Monday, May 14, 2012

Time to Rant about Same Sex Marriage

Well, this has been all over the news this week so it's probably time for me to weigh in on the subject of same sex marriage. 

First, in a attempt to be completely open and honest, I should like to point out that this is my blog and the opinions expressed are my own, which means they are truthful, but not necessarily mainstream nor politically correct. I leave it to you to decide these things for yourself.  

If I say anything you find offensive or in error, please take comfort in knowing you are not alone and it will undoubtedly not be the last time I manage to offend or piss someone off. I just wouldn't be me if I didn't do that regularly.

The President took a stand in support of gay marriage. He's right -for a change. His reasons, of course, are likely more political than conviction, but it is, never-the-less, a step in the right direction.  I am surprised, frankly, why any astute politician would take an opposing view on this subject. National opinion has clearly been evolving on this subject over the past few years and it is only a matter of time before gay people are allowed the same rights as their fellow American citizens and this issue goes the way of inter-racial marriage in the 60's (finally declared a constitutional right by the Supreme Court).

Opinion polls on the topic over the past decade are very telling.  In 1996, when Congress, dominated by the Republicans, passed the Defense of Marriage Act, 27% favored and 68% opposed same sex marriage. By 2006 that had changed to 42% favoring and 58% opposed. A March 2012 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 52% of Americans supported allowing same-sex couples to legally marry, while 44% were opposed.

The trend is clear but even more telling are the demographics behind the polls. It should be noted that the biggest factor in the growth of support for same sex marriage and civil unions has been driven by younger Americans, including some young conservatives, who are far more favorably inclined to both civil unions and same sex marriage than seniors. In one meta-analysis by Jeffrey Lax and Justin Phillips of Columbia University, a majority of 18-29 year old Americans in 38 states support same sex marriage while in only 6 states do less than 45% of 18-29 year olds support gay marriage. At the same time not a single state shows support for gay marriage greater than 35% amongst those 64 and older. The result is that even in the state with the greatest overall support for gay marriage, those 64 and older will be less supportive of gay marriage than 18-29 year olds in the state least receptive to gay marriage. This suggests that, over time, same sex marriage will continue to gain support simply due to the increasing number of more supportive youth and the decrease of less supportive, seniors.

Lax and Phillips also suggest a "tipping point" effect at which point support for gay marriage begins to grow increasingly quickly once a certain level of support is reached by the population. This would explain why support for gay rights has increased more quickly among all age groups in states that were initially the most supportive of gay rights than in states with low initial levels of support.

Politicians today are acutely aware of polls and trends, so I have to ask myself not why President Obama has come out in support of gay marriage, but what is taking the Republicans so long? Do they not see that gay people already have the support of the majority of Americans and that taking a wrong stand on this will only increasingly hurt them as each election cycle comes up?

Mike Huckabee had a small debate on this subject on his program over the weekend. One participant made the statement that Republicans were on "the wrong side of history" and Mike argued that Western Civilization has had "traditional marriage" for thousands of years so how could they be n the "wrong side of history"? Well, Mike, that's simple. Slavery has been around as long as marriage but it has only been illegal in this country for 150 years, just yesterday in the passing of time. But today it is hardly on the right side of history to promote slavery. And how has history looked at those who supported slavery in the past? What happened to their argument citing the bible as justification for it? History, tends to demonize anyone who restricts the freedom of choice or takes rights from people, even a minority.

What is my personal opinion? That is easy. I always fall on the side of equality. Passing laws to force others to live the way you think they should, even if they believe differently, is wrong and abusive. We should be ashamed it sometimes takes us so long to live up the the bragging we do about freedom. equality and tolerance in America.

By-the-way, here is a summery of how the rest of the world feels:

Legal recognition of same-sex relationships


South Africa

Performed in some jurisdictions

Brazil: AL
Mexico: Mexico City
United States: CT, DC, IA, MA, NH, NY, VT, Coquille, Suquamish

Recognized, not performed

Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten (Netherlands only)
Mexico: all states
United States: CA (conditional), MD

Civil unions and registered partnerships
Czech Republic
- New Caledonia
- Wallis and Futuna
Isle of Man
New Zealand
United Kingdom

Performed in some jurisdictions

Australia: ACT, NSW, QLD, TAS, VIC
Mexico: COA
United States: CA, CO, DE, HI, IL, ME, NJ, NV, OR, RI, WA, WI
Venezuela: Mérida

With all of today's problems -jobs, the economy, the deficit, terrorism, health care, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, just to name a few, what the hell are we doing worrying about who marries who? Are we crazy? Sometimes I think so and other times I am sure we are...

Live Long and Prosper...

No comments: