Favorite

Leaving the door cracked 

U.S. Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor this month voted against the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, making Arkansas the only Southern state besides Maryland to unanimously oppose the measure in the Senate.

That’s pretty remarkable, considering less than two years ago our state passed its own constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage with an overwhelming 75 percent of the popular vote.

Even more remarkable were Lincoln’s and Pryor’s explanations for why they voted against the federal amendment. In no way did they disagree with its stated purpose.

“I oppose same-sex marriage,” Lincoln said. “Throughout my life, my religious faith has guided my strong belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman. I support the current federal law that grants states the right not to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.”

Pryor offered similar comments.

“I oppose gay marriage,” he said. “In 2004, I supported the amendment to the Arkansas Constitution to ensure the status of marriage in our state remains only between a man and woman. I support the federal law we already have on the books, the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between only a man and a woman and further declares that no state is required to honor a same-sex relationship sanctioned by another state.”

So here we have two people who express unqualified opposition to same-sex unions and who supported state and federal prohibition of the practice, but who still refused to ban it once and for all. What prevented them from taking that final step?

There are signs that their hesitation reflects a broader national trend when it comes to feelings about same-sex marriage. By refusing to close the door completely on the possibility of allowing gays to marry, the senators actually left it cracked open.

That’s because the June 7 vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment was probably the best opportunity its proponents will ever have to pass the measure. The political climate favored them, since polls still indicate that a majority of Americans oppose same-sex unions. For instance, a new American Enterprise Institute study shows that “roughly six in ten Americans believe that gay marriage should not be recognized by the law as valid.”

But the anti-gay-marriage forces may never again have such an advantage. Attitudes are changing, and they have been moving for some time toward equal treatment of homosexual partnerships.

The same study cited the following survey data:



• Eighty-nine percent of Americans believe that homosexuals should have equal rights in terms of job opportunities. In 1977, 56 percent felt that way.

• Attitudes toward homosexuality have also changed since Gallup started polling on the subject in 1982. That year, 34 percent of those surveyed said that homosexuality should be an acceptable alternative lifestyle. In May 2006, 54 percent gave that response.

• The country is also split on the subject of allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt a child, with 49 percent favoring the idea in a new ABC News/Time poll and 48 percent opposed. In 1977, 14 percent favored gay adoption.

Furthermore, young Americans consistently support same-sex marriage at rates far higher than older generations, which is a good indication that public opinion on the subject will continue to evolve.



Included among the study’s statistics was one more recent poll that brings us back to the difficult decision confronted by Lincoln and Pryor: “Americans are divided about a constitutional amendment to bar gay marriage. Fifty percent supported such an amendment according to a May 2006 Gallup survey while 47 percent opposed it.”

Therefore, even a population that is firmly opposed to legalizing same-sex marriage is less certain about pulling the trigger on a final solution that is consistent with its beliefs.

Until recently, the subject of gay marriage made most people squeamish. But now it appears that the idea of definitively and permanently banning gay marriage is making people squeamish.

That’s what happened with Lincoln and Pryor, after all. Their views on gay marriage couldn’t be clearer, and yet they still couldn’t bring themselves to ensure its demise.

It’s the surest sign yet that we’ve reached a tipping point in this debate.


Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

More by Warwick Sabin

  • Helena's disappearing buildings

    Preservationists hope to slow demolitions.
    • Mar 22, 2007
  • Trailers headed to Dumas

    Gov. Mike Beebe issued the following statement earlier today: Although this decision by FEMA to deny emergency funds to Desha County defies common sense, Arkansas will take care of its own people.
    • Mar 9, 2007
  • Youth Ranch robbed, vandalized

    According to a press release we just received: The Donald W. Reynolds Campus of the Arkansas Sheriff’s Youth Ranches (The Ranch) located near Fort Smith was vandalized overnight Thursday.  Items stolen during the break-in included all of the children’s saddles, food, tools and supplies from The Ranch’s carpentry shop and all equipment from its auto shop.  An investigation is underway with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office.
    • Mar 9, 2007
  • More »

Most Shared

  • Guest Playlist: Flap Jones of "Not Necessarily Nashville" schools us on real country music

    "Not Necessarily Nashville," which airs on KUAR-FM 89.1 every Saturday, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., celebrates three decades of the "best of the rest of country music" Saturday, October 21 at the White Water Tavern with Brad Williams of The Salty Dogs & The Creek Rocks, and we asked host Flap Jones to curate a playlist for us ahead of that anniversary celebration.
  • Discussion: State killing of the mentally ill

    The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and others will have a forum on mental illness and the death penalty at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Bowen School of Law's Friday Courtroom.

Latest in Warwick Sabin

  • Trickle-up theory

    Through thick and thin, there has always been one group of dedicated Americans whose support for President George W. Bush has been unwavering: The wealthy.
    • Mar 8, 2007
  • Time to go

    Tough questions face us in Iraq and it's time to confront them directly.
    • Mar 1, 2007
  • Plugged in

    One reason why the South remained solidly Democratic during the mid-20th century was the enduring gratitude to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who brought electricity to the poor, rural parts of the region. According to one historical account, “Althou
    • Feb 22, 2007
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

October

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Caution: government at work

    • The people of Arkansas need to keep demanding that our state government be accountable to…

    • on October 21, 2017
  • Re: Cotton to CIA?

    • Watching C-Span last week, they were talking about Cotton for the head of the FBI…

    • on October 21, 2017
  • Re: The casting couch

    • sigh............ I would argue that the idea of 'freedom from fear' is part of the…

    • on October 19, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation