Is same-sex marriage inevitable? That question takes on a new urgency in the wake of the U.S. Senate’s shameful failure to affirm the Marriage Protection Act. Some observers see the normalization of same-sex marriage as inevitable. They may be right, of course, though it is too soon to say.
The third reason gay marriage will fail as an issue is that Bush is bucking the tide of history. The past two decades have seen a quiet revolution in attitudes toward homosexuality throughout the West. People in advanced democracies around the world are growing more accepting of gay unions by the year. Younger people, who have grown up in a more gay-tolerant environment, find the notion of same-sex marriage unshocking and are less susceptible to covert appeals to bigotry. Various polls show a shift of up to 12 percentage points on gay marriage in just the past few years. Culture war politics aren’t exhausted and opposition to gay marriage remains a motivational issue in many places. But 2006 may be remembered as the year Republicans pressed the gay panic button and it failed.
He is almost surely right when he argues that young people, “who have grown up in a more gay-tolerant environment, find the notion of same-sex marriage unshocking.” Studies do indicate that younger Americans are far more accepting of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. The mesages of the dominant media class and the cultural establishment have been more influential with this generation, as a rule, than have the Christian tradition and the claims of biblical morality. We have much work to do.