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]


> "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.

Matthew R.

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

Matthew R.

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


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?

Brad Hicks

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.

Brian H

"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.


@ #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.



@ #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.


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?

jeff b.

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.


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.


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.



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


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


"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.


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.


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.


R. Katz


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.



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.


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.