Why Gay Marriage Is Inevitable

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Homosexuality, Iowa, Marriage, Religion, Sexuality, Video

A speech from the Senate Majority Leader in Iowa sums it up pretty succinctly…



This is why I’m telling folks that the marriage between the social conservatives and the fiscal conservatives is done. Because this next generation of voters favors progressive social policy in bigger numbers than any other generation in history. And fiscal conservatives ignore this at their own peril.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 7th, 2009 and is filed under Homosexuality, Iowa, Marriage, Religion, Sexuality, Video. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

20 Responses to “Why Gay Marriage Is Inevitable”

  1. mike mcEachran Says:

    I genuinely feel bad for those old conservative men – how confused must they be that their prejudice is no longer in fashion. Just like the biggots of the anti-bullum south, and the sexists of the 40s an 50s. It’s truly difficult for these people to give up the edge that biggotry, racism, sexism, and homophobia has given them. I understand that losing that edge feels unfair, and confusing, and incredibly uncomfortable. But it is inevitable. Take solice, old men, it is always for the best – even for you, in the long run. Perhaps you will still be on earth to see it. (Perhaps not.)

  2. Simon Says:

    I agree, but on other grounds. Regardless of what anyone thinks of gay marriage, there is already a five member majority on the U.S. Supreme Court to adopt essentially the reasoning of the Iowa Supreme Court in Varnum, applying the equal protection analysis nationwide and striking down all these state initiatives we’ve seen in recent years. I think that’s incorrect as a matter of Constitutional law, and I don’t have any strong opinions on the inherent justice vel non of the matter; nevertheless, it’s pretty obvious to me that this is going to happen and there’s nothing that can be done to fix it. Thus, I agree with Justin: as I said in November, the GOP needs to abandon ship on this issue. That doesn’t mean anyone changing their minds, but it does mean changing our allocation of resources. This issue is lost; our efforts are better invested in fighting battles that are still winnable. If General Washington had said “no retreat! We’re going to fight for Brooklyn Heights to the last man!” what would have become of us?

  3. BonnieGlick Says:

    Wow! This is a truly refreshing report. Thank you for posting.

  4. Simon Says:

    And, by the way Justin, you’re still stuck on this fallacy that people’s political views don’t evolve. You claim that “this generation” favors progressive social policy, but when one unpacks that claim, it amounts to the claim that younger voters think something, which reveals it as nothing more substantial than the observation that the young are generally more socially liberal. The young think many things that they grow out of – it takes some longer than others, and some never do, but when kids acquire real responsibilities – they get a house, a career, kids of their own – the blinkers start to fall away in the mind run of cases. You say on twitter that generation Y favors the democrats – fine, but (1) generation Y aren’t fiscal conservatives, either, and (2) generation Y isn’t going to be generation Y in twenty years. What you’re really talking about isn’t a generation, it’s a demographic: people of a particular age that were already by-and-large lost to the GOP.

  5. Below The Beltway » Blog Archive » Efforts To Repeal Iowa Gay Marriage Decision Seem Dead Says:

    [...] H/T: Justin @ Donklephant [...]

  6. DCM Says:

    While I think Simon is right on the somewhat broader question – you can’t infer what a 20 year old’s political beliefs will be when they’re 40 based on what they think right now – I think he’s wrong on this specific. A specific *subset* of social issues involving increased respect and equality for people of different races, gender, religion, and sexual orientation does seem to increase over the generations, irrespective of age. A 50 year old now is, on average, much more tolerant of minorities or of women in the workforce than a 50 year old in 1975 AND much more tolerant than the 50 year old from 1975 – now 84 – is today. On this specific set of issues, when you’re born really does seem to matter.

  7. Justin Gardner Says:

    @Simon

    As DCM points out, there are generational shifts in attitudes towards different subsets, and Generation Y will still be Generation Y in 20 years. Of course their politics will evolve. However, this is where they’re starting so they’re much more likely to be socially liberal in a couple decades.

    But you know what isn’t evolving? The Republican party. And this inflexibility will end up marginalizing them if they don’t wise up.

  8. ExiledIndependent Says:

    Reminds me of a saying: conservatives are liberals with two kids and a mortgage.

