pacifism and the culture wars

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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52 Responses

  1. Scott in AL says:


    Thanks for this post. I am a lifelong Republican and pro-life voter who is completely fed up with the Republican Party and the pro-life culture warriors. I voted for Obama and am so happy I did.

    I just wonder how long its going to take for the non-culture-warriors to come to ascendancy in the pro-life and conservative movements.. I suspect its going to be a very long time.


  2. E.D. Kain says:

    Scott, thanks – and no, I’m not holding my breath on that front. The culture wars are far from over, sadly, since they seem to only have the opposite-than-intended effect…Report

  3. Pete says:

    “Culture of compassion”? Are you kidding me? The same culture-warriors who piously crow about their own morality and compassion ALSO have mouthpieces that call people who lost their homes “losers”, routinely blame poverty on the poor, support the death penalty, support elective wars, support torture and impugn the character of those who aren’t die hard Christian evangelicals (remember Mitt Romney damn near being forced to apologize for being Mormon during the 2008 campaign).

    I agree somewhat with your basic premise, but the idea that the culture warriors are at their heart “compassionate” is simply nonsense.Report

  4. E.D. Kain says:

    Pete – I never said that, actually. I think the culture warriors are typically deserving of the critiques leveled at them. I think they need to be replaced, not simply change their tune; or rather, I think they need a genuine change of heart, not just a changed strategy.

    I mean, essentially I agree with what you’re saying, and that is exactly what I was trying to say in this post: that the culture warriors are self-defeating because any actually good cause they may have is tainted by their tactics etc.Report

  5. Pete says:

    Oh, hey, my apologies.

    I agree that the current mindset of the culture warriors, who obsess about homosexuality with an almost frightening fervor, don’t do their cause any good. One would have thought that Ted Haggard would have made some of them cool their jets.

    Given that the younger generations increasingly don’t react to homosexuality with the hair-pulling revulsion of, say, Michael Savage, I think that this debate is going to be over within two decades. The preachers who liked to blame natural disasters on homosexuality will be seen in the same “were they serious” incredulousness that the anti-miscegination crowd of the 50’s and 60’s are viewed today.

    I still think the current culture-warrior/GOP disdain for non-protestant/evangelical faiths is a MAJOR error that will cause so much damage in the long run, no change in message or tactics will undo it. Nominally pro-life Catholics have been increasingly voting Democratic largely because the nutball evangelicals so thoroughly control the GOP these days.Report

  6. E.D. Kain says:

    Exactly, Pete. Then, too, there’s the whole notion that if one is to be “pro-life” can one really stand quietly behind the war-mongering neoconservative controlled Republican party? The whole “preemptive war” thing is hardly very pro-life…at least to me…Report

  7. Martin says:

    The problem the pro-life crowd need to face up to, which you surprisingly step over, is that they of all people should be strong advocates for birth control. But the very people that want to ban abortion also want to ban birth control and any discussion of it.

    The harsh reality is that they don’t care about abortion, they care about sex. The real moral failing they see in that young woman isn’t that she’s getting an abortion, it’s that she had sex without the intention of getting pregnant, and THAT is what they are ultimately angling for, and using abortion as the way in. And because that’s their real motive, gay marriage, with it’s presumption of gay sex, is inextricably linked to the cause.

    Conservatives need to untie that knot if they expect to get ANY traction with the bulk of Americans. Show us a pro-life movement that is also pro-sex ed and pro-birth control, and maybe they’ll be taken seriously on other issues. But until then, the movement will continue to be seen as nothing more than a religious cause.Report

  8. Michael says:

    What a breath of fresh air………….I agree with every wordReport

  9. Pete says:

    I’m not totally sure that pro-life can ever be a position without a religious component. However, to this blog’s point, one can hardly be against abortion but FOR preemptive war and the death penalty at the same time.

    Not that I’m a big Laurence O’Donnell fan, but when he pointed this out to Pat Buchanan during a discussion on MSNBC about the Obama/Notre Dame kerfuffle, he was totally spot on.

    Maybe another point to consider is that moderate to liberal leaning people don’t like the culture warriors all but declaring that only Republicans are truly “moral”. That kind of dogmatic thinking arguably swung moderates into Obama’s column in 2008. Think of it as a rerun of the 1992 RNC Convention fallout with its effect on that election.

