Same Sex Marriage Becoming Non-Issue

Same Sex Marriage - Homer - SimpsonsEd Kilgore wrote an interesting article this morning, Self-Isolation of White Evangelicals on LGBT Issues. It is based upon the WaPo/ABC poll about attitudes toward same sex marriage. As you may have heard, 59% of Americans believe that same sex couples should be allowed to marry. This is not much less than double the 34% who don’t.

I used to think there is a natural evolution on the issue: an increasing number of people just don’t care. I thought that anyone who honestly considered the issue outside political hysteria would quickly come to the conclusion that other people’s marriages really have no effect on their lives. But it is hard to come to that conclusion now because the number of people who think gay couples ought to be able to adopt children is actually higher, with 61% support. Those against are the same: 34%. The only conclusion I can come up with is that people now know enough gay people that they realize that they are just like everyone else.

But what about that 34% of the nation who still think that gays and lesbians are some kind of social disease? It would be easy to assume that they are just the religious troglodytes. This is true and not true. And because I still largely think of myself as culturally Catholic, I was very pleased to see that Catholics are even more evolved on the issue of same sex marriage than Americans generally. White (that is, most) Catholics support same sex marriage by 70%-26%. The people who really don’t support marriage equality are white evangelicals, who opposite it by 28%-66%.

Obviously, this is a huge problem for the Republican Party. Just look at this trend:

Same Sex Marriage Support Trend

Normally, a political party would have reversed course on an issue like this. But normally, an issue wouldn’t be so concentrated. It seems that overwhelmingly, it is the Republican base that is committed to opposition to same sex marriage. This stops the Republican Party from moderating on this issue. This is hardly surprising, of course. The Todd Akins of the party didn’t come out of a vacuum.

What’s more interesting is what this says about the future of the Democratic Party. As I’ve discussed a lot around here, increasingly the Democratic Party is only liberal in terms of social issues. And same sex marriage has been the number one signaling issue the Democrats have that allows them to say, “We are the liberal party!” But let’s say that reproductive and same sex rights went away tomorrow. What would the Democratic brand be? Sadly, it would be: 4.6%. That’s the difference between the top marginal tax rate the Republicans want (35%) and the Democrats want (39.6%). In other words, the Democratic brand is, “We’re not quite as bad on economic issues as the Republicans.”

As a result of this, I’m glad that the same sex marriage issue is going away. It will put more pressure on the Democratic Party to think about economic issues from a liberal perspective. But I’m not fooled. We have long, long, long way to go.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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