  9. TerenceC Says:

    Show me a fat aging white guy who’s afraid of change and I’ll show you a republican.

    “You might be a Republican if you think that the institution of marriage needs protection from gays, despite the fact that you are in the middle of your third divorce.”

  10. Trescml Says:

    I think that Republicans still have some mileage they will try and get out of this issue. It has been somewhat effective for them getting out the vote when ballot measures on gay marriage have been on the ballot. In the short term it may help with targeted fund raising.

    The tide is turning and I think once you get 10 states that allow gay marriage then I think most states will go head and approve it.

  11. Simon Says:

    DCM, I basically agree – hence why I reiterated my suggestion that we abandon ship on this one. What I was pointing out was a failure of inductive reasoning on Justin’s part.

    And now for something completely different: compare Donklephant, “Debatewise has landed” (4/6/2009) (claiming that the aim of Donklephant “is to provide people with a place where they can read opinions on issues without having to wade through the profanities, vitriol and shameless flaming that often abound in forums”) with the comment immediately above by TerenceC (“Show me a fat aging white guy who’s afraid of change and I’ll show you a republican”). Is that the kind of comment you think has a place here, Justin? which of these antithetical writings do you reject as befitting Donklephant?

  12. Justin Gardner Says:

    Simon, it is so easy to point out a comment here and there and play gotcha with them. Of course I don’t think comments like that promote the spirit of the site, but we get HUNDREDS of comments here everyday that I have to wade through. And given that I have a day job, I can’t read everything.

    But if you want to compare something let’s compare the notion that instead of emailing me or tweeting me that you found an inappropriate comment, you used this thin gruel to try and question the credibility of the site. Do you really think that’s appropriate?

    @TerenceC, I know you were just making a joke in response to Exiled, but you need to leave the insults out of it. You know the rules. Help me out here and abide by them.

  13. TerenceC Says:

    The comment is a paraphrase of Seth MacFarlane from “The Family Guy”. The full comment is “The two symbols of the Republican Party: an elephant, and a big fat white guy who is threatened by change.” I didn’t realize I was insulting anyone Simon, sorry (I think I’m getting a vision of what you may look like however:)

    Everyone wants to make comments about Gen X, Gen Y, I guess Gen Z is next (What do we start calling it after we run out of letters?). However, political change in the USA only comes about when the dominant political culture is toppled – and it typically doesn’t disappear quietly. It isn’t generational it’s demographics.

    The white male was the dominant political figure in the USA since The Declaration of Independence was signed. The white male is on the wane politically as a dominant force for many reasons. Immigration, inter-marriage, equal rights are few of the reasons. In the next 10 to 20 years this trend will accelerate for those same reasons with a growing exodus of people from the small towns, sprawling suburbs, and low population states into larger and larger cities due to economic changes.

    The increase in population densities of cities always leads to greater levels of tolerance for individual differences. This is a great trend for our republic since it focuses attention on real problems without the added burden of emotional wedge issues. This is a horrible trend for organizations reliant on wedge political issues for their subsistence. Fill in your own names for these organizations but they are typically centered around the issues of Gays, Guns and God.

    I have been married for a long time (to a woman:). I’m not an expert by any means but I can say that you have your good years, you have your bad years, and if you have children you’ll have quite a few years that you don’t even remember. One day just sort of runs into the next and if you’re lucky the good years will outweigh the bad as you get older.

    The government has absolutely no business telling anyone who they can love – it’s none of their business. Anyone who has ever been married will tell you that marriage is nothing more than the joining of property, assets, and well being into one legal entity. If you don’t believe me, look at what a divorce settlement consists of – it’s all focused on a disolution of joint assets. To say that 2 men, or 2 women, or a man and a women should have different legal rights in this instance is not only wrong it’s illegal in my opinion.

    The USA is a republic based on the rule of law – it’s good to see that the lawmakers are finally starting to take their responsibility seriously enough to put emotional, non-legal, wedge issues aside as they settle issues of human rights and individual dignity.

  14. Simon Says:

    Justin, I have yet to see a comment by him that didn’t fit that mold. Ordinarily I just ignore him, but you must concede (as you do) that such comments run counter to the purported ethos of the site; unless that ethos refers exclusively to creating such an environment only at a post level, moreover, you can’t simply wash your hands of what goes on in the comments. Some blogs – Althouse, for example – function on a “more speech” comment philosophy; others are dysfunctional on a “more speech” philosophy (LGF or Kos, for example). But the “more speech” policy is precisely why “profanities, vitriol and shameless flaming … often abound in forums” such as those, and so that policy is incompatible with creating a forum directed at their absence.

    TerenceC writes:

    The comment is a paraphrase of Seth MacFarlane from “The Family Guy”.

    Who, on evidence tendered, is a funny but profoundly bigoted, obnoxious man. If there’s such a thing as a liberal reactionary – to the extent that “reactionary” can be thought of as a mindset and a pattern of behavior rather than the substantive political views of the person – he’s it.

    The full comment is “The two symbols of the Republican Party: an elephant, and a big fat white guy who is threatened by change.” I didn’t realize I was insulting anyone Simon, sorry (I think I’m getting a vision of what you may look like however:)

    The inartful foldback into an insult at the end reveals the rhetorical nature of the apology. FTR, I’m not particulary fat, I’m only aging in the sense that this week I’m a week closer to thirty than last week, and I work in an industry whose only constant is an accelerating rate of change. Stick those in your vision.

    However, political change in the USA only comes about when the dominant political culture is toppled

    The dominant political culture in the United States, despite your insinuation to the contrary, is a kind of snide, smug, watery strain of liberalism, and has been for a while now. Although the actual instruments of state power were in Republican custody between 2003 and 2007, if one focusses on the culture – as your comment purports to – it is by-and-large liberal. There’s a reason why the afore-mentioned Family Guy is, much to its chagrin I’m sure, very much mainstream.

    This is a horrible trend for organizations reliant on wedge political issues for their subsistence.

    Such as the Democratic party, that routinely invests massively in abortion, gay marriage, radical secularism, class warfare, and other devisive wedge issues. You don’t seriously mean to reveal that you didn’t realize that there are two sides fighting the so-called “culture wars,” did you?

    The government has absolutely no business telling anyone who they can love – it’s none of their business.

    Strawman. No one contends otherwise.

    Anyone who has ever been married will tell you that marriage is nothing more than the joining of property, assets, and well being into one legal entity. If you don’t believe me…

    I don’t believe you, no. I’m married, have been for five years, and there mere fact that I’m someone who has ever been married telling you that marriage is much more than those things falsifies your claim. (Or at least, it falsifies it to the extent that “anyone who has ever been married” is anything but a synonym for “I”.) Few people who are married would agree with your definition; indeed, one suspects that a man who tells his wife that their marriage means nothing more to him than the legal unification of assets and property will receive the divorce papers in short order.

    To say that 2 men, or 2 women, or a man and a women should have different legal rights in this instance is not only wrong it’s illegal in my opinion.

    (1) Gay marriage isn’t about having the same rights – everyone already has the same rights vis-a-vis marriage unless you start manipulating the generality at which the issue is evaluated. What is being asked for is not equal rights, but new rights: a change in the nature of marriage to allow something that marriage has not consisted of before. I tend to think that the difference in how people think about this comes down to whether one thinks marriage is a verb or a noun; only if one believes that marriage is something that you do could you believe that each person gets to do it in whatever way they like. If, by contrast, one understands marriage as a preexisting institution, the idea of “have it your way” comes over as the crazy guy insisting that the clerk accept his hand-scrawled note rather than filling out the standardized form.

    (2) It isn’t illegal, and whether it is or is not is not a matter of opinion – it’s a matter of law. Your comment implies a conceptual inability to differentiate between what you would like the content of the law to be (what legislatures do) and what it actually is (the realm of the courts).

    The USA is a republic based on the rule of law

    Quite so, which is why what Vermont did is legitimate, what Iowa did probably isn’t, and what the Supreme Court of the United States is going to do certainly isn’t.

    it’s good to see that the lawmakers are finally starting to take their responsibility seriously enough to put emotional, non-legal, wedge issues aside as they settle issues of human rights and individual dignity.

    This approaches a parody of unselfawareness.