    However, in all seriousness, do you ever think that the mainstream conservative movement will ever change its stance on gay rights?Report

  10. matt says:

    For what it’s worth, I’m 27 and was always planning to be a Republican. Somewhere between 18-22, I became a Democrat. I know there are good people in both parties (within my family even), but I refuse to associate with the people that I believe are leading the Republican party and will not vote for them. I may not always agree with Barack Obama, but I am not ashamed to associate with him, his ideas, or the way he presents them. The fact that I am supporting the Democrats as much for their leaders civility as their ideas is distressing to me because I do know good arguments for both sides. One side simply isn’t making them in good faith, and I don’t trust them to govern in good faith. I hope we’re on the same side again sometime in the future E.D. Kain.Report

  11. Peggy says:

    You, and most pro-lifers, don’t seem to distinguish between early and late abortion. It’s as if there were two abortions about to happen, one of a 2-week fetus and one of a nine-month term baby, and when asked which one should stop if they could only stop one, wouldn’t be able to decide – they’re both babies. They’re not. One is very much a baby capable of independent life, the other is literally a cluster of cells which, if all goes well, will be a baby in some month’s time. These days, pregnancy tests turn positive even before a missed period. As someone who has experience 3 much-wanted pregnancies, and spent the first 3 monthe of each on the bathroom floor puking with early-pregnancy nausea, I’ve often wished that men who think the answer is “just have the baby” could experience that before they can weigh in. Late pregancy is all about giving life, giving birth, feeling the new life grow. Early pregnancy is illness with no sense of what is to come, just another day to suffer through. And to make someone who didn’t mean to get pregnant suffer through that for someone else’s view of morality is simply wrong.Report

  12. Andrew says:

    While ED brings up many good points, I feel that the pro-life movement loses out by being associated with not just the right-wing culture wars, but the right-wing economic arguments as well. One of the ways to lower the abortion rate would be to drastically increase the size of the welfare state – not just transfer payments to mothers, but completely subsidized child care and essentially free birth control as well. Of course, the right wing in America isn’t about to advocate for those things – especially not if non-whites can take advantage of them – so instead the people that advocate for reduced abortions also end up advocating for poverty for poor or middle class women unfortunate enough to get pregnant before they get married and have an established career.Report

  13. E.D. Kain says:

    Peggy, that question is ultimately far more complex than you make it out to be. For instance, there are also pro-choicers who make no distinction between three weeks and eight months. I do support restrictions on abortion and know many pro-choice people who would love to see it limited to the first term. That would certainly be a good step.

    My focus, though, is on the culture not the laws.Report

  14. E.D. Kain says:

    Andrew – very good point. I would agree entirely that more needs to be done for families and mothers (single or stay-at-home) that can make child-rearing less of a crisis. Modern supply-side, free-trade economic policies are devastating to the middle class, the poor, and families. There are a number of good conservative writers who have touched on this including Ross Douthat here in the States and Philip Blond over in the UK.Report

  15. Pete says:

    Matt, I’m with you. I am 39, and was a center-right Republican for every election until this one. There is no “good faith” in today’s GOP. They don’t have to have “good faith”. They don’t have to even admit failures or mistakes. With their ready made echo chamber media on talk radio and Fox, a simple change of talking points repeated over and over serves to cloud memories and abdicate responsibility.

    When’s the last time you heard a WMD/UN Sanction justification for the Iraq War? Nope, now it’s “we liberated them”.

    When’s the last time you heard Republicans openly admit that selling weapons to both sides of the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980’s might not have been the best long-term strategy in terms of building trust in the region? Nope, we hear “Iran’s president is the next Hitler, that is if Obama turns out not to be the next Hitler”.

    Hell, look at Palin. In October, she called for Ted Stevens to resign. NOW, she’s championing him as an innocent victim.

    In isolation, such hypocrisy would be easy to dismiss as “politics as usual”, but the cumulative effect is to foster an image of the GOP as incorrigible loons.Report

  16. E.D. Kain says:

    However, in all seriousness, do you ever think that the mainstream conservative movement will ever change its stance on gay rights?

    Yes, though it may be another generation hence.Report

  17. JohnC says:

    I definitely consider myself within the pro-choice camp, but I have to say that I really applaud your desire to move past the bankrupt language of culture war politics.

