Gay marriage and the triumph of ’60s

April 3, 2013

Whatever the Supreme Court decides, it seems same sex marriage is here to stay. As the cover of Time put it, “Gay Marriage Already Won. The Supreme Court Hasn’t Made Up Its Mind – But America Has.”

Even some social conservative rabble-rousers have conceded defeat. Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly, who in the past has compared gay unions to marrying a goat or a dolphin, has flipped, saying his views have “evolved.” “The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals,” O’Reilly said last week. “The other side hasn’t been able to do anything but thump the Bible.” Rush Limbaugh, too, is reluctantly resigned to the change. “I don’t care what the Supreme Court does, this is now inevitable,” he said.

Few social liberals thought marriage equality would be as easy as this, but public support has been so swift that politicians of both stripes have rushed to endorse the legitimacy of same sex marriage. Even President Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton were left playing catch-up.

Until recently gay marriage was widely judged a step too far that might put at risk the central battle over LGBT equal rights. The settling of the issue is symptomatic of a broader demographic movement in which social attitudes about personal freedoms have been transformed by what social scientists call “cohort replacement” ‑ in which a less tolerant generation has been replaced over time by more broad-minded young people.

When the president chose to include in his second Inaugural Address an appeal for a more generous and kind society, even some of his supporters thought he was wasting his time. The nation, they said, was not ready to complete the social revolution that began in the 1960s. “Our journey is not complete,” Obama said, “until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.”

Less than three months later, the completion of the revolution in individual liberties seems within reach. The embrace of gay marriage is the final act in a steady movement in progressive social attitudes over the past 50 years that includes the breakthrough in civil rights for racial minorities and advances in women’s rights such as the legalization of abortion. We already have a black president. It is no longer a question of whether we will have a woman president but how soon.

As the president says, the journey on each of these issues is not yet complete. Opponents are still making formidable efforts to reverse, or slow down, or make impractical many of the social advances already established. But the counter-revolution on voting rights for minorities, on the provision of abortion as an option for all women, the glass ceiling that discriminates against women in the workplace, the failure to pay men and women the same rate for the same work, and the foot-dragging on gay rights in some states is conspicuous and can be confronted because they are against the flow of history.

Social conservatism remains a strong force in places. But it is no longer the national default position. There may be a great deal still to be done, but the social liberalism championed by the baby boomers is now inexorably the norm.

What in the revolution for individual liberties is left undone? One of the boomers’ common demands, the legalization of marijuana, is making steady progress in a number of states ‑ with libertarians joining with social liberals to bring to an end draconian punishments for soft drug offenses. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the Tea Party favorite for president, is working on a Senate bill to reduce the length of mandatory drug sentences.

“I don’t want to promote [smoking pot], but I also don’t want to put people in jail who make the mistake,” he said. “The last two presidents could conceivably have been put in jail for their drug use. … They got lucky, but a lot of poor kids, particularly in the inner city, don’t get lucky. They don’t have good attorneys, and they go to jail.” Cohort replacement is changing the terms of the drug debate, too.

The most conspicuous failure of the social liberal revolution, however, is the perpetuation of the death penalty, though even here there is a slow and steady movement toward suspension ‑ if not outright abolition. As with gay marriage, public opinion is fast swinging against capital punishment, with 60 percent in one poll favoring life sentences and just 33 percent demanding the death penalty. Gallup also shows a marked turnaround, with the 80-16 split in favor of capital punishment in 1994 falling to 61-35 by 2011.

Coincidentally, the number of death sentences imposed has fallen precipitously since the turn of the century.

Twenty years ago, in his book The End of History, Francis Fukuyama celebrated the end of the Cold War by suggesting that the great ideological battle over the role of the market set off by Karl Marx and taken up by Vladimir Lenin had been settled once and for all. Capitalism had won. We appear to have reached a similar new consensus in the near-completion of the ‘60s social revolution.

Twenty years ago, Pat Buchanan listed the changes to America that would take place if social conservatives were to lose the culture war. Everything on his list – abortion on demand, homosexual rights, women in battle zones – has come about as the demands for social inclusion and tolerance of the love generation have been met. It is time to declare the culture war over.

Boomers can start partying like it’s 1967.

Nicholas Wapshott’s Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics is published by W. W. Norton. Read extracts here.

PHOTO (Top): Protestors hold signs and flags as they rally against the Defense of Marriage Act in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, March 27, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

PHOTO (Insert A): A demonstrator holds a sign outside of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, March 26, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

PHOTO (Insert B): Pat Buchanan speaking to a rally at the Cobb County Convention Center in Marietta, February 27. 1996. REUTERS


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

I know this will upset many readers but the reality of Gay marriage must be addressed.

All people should be treated with respect, understand, and in the spirit of Love. With that said I would like to list the problems that gay marriage will bring about.

#1. It will eroding of the definition of Marriage:

One of the defining characteristics of marriage is an expectation of fidelity. As many gay right leaders have admitted. Fidelity in gay marriage is relative. Studies done by gay groups have shown that the fidelity rate in gay marriages after 5 years of marriage is 2%, with the average of 5 sexual partners outside of the marriage. These studies were done in countries where gay marriage has been legal for several years. The ideals of marriage are thrown out the window when 98% of those in it are having sex outside the marriage.

Domestic violence is 3 times higher in gay marriage than heterosexual marriage. Again studies done by gay groups.

#2. Difficulties for children.

I’m the parent of an adopted child and I’m fully aware of the difficulties associated with adoption. There is also a large body of evidence that step children do not do as well has children who have both biological parents living with them in a marriage relationship.

A 100% of the children in gay marriage are living with at least on parent that is not their biological parent. Time will clearly show that children raised by gay parents will have more problems than children raise by there married heterosexual parents. It is a certainty because they will all be a step child or an adopted child.

Children will be subject to higher physical abuse because of the higher domestic violence rates in gay marriage.

Sexual abuse of children is 36 times higher by gay men than heterosexual men (again multiple independent studies show this as the fact). The sexual abuse rate by children in gay men marriage will be much higher as compared to heterosexual marriage.

When you pick up one end of a stick you pick up the other end. The repercussions of the change to gay marriage will be deep and long lasting. And is not what our society needs at this time

You may not like what I’ve written but anyone who will look at this issue with an unbiased approach will have to come to the same conclusions.

Posted by Bxcpeder | Report as abusive

@Bxcpeder, I don’t doubt that a lot of your same arguments were used to outline why interracial marriages were “bad”.

I think your points are quoting biased social stereotypes, and most of the country agrees with me.

Posted by JL4 | Report as abusive

@bxcpeder: If you’re going to rail at the redefinition of words over time, there’s an entire dictionary full of them. Thousands of words have taken on new meaning over the last century, both colloquially and “officially.”

I’m not going to say that marriage is just another word, but if you think it presently has only one definition, you’re being willfully ignorant. Open up your dictionary and have a look.

All we are saying is that the functional purpose of marriage as currently practiced (cementing a love bond, sharing a life, naming your next of kin, pooling finances, establishing a household unit) can be done by any two consenting adults who believe they are sufficiently compatible to survive a lifetime together.

You may not like the fact that some people are gay, but there are times when we must accept reality, whether or not we like it. And, the reality is, some people (apparently around 1 in 20 live births) are going to grow up gay. The question becomes, are we going to allow them to live complete, peaceful and productive lives, or are we going to isolate and persecute them? These are our children, our relatives, our friends and co-workers. I suggest that there is no harm whatsoever, and only a long-term benefit to society, in recognizing reality, and that includes allowing them to form the same legally-recognized household units that everyone else does.

Look around at the people you have known who have succeeded or failed at marriage. Bringing children into the world is no measure. It’s neither a requirement of heterosexual marriage nor is marriage required for childbirth.

Oh, and by the way, your child abuse statistics are slanderous nonsense, and I imagine intentionally so.

Posted by BrooklynReader | Report as abusive


You didn’t even bother to provide references for your “statistics” — which are bigoted lies. Why not have some integrity and say it out loud: You hate gay people. You are better then THEM.

Posted by Goodwolf | Report as abusive

Boohoo, Mr. Wapshott. The sky is falling. Damned hippies! How dare we have a black President?!

Posted by Goodwolf | Report as abusive

I don’t hate anyone. Labeling those whom you do not agree with is a form of manipulation. The effort is to silence those who disagree with them. A document could be over 50 pages citing studies showing fidelity problems in homosexual relationships. Here are a few plus one on violence.

Violence issue:

Level of violence in intimate partner violence:

Lesbians- 13.4%
Heterosexual females- .26%
Homosexual men- 15.4%
Hetersexual men- .05%

Sources: “Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence,” U.S. Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs: 30; “Intimate Partner Violence,” Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report:11.

Fidelity issue:

William Aaron explains why even homosexuals involved in “committed” relationships do not practice monogamy:
In the gay life, fidelity is almost impossible. Since part of the compulsion of homosexuality seems to be a need on the part of the homophile to “absorb” masculinity from his sexual partners, he must be constantly on the lookout for [new partners]. Consequently the most successful homophile “marriages” are those where there is an arrangement between the two to have affairs on the side while maintaining the semblance of permanence in their living arrangement. William Aaron, Straight (New York: Bantam Books, 1972): 208

Research indicates that the average male homosexual has hundreds of sex partners in his lifetime:

· The Dutch study of partnered homosexuals, which was published in the journal AIDS, found that men with a steady partner had an average of eight sexual partners per year. Xiridou, 1031

· Bell and Weinberg, in their classic study of male and female homosexuality, found that 43 percent of white male homosexuals had sex with 500 or more partners, with 28 percent having one thousand or more sex partners. A. P. Bell and M. S. Weinberg, Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), pp. 308, 309; See also A. P. Bell, M. S. Weinberg, and S. K. Hammersmith, Sexual Preference (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981

