« Liveblogging: McCain, Obama battle on the economy | Main | Palin's Religion »

October 8, 2008

Whatever Happened to Gay Marriage as the Ultimate Wedge Issue?

A few years ago it looked like opposition to gay marriage was going to equal or surpass abortion as the ultimate wedge issue - a device capable of defeating Democrats in all but the most-liberal districts.

And yet consider this:

-The topic didn't come up in Tuesday's debate
-There's not been a single McCain-Palin ad on gay marriage.
-John McCain did not mention it in his acceptance speech at the Republican convention.
-Sarah Palin did not mention it in her convention acceptance speech, either.
-Of the 57 speeches listed on McCain's Web site, I couldn't find a single mention of the gay marriage issue.

What happened?


For starters, the topic has less currency because there are fewer referendums on state ballots. While 11 states considered ballot initiatives in 2004, only three are this year. That means fewer campaign dollars and volunteer hours focused on the issue.

More important, public opinion has shifted. Social issues in general have become less important to voters as the economy has worsened. The new Twelve Tribes study by Beliefnet and the University of Akron, showed that percentage of people listing moral issues as most important is now half what it was in 2004.

But that's just part of the explanation. After all, abortion is getting significant attention. The Catholic bishops, for instance, have been far more vocal opposing abortion than gay marriage. It's not like social issues have completely disappeared.

Rather, while the public hasn't much changed its views on abortion, it has on gay rights. For instance, in 2004 48% of "Convertible Catholics" supported civil unions or gay marriage. In 2008, 61% do. Among Moderate Evangelicals, the percentage was 33% in 2004, 42% in 2008.

Just as important, young people have starkly different views on gay issues than their parents. Most surveys show this but it's particularly striking among evangelical Christians, who are just as anti-abortion as their parents but significantly more supportive of gay rights. The Barna Group asked "born again Christians" if they believed that "homosexual lifestyles" are a "major problem" The results show a stunning shift by age:

Age
18-41 -- 35%
42-60: -- 52%
61+: -- 71%

With support for gay marriage or civil unions rising, conservative politicians have to be careful where and how they push this issue.

Though McCain approved a Republican platform that called for a constitutional amendment on gay marriage, he routinely contradicts that view by saying he wants it left up to the states. When McCain and Palin do discuss their opposition to gay marriage it's now usually accompanied by a statement of tolerance towards homosexuals.

Political strategists realize there are still large numbers of people who view gay marriage as a major threat. But now, candidates must appeal to them without alienating moderates or younger voters.

Since abortion seems to work just as well as ever among culturally conservative voters like moderate evangelicals, they figure: stick with that.

Adapted from Steven Waldman's "Political Perceptions" column at the Wall Street Journal Online.

Comments

Whether at the state or federal level, constitutional amendments banning Gay people from marriage equality, are all about denying Gay, taxpaying citizens their First Amendment rights to petition their governments for redress of their grievances. I mean, even Charley Manson has that right...so why, again, are people trying to compromise that fundamental right for their taxpaying, law abiding neighbor, or dentist or cousin or sibling, or child?

Does this sound like a slippery slope, or what?

Tolerance just isn't enough, though it's better than oppression, I guess. Tolerance can be capricious and conditional. It can evaporate when unscrupulous and desperate leaders look for distracting scapegoats...and who better for that purpose than a conveniently at hand, and likely permanent in most places, minority. Scapegoating can be used against friends and families of Gay people...and even at non-Gay people one wants to neutralize or drive away with malicious gossip and unprovable accusations.

Only equal rights, duties and privileges, consistently and insistently affirmed and upheld at all levels of all governments, publicly supported institutions and businesses, are enough. Then, with those protections, vague and likely not heartfelt statements of tolerance towards people you label as "the other," become almost not like shameless hypocrisy and calloused manipulation.

Separate but equal "civil unions" aren't enough either. They mark the same-sex couple and their children as, well, permanently separated and never equal to other couples' relationships and children. Without absolute marriage equality, the relationships and families of same sex couples are devalued, delegitimized, stigmatized by law, constantly anomic bombed at will and with impunity by greedy and self-righteous bigots, and therefore less stable, less productive and less beneficial to the couple, their children and extended families, and our society at large.

Amen Greg ...

I can't add anything to that, except, I hope more people take the time to read it with an open heart.

