Huckabee, Portman and the morality of single mothers
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee stepped into the culture wars Friday when he commented on Academy Award winning actress Natalie Portman's plans to have a child out of wedlock, recalling the debate between Vice President Dan Quayle and fictional character Murphy Brown 19 years ago.
Beyond the social or political motivations for taking on this debate, we're interested in what the public thinks of single motherhood. The Gallup poll asked about this issue last spring among a variety of moral issues.
They found 54 percent saying that "having a baby outside of marriage" is morally acceptable and 40 percent morally wrong. In relation to other moral issues tested by Gallup, single parenthood ranks in the middle - eighth out of 16 items on their acceptability scale. Numerically it ranks just below sex between unmarried men and women (59 percent morally acceptable) and just above "gay or lesbian relations" (52 percent morally acceptable).
Huckabee's position is not out of step with his base. Fewer than half of Republicans - 41 percent - said that having a baby out of marriage is morally acceptable. But his statements may not appeal to many Democrats or independents (or presumably Portman fans). Fully 61 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents said this is morally acceptable.
The Gallup data speak to another storyline in the morality play Friday. Brandon Davies, a star collegiate basketball player for nationally ranked Bringham Young University, was kicked off his team because he admitted to having premarital sex with his girlfriend. BYU's Honor Code forbids this, but 59 percent of the public believes premarital sex is morally acceptable.
See the full Gallup list for the ranking of virtues and vices.
Percent who say each is morally acceptable or morally wrong:
Gallup poll, May 3-6, 2010
The death penalty
Buying and wearing clothing made of animal fur
Medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos
Medical testing on animals
Sex between an unmarried man and women
Having a baby outside marriage
Gay or lesbian relations
Doctor assisted suicide
Polygamy, when one husband has more than one wife at the same time
Married men and women having an affair
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