Is Legal Same-Sex Marriage Inevitable?

| Polling guru Nate Silver has built a regression model, based on demographic and political trends, to forecast when a majority of the voting public in each of the 50 states might vote against a gay-marriage ban, or vote to repeal an existing one. His findings: by 2016, most states will have legalized gay marriage, with Mississippi alone holding on until 2024. His analysis is loaded with caveats but, in light of the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling against the state’s gay-marriage ban, raises an interesting question: is legal same-sex marriage inevitable? [%comments]

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  1. George Brabazon says:

    I do not think Nate was claiming that it would be legalized by 2016, only that a majority of voters in those states would support it in a polling question in 2016.

    A small, but significant difference.

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  2. DrS says:

    Most important thing he points out is that young people are overwhelmingly for it, and old people are overwhelmingly against it. This does not always mean the liberals have a lock on the future, since a lot of people revert to the parents views once they themselves become married and have kids; however, it’s a pretty significant trend.

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  3. sram says:

    I think sometime before that at least one state will get out of legalizing the marriage business. The state will stop issuing marriage licenses and will only issue monogamous civil union licenses. The individuals then have to find a church that would marry them.

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  4. Steve says:

    I’d say it is inevitable, because A) it seems to have momentum, B) builds on existing social changes, C) when the world economy is falling apart stopping two guys from getting married is less of a worry.

    I’d go as far to say that someday, someone will do a thesis on C).

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  5. Mio says:

    “when the world economy is falling apart stopping two guys from getting married is less of a worry.”

    Same goes for gals.

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  6. Mike says:

    Hmmm, let me look outside to see if the sky has fallen yet in Canada.


    It’s inevitable.

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  7. Jeffrey says:

    Even young folks opposed just don’t care that much. They fall into the yeah-I’m-opposed-but-I-won’t-put-up-a-fight-if-two-dudes-wanna-make-out category of politics.

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  8. Paul says:

    Let’s hope it is inevitable. This discrimination is an embarrassment to the country, just like slavery and segregation.

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  9. a_c says:

    why are gays intent on getting married? The answer is, they are not. In places where gay marriage has been available for years, Gays don’t get married. Toronto has had gay marriage for years, and through 2008 only one gay couple has been married. Last year, only 107 gay marriages have been performed.

    Gays, in fact do not want to get married. Very few of them actually do, in places where gay marriage has been legal for some time. Gays are notoriously promiscuous, and promiscuity is incompatible with the traditional notions of marriage. Rather, as Stanley Kurtz has argued in National Review Online, Gays wish to use cultural arguments (mostly through television and movies) and legal ones to collapse traditional culture and specifically, the nuclear family. Which is viewed quite naturally as the enemy of gay culture (it is).

    Classical Greece honored, or even revered, homosexual love above that between men and women, yet it had absolutely no inclination to establish same sex marrage. Indeed Plato discussed this issue at some length, making the observation that marriage was a sacred bond that was intended to preserve the culture. It can hardly be said of the Greeks that they eschewed same sex marriage out of some prejudice against homosexuals. So what was their reasoning?

    Marriage is about child raising… and passing on values and capacities to new “human starts” (as R.B. Fuller called them). The notion of same-sex marriage would have simply seemed silly to the Greeks. What would be the point?

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  10. David Baker says:

    One thing I think he has wrong is his analysis of Utah. I don’t think that Silver took into account that the prevalence of Mormons in Utah is a stronger holdout than the evangelicals of Mississippi. This is not to say that I hope that I am wrong and that his stats are right. Being a Gay Mormon in Utah, I sure hope that I am wrong.

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  11. thomasAlex says:

    “I do not think Nate was claiming that it would be legalized by 2016, only that a majority of voters in those states would support it in a polling question in 2016.”

    Someone cannot read. It says by 2016. Do not try to interpret what you think the reader should have meant, by what he did mean.

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  12. J says:

    I’m totally for this, however, whatever happened to church and state separation? Hopefully we’ll progress even past marriage to something not based on a bartering off of daughters and land.

