In the issue of The American Spectator now going to press, I have a column looking at recent shifts in the same-sex marriage debate. That debate has been remarkably stable for the past 16 years. The reason for that stability was a broad national consensus that marriage is a union between a man and a woman that held up even as public support for something called same-sex marriage was on the rise. Ballot initiatives reaffirming traditional marriage pass easily in both red and blue states. Same-sex marriage was only possible in states where the voters had no recourse against the judges, but even those states were easily marginalized because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
No more. Vermont took the first step, redefining marriage through a legislative act and overriding the governor’s veto. New York is contemplating a similar move, with apparent popular support. This week, the New Hampshire voted 13-11 in favor of same-sex marriage. Yesterday the Maine legislature approved a similar bill by 21-14. Public opinion has been trending in same-sex marriage’s favor in Massachusetts since Goodridge. Connecticut’s legislature is moving toward ratifying a state supreme court’s decision to impose gay marriage.
Although Democratic politicians have been as slow to adapt to these changing political circumstances as authentic social conservatives, support for same-sex marriage has become a mainstream liberal position. We are seeing a trend toward same-sex marriage in blue states and traditional marriage in red states, a divide that will be very hard to sustain. Ryan Sager, a gay marriage supporter, says that these state actions might be producing a bandwagon effect in favor of same-sex marriage nationally.
Obviously, I don’t agree with Sager’s framing of the issue, much less his substantive position. But on the question of whether the “storming is coming” — and also how history is likely to treat marital traditionalists if they lose — I think he’s exactly right.
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