Wow, three sane comments on gay married on Christianity Today's message boards. Is that a first?

I see a distinction between recognizing civil unions by statute and recognizing "gay marriage" as a constitutional right. I don't have a problem with civil unions. However, if there is a constitutional right to gay marriage, then the anti-discrimination laws apply to all groups that oppose gay marriage, including traditional Christian groups. Could a traditional Christian church be sued for "discrimination" if it fails to hire or promote gay employees? Could the Boy Scouts be sued for "discrimination" if the Boy Scouts refuse to allow gay scoutmasters? There needs to be a way to balance the rights of gay people and the rights of religious people with traditional views. I think civil unions is a good balance, recognizing a oonstitutional right to gay marriage tilts too far against those holding traditional views.

We somehow forgotten what is evangelical Christianity is?. Here in Singapore where the church are running weekly articles to insist that Gays be persecuted, and that Homosexuality is a major problem destroying Singapore, just walk outside the doors of the church, and you see 90% of Singapore worshipping other gods with their Buddhish, and Muslim, and Hindu temples and throngs of people worshipping in them, and all we can rave about is the gay issue.

Indeed, each time we rave about it, the door shuts tighter to a closed heaven for evangelism and outreach.

WHERE IS THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST IN THE MIST OF THESE CONVERSATIONS? WE USE THE TERM CHRISTIANITY SO LOOSELY THESE DAYS THAT I DON'T BELIEVE THE BULK OF PEOPLE WHO PROFESS IT ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND THAT IT MEANS AGREEING WITH, BELIEVING IN, AND LIVING BY THE TEACHINGS (DOCTRINE) OF CHRIST. SO THE QUESTION IS, WHAT DOES JESUS SAY ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE IDEA OF CIVIL UNIONS? I FIND MY ANSWER IN ROMANS CHAPTER ONE. EITHER WE BELIEVE WHAT THE WORD OF GOD SAYS ABOUT THAT PARTICULAR LIFESTYLE OR YOU DON'T, THERE IS NO IN BETWEEN. IT IS THE BORN AGAIN BELIEVERS JOB TO UPHOLD THE STANDARDS OF THE GOSPEL FREE OF OUR OWN PERSONAL OPINION; BECAUSE WHEN WE STAND BEFORE GOD WE WON'T BE JUDGED BASED ON WHAT WE THOUGHT BUT ON WHAT THE WORD OF GOD SAYS. WHETHER THE PERSON LIVING A HOMOSEXUAL LIFESTYLE IS MY MOTHER, FATHER, SISTER, BROTHER, OR CHILD; THAT DOESN'T CHANGE GODS STANDARD AND HIS JUDGEMENT ON THE ISSUE. LEGALIZING THIS LIFESTYLE AND TRYING TO MAKE SOMETHING THAT IS SO WRONG, RIGHT ONLY CONFIRMS THE TIMES WE ARE LIVNG IN ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURE. I SPEAK FOR MYSELF WHEN I SAY MY PERSONAL CONVICTION WILL NOT ALLOW ME TO SUPPORT A LIFESTYLE THAT IS CONTRARY TO THE WILL OF GOD. SOME MAY SAY HOW ARE YOU SHOWING THE LOVE OF GOD BY BANNING A PERSONS RIGHT TO CHOOSE HOW TO LIVE? MY RESPONSE IS, GODS LOVE IS THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE AND ONCE YOU HAVE CHOSEN THAT DOESN'T MEAN HE, NOR THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN HIM (GOD THE FATHER) HAVE TO SUPPORT YOUR CHOICE. ITS CALLED YOUR FREE WILL.

Maybe it doesn't come up because the majority of Christian Americans are not interested in messages of hate and bigotry, and the parties know that. Why does the Christian Right feel the need to have the voice of moral authority in this country? Live your live, love your Lord, love your neighbors, stop worrying about making sure the sinners are told what they're doing is wrong, it's not your JOB. Or the President's.

Romans, SQDONALD, isn't saying to me what it's saying to you. So, who's right and who's wrong? And why are you essentially shouting in all capital letters? Posts in all upper case are also less legible that way. I'm a graphics designer, take my word on that last point.