    But year projection on that….? Incalculable.

    With gay jokes still mainstream and gay bashings still not covered by the media, I’d hardly say that any age group “just don’t care that much”.

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  13. Vin says:

    I don’t think a country that votes on basis of whether or not the things written in a Book are words of God or not could go anywhere in long term.. and I don’t think this country (US) has that trend overall… so I believe it’s inevitable after all…

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  14. Jennifer mitchell says:

    Let’s all hope so.

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  15. Dick says:


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  16. the Gooch says:

    Marriage is devoid of any meaning to most people. so they feel fine allowing others to put whatever meaning in it they so choose.

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  17. c. perry says:

    I certainly hope this whole discussion is soon over. Having been married to one woman for over fifty years, I fail to see what two other people of any sex have to do with our marriage. Is there something here I am not seeing? Why not let it alone. Marriage is a civil, not a religeous act unless a religeous ceremony is desired. Certainly members of a church can keep gays out of their church but not out of city hall.

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  18. Tim says:

    Definitely inevitable unless the government totally divests itself from marriage.

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  19. Plat says:

    This is something that should decided by the people via thier legislators, and not by a court ruling. Of course if a federal consitutional admendment on the defination of marriage, it is all over.

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  20. Valpey says:


    You aren’t the first to suggest that a “state will stop issuing marriage licenses and will only issue monogamous civil union licenses”. And I’m sure you won’t be the last. But those of you who come to this ridiculous conclusion strike me as the same out-of-touch idealists who thought we could just imagine no possessions and then there’d be world peace.

    The inevitable equilibrium will be equal marriage rights for all. Once it becomes law in any one place – it ceases to be an issue there within a fairly quick pace. (albeit not quickly enough in California) It just takes too much energy to be a bigot for most people.

    The reason is that people are far more interested in their own relationships than other people’s (although you might not know it by some of the vitriol we hear). Everyone wants the right to have their own relationship ratified by civil law as a “marriage”.

    Even the SCOTUS will probably soon agree that rules for things like “married filing jointly” tax status and citizenship rights for spouses will have to apply evenhandedly nationwide and thus extend marraige rights to everyone. This might be called judicial activism, but it would really just be judicial pragmatism.

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  21. russ says:

    > “when the world economy is falling apart stopping two guys from getting married is less of a worry.”

    > Same goes for gals.

    True true, although most anti-gay-rights people seem far more upset and bothered about gay guys. Lesbians are sexy while gay guys are gross, and all that.

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  22. Matthew R. says:

    Inevitable isn’t what it used to be. Just ask President Hillary Clinton.

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  23. Matthew R. says:

    One of the most dangerous phrases in the world: “If present trends continue.”

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  24. Casey says:

    Have they done the freakonomics to determine what the suicide rate in CA will be for the children of people who voted for Prop 8 yet?

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  25. Brad Hicks says:

    Similar polls were done in the early 1970s, and based on similar math, predicted that marijuana would be legal in almost every state by the early 1990s, a comparison Silver himself acknowledges. History seldom moves in straight lines.

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  26. Brian H says:

    “Someone cannot read. It says by 2016. Do not try to interpret what you think the reader should have meant, by what he did mean.”

    Not exactly. He says in his article that “[b]y 2016, only a handful of states in the Deep South would vote to ban gay marriage, with Mississippi being the last one to come around in 2024.” He’s only saying the his model says that those states would still vote to ban gay marriage and that the others wouldn’t. Not voting to ban gay marriage is different from voting to legalize it.

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  27. Eric says:

    @ #6:


    The argument that the sky hasn’t fallen in Canada or Massachusetts or any other place that gay marriage is a reality is disingenuous. It’s like claiming two weeks after asbestos is introduced to the market that it is clearly and conclusively harmless since no one has yet died from asbestos. The results of social change cannot be measured in a week or a month or a year, or even a decade. Changes as sweeping as these have their effect over generations.

    a_c (#9 above) asserts, I think correctly, that the gay agenda is actually an anti-family agenda. But a weakening of the family is a weakening of society. Consider the effect of being raised by a single parent on crime, education, teenage pregnancy, drug use, and a host of other ills (enter “fatherless crime” in Google Scholar for a sobering collection of research). At the time these families were falling apart (or failing to form) there would have been no evidence of the eventual negative results.

