Cokie and Steven Roberts have an opinion piece about how support for marriage equality is growing:
Last year, for the first time, national polls showed a majority of Americans favoring same-sex marriage. Statistician Nate Silver, writing in The New York Times, estimates that support for the concept is growing by 4 percentage points every year. By the November election, he forecasts, 56 percent will favor legalizing gay unions and only 40 percent will oppose them. Three years ago, the numbers were reversed.
As Bohanan discovered, this shift is driven mainly by young people. According to a recent Pew study, three out of five voters under 30 back same-sex marriage, while only one out of three over 65 share that view. As the conservative columnist George Will likes to say, young people think being gay is about as significant as being left-handed. And that makes them far more tolerant and open-minded than their elders.
Since we have a new bill for marriage equality in Maryland ready for Gov. O’Malley to sign into law, we are probably going to see a voter referendum on the matter in November. Opponents were already threatening to put the issue on the ballot before the House debate was even finished. They’re so eager to get a voter referendum because they’re convinced they know what the outcome will be. And I could divert this entry into talking about how voter referenda are so fucked up, an insult to representative democracy, the tyranny of the majority, and so on, but right now, whenever I hear some other “defender of traditional marriage” tell us they’re gonna put the issue on the ballot like it’ll teach us a lesson, all I can think is: “What makes you so confident?”
Admittedly, the track record for ballot initiatives has been very bad for marriage equality. So far, whenever voters have been given a chance to decide the fate of same-sex marriage in a state, they’ve always voted against it. And of course the Enforcers of Tradition are only too happy to remind us that voters have struck down marriage equality every chance they’ve had, like that’s supposed to show us that state representatives and courts don’t have the right to allow marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples. In relying on ballot initiatives, they are assuming that a majority of voters will always agree with them.
Why should they assume that?
The track record for direct democracy on civil marriage rights looks the way it does because, up until very recently, a majority of voters has been opposed to marriage equality. Recent polls on the matter have discovered that is no longer the case. To put it bluntly, the people who are most opposed to marriage equality are dying of old age, and the people coming to replace them at the ballot booths are increasingly supportive of gay rights, especially civil marriage. If the issue of marriage equality continues to be put in front of the voters, it will eventually win the election. Direct democracy isn’t going to “uphold the traditional definition of marriage” forever. There will come a time when no amount of lying and scaremongering through TV ads funded by tax-exempt entities (such as churches who supposedly don’t have the money to deal with lawsuits) is going to convince a majority of voters in a jurisdiction that gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry.
Who says that time won’t come this year? And whenever that time comes, and voters turn out in favor of equality, how fast are the Enforcers of Tradition going to change their tune on the superiority of direct democracy?
(Off-topic, but be sure to see Del. Kach’s perspective on marriage as quoted in the Robertses’ opinion piece. We need more pro-life politicians like him.)