It is time for a little reflection.
First, some new poll numbers show America overall softening on gay marriage and civil unions. The pendulum, as predicted, is swinging back again in favor of equality.
Half of Americans polled say they don't want their states to recognize Massachusetts gay marriages, reflecting a continuing uneasiness or outright opposition to same-sex marriage that is especially strong in the South and in states that backed George W. Bush in 2004, according to a nationwide survey conducted for the Globe.Lots of interesting numbers in there. The military numbers especially. Generally speaking, things are headed in the right direction. Chances are pretty good that I'll get to legally marry my wife before I die and that marriage will be recognized in most, if not all, states.
Nearly a year after same-sex couples were legally allowed to marry in Massachusetts, 50 percent of respondents said they opposed recognizing same-sex marriages from Massachusetts ''as legal in all 50 states," and 46 percent favored it. The respondents also said they disapproved of ''gay and lesbian couples being allowed to get married" by 50 percent to 37 percent.
Forty-six percent of respondents backed civil unions that would give gay couples ''some, but not all, of the legal rights of married couples" while 41 percent said they were opposed. Vermont and Connecticut have legalized civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, but Massachusetts remains the only state that has legalized same-sex marriage.
Overall, the poll suggested, attitudes toward gays and lesbians may be softening, and there are indications that support of gay marriage will grow as older people, who are more likely to oppose gay marriage, pass away.
Seventy-six percent of those surveyed predicted that all or some states will eventually join Massachusetts in legalizing gay marriage. Forty-one percent said sex between people of the same gender is ''always wrong," but that figure is down from 58 percent in a 1998 survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. And 79 percent of respondents said gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military, up from 57 percent in a 2000 Opinion Dynamics Poll. In the early 1990s, when President Clinton first raised the issue, support for gays in the military was even lower. Large majorities of Republicans, regular churchgoers, and people with negative attitudes toward gays think gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military.
Despite the publicity surrounding the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts, and bans enacted in 11 states last fall, only 23 percent of those questioned identified the Bay State as the one state where same-sex marriage is legal. The poll found that 34 percent did not know which state had enacted gay marriage, and that 21 percent said they believed that no state had legalized it.
Second, there is a lot more fighting to come. We should all expect increased action on this issue in the next few years because of what chicken little conservatives are most afraid of-- that people really aren't that stupid. Same-sex marriage isn't the society-destroying boogeyman that they've been warning everyone about, as Massachusetts proves, and there is nothing intrinsically harmful to society about letting gay couples marry. Unless you believe that marriages and families are harmful to society, which is apparently what the "pro-family" folks do believe on some level.
So happy anniversary to all those couples out there, all 6,200 of them.