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  28. Dan says:

    @ #19:

    If you let the majority decide to discriminate against a minority, then you’ve missed the point of America. The Constitution is designed to protect minorities from the majority. So it is exactly the courts who should be deciding this issue.

    That said, I think it is important for gay marriage activists to keep in mind that if the majority disagrees with you, maybe you need to try a different argument.

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  29. Woesinger says:

    a_c at #9:

    While many gay people may choose not to get married, why shouldn’t they have the option to if they do choose to?

    Marriage is about child raising…

    So heterosexual couples that cannot or do not want to have children should get divorced? And I assume you don’t think that gay people should be allowed to raise children (adopted or their own)?

    The point is that civil marriage gives the participants many legal protections that single people do not enjoy. Why would you deny that legal protection to couples just because they happen to be of the same sex?

    Your statement about the alleged Vast Gay Conspiracy to collapse the nuclear family is plainly paranoid. If you feel the nuclear family is under threat – I’d direct you to the serial marriages and divorces of many conservative politicians before you start blaming gays. Not exactly leading by example, are they?

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  30. jeff b. says:

    If you think inter-racial marriage was inevitable (which I think most would), then gay marriage is, too. I’ve read just a bit about it, and it’s amazing how closely the gay marriage debate is following the inter-racial marriage debate of it’s time. The same arguments against both (including the inability to procreate sometimes – believe it or not), the same states (generally) outlawing it (mostly southern) and allowing it (mass), etc. Finally, the “activist judges” of the supreme court allowed inter-racial marriage, and that will certainly happen again with gay marriage.

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  31. Steve says:

    it’s interesting to note that every same sex marraige decision came from the courts, not from majority vote. evey time the measure has been on the ballot, the will of the people has been in favor of one man and one woman.

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  32. AaronS says:

    I am angry about it.

    I want my gay friends and loved ones to enjoy the full benefits of partnership, but I detest having my “tolerance” questioned because I think that marriage means a union between a man and a woman.

    I’m thinking that, next, our black brothers and sisters can redefine “white” so that they can escape the racism that hatefully lingers for American blacks.

    And our Muslim friends can redefine “Islam” so that it really means “Christian,” as this will allow them to practice their religion with less suspicion.

    Very simply, you don’t get to REDEFINE a word just because you like what it entails. I don’t get to redefine “Handicapped” so that I get to park up close to the supermarket. I don’t get to redefine “Professor” so that I can claim to be a “Professor.”

    In my opinion, gays already took one of our words–“gay”–and changed it from meaning the bright, happy, playful, joyous feeling of experiencing life to…well, I guess there is an element of “bright, happy, and playful” in it even now–ha! But you get the idea. Seriously.

    Equal rights for all. But no more 1984. War is Peace. Up is Down.

    Of course, if this post sees the light of day, I’ll be surprised, since it conflicts with the NYT predetermined way in which we will all go.

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  33. Greg says:

    State laws are nice, but supreme court decisions have more staying power.

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  34. Jason says:

    #32 – you’re pathetic. If you actually had gay friends and cared about them, you wouldn’t speak like that.

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  35. Shay says:

    “Marriage is about child raising… and passing on values and capacities to new “human starts” (as R.B. Fuller called them). ”

    Not to the thousands of childless (by choice or biology) couples out there, it’s not.

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  36. Tim says:

    Steve I take it you missed the news that Vermont’s democratically-elected legislature just voted to override the governor’s veto and allow gay marriage? Not to mention that California’s legislature has twice voted for gay marriage only to be thwarted by Arnold’s veto.

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  37. AaronS says:

    Jason (#34)…

    I do have gay friends. They know PRECISELY where I stand.

    I will not be pressured into changing my mind by your implication that I must be narrow-minded, ill-informed, or bigoted.