    Sheesh, that was an unrewarding comment to write. It’s like trying to explain yellow to a bat.

  15. kranky kritter Says:

    I think it’s closer to the truth to acknowledge that individual views evolve over time and that the culture’s views do as well. Individuals tend to become more conservative on at least some issues as time and experience chastens them.

    Conservatives are the guardians in charge of making us all be careful about cultural changes that can bring negative side affects. Younger folks will always chafe at that. This pretty easily explains things. As a culture, new things bring questioning and controversy. Sometimes we get used them, see that they are fine, and dismiss earlier concerns as off the mark. Liberals LOVE to notice this.

    Far less well-noticed is that sometimes we DON’T get used to new things and adopt them, we continue to reject them. We see that they aren’t fine, and we hold the line against change. This is why we don’t all walk around naked smoking crack, F#$^king in the street, driving on the sidewalk, taking other folks stuff, and so on.

    I happen to think we’ll be A-OK allowing gays to marry, or else circumscribing gov’t involvement in the legalities of unions to civil contracts for all. In another 10 or 15 years, almost no one will give a sh!t. But that doesn’t mean I want to join in the progressive triumphalism or generational triumphalism.

    It may well be the case that speaking generationally, there will always be things that the next generation “gets” better than the last one. Indeed, it’s probably true with gay marriage that many older folks just CAN’T get it. But I counsel everyone to do such folks the favor of granting them the respect of understanding that just maybe it’s because their heads are full of all the stuff that they have already learned and understood.

    I can promise all the younger folks out there that by the time you reach 40 or 50, the song that goes “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger” will suddenly begin to resonate. If it doesn’t, then you just haven’t been paying attention.

  16. kranky kritter Says:

    Oh, and BTW, I somewhat agree with Simon as it regards Terence.That’s worth noting because Simon and I are usually at odds at Stubborn Facts.

    Justin, you ought to be aware that your tolerance for pejorative varies on a partisan basis. My tolerance for pejorative is high, so Terence doesn’t bother me much. But even so I do note that his insult to insight ratio is well above optimum.

  17. Simon Says:

    kranky kritter Says:

    Conservatives are the guardians in charge of making us all be careful about cultural changes that can bring negative side affects. Younger folks will always chafe at that.

    Exactly. It’s small wonder that the young don’t identify with the GOP. Youth, in the mine run of cases, brings with it a blithe intellectual arrogance, a belief that they can fashion in the brilliant foundry of their own minds and thence prescribe for the entirety of society “the answer.” An inability (or, worse yet, refusal, or, worst of all, indifference) to recognize the imperfection of human foresight and the inevitability of unforeseen consequences. They mistake their own prejudices and preconceptions for judgment and timeless truths, and, given their druthers, would gleefully sweep society’s real timeless truths of tradition onto the ashpile of history.

    To borrow Oakeshott’s memorable evisceration of the so-called rationalist mindset, youth is eager to hale “the social, political, legal and institutional inheritance of [their] society before the tribunal of [their] intellect….” Fortunately, about 50% of them grow up.

  18. Justin Gardner Says:

    Simon, didn’t get to this earlier because the site was down.

    TerenceC’s comments here about 10 times more than you do so it’s not really much of a surprise that you don’t have a good gauge of his comments. Can he be a bit on the caustic side sometimes? Yes, but then so can you. Or do you honestly think that “explaining yellow to a bat” and characterizing liberals as eternal children are kind things to say? Your condescension is just as opposed to the spirit of the site as him making fat jokes.

    However, Terence, you know to leave the insults out of it. There’s no reason to make this personal. Thanks for understanding.

  19. TerenceC Says:

    Simon-

    It’s easy to take individual lines from a few paragraphs of a comment and structure your own arguments based upon a line by line interpretation without reading the complete statement (where you get the time is another question). You structure your counter points based upon an extremely narrow interpretation of what you just read searching for just the right place to cut the comment off so you can score your point and reinforce your own brand of intellectual arrogance.

    Kranky….pejorative, I always thought i was droll.

  20. Vast Says:

    Marriage has not always been solely between a man and a woman. There has been legal recognition of same sex marriage in many cultures, The Romans and Greeks being among them.

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