Public support for gay marriage ≠ political success

The fight for gay marriage in the United States is raging - and it is still unclear how the politics will play out in the long run

Matt Vespa
On 28 March 2013 12:57

Here in the States, the culture wars are an ongoing and – at times – distracting segment of our political discourse.

The fight to secure the rights of the unborn has been raging since 1973, and now gay marriage is on the docket. Conservatives in America are seemingly split on this issue.

Some are vociferously against the concept of same-sex marriage (i.e. evangelicals), while others have supported it.  About eighty well-known Republicans have signed a letter supporting gay marriage last February. Nevertheless, there is a legitimate concern that the Supreme Court could "Roe v. Wade" gay marriage, which would derail the fledgling consensus concerning this issue.

It has happened before. Prior to 1973, there was a growing consensus about abortion in America, which was derailed by one of the Supreme Court's most dishonest rulings in its history. There is nothing in our Constitution, which is meant to constrain change, about the right to gay marriage – or indeed abortion.

Many of my liberal friends on Facebook and Twitter often cite the 14th Amendment to articulate why gay marriage should be legal across all fifty states. The problem is that homosexuals aren't a suspect class, even the left-leaning television show The West Wing noted that aspect during its seven season run.  

Using the criteria outlined by the U.S. Supreme Court, homosexuals need to have a history of discrimination, have a highly visible trait (i.e. skin colour), powerlessness within the our political system, and have characteristics that would prohibit them from contributing to society in a purposeful way.  

Homosexuality transcends racial groups, creeds, ethnicities, and gender. They aren't powerless within our system of government. They're less than 4 percent of the population, and they've brought this issue to the steps of the Supreme Court.  Homosexuals are also contributing to society across a vast spectrum of fields, and that's a good thing. Politics, media, and entertainment are prime examples, thus the basis that they're a suspect class is shaky. Having a history of discrimination alone doesn't guarantee you suspect classification. 

Some conservatives, like commentator and activist Dana Loesch, have noted that this whole debacle is a surreptitious war against freedom of religion and the First Amendment.  She posted on RedState this week that:

"...marriage is a covenant between a man, woman, and God before God on His terms. It is a religious civil liberty, not a right granted by government. It should never have been regulated by government in the first place, and government shouldn’t have an expanded reach in further regulating it now. There is no allowance constitutionally that invites our government to define the religious covenant of marriage.

I’ve no issue with same sex couples entering into contractual agreements with each other or sharing benefits (the military decisions should be made by those with the credit of service day in and day out, not civilian advocacy groups). Isn’t that the goal of this conflict?

If so, to me, that’s an issue separate from marriage. In suing over “marriage” itself one is demanding that God change His definition of the union between a man and a woman. If recognition of status, ease with other contractual obligations, and other issues are the issues, why the need to force people of faith to alter recognition of God’s Word on the matter?


In suing over marriage one is demanding that others modify their beliefs to accommodate another. Do not people of faith retain their First Amendment liberty of freedom of religion?"

While the Defense of Marriage Act is another issue being argued, it’s mostly relates to taxation. Nevertheless, the speculation over how the Court will decide is permeating the new media. Since Obamacare, conservatives have been cautious not to cast their lot in with any decision. Yet there are a few areas where this can end:

As CBS noted on March 26:

"...states that recognize same-sex civil unions or domestic partnerships — and provide them with nearly the same benefits of marriage — cannot legitimately bar same-sex marriage. That decision could extend same-sex marriage to California and eight other states that currently have comprehensive civil union or domestic partnership laws — and it’s the argument the Obama administration has put forward."

The polling shows a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage, especially amongst young Americans, but that hasn't translated into concrete political success.  

Only nine states currently permit same-sex marriage and they're some of the most liberal in the country. Six permit civil unions, but thirty-eight have barred same-sex couples from marrying through their respective legislatures. Furthermore, it suggests that the voter intensity over gay marriage isn't as strong as it is for something like gun rights.  

This issue is driven by public opinion, which – to quote George Will – is shiftable sand. There are no permanent victories in democracy, Liberals should take note of that. And frankly, It's becoming tiring watching the progressive left use the Supreme Court to advance its agenda.

Matt Vespa is a conservative blogger based in Virginia. Follow him on Twitter @mvespa1.

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