    Again, you don’t get to REDEFINE words just because you want to. Words means something. And to keep them meaning something, we have to maintain our definitions.

    You know, I would love to play Major League Baseball…and I could do pretty well if they threw the ball much, much slower and had only the pitcher to run down any hits. I could strut around and say I was a Major Leaguer. BUT THAT’S NOT BASEBALL! And I don’t get to change the rules so that it meets my requirements. If that’s true of baseball, how much more of marriage.

    Jason, I know you are likely very passionate about this matter. I certainly do not mean to offend you. But I have an opinion that I think is valid in this matter, and must be considered.

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  38. R. Katz says:


    As a classicist, I feel compelled to respond to your comparison of the marriages of ancient Greece with those of today.

    In some parts of ancient Greece, a relationship between two men, usually one older and one younger, could indeed be seen as an integral part of the younger man’s worldly education. The older partner would serve as the younger’s mentor in many ways, and a sexual aspect to this relationship was not unusual.
    On the other hand, marriage was a social contract between a man and a woman which would produce legitimate children in the eyes of the state. (Before anyone goes off to argue that this is precisely how it should be today, consider that in the ancient world Greek women were treated in a manner that is completely untenable in modern America. I, for one, would like to think that a modern marriage can mean something more than what would today amount to the virtual enslavement of women.)

    As I understand it, modern marriage has become an outward expression of the love between two people and involves much more than just the possible raising of children (enough has already been said about the issue of children, I think). For example, think of federal rights; even where same-sex marriage is legal, same-sex couples are denied over one thousand federal rights. Such a thing as federal rights for same-sex couples would never have occurred to the Greeks, especially because they valued marriage and homosexual relationships as different institutions altogether. Today, however, the same no longer holds true, mostly because modern marriage is in fact quite different from its ancient counterpart. People can now marry out of love alone, and even the Greeks recognized that love could take three forms: between two males, between two females, and between one of each (see Plato’s Symposium). Speculation may be idle, but if the Greeks had married for love, perhaps they might have introduced same-sex marriage.
    Thus, as much as I appreciate the consideration being given to classical culture, I believe that there are simply too many disparities between the ancient Greek and modern American institutions of marriage to permit such a comparison.

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  39. Cherizz says:

    Put yourselves in the shoes of others and try to think about it from their perspective.

    Put your beliefs about religion, about why/how people may choose/to be born into having an attraction with the same sex.

    Civil marriage allows the participants many legal protections that single people don’t have the opportunity to take part in. Is it fair that the general public has a say in whether or not a couple that is of the same sex to take part in these legal protections? I believe that this is a personal matter. Why should anyone else have the power to decide their relationship status? What if people questioned who you married and decided that that your choice wasn’t who they had in mind? Would you think that it would be fair for them to vote on who you should/shouldn’t marry?

    Same-sex marriage should be a choice made by those that are looking to marry their same sex.

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  40. Sara says:

    AaronS: While I understand your argument, I have to take issue with the fact that we can’t redefine something such as marriage because its original definition was inherently bigoted. The problem is that there is a difference between “religious” marriage, done in a church, which churches should always be able to define themselves, and “civil” marriage, as regulated and defined by the government. Civil marriage should be expanded in definition to include any two consenting adults, same gender or not. We could call this a civil union, but people, gay and straight, have a sentimental attachment to the word “marriage.” You exemplify this by getting upset at the thought of someone trying to redefine it. But you aren’t the only one sentimentally attached to the word marriage — so are many gays who want to be able to experience the same thing with their lifelong partners. To them, “civil union” sounds a little separate-but-equal-y.

    But anyway, would you be alright with the government eliminating the marriage verbage and calling everything “civil unions” with equal rights for gay and straight couples? Because you argue as if you would, and that you only take issue with the word marriage itself.

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  41. Luciano says:

    Gay marriage is inevitable. It is just a matter of time.

    If one analyzes the evolution of human rights over long stretches of time, one can easily see that the trend is to vest individuals of more and more rights while the state governs how these rights will be used and how the use of these rights will affect the relations between individuals.

