February 8, 2013
by Jenny Abel
The 2012 election marked the first time same-sex marriage was explicitly endorsed in one of the major national party platforms. Since then, and even earlier, there have been significant rumblings about the need for Republicans to similarly “modernize” their platform and “follow public opinion” on this issue.
One political science expert, cited in a recent Huffington Post column, thinks the GOP’s “ultimate capitulation” on this issue is “inevitable.” And he is not the only one with that view. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Iowa strategist, David Kochel, has voiced a similar opinion, and is quoted (in the same column) as asserting, “Support for the freedom to marry is emerging as a mainstream position in the Republican Party.” In one other example, Steve Schmidt, an adviser to the presidential campaigns of both John McCain and George W. Bush, also all but surrenders the GOP’s traditional position: “The die is cast on this issue. Why should we sign a suicide pact with the National Organization for Marriage?” (Schmidt, mind you, thinks the issue should be left to the states—apparently ignoring the host of complications that would create.)
Many mainstream media articles now take it for granted that same-sex marriage is gaining in acceptance among the U.S. population. For instance, a New York Times article in November stated, “A rapid shift in public opinion is bolstering their [same-sex rights campaigners’] cause as more people grow used to the idea of same-sex marriage and become acquainted with openly gay people and couples.” The article cites the younger generation as key to this shift.
Indeed, polls indicate that a comfortable majority of Americans ages 18–29 are in favor of same-sex marriage—one poll found 73%. Polls also show that opinions generally differ by region and age cohort, with a majority of Americans in the South still opposing same-sex marriage and a majority of the 65-and-older generation still disapproving of it.
Of course, there are always larger stories behind the numbers, and overstatement and bias in reporting are often used to advance a particular agenda. Nevertheless, USA Today’s December headline and accompanying poll, “Attitudes toward gays changing fast,” may not be far-fetched, and such headlines are certainly what many Americans read on a regular basis.
So, is the tide really turning?
And if so, how should we as Christians engage this difficult topic in a way that communicates truth while also remaining gracious and loving? Do we really have to engage the topic at all?
The next couple of blogs will start to address these questions—but most of all, Rising Voice wants to hear from you about your own perspective and personal experiences with this issue. It is not an easy one, and it’s certainly not going away anytime soon. Yet we cannot ignore the fact that, very soon, our generation will be responsible for tipping this debate one way or the other for America’s foreseeable future.
Finally, just a little more context to bring this critical issue into focus from the national standpoint: