Today, President Obama came out, er, decided that gay marriage is okay by him. In the interest of full disclosure, I'll offer my take on gay marriage, before examining the political ramifications of his pronouncement.
I'm opposed to gay marriage for the same reason I'm opposed to four-sided triangles; it's a contradiction in terms. It might be socially desirable to allow gays to couple for life--although, given the state of marriage under our no fault divorce laws, this may only amount to a handful of years--but that does not make a marriage. This ruffles the feathers of fascist Americans, which is to say, almost all Americans, for whom the State decides all, but it shouldn't be a hard point to comprehend. Marriage antedates the State and will continue to exist once our present form of government has crumbled. The State cannot alter that which is outside it. It may say whatever it wishes, but allowing gays to get "married" makes no more sense than allowing triangles to have four sides.
The common rejoinder here is that homosexuality is a part of history. Yet, while this is undoubtedly true, one searches in vain for a record of gay marriage. There was ample romance between two men, or two women, but nothing like gay marriage. I will go further and note that in my research--spotty and haphazard--I can find no indications that gays defined themselves according to their homosexuality as they now do. Almost all were bisexual. Think of the Spartan soldiers, or Eveyln Waugh at Oxford. Until recently, a predilection for buggery was something one grew out of.
That said, as a libertarian, I have no problem with gays wishing that their partners be allowed to visit them in the hospital, covered under the same healthcare plans, and so forth. These disputes are not a matter for the State. Let hospitals liberalize visitation rules, let insurance companies write policies for gay couples; in short, let the market meet consumer demand.
Now then, what are the political implications? Support for gay marriage is less a right-left issue than it is an old-young one. True, progressives are more likely to support gay marriage, and conservatives are more likely to oppose it, but gay marriage referendums have been soundly defeated each and every time the voters have had their say. Despite the fact that the country is moving left, the populace as a whole still opposes gay marriage. That said, few American younger than thirty seem to care enough to oppose it. My sample is distorted; most of my companions are college graduates, but I think my supposition is largely correct.
Years of being told of the magical powers of gays have caused our youth to refuse to man the Christian defenses. It's tempting to blame them, but it's really the fault of the idiot boomers for sending their children to public schools. What on earth did they expect to happen?
Barry is either misreading the tea leaves or hoping to secure the youth vote without frittering away oldsters who might otherwise deflect to Romney. I suspect he has misjudged, though, based on the jubilant Facebook posts of my contemporaries, gay marriage is the greatest thing since sliced bread--locally grown of course. Unless Barry is simply bored and wishes to lose, we'll know how his move polled based on whether he draws attention to his position or backs away from it like a Reverend Wright sermon.
One last point. I see that my contemporaries cannot even fathom why gays might not be allowed to marry. I encourage them to think on the matter for a little while before insisting that every earlier generation was bigoted and wrongheaded to fail to grant something so obvious.
The reason functional States seek to sanction marriage is because it's an exceedingly valuable institution. It may prove similarly valuable to allow gays to marry; we simply do not know. But it's worth remembering that the health of our society is far more bound up with the vast majority of heterosexuals and the success--or failure--of their marriages than it is with the tiny percentage of homosexuals and their couplings. Even if every gay in America gets married and remains in that state, it won't make up for the horrors divorce and cohabitation have wrought on the American family.