    Although I voted for Obama and support much of his policy agenda, I find myself yearning for a mature, articulate, responsible opposition. That would not only be good for the GOP – it would also keep Obama on his toes and make for better legislation. Instead, the Republican party, with its childish and lunatic rantings and ravings, consigns itself to intellectual irrelevancy and obscurity, increasingly enabling Obama to operate within a Democratic intellectual bubble.

    As long as the Republicans – and the conservative movement with which they are associated – spend their time blowing dog whistles to their base rather than making serious efforts to engage a wider audience, I can’t take anything they say with a straight face.Report

  18. Badger says:

    Martin is correct in noting that a portion of the pro-life movement cares at least as much about the consequences of removing sex from the conjugal bond as they do about abortion per se. I would happen to be in that portion. This is why I find Mr. Kain’s rights appeal to be ultimately misguided. Certainly, I have no difficulty conceiving of life as an inalienable right. But I also have no difficulty seeing the right of a child to be formed and raised by his natural mother and father. It is the respect for this right that have taken a real backseat in this country. As to the rights themselves, we don’t really have much trouble defining these. The problems we have are the tendency to insert immutable as an adjective to right. The plain truth is that there are numerous people that believe that satisfaction of sexual desires enjoys primacy over the rights of children. While simple and elegant, it is a messed up way to further a society.Report

  19. Pete says:

    Badger, with all due respect, in a lot of cases, it’s actually a good thing for a child NOT to be raised by their natural mother and father. My wife is a child pyschologist, and there are literally dozens of her clients who really would be best served with a new set of parents.Report

  20. Matt C says:

    @ Andrew:

    You said – “One of the ways to lower the abortion rate would be to drastically increase the size of the welfare state – not just transfer payments to mothers, but completely subsidized child care and essentially free birth control as well. Of course, the right wing in America isn’t about to advocate for those things.”

    I can promise you that most, if not all, pro-lifers would gladly hand over a larger portion of their income every other week for the social programs you mention if it could guarantee the near removal of abortion practices.

    There is, unfortunately, a tremendous amount of moral hazard when it comes to transfer payments for child bearing; this practice was already attempted through welfare and had a devastating effect on poor communities, predominantly inner-city African American.

    Steven Leavitt’s work on the affect of abortion and crime rates is interesting in this regard. A peferctly pro-life position would be to subsidize mothers during pregnancy, even paying them for the children they bear. What this inevitably leads to is a higher proportion of children born into unstable, low-income households, since it is now economically viable for them to bear as many children as they see fit to bear. These children, now in greater numbers, are much more likely to committ crimes than children born into other socioeconomic strata.

    So the perfectly well-intentioned “social” response to abortion reduction leads to unintended factors such as more children raised in single-parent households, more high school dropouts, and more criminals. Is this a significant enough amount that it actually makes life worse for the rest of us? I don’t know.

    It is not, however, a pro-abortion argument. It is simply an empirical observation that humans behave based off of incentives. If we incentivize poor people to produce children, we will most definitely have poor children. If we do not reward them financially, the pregnancy becomse a burden, not an incentive, and in many cases tragically leads to the termination of the pregnancy.

    E.D. is right that the only solution for the pro-life movement is a grassroots and cultural one, where the great sums of money pro-lifers can raise for their cause can be used through charitable means for education and counseling for prospective mothers, and very open adoptions options.

    We need more stable and caring people to adopt the children from these unstable situations. Only then can the pro-life movement achieve its goals.Report

  21. Pete says:

    Gee, if only there were viable options for adoption. Too bad the culture warriors don’t seem to think gay couples are viable options and fight any attempt to include them in adoption programs.Report

  22. E.D. Kain says:

    Yeah, Pete, I’d say that ties in nicely with today’s theme….Report

  23. Badger says:

    it’s actually a good thing for a child NOT to be raised by their natural mother and father

    This is not the case if we understand what good actually is. It may be the most optimal alternative for a child in a particular circumstance to be placed in the custody of others. The most glaring example of this would be when both parents are deceased. Their deaths or the inability of parents to properly function in their roles is never a good thing. It is socially destructive.Report

  24. ccassin says:

    Martin is right. the two causes are linked by an unnatural and claustrophobic reaction to sex.Report

  25. E.D. Kain says:

    There is no doubt some causal relationship between some elements of the pro-life movement and sex, but this is certainly not universally so, and is in any case one way that the pro-choice side of the debate can write off their opponents – a sort of soft-demonization of the other side, as it were.

