Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Same-sex marriage approaching majority support in Michigan

I was one of the few bloggers in 2004 who opposed the constitutional ban on same sex marriage in November of that year. Of course, it passed with about 59% of voters saying "yes." My comments back then included the following:
We have a hard time finding a logical argument against gay marriage. The most-often used argument is that marriage is part of the fabric of society and that if marriage is “ruined” to allow gays to marry, society will somehow collapse. In fact, the proposed amendment’s own wording says that the intention is to preserve the benefits of marriage “for the children.” But, exactly how would gay marriage harm children or be any different than today’s world of straight-only marriage?

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But an even more fundamental question comes to mind. Why should we mess with our constitution on an issue that has purely emotional effects? We can’t determine one real, tangible, societal effect gay marriage would have. Who would be harmed by gay marriage?

Our constitution is designed to do two things – define the rights of citizens that government cannot infringe upon and define how government operates. It does not define social issues that should be handled solely by the legislature, nor should it.

Since then, several states have expanded the institution of marriage to same-sex couples, either through court rulings or legislative action. And guess what, no negative effects can be discerned. In fact, interestingly, divorce is actually lower amongst gay couples than straight couples (gasp!). According to a study by the Williams Institute:
The percentage of those same sex couples who end their legal relationship ranges from 0% to 1.8% annually, or 1.1% on average, whereas 2% of married different-sex couples divorce annually.

Oops! What do the "pro family" wingnuts have to say to that? Well, nothing of course, because their position isn't based on rational decision making, it's based on emotion and irrational distaste for people who are different from them.

But, even more interestingly, the support for same-sex marriage has been on the rise across the nation. In fact, it has increased in every single state since the rash of anti-gay constitutional amendments was unleashed in the mid 2000s. A funny thing happens when you get to know someone who is gay; you realize that they want the same things that everyone else wants -- a good job, a decent house, a car that runs, and a family. That's why minds are changing so quickly, because people realize that the anti-gay position is irrational.

According to a recent study from Georgia State University, a plurality of states now has majority support for same-sex marriage, whereas no state had a majority just a few years ago. The rate of change is stunning. In Michigan in particular, the rate of support has increased from 29% in 2004 to 42% now. That's an average annual increase in support of about 2.5%. At this rate, our state will reach majority support in just a few years.

You can see the rate of change across the whole nation by viewing the study here.

Hopefully, in a few years the voters of Michigan will have an opportunity to reverse the mistake they made in 2004 by constitutionally banning same-sex marriage. I believe that the anti-gay spasm of the mid 2000s will be seen an an historical embarrassment.

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