Washington Post columnist offers her thoughts on reconciling the public views on gay marriage and abortion rights

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post has some interesting comments on the shift that has occurred, and continues to occur, on a couple of the hot button issues of our time:

At first glance you might see conflicting trends, one favoring social conservatives and the other opposing this segment of the electorate. But this, I think, makes the mistake of ignoring the fundamental differences between these issues, although many people line up as pro-life/anti-gay marriage or pro-abortion/pro-gay marriage.

I have argued, and the poll seems to bear this out, that the movement toward acceptance of gay marriage is steady and inevitable. Claims for greater inclusion (be it desegregation or religious minorities serving in high office) usually prevail over time, as one might expect in a tolerant and diverse society. In the case of gay marriage, the increased openness of gays and the number of Americans aware of gay friends, family and colleagues have assisted in the acceptance of gay marriage. The move is generational, even within the conservative movement. And finally, because the Supreme Court did not monopolize the field, the issue was debated in the political realm where compromises (e.g. civil unions) and genuine soul-searching could take place.

Abortion is not a matter of bringing more Americans into the fold, of course, but of determining competing claims (the mother and the unborn child). In this case, the progress of medical technology, coupled with a political sense of being aggrieved that the courts had taken over the issue, fueled a vibrant pro-life movement that has changed hearts and minds. Arguably abortion will be harder to defend over time as the age of viability outside the womb gets reduced further and further.

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