    Then, too, I think it’s important to note that not all that has come out of the sexual revolution has been good or helpful or liberating – that, in fact, there is a balance that we are still working on attaining. Certainly the liberating of women and the work being done to create sexual equality is important; but then again, the rampant marketing of cheap and easy and consequence-free sex is not at all a liberating force. In fact, it is quite the opposite. And so when pornography (even the soft sort that we find on, say, blue-jeans ads) becomes equated with good, healthy sexual expression I fear we’re going in reverse.

    Sexual freedom must be accompanied by sexual responsibility; liberty is never fully an expression or actualization of freedom if it is not paired with responsibility and self-government.Report

  26. ccassin says:

    re: finding the right limits to sexual expression. I agree with you only to the extent that I also – in my 50s now – see the sexual revolution as maybe having gone a bit far over the line with the pornographication of culture. but. but. I don’t think the new generations see it that way. We can rant all we want about it, and they will look at us like we looked upon our grandparents who might have ranted about inter racial dating. I think we don’t get it because it is not what we think it is. it goes beyond sex, beyond morality, into a free form world of personal expression, and we are born in a faraway time where we think our feet need to be on some solid ground at all times, and so we can not and will not ever speak the same language.Report

  27. Marcello says:

    I have to say I am also sick of the left’s grouping of these two issues. As a gay man, my marriage should be considered something joyous – I found someone who loves me in a harsh world – but abortion is always something bad and unpleasant. I cringe when I hear people say “oh we’re liberal we have gay marriage and abortion and legalized drugs”. So my marriage is on the same level as killing a fetus and taking drugs? Gee thanks, nice company you gave me there. Although as a gay man I really have never thought about abortion – the gay community has lots of problems but at least we will never have to deal with that one – but I see no reason why someone cannot be pro-life (without being a fanatic, like forcing a rape victim to carry a baby to term or denying women the option of abortion in the very first weeks) and pro-marriage equality. You can even be athiest or agnostic and pro-life, for philosophical reasons.Report

  28. E.D. Kain says:

    Marcello – agreed.

    ccassin – I think that all of this is tied together – this rampant individualism which creates an atomized and detached and ultimately selfish non-communal society, with the ease by which people can take to divisiveness, overt and unhealthy sexuality, and abortion etc. etc. etc.

    So I can’t accept the “generational” argument; I think there are natural and unnatural ways we as humans live and interact, and perhaps some of the old taboos and restrictions on sexuality were unnatural, but perhaps some of the new freedoms are as well.Report

  29. Marcello says:

    “I do support restrictions on abortion and know many pro-choice people who would love to see it limited to the first term. That would certainly be a good step.”

    Abortion in USA is not already limited to the first term???Report

  30. E.D. Kain says:

    Not at all, Marcello. There is no such restriction.Report

  31. Barbara says:

    Matt C: to Martin’s point and yours, changing the extent to which women are seen as baby machines would largely mitigate this potential outcome. But that would require dropping some ingrained thinking on the part of culture warriors about the role of women and the place of children in their lives. Most of the countries we think of as nanny states do not have runaway birth rates, and in particular, low income women are not churning out babies just for the benefits. This isn’t the effect of welfare, but of something far more culturally insidious: the learned notion that the only thing women are good for is giving birth.Report

  32. ccassin says:

    Agreed. But its hard from our vantage point to decry what might be seen as “natural” in 50 years, even though it may horrify us now. We are only the latest in a long line of generations fretting about what we might see as societal decay. Case in point, we see rampant pornography as signal to spiralling moral decline. But maybe the only unnatural part about it was previous generations hiding it all along. Crazy, I know. and morally repugnant to anyone in previous generations. But maybe true nonetheless. Better to get everyone out of the closet, than to keep everyone cowering inside.Report

  33. Jaybird says:

    They are sort of tied together, kinda.

    If you see sex’s divine purpose as being pair-bonding with the blessed result of a child, then abortion and homosexuality are perversions of sex… as is birth control. They’re all bad. Abortion is, of course, the worst of these as it results in the perversion of sex as well as a murder. Homosexuality is bad because it results in the perversion of sex as well as violence against nature (according to at least one interpretation). Birth control ranges from “almost as bad as abortion” to merely a perversion of sex’s divine purpose (which, once again, ain’t small potatoes).

