Same-Sex Marriage: The Inevitability Problem

Originally posted by me in the GW Discourse blog.

There is an argument that is continuously reappearing in arguments over same-sex marriage and, to a lesser extent, other LGBT rights. For many, this issue is not solely about love, equality, or the protection of marriage. It is also a question of inevitability.

Gay rights advocates at the National Equality March

At first glance, the debate is simple. Those in favor of same-sex marriage say it’s inevitable. Those against it say it’s not. But who really benefits from arguing for or against inevitability?

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, claims that same-sex marriage has “always been inevitable.” This seems true, based on opinion polls that show young people to be much more in favor of gay rights than older generations. But does it help their cause to make this claim? I believe that emphasizing inevitability sends the message that LGBT rights will come eventually – and why should we fight tooth and nail for something we believe will happen no matter what? Gay rights advocates are still losing battles in liberal bastions like New Jersey and New York. And claiming that gay marriage is inevitable won’t make people fight any harder to achieve these rights now, in full, across the nation.

Perhaps when more states legalize gay marriage, it will be wise for groups like the HRC to emphasize the inevitability factor. They’ll have more proof for it, and they won’t have as much to lose as they do now. But at present time, only five states allow gay marriage, and four liberal-leaning states have rejected it in the last two years. Now is the time for the same-sex marriage movement to emphasize how far they still have to go and how hard they must fight, and put the inevitability issue to rest.

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