Crumbling Pillars of Discrimination

One reason support for laws prohibiting same-sex marriage is crumbling is that supporters of discrimination have chosen a particularly poor argument on its behalf: that marriage equality will contribute to the decline of “traditional marriage” once the connection between marriage and procreation has been severed.

Aside from the rather obvious common-sense absurdity of heterosexuals refusing to tie the knot because they no longer have a monopoly on the institution, and all the cases where straight folk get married without the expectation of procreation, there’s this large data point noted yesterday by Kevin Drum:

[S]upport for gay marriage is lowest in precisely the groups that have abandoned traditional marriage in the largest numbers. If the procreation argument were really affecting marriage rates, you’d expect to see the biggest impact in the groups where this argument is most commonly advanced, and in the groups that most strongly support gay marriage. Instead we’ve seen the opposite.

With that argument decimated, resistance to marriage equality pretty much comes down to the “fear of change” factor, which is diminished every time a state (or a nation) legalizes same-sex marriage and the sky does not fall, and the “ick! factor” which leads people to view LGBT folk as “unnatural” up to the moment when they discover a loved or respected friend or family member is gay.

Some conservative evangelicals and Santorum-style “traditionalist” Catholics aren’t much affected by the growing normalization of same-sex marriage because they view it as just another example of a mainstream “secularist” culture that’s plunging the whole world hellwards. In other words, they are beginning to marginalize themselves into a counter-culture. And some old folk continue to look past LGBT friends and relatives, or deny they exist.

But by and large, the various pillars of the anti-equality majority that looked so formidable a few years ago are collapsing all around us, and it’s no wonder loud-and-proud advocates of discrimination are going all Spenglerian in their desperation and despair.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.