The people of Maine voted yesterday to repeal a law that would have allowed gay marriage, but the vote will not slow increasing public support for gay marriage overall.
Law professors Patrick Egan and Nathaniel Persily discussed in an article the growth in public support of gay marriage over the last two decades. Their research showed a steady rate of increase of about 1% annually–even in those with court decisions that impacted gay rights.
That’s because individual political events have not affected the long term support trends. The professors explain:
The public’s approval of same-sex marriage has exhibited a slow but steady upward trajectory over time. . . . The most likely outcome in the future is consistent change: a steady movement in opinion caused by larger cultural and demographic forces that overwhelm any individually salient political events.
In fact, support for gay marriage already surpasses the historical level present when courts and legislatures have given minorities marriage rights.
In contrast, the professors predict that a majority of Americans will support same gay marriage by 2012.
The Maine vote may have disappointed advocates and pleased opponents of same sex marriage, but it won’t stop the trend of more people every year wanting to let gay couples marry.
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