Support for gay marriage at all time high: Gallup

A new Gallup poll shows that 55% of Americans support same sex marriage, the highest percentage ever recorded.

Americans' support for the law recognizing same-sex marriages as legally valid has increased yet again, now at 55%. Marriage equality advocates have had a string of legal successes over the past year, most recently this week in Pennsylvania and Oregon where federal judges struck down bans on gay marriage.

wo successive Gallup polls in 2012 saw support climb from 53% to 54%, indicating a steady but slight growth in acceptance of gay marriages over the past year after a more rapid increase between 2009 and 2011. In the latest May 8-11 poll, there is further evidence that support for gay marriage has solidified above the majority level. This comes on the heels of gay marriage proponents' 14th legal victory in a row.

When Gallup first asked Americans this question about same-sex marriage in 1996, 68% were opposed to recognizing marriage between two men or two women, with slightly more than a quarter supporting it (27%). Since then, support has steadily grown, reaching 42% by 2004 when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize it -- a milestone that reached its 10th anniversary this month.

In 2011, support for gay marriage vaulted over the 50% mark for the first time, and since 2012, support has remained above that level. In the last year, however, support has leveled off a bit. Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage, while several states wait in legal limbo as they appeal judge rulings overturning state bans.

Among the most dramatic divisions in opinion on the issue are between age groups. As has been the case in the past, support for marriage equality is higher among younger Americans; the older an American is, the less likely he or she is to support marriage for same-sex couples. Currently, adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are nearly twice as likely to support marriage equality as adults aged of 65 and older.

Courts in Utah and Idaho have also struck down same sex marriage bans recently. Does this mean the trend is unstoppable? Look to the Supreme Court, and especially Justice Kennedy.

On the one hand, Justice Kennedy is a judicial conservative for whom voiding two dozen state constitutional amendments would be an unprecedented act. He deliberately wrote a narrow opinion in Windsor and avoided the rhetorical flourishes that appear in so many of the subsequent state cases. Will he really go the distance and take Windsor to a logical, but not inevitable, extreme?

On balance, I think he will. And the reason for that is more fundamental, more existential even, than all the legal doctrines we’ve discussed so far. Nearly 20 years ago, in Romer, Justice Kennedy held for the first time in Supreme Court history that gay people exist.

That may seem like a trivial point, but it is not universally agreed on. Justice Scalia’s furious dissents in Romer, Lawrence, and Windsor all insist that people have no right to “homosexual sodomy.” To Justice Scalia, homosexuality is something you do, not something you are. There are no gay people in Justice Scalia’s world; only gay acts, which the state can regulate at will.

Beginning in 1996, Justice Kennedy took a different view: that gay people exist and that gays are a group. They are a class of people, and discriminating against them is not a neutral regulation of behavior but discrimination against a group. That’s why DOMA was all about animus—because it singled out gays as a class of people and discriminated against them.

Put another way, in Justice Scalia’s world, people get gay-married. In Justice Kennedy’s, gay (and straight) people get married. See the difference?

It seems likely that a tipping point is near. If confronted by a case where a gay married couple from Massachusetts or some other state that permits the practice, moves to a state where their union is not recognized, the Supreme Court will almost certainly hold that gay marriage is legal everywhere, by reason of protections granted by the 14th Amendment.

What's interesting about this Gallup poll is that 42% of Americans are considered bigots and extremists by the gay marriage lobby and the left. That's an awful lot of very bad people in the United States, despite the fact that it places opposition to gay marraige right smack in the mainstream of American political thought.

Also note that there have been no state legislative victories for gay marriage in a several months. The last state legislature to approve same sex marriage was Hawaii in December of 2013. All of this activity in striking down state laws against gay marriage have come from the courts. This is because gay marriage advocates are too lazy to do things the democratic way, preferring decrees from judges to getting in the trenches and changing hearts and minds in state legislatures.

Why is this important? Gay marriage is a radical, titanic change in the culture. The idea that the American people through their elected state representatives have been effectively silenced by activists who know they have a losing issue in legislatures, but can get unelected judges to do their work for them, is a miscarriage of democracy, and taints the legitimacy of the practice. 

Short-circuiting democracy is not the answer. In the United States, change should be gradual, managed. There's a reason it's hard to pass gay marriage laws in the states - a large portion of the country opposes it. Ignoring those people in favor of allowing the passions of the moment to overcome common sense and democratic procedures will hurt us in the long run and sets a dangerous precedent for courts to do the popular thing rather than the right thing.


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