    Can anyone even think of revoking the ban on slavery? Doesn’t slavery look absurd to us these days? In a few more years the fact that one day homosexuals were not allowed to marry will also look absurd.

    Marriage is no more than a civil contract granting the two parties rights and obligations. It has nothing to do with procreation (a fertility test is never required of marrying couples) or religion.

    And the argument that gay couples do not represent the ideal setting for raising a family is preposterous. No law precludes heterosexual child molesters, pedophiles or violent people from getting married, when we know that these would most certainly lead to bed family settings. Many gay families shown in the media have risen healthy, loving and normal children in very affectionate family surroundings. In the past, ill-informed people also tought the the children of divorced parents would be traumatized, sick and paranoid.

    And, last of all, gay marriage is inevitable because all these elderly, more conservative people, who are worried about religious or moral issues, will one day expire. And the younger generations just don’t care.

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  42. Finn says:

    a_c said:
    Gays, in fact do not want to get married. Very few of them actually do

    Wikipedia says:
    From June 2003 (date of the first legal same-sex marriages in Ontario) to October 2006, there were 12,438 same-sex marriages contracted in Canada.[40]

    a_c said:
    Gays wish to … collapse traditional culture

    If by “traditional culture” you mean “bans against homosexuality”, you’re obviously right. If you’re suggesting every gay is obsessed with destroying Western Civilization, then please support this wild accusation with links to some verifiable facts.

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  43. Paul says:

    I don’t think it’s inevitable. I think the media wants us to think that.

    At the time of the Loving v. Virginia decision, anti-miscegenation laws (the ones that made interracial marriage illegal) had been overturned in 35 states. The gay community doesn’t want this to go to the SCOTUS because it’s largely conservative, but also because they’re afraid a ruling that says marriage is a union between one man and one woman, or that there’s no constitutional right to same-sex marriage will make it harder for them to ever get married.

    I think what’s more likely to happen is the states who allow gay marriage will either lose their ability to grant same-sex marriage, or the other thirty forty-six states wont have to recognize it in their state.

    Or, they could pass a Federal Marriage Amendment.

    I also think that people who think this is inevitable are being a tad delusional. You’re missing two points: one, it’s kind of roundly true that young people really support gay marriage and older people really oppose it. The thing is, people tend to become more conservative the older they get and especially when have kids. The same nineteen year olds who are gung-ho about gay marriage wont necessarily be the same 39 year olds supporting gay marriage.

    Also, people don’t think about waning interest in the gay community for gay marriage. One little known fact about Prop 8 is that turn-out in the gay community was around 50%. A lot of LGBTs feel “marriage” has too much focus, and they wish more time was devoted to other social issues they face. Who knows? In ten years, it could be that a big percentage of the gay community might not care about gay marriage. It’s true that even with places with gay marriage, the rates of gay marriage are abysmal, and there’s some social science data that they’re more likely to divorce than their heterosexual counterparts.

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  44. Melinda says:

    I do think that same-sex marriage is inevitable. I think it is inevitable because people are not going to give up fighting until they get the rights that they deserve. Same-sex marriage should have been legal all along. I dont know why it supposedly will take until 2016 for marriage equality. People of different races can get married, but a man and another man cant get married? Straight couples automatically have the right to be married but we have to vote on the rights of gay couples. Love cannot be voted away. Even if same-sex marriage is never legalized, we are never going to be able to stop gay couples from loving each other.
    For all of the straight married couples, how would you feel if tomorrow started a ban on straight marriage? Wouldnt you be upset?

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  45. Paris says:

    Same-sex marriage is definately inevitable. It’s inevitable because bottom line there is no legal basis for gay marriage to be illegal. I’m flabbergasted that’s its illegal in some places now, but it won’t hold much longer because like I said there is no legitimate reason for it to remain that way. Arguments against it are even morally or religiously based, or absolutely ridiculous. People need to educate themselves about the way that this government was intended to operate. Your religious beliefs are fine, believe what you want but the problem is that people don’t understand the difference between what you believe and what has basis in legislation. When that is realized you’ll be able to marry whom you choose. Really, I don’t see it taking until 2016. Do you realize that convicts in prison have a right to get married, but law abiding gays don’t. Absolutely ridiculous. But yes all you biggots can be mad all you want but yes it is envitable, and guess what, it won’t change your life at all, get over it.