I'm not sure what part of Romans you're talking about, but a favorite "clobber verse" is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

On the other hand...in Romans 6 "We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” So if one considers "homosexuality" to be a "sin," erroneously, I think, then in accepting Jesus' atonement, one's old "homosexual" self would be dead in order for one to "bear fruit for God." (Which seems like a mixed metaphor, somehow.) So, if one is "homosexual," then one has obviously has rejected Jesus?

But, "homosexual," in human sexuality, is an obsolete, Victorian era theory. It had its day, and now we know more. It's obsolete because it's not manufacturing questions on human sexuality and human identity, which is what good science does, find good questions that guide one in finding more good questions. When the questions stop coming, that theory, or body of theory, becomes interesting history.

For human sexuality, "homosexual" is now just a rough and often abused label not used much by respectable researchers. Which is why "homosexual" is mostly used in animal observations; animals don't do "identity." (MSM, 'men who have sex with men,' is the catch-all sociological term. Not all MSM identify as "Gay" or "homosexual.")

MSM/Gay is not a sin. Gay, anyway, is a complex, human identity/community. Gay is a quite diverse and wonderful community; with people of great character, those inevitable people lacking in character, and everyone in between. Sexual activity is just one part of one's identity. Gay merely makes life a little more interesting.

What a favorite anti-homosexual clobber verse, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, is saying to me is...having exploitative/abusive sexual relations with anyone, male and female, is unwise...and God doesn't respect that (though I hope I'm not tacitly telling God what to respect or not).

But, the constant anomic bombing of Gay people by other people (with highly dubious motives by my standards, however sincerely held), encourages fatalistic behaviors that can be unfortunate. It doesn't have to be that way. And, Gay people aren't the only people to experience that sort of thing, now or in the past. Think inner city youth, as another group of contemporary people being constantly anomic bombed by others. (You look up the sociological concept of "anomie.")

Of course, in the past, there were no Gay people, and except in the ever more receding 20th Century, no "homosexuals" either. MSM were explained differently...in the Bible, often as somehow related to idolatry. If an ancient monotheist saw or imagined an ancient polytheist doing something, it was categorized as Idolatry...even if it was not. In fact, I'm guessing that it probably tacitly encouraged some MSM to leave monotheism, and take their talents and humanity with them. People are very good at coming up with conspiracy theories...if only because we're all conspirators in various ways.

Are all MSM relationships abusive and exploitative, just because they're by MSM? Are MSM incapable of being consenting adults? Are all Gay/GLBT identifying men and women, the most noticeable group of MSM, "inherently disordered" and therefore simply incapable of being consenting adults if not cured of there alleged "disorder?"

Are all the MSM, Gay identifying or not, to be treated as naughty children, to be kept in line against their will, instead of as adults of usually average intelligence? True, all adults, however intelligent, are quite capable of unwise behavior, and that includes accusing "the other" of possessing "the sin" that God really hates more than any other.

Does Jesus really say to "hate the sin?" I think not. I think he said to just go forth and sin no more. So, if "homosexuality" is a sin to you, go forth and sin no more. For me, only I sin, because only I know what I do for what motives. For me, only non-humans do "homosexuality," and they're incapable of sinning (at least as I understand the concept of "sin.")

What other people do is not for me to judge as a sin, though I can certainly warn people of possible dangers that I may see and they may not, and vice versa. I don't walk in their shoes. They don't walk in my comfy loafers that were on sale at Penny's. My sin is when I don't even try to get my neighbor a good pair of shoes, if that's what he needs.

For a Halloween scare ahead of time, Google "Obama Supports Public Depravity." Interestingly (and frighteningly), Obama and his public-porn-protecting collaborators (including Nancy Pelosi, in whose district the depravity regularly occurs on public streets in front of children!) don't want folks to know what really goes on at "gay" festivals because such information could truly ignite and unite the Religious Right like nothing else - which explains why not a word was said about "gay" rights at any of the Presidential debates! Ted

This message is for SQDONALD.. You need to relax about your religious beliefs honestly its great that you believe in something but not everyone does. Do you really think God is going to be happy with you for not being neighborly to your fellow man. I think he wouldn't. You should treat everyone the way you would want to be treated. Isn't that in the bible. And if you are going to take the bible so seriously then something is seriously wrong with you because in the bible they crucified people for just sleeping with others. They also wanted to stone mary soooo yeah... you need to relax worry about yourself and be accepting of others... i think jesus would like that p.s ill tell him you said hi