    A post-birth control society sees the old sexual morality as useless at best and downright harmful at worst.

    I think a far more charitable interpretation is to call it vestigial.Report

  34. Andrew says:

    @Matt C:

    The idea of transfer payments to mothers is nothing less than paying people to have kids. I realize that. I didn’t say that transfer policies to mothers would increase total social welfare, I said it would reduce abortions. Of course reducing abortions doesn’t result in more rich, well cared-for children, rich people can afford more reliable birth control and frequently have large networks of (also rich) family that can help them, say, finish their degree while the child is small. Reducing abortion means increasing the number of children born to poor single mothers, born to mothers who have to choose between college classes and baby clothes, born to mothers whose boyfriend skipped town when she tells him she’s missed two periods. It probably means increasing the number of children born to parents who have many, many difficulties taking care of them, and will probably have little to no effect on the number of children born into wealthy, stable homes.Report

  35. Badger says:

    To put things in rather crude terms, 2nd generation and above white Americans enjoy lower birth rates than such baby making oppressive locales as France. “Baby making machines” tend to be confined to the wed or once wed. How many single folks do you know with 8 or 12 children?Report

  36. Matt C says:


    You are right to point out the discrepancies between US culture and those of other countries, but I think you would have to admit that the US is unique in its demographic and cultural makeup, making comparisons to a place like Spain or Sweden poor.

    The US has some of the most liberal abortion policies on the planet. It has nothing to do with our cultural views on the role of women in society; in fact one could argue that the reason abortion is so permissive in the US is because we are tentative to place any cultural view on the role of women in society, or that we are too pluralistic too compromise on one role.

    Again, though, unintended consequences rule the day in public policy. If we were to adopt more mommy-friendly statism, a counter-argument would be that this is state-sponsored natalism. There are many reasons we should abhor both policies. So how do you forge a working solution for pro-life voters who also pride themselves on protecting individual liberties?Report

  37. Matt C says:


    Thanks for the follow up. So my next question is: if you are a prosperity-loving, wealth-optimizing pro-lifer, but you realize that a) abortions are rampant and b) past policies attempting to ameliorate the fiscal burden of child bearing for poor mothers may have done more overall harm (particularly economic) then good…what do you do?Report

  38. Andrew says:

    @Matt C:

    I’m not pro life, so it’s not really something I think about, but I think that heavily subsidized child care and birth control would be (mostly) politically feasible and (likely) effective. Of course, the challenge would be to make sure that the child care available doesn’t end up like schools, where wealthy white districts get lots of funding and quality services while poor minority districts get low levels of funding and poor service.

    Subsidized birth control also has the problem of being politically dicey (likely less so than transfer payments, however) as many people who oppose abortion also oppose birth control, as discussed upthread.Report

  39. William Brafford says:


    Your terms of peace look very much like terms of surrender for the social conservative side. And calling this kind of post culture-war pacifism reads to me like a rhetorical invention for a (temperate, composed) salvo in the metaphorical war you’re ostensibly decrying.


  40. E.D. Kain says:

    Hmmm….I can certainly see how you’d view it that way, William, but I prefer to think of it as a smart tactical move. I think more can be done via changing hearts and minds than by the sort of self-destructive hyper-politicized culture-war tactics. You say surrender, I say regroup, rethink, and reinvent. I am trying to think of this in the long term.

    But yes, surrender for sure on the gay-marriage front.Report

  41. Cascadian says:

    Culture warring is all good and fine… as long as it’s kept on the cultural playing field. When one goes to the law to impose one’s morality on others then, to be fair, the other side should have their kick at the can.

    E.D. I’m always bothered by the notions of whose morality, tradition, responsibility. I’m quite sure that your most strident Castro District Leather Daddy, will be quite happy to let you know that sex does have consequences and that he plays responsibly. Of course, that’s going to look different from outside cultures.Report

  42. E.D. Kain says:

    I agree, Cascadian. Culture warring is best kept to the cultural playing field. That said, I think a healthier culture and society can be realized with more people maintaining lasting, committed monogamous relationships – including gays, hopefully stably married etc. etc.Report

  43. Cascadian says:

    Fair enough. I’m not a fan of monogamy myself. We purposefully kept anything that could be construed as such out of our vows. I’m not against it absolutely, but I don’t think it’s an appropriate focus point for NW culture.Report

  44. Marcello says:

    Even apart from my commitment and feelings toward my guy, as a gay man in the age of AIDS I think monogamy is the luckiest thing that ever happened to me.

