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March 29, 2013 3:26 PM The Staid Conservatism of Gay Marriage

By Rhiannon M. Kirkland

As two landmark gay rights cases hit the Supreme Court this week it strikes me as interesting how gay rights are typically painted as left-wing but are actually rather conservative in many ways—something that I first noted when I saw Dan Savage speak a couple of years ago. He is a good example of this paradox where on the one hand he advocates things that are somewhat more sexually libertine (like his views on monogamy) while at the same time he is defined by the attempt to get married and have a kid, just like everybody else.

In a Talking Points Memo article about the Prop 8 case the main thing that stands out is how utterly normal the couple wants to be. Mark Sherman writes, “utterly conventional school meetings, soccer games and band practice — not the court case — have defined their lives together.” As is typical of equality struggles, ultra-conservative views aside, what is being fought for is not actually very radical. In a world of declining marriage rates and high divorce levels it is quite traditional.

Perhaps it is because of this that support for gay marriage is at an all-time high, and millennials generally find it to be an uncontroversial idea with 70 percent of 18 to 32 year olds supporting it in a recent poll—maybe I feel the way I do because I am a millennial and grew up around those 70 percent.

Even the Republican Party is rethinking its stance of gay marriage. Last week’s RNC report said that voters see the GOP as ‘scary’ and ‘out of touch’ recommended a weakening of the party’s stance on gay marriage and attempts to reach out to young voters. This type of move will not be popular amongst hardliners but fits more with what the polls are saying, that two people who love each other getting married, having kids and sharing employer benefits isn’t actually that controversial, in many ways it’s as traditional as you can get.

Rhiannon M. Kirkland is an intern at the Washington Monthly.