‘We’ve probably lost that’

We talked last week about how frustrating it must be for the right when they see polling on marriage equality. Three major national polls in recent months have shown that a majority of Americans, for the first time, now support the right of two consenting adults to get legally married, regardless of sexual orientation. The debate has slipped away from conservatives, and there’s not much they can do about it.

With that in mind, Focus on the Family president Jim Daly, James Dobson’s successor, chatted with a prominent Christian magazine about the national landscape. The magazine said Christian conservatives are “winning the young generation on abortion” — a dubious proposition — but added, “What about same-sex marriage?” Daly responded:

“We’re losing on that one, especially among the 20- and 30-somethings: 65 to 70 percent of them favor same-sex marriage. I don’t know if that’s going to change with a little more age — demographers would say probably not. We’ve probably lost that. I don’t want to be extremist here, but I think we need to start calculating where we are in the culture.”

Is it me, or does the head of Focus on the Family sound resigned to failure when it comes to marriage equality?

To be sure, Daly isn’t exactly a liberal on this. He went on, for example, to compare same-sex marriage to “polygamy,” which is obviously absurd.

But the larger point is hard to miss: one of the most powerful Christian conservative groups in the country is prepared to concede, “We’ve probably lost that,” when it comes to marriage. That’s good news.

I don’t really expect conservatives to just throw in the towel entirely — they have too much invested in this — but (a) winning elections by attacking gays is going to be a lot more difficult going forward; and (b) we can safely say marriage equality is only a matter of “when,” not “if.”