Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Why Obergefell Is Not Roe

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Why Obergefell Is Not Roe

Article excerpt

After the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, some conservatives compared the issue to abortion. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council told Fox: "This is not going to go away. Just as Roe v. Wade did not solve the abortion issue, this is not going to solve the issue of what marriage is."

Perkins is right in saying that Roe did not end the abortion debate. It remains a deeply contentious subject.

But Perkins is profoundly incorrect in comparing the two causes. The tide of public opinion is shifting so strongly that gay marriage is rapidly losing its ability to disturb and divide the American electorate.

Sure, some politicians are trying to raise the tempers -- and open the wallets -- of conservative Christians by railing against the "tyrants" on the Supreme Court. But they are fighting a losing battle.

"Republicans are going to have to make inner peace about living in a same-sex marriage world," Peter Wehner, a GOP strategist, told the Washington Post. "Our nominee can't have serrated edges. Like it or not, any effort to create moral or social order will be seen as rigid and judgmental."

No operative advises conservatives to "make inner peace" on the issue of abortion, and the polling numbers show why. Opinion has remained remarkably static and conflicted on that issue for many years.

In a recent Gallup poll, 1 in 4 Americans said abortion should be "legal under any circumstances;" 1 in 5 favored a total ban. About half said it should be legal "only under certain circumstances" -- the basic framework of the Roe opinion. In 1975, two years after Roe, the numbers were almost exactly the same.

The contrast with gay marriage is stunning. In the latest CBS/ New York Times poll, 57 percent of respondents favored legalizing same-sex unions, with 39 percent dissenting. …

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