he repeal of the ban on gays in the military has focused renewed attention on another issue that has sharply divided America: Same-sex marriage. Gay rights activists are hoping that the demise of "don't ask, don't tell" will strengthen their case, by allowing them to ask why society trusts gay men and women with rifles but not wedding rings. Will the end of "don't ask, don't tell" add momentum to the push to allow same-sex couples to get married? (Watch an MSNBC discussion about the repeal)
Yes, gay marriage is next: The march toward equality only goes in "one direction," says Adam Serwer in The American Prospect. "Don't ask, don't tell" fell because the notion of "The Gay Menace" no longer has "much political potency" in most of America. "With the possible exception of John McCain," nearly all political conservatives knew they would lose the argument over gays in the military eventually, and most know "they're going to lose the argument on marriage equality" for the same reason.
"The culture war ain't what it used to be"
Not necessarily. The issues are distinct: Marriage is not the same as other matters on the gay agenda, says Maggie Gallagher in National Review. It is "quite possible" to support the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," or to be "pro-gay rights generally," and "still to support marriage as the union of husband and wife." Most Americans oppose "don't ask, don't tell," but a majority also opposes gay marriage, and this vote didn't change that.
"'What does this mean for the gay marriage debate?'"
The Supreme Court will be weighing in: Gay rights "do seem far more supported/accepted now than they were five or ten years ago," says Chris Good in The Atlantic. But the issue of same-sex marriage won't be decided by the "cultural mainstreaming of gay rights" that helped bring about the repeal of the military's policy. No matter how Congress and the public feel, the Supreme Court will have the final say when it determines the fate of California's Prop. 8, which defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.
"'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' vs. gay marriage"
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