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  46. Paris says:

    a_c, first of all the idea that homosexuals are promiscuous is a stereotype. True, most stereotypes have basis in reality but they are also notoriously exaggerated. And to say that an argument against same-sex marriage is that they don’t want to get married anyway is ridiculous. One, why would there be this much of a fight if they didn’t want to get married. And second, even if that were true, so what. That’s like saying because I’d rather sit in the back of the bus, I should be legally banned from sitting in the front. Sure it’s gays that don’t want to be married, but there are plenty more that do. There are plenty of straight people that don’t want to get married. Should there be a ban straight marriage?

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  47. Paris says:

    People rarily change their personal and political opinions. So that nineteen year old that is for gay marriage will most likely still be for it when he’s 39. And again, it’s ABSOLUTELY inevitable, I don’t know when but it’ll happen. Do you really think that we’ll be a hundred years from now still telling people who they can and cannot marry.

    Oh and marriage licenses are LEGAL documents, having nothing to do with religion. So how can we deny this legal document on the basis of religion. And it is about religion, no matter what spin we try to put on it and no matter what we try to pretend that it’s really about. You know what I really respect is people who are personally against gay marriage but still have the intelligence to understand that they’re personal beliefs should not be imposed onto others. It’s easy for people like me who have no personal problem with gay marriage to support it legally, but it’s nice to see people that aren’t personally for it, have the brains to understand how govt should work, and understand what the pursuit of happiness means.

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  48. TSA says:

    Most of you quibble about how homosexuality will or will not effect you. What is understated is how accepting homo marriage will change freedom as we know it, and will anyone care. Religion and the constitution is under attack by the secularists and cultural marxists. This is a piggy back issue.

    It doesn’t matter whether you like homos or not, you must oppose homosexual agendas to remain free. That’s the gorilla in the room. So lets all pretend he isnt there and chat about the homos down the street and how they don’t hurt anybody.

    Lets also talk about moral terpitude and relativism and how the talk of allowing perverts into our highest societal places is a sign itself of Godlessness and sin. Evil usually is banal. Canada sucks for all you people who say the sky won’t fall. The impact on America will be fundamentally more contrasted. We never were Canada.

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  49. Sean S. says:

    I agree with #24… you guys need to do a Freakonomic study comparing the suicide rates of children with pro-Prop 8 parents versus those with anti-Prop 8 parents. What an enlightening and relevent study that would be!

    Granted, you’d have to wait a few years before you could gather sufficient data, but once this happens, it would be very easy to excecute.

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  50. sfdg says:

    BTW DNA doesn’t change a person’s sex id, eventhough someone may have gone through a sex change op. I could just see a CSI episode right now where they find a dead tranny and they do a DNA test and find out it was actually a man or find a man and do a DNA test and find out it was actually a female!

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  51. C. Burns says:

    I don’t “Agree” with the notion of two people of the same gender having involvement Period. With that being said, I understand that they are going to push and push to get their agenda heard.

    My argument is that marriage even in a generic format is the joining, matching or blending of two complimenting components. Testosterone does not compliment testosterone but is complimented by estrogen. B/c it is a dichotomy in principle to suggest that a homosexual union can be marriage I contend that it should not be allowed as it is to suggest a new definition and principle for what marriage is.

    The laws of the land will not save their soul only faith in GOD through the redemptive work of CHRIST can do that; therefore I understand that just as alcohol, cigarettes, strip clubs and adult movies are a part of our society there will be other things that are written into law that will challenge the Body of CHRIST. But just as I don’t agree with those other things, as they are sinful elements, I don’t agree with Civil Unions. I just think that at this point homosexuals are more serious about spreading their agenda than us so-called people of faith in Christ therefore something in their favor is inevitable-I just don’t believe it should be called marriage.

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