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Why Gay Marriage Isn't Going to Top the Culture War Agenda

03/06/2015 09:47 am ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Conservative "founding mother" Phyllis Schlafly is dead wrong to predict a conservative backlash against LGBT rights. It's just not going to happen. While some people will remain opposed to same-sex couples getting married -- just as a dwindling handful still oppose interracial marriage -- every sign exists that marriage will go away as a political issue. Most conservatives, even dedicated culture warriors, will simply move on. The marriage issue isn't going to turn into a replay of the abortion issue.

My own background is relevant here. I'm one of the (lesser) conservative leaders who signed an amicus brief supporting same-sex marriage, and I serve on the board of a conservative gay organization and am pro-life. I also head a conservative think tank that has sometimes made common cause with the organization Schlafly heads. My personal social network includes dozens of people who lead conservative organizations. The overwhelming majority support gay marriage outright. And the polls back up my impressions. A year ago, when actual gay marriage was far less widespread, over half of younger conservatives said they favored gay marriage. More recent data show that even higher numbers of right-leaning people support gay marriage. History can also be a guide: The last major Supreme Court decision establishing marriage rights -- Loving v. Virginia, which overturned laws forbidding interracial marriage -- did presage the end of political controversy over that issue.

Gay marriage is simply a different kind of issue than abortion. No policymaker advocates for more abortions, and many people who favor an absolute right to abortion as a matter of law have significant moral misgivings about the procedure. On the other hand, huge numbers of people want more gays to get married. And marriage is good for gay people. Gay people get the same things -- love, commitment, sex, economic benefits, a good setting to raise children -- that straight people get out of marriage. Experience has not borne out any fears that allowing gays to get married will somehow diminish marriage between men and women.

This doesn't mean, of course, that gay activists will get everything they want or that gay equality will be the rule in every case the moment the Supreme Court hands down its expected decision making marriage equality the law of the land. Religious institutions that have moral opposition to homosexuality will continue to preach against it, some people will say downright hateful things about gays, some religious colleges will expel students for being gay, and some houses of worship will refuse to perform gay marriages. And some left-wing activists will cry "discrimination" and call for government to act even though the first amendment protects both free speech and free exercise of religion.

The Supreme Court's upcoming decision on gay marriage may not change everything for gay Americans. But the facts on the ground indicate that it's not going to spark a new culture war either.