· In their study of the sexual profiles of 2,583 older homosexuals published in the Journal of Sex Research, Paul Van de Ven et al. found that “the modal range for number of sexual partners ever [of homosexuals] was 101-500.” In addition, 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent had between 501 and 1,000 partners. A further 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent reported having had more than one thousand lifetime sexual partners.
Paul Van de Ven et al., “A Comparative Demographic and Sexual Profile of Older Homosexually Active Men,” Journal of Sex Research 34 (1997): 354

· A survey conducted by the homosexual magazine Genre found that 24 percent of the respondents said they had had more than one hundred sexual partners in their lifetime. The magazine noted that several respondents suggested including a category of those who had more than one thousand sexual partners. “Sex Survey Results,” Genre (October 1996), quoted in “Survey Finds 40 percent of Gay Men Have Had More Than 40 Sex Partners,” Lambda Report, January 1998: 20

Even in those homosexual relationships in which the partners consider themselves to be in a committed relationship, the meaning of “committed” or “monogamous” typically means something radically different than in heterosexual marriage.

· A Canadian study of homosexual men who had been in committed relationships lasting longer than one year found that only 25 percent of those interviewed reported being monogamous.” According to study author Barry Adam, “Gay culture allows men to explore different…forms of relationships besides the monogamy coveted by heterosexuals.” Ryan Lee, “Gay Couples Likely to Try Non-monogamy, Study Shows,” Washington Blade (August 22, 2003): 18

· The Handbook of Family Diversity reported a study in which “many self-described ‘monogamous’ couples reported an average of three to five partners in the past year. Blasband and Peplau (1985) observed a similar pattern.” David H. Demo, et al., editors, Handbook of Family Diversity (New York:Oxford University Press, 2000): 73

· In The Male Couple, authors David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison reported that, in a study of 156 males in homosexual relationships lasting from one to thirty-seven years: Only seven couples have a totally exclusive sexual relationship, and these men all have been together for less than five years. Stated another way, all couples with a relationship lasting more than five years have incorporated some provision for outside sexual activity in their relationships. David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison, The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1984): 252, 253

According to McWhirter and Mattison, most homosexual men understood sexual relations outside the relationship to be the norm and viewed adopting monogamous standards as an act of oppression.

In their Journal of Sex Research study of the sexual practices of older homosexual men, Paul Van de Ven et al. found that only 2.7 percent of older homosexuals had only one sexual partner in their lifetime. Van de Ven et al., “A Comparative Demographic and Sexual Profile,” 354

Brad Hayton provides insight into the attitudes of many homosexuals towards commitment and marriage: Homosexuals…are taught by example and belief that marital relationships are transitory and mostly sexual in nature. Sexual relationships are primarily for pleasure rather than procreation. And they are taught that monogamy in a marriage is not the norm [and] should be discouraged if one wants a good “marital” relationship. Bradley P. Hayton, “To Marry or Not: The Legalization of Marriage and Adoption of Homosexual Couples,” (Newport Beach: The Pacific Policy Institute, 1993): 9

Posted by Bxcpeder | Report as abusive

For clarity sakes, the year is 2013.
Percentages and research are generally placed in the context of the number participants in the “population” being studied. Populations, as is known to those familiar with scientific rigor, is the number of people in a study. If a population is small, such as 157, many scientists would question the study’s generalizability. Further, studies related to “hidden populations” are questionably generaliizable. This is likely because it is difficult to count those who do not want to be counted.
In the 1970s, which is about 43 years ago, the APA removed homosexuality as a psychiatric illness from the DSM III. This occurred because the “evidence” that was cited to “make homosexuality a psychiatric illness” was biased because it studied populations largely presenting for other psychiatric treatment of some kind. Therefore, the findings were subsequently removed form the DSM III. In that context, I wonder what is the relevance of “research” that is cited that is being cited from this time frame?
When percentages are quoted without citing the number individuals in the study, the percentages are questionable, at best. When citing purported evidence, one should identify confounding variables (e.g if you study 10 people who present for depression then the population is biased towards mental illness). Fidelity is a concept that is determined by those individuals involved in the primary dyad. As it is for self-identifid heterosexuals, individuals involved in same sex relationships are affected by various confounding variables (stigma, prejudice and minority status). A concept, that might be interesting to some, is heterosexism.

Something to ponder: What are the divorce rates, separation rates, etc for self-identified heterosexuals. Further, are the heterosexual, bisexual,transgender, inter-sex, gender-queer in terms of comparable size? So, a percentage of approximately of 2-5 percent of the U.S. Population (posited as being in same sex relationships) versus a percentage of approximately 95 percent of the overall U.S. population (posited as being heterosexual) really is difficult to correlate.

Posted by entertained | Report as abusive