A Ku Indeed!

Gay Marriage and Prop 8

Posted in Life, Politics by Chris on November 13, 2008

Those who follow the issue of gay marriage no doubt know that Proposition 8 passed in California, denying gays the right to marry. I was looking at the internal polling numbers on the voter demographics for Prop 8, and they show an interesting feature: although voters in the 29 – 64 group voted around 55% in favor of the proposition, and those in the 64+ group voted 61% for it, those in the 18 – 29 group voted 61% against the proposition.  What do you make of this?

There are at least two interpretations:

A. Young people tend to be progressive, but then, as the old saying goes, they turn conservative. So by this interpretation, there’s probably little difference in the way this group voted now and how they voted 10, 20 or 30 years ago (or would have voted, if the proposition had been on the table). Thus, by this interpretation, these voters will, in time, turn into the 55% in favor group when they are in the middle group, and then when they are older they will be generally 61% in favor (more or less).

B. Young people are trending more towards progressive values. If this is so, then we should expect that when they are in the middle group, that group will swing for gay marriage, as will the new young group, leaving only the older generation to be against gay marriage. As a result, gay marriage will be inevitable in California (and then, possibly by extention, in other places in the country). If you buy the (B) interpretation, the gay marriage train has left the station, it’s just taking a while to arrive. By these lights, conservatives are fighting a losing battle.

What do you think? Which is it, (A), or (B)? Or some other option, (C)?


7 Responses

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  1. Bill Haines said, on November 13, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Please forgive me Chris, I am submitting a political advertisement to your blog:

    There will be a nationwide demonstration for gay marriage this Saturday.
    Five locations in Missouri currently scheduled.
    For those and other locations see:

  2. Million said, on November 14, 2008 at 12:35 am

    I’m going to have to go with “B” here. From what I’ve observed each generation has certain “preferences” regarding political and social issues. These preferences usually seem to be based on two things: a catalyst moment and the “clean slate” that younger individuals seem to usually have. So, in regards to the Civil Rights Movement (and the improvement in race relations since then) the catalyst was the movement itself. The movement brought the issue into the national or collective consciousness and once there it found a more sympathetic audience than among older pre-Civil Rights individuals. It’s kinda like voting. Once voters make up their mind they are less inclined to change it. Older people have already been around long enough to make up their mind but younger ones haven’t yet. On top of that there seems to be a trend among young individuals to question the status quo as it is. Can’t say why but this provides another factor.

    Not to say that Gay Marriage is a given. This is a really, really, really simplistic way of viewing things. But, if you take it as a sketch of social movement and then factor in certain events, the role and way various groups vie for a particular “preference,” and so on… then I think it at least provides an educated guess into the future.

  3. urbzen said, on November 14, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Great post. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read some of the wingnut reactions to Prop 8 protests and boycotts–It is kind of hilarious to listen to them get so hysterical, but then it’s tragic once you realize how many people actually buy that crap.

    Case in point, the terrifying glitter siege on a Michigan church: http://urbzen.com/2008/11/12/glitter-oh-the-humanity/

    Glitter by the bucketload? Why, god, WHY?

  4. Chris said, on November 14, 2008 at 9:20 pm


    Not a problem. I tend to avoid straight politics on the blog, but social justice issues have the green light (gay rights, racism, and so on). Thanks for the info!


    Glitter sieges. Sheesh.


    Of course, it could be that people aren’t getting any more progressive “per se”. Instead, they are becoming more progressive about certain issues. So gay marriage might be one of them, but there may be other ones for which they will themselves be the “conservative generation”.

    Racism is a good case in point. I tend to think that my generation was the “turning point” generation for this. My peers (generally construed, of course) just don’t care about race in the same way that our parents did. Still, at the same time, my age cohort are not as open to gay marriage, and so are still somewhat conservative on that issue. Your generation may be the turning point generation on that one. But then you’ll be conservative about something else, and so on.

    By the way, I’ve noted in my experience that racists tend to almost always be homophobes, whereas homophobes are not always racists. It’s an interesting observation.

  5. Million said, on November 16, 2008 at 6:07 pm


    It’s interesting that you bring up that my generation will be conservative about something else. In a number of ways this ties back into the cyclical nature of American politics as well. People are all too willing to attach themselves to past conceptions of identity. For example, Obama was elected partially because he ran using a re-hashed approach to the late 1800’s Social Gospel movement. See exhibit “A.”

    Interestingly enough, these Christian Progressives passed the torch to the members of the Civil Rights movement during the 1960’s. And there were plenty of references during the prior campaign (if not more) back to Civil Rights too.

    The catch seems to be that by contemporary standards the Social Gospel movement of the late 1800’s and the Civil Rights movement were – by today’s standards – conservative. Prohibition was pushed through by the former and Gay Rights were a non-issue to the later. The term Progressive is certainly context specific. Progress is a process and not an end. That said, I think it goes a lot way to explain why each generation has to be conservative about something.

    That’s another topic in itself though.

  6. Chris said, on November 17, 2008 at 9:51 am


    I’m curious: what do you take the conservativism of your “generation” to be? Of course, it could be that at your age it’s hard to spot it just yet. It took years before I started to notice some of the conservatisms of my own.

  7. Million said, on November 18, 2008 at 9:33 am


    Good question. To be honest I’m not sure yet, but I’m willing to chalk that up to my age. For glass ceilings to be broken I think there needs to be a widespread focus on them to begin with. Until that happens… well, I can’t say with absolute certainty.

    Some possibilities:
    – If anything ever comes of AI then there is going to be a huge debate over what it means to be human. You know all about that since you teach Philosophy of the Mind.

    – At the rate things are going I wouldn’t be surprised if my generation is going to be seen as nationalistic. I don’t think it’s because we are more so than prior generations, but Globalism is an ongoing issue.

    – Stem Cells and genetic manipulation could turn to be something we are really conservative about. There’s a lot of potential for change there too.

    – Women’s rights could be an example too. For better or worse I’m starting to get the impression that we are as “progressive” in regards to gender relations as I used to think. I don’t see many people my age talking about gender issues the same as they do with racism.

    I think I’m just going to have to wait to know for sure.

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