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DALLAS (BP) -- Some people say it's only a matter of time before we have gay marriage throughout America because the younger generation supports it. Conventional wisdom holds that, in the not-too-distant future, young voters will tilt the balance in favor of same-sex marriage.
It's true that the younger the voter, the less likely he or she is to oppose same-sex marriage. But how strong are those opinions?
One clue arises from the landslide passage of North Carolina's Amendment One defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Public Policy Polling's survey of voters under 30 shows they opposed the amendment, but only marginally (51 percent). SurveyUSA also looked at Amendment One in its final weeks and found a similar result -- with 41 percent of young voters opposing the amendment and 48 percent supporting it. The American Enterprise Institute ran the numbers and found that, even if no one over age 45 had voted in the North Carolina referendum on marriage, it would have passed by around 8 percentage points.
If we're waiting for demographics to usher in same-sex marriage, we might have to wait awhile. The fact is, in 30 states so far, citizens have voted to write into their constitutions that marriage is the union between one man and one woman. National Review's Rich Lowry says that "no referendum simply upholding traditional marriage has ever lost. And even in Maine, voters in 2009 reversed a gay-marriage law passed by the legislature." If gay marriage is to be ushered in through the democratic process, all these results would have to be reversed which, Mr. Lowry estimates, would take a generation.
Rich Lowry points to the 70s-era Equal Rights Amendment which also was seen to be inevitable. Congress passed it in 1972 and 30 states immediately ratified it. Then Phyllis Schlafly raised an army as she pointed out that the ERA would result in things like women being placed in combat positions and losing protections in divorce settlements. Beverly LaHaye started her Concerned Women for America under the rallying cry: "They (the feminists) don't speak for all women." Once the truth got out, only a handful of other states ratified it, and it failed to make it into the U.S. Constitution.
The 60s free-sex crowd foresaw a world of commitment-free physical relationships, with abortion accepted as second-tier birth control. But, unlike them, their kids today are pro-life -- and more are practicing abstinence until marriage.
The fact is young voters often change their political views as they age. And some of the bad consequences of things like abortion and easy divorce cause young people to turn against them. Polls show millenials care deeply about family values. Many are forced, due to the economy, to live at home with parents longer. The happy result is, families are becoming closer. It's not farfetched that the rising millennials could come to see marriage as the cornerstone of a stable family.
Perhaps gay marriage is not inevitable?
Penna Dexter is a conservative activist and frequent panelist on the "Point of View" syndicated radio program. Her weekly commentaries air on the Bott and Moody radio networks. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress
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