OBAMA SPURS TALK, AND TALK CHANGES MINDS
It is a truism told by everyone who studies and engages in the issue: the way people come around to supporting same-sex marriage is by getting to know actual gay people as people —whether personally, through others, or even in the media. So, the more comfortable everybody feels talking about gays and lesbians, the faster the change will happen — whether that means people coming out more publicly, to more of their family, friends, and co-workers, or those family, friends, and co-workers talking more about the gays and lesbians in their lives.
That comfort level, and those conversations, have been spurred enormously by the president's calm televised revelation.
"I can only imagine how many hundreds of thousands of conversations took place" as a result, says Marc Solomon of Freedom To Marry.
Polling already shows that, just in the past few years, there has been a sharp increase in the percentage of Americans who say they personally have a homosexual family member, friend, or co-worker. That's not because people are suddenly befriending gays and lesbians; it's because people are being more open about who they are.
And who their family is. In particular, who their children are.
In all the recent talk about the key demographics on this issue — young versus old, black versus white, Catholic versus Protestant, and so on — one key group has been largely overlooked: relatives of gays and lesbians.
Every gay man or woman has parents and often siblings — and today, they are all likely to be accepting, loving, and even protective of their homosexual kin.
That means, in sharp contrast to the norm just a generation ago, people are talking to their friends about gay family like . . . well, like people talk about family. That includes bragging about a promotion, fretting over what to buy as a housewarming gift, and gossiping about the new boyfriend.
It is that normalization of gay and lesbian family life that breaks down resistance to same-sex marriage, advocates say. And Obama has turned that process up to 11.