CRF Blog

Marriage equality in America

by David De La Torre

In So far, so fast, The Economist looks at how fast the U.S. arrived at marriage equality.

What happened? Social change so marked and rapid can come only from a confluence of causes, but the most important was probably a change in moral judgment. Moral disapproval underlay not just opposition to same-sex marriage, but also support for the whole panoply of laws and customs that have historically discriminated against gay people. As it waned, support for same-sex marriage waxed. By 2013, nearly 60% had no moral problem with same-sex relations. Given that America, like most places, has viewed homosexuality as wicked since more or less the beginning of time, approval by a wide majority represents a watershed not just in contemporary politics but also in cultural history. This reversal, even more than sentiment about marriage as such, was the seminal change in public opinion. No anti-gay policy is likely to withstand it.

But why, then, the change in public morality? One reason is demographic replacement: the deaths of anti-gay traditionalists and the emergence of a generation that grew up accepting homosexuality as a normal human variation. Their nonchalance is founded upon broadening acceptance of the proposition that homosexuality, like heterosexuality, is generally innate and not inherently harmful. Yet a third reason, underlying both of the others, is that sexual minorities have emerged from the shadows into full public view. [more]