    On the abortion issue: why are Americans so stuck on controlling sex as the motivation for being against abortion? In this whole discussion I don’t see the non-violence argument. After a certain point the fetus has brain waves and with that starts to have personhood and therefore rights.. when it is just tissue it doesn’t have rights, but when it can move and react it’s another reality. In fact the law in many European countries forbids aborting the fetus AFTER 10 or 12 weeks because it is developed enough to be considered a baby

    Not just in religions but in most philosophical traditions and ethical systems and even at the level of pure intuition, killing sentient beings is a bad thing, to be avoided unless absolutely necessary (self defense, saving a life). The more it is sentient the more it has to be consideredReport

  45. E.D. Kain says:

    Marcell0 – thanks, great point, and another reason why I say the argument coming from the pro-choice side of the aisle that this is “all about sex” is little more than a demonization of what they view as a movement made up entirely of puritanical moralists, when in fact there are indeed many arguments to be made against abortion that are completely divorced from any notion of religion, and stem more from philosophy and/or biology.

    For me this is an issue of life and of rights – and as you say, violence and sentience etc. This is a moral issue to me that is far more important than sexual ones, which is one reason you see me pushing for marriage equality. I do think monogamy is important, but it is nowhere near as important as the question of abortion; I do think that a sexually disciplined society is best, for men and women and children alike, but that is not the motivation behind my beliefs on the question of abortion.Report

  46. matoko_chan says:

    I don’t think people on the other side are evil…..I just think they are stupid.
    Read a fucking book on biology for cripes sakes.Report

  47. ccassin says:

    We should all agree that it will never be possible to define exactly when a fetus becomes a self actualizing organism. Asking politicians to do so is just dumb. Nor will it ever be possible through cultural mandate to stop sex that leads to unwanted pregnancies. Nor will it ever be possible to stop women from having abortions – either legal or in the back alleys.

    The right following a cultural campaign equivalent to “Just say no” looks ridiculous. The left standing on the ground of choice ignores the fact that at some point – which will never be known – the fetus is a baby.

    What we are left with then is to either:
    1. fully support a woman who has conceived, but mandate that she carries it to term.
    2. allow her to terminate if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.

    The left and the right have to come together in some meaningful and compassionate way. The left accepting that there are real life consequences to pregnancy. The right taking a compassionate stance to the mother instead of being seen to continually attack women’s rights.

    The left’s arguments will melt away as soon as the right focuses on women’s health and natal care, instead of taking what is perceived to be playing cultural war games.Report

  48. Barbara says:

    Shorter ccassin: The left and right have to come together so they can form a unified front to force women to give birth against their will, but they do have to be nice about it. As a leftist with three children, I am pretty sure I understand the real life consequences of pregnancy. That’s why I’m pro-choice.Report

  49. Jaybird says:

    That’s exceptionally uncharitable.

    Seriously, if I posted “shorter Barbera: The left and right have to come together so they can form a unified front to allow human beings to be trated as property”, surely that wouldn’t be a fair assessment of your viewpoint.Report

  50. Cascadian says:

    Defining when a fetus becomes a child is hard. Defining when a fetus is sustainable is easy. If these cells are a person then let the State take care of them. If they can’t survive outside of the womb, then they haven’t really achieved person-hood yet.Report

  51. Mosef says:

    I’m definitely NOT a cultural fanatic, but I am a fact fanatic. Actually the statement “popular opinion is very, very much in favor of gay rights” is not true. You can look up the various state votes on gay-marriage yourself, but it has an abysmal record when actually put to, you know, the voice of the people. Even in California (!), even in 2008, voters rejected gay marriage.Report

  52. JohnC says:


    It is true that popular opinion is not “very, very much in favor of gay rights.” But it is not true to say that the public is opposed to gay rights just because of referenda on the question of gay marriage.

    In fact, while the voters narrowly passed Proposition 8 banning gay marriage, as a California resident I can safely say that our civil union provisions giving legal rights to committed homosexual relationships are widely accepted and utterly uncontroversial these days. A recent Washington Post/ABC poll even showed that a majority of Americans across the country (57%) support civil unions — despite the fact that only 42% support gay marriage.Report