers.)

How can one beautiful young woman make such an outsized difference? It’s because gay marriage advocates are no longer persuading people they are right on marriage; they are suppressing the expression of opposing opinions by raising the cost of speaking up in favor of marriage, while at the same time attempting to make Americans believe that gay marriage won’t have any consequences.  

Carrie’s ordeal made the first process visible and the second idea hard to swallow.


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