The Right Opinion

Smoking Pot and Tying the Knot

By Jacob Sullum · Dec. 12, 2012

Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed for the first time to take on the issue of gay marriage. No matter how it rules in the two cases it will hear next spring, polling data suggest it is only a matter of time before legal recognition of same-sex unions is the norm throughout the country.

Something similar is happening with marijuana, which became legal in Washington last week and in Colorado on Monday. With both pot and gay marriage, familiarity is breeding tolerance.

The cases before the Supreme Court deal with popular reactions against gay marriage: the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law that barred the federal government from recognizing state-licensed gay marriages, and Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot initiative that amended California's Constitution to eliminate same-sex couples' right to marry, which the California Supreme Court had recognized that year. But something interesting happened after those measures passed: Surveys now indicate that most Americans support gay marriage.

The turnaround was remarkably fast. A 1996 Gallup poll found that 27 percent of Americans thought same-sex marriages should be “recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages”; by last year, that number had nearly doubled. Recent surveys by ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN also put support for gay marriage above 50 percent.

Striking generational differences mean these numbers will continue to rise. In a CBS News poll last month, 72 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds supported gay marriage, compared to 53 percent of 30- to 44-year-olds, 44 percent of 45- to 64-year-olds and 33 percent of respondents who were 65 or older.

The consequences of these changing attitudes could be seen in last month's election results. For the first time ever, gay marriage was legalized by popular referendum – not in one state, but in three: Maine, Maryland and Washington. Voters in a fourth state, Minnesota, rejected an initiative that would have amended the state constitution to prohibit gay marriage (which is already banned there by statute).

On the same day, voters in Colorado and Washington approved ballot measures aimed at legalizing the cultivation, possession and sale of marijuana for recreational use. The initiatives won by surprisingly healthy margins of about 10 points in both states, in contrast with a California legalization measure that lost by 7 points two years ago.

Nationwide support for marijuana legalization, like nationwide support for gay marriage, has increased dramatically, although not quite as swiftly, rising from 12 percent in a 1969 Gallup poll to a record 50 percent last year. While support for legalization dipped a bit during the anti-pot backlash of the Just Say No era, it began rising again in the 1990s. Public Policy Polling recently put it at 58 percent, the highest level ever recorded.

With pot as with gay marriage, there are clear age-related differences, reflecting different levels of experience with marijuana. In the CBS News survey, support for legalization was 54 percent among 18- to 29-year-olds, 53 percent among 30- to 44-year-olds, 46 percent among 45- to 64-year-olds and 30 percent among respondents of retirement age.

Just as an individual's attitude toward gay people depends to a large extent on how many he knows (or, more to the point, realizes he knows), his attitude toward pot smokers (in particular, his opinion about whether they should be treated like criminals) is apt to be influenced by his personal experience with them. Americans younger than 65, even if they have never smoked pot, probably know people who have, and that kind of firsthand knowledge provides an important reality check on the government's anti-pot propaganda.

Another clear pattern in both of these areas: Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to oppose legalizing gay marriage and marijuana. Yet Republicans are also more likely to oppose federal interference with state policy choices. In light of DOMA's disregard for state marriage laws and the Obama administration's threats to prevent Colorado and Washington from allowing marijuana sales, now is put-up-or-shut-up time for the GOP's avowed federalists.

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19 Comments

Capt. Call in New Mexico said:

Alright then! Let's put up! No, no, no, no, no! No to homosexual Marriage, and no to legalization of marijuana. And, I have through the 1st Amendment, freedom of speech to say so!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 2:04 AM

Tod in Brooklyn, NY said:

"Listen up louse--You'll never be a good decorator/int designer, if you become addicted to marijuana! Throw away the pot, and get to work, earlier! We had a gay decorator, back during Reagan, that made six figures, in six months time! The women called him their Manhattan miracle!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 6:38 AM

Dave in SoCal said:

The GOP's attitude on these two issues is emblematic of why they are doomed to slide into irrelevance. They are out of touch with the electorate, and unable to make a rational judgement about what's really important to the future of our country.

Whether we have a United States of America that is recognizable in 25 years does not hinge on the outcome of these issues. Rather, it depends on whether we can rein in our leviathan government as well as those citizens among us that can not resist the urge to use the levers of government power to intrude into people's lives in ever more far reaching ways.

Yes, yes, that's it: Sit back with your favorite adult beverage while you bemoan the horrors of marijuana use. Meanwhile the country slides ever closer to the financial abyss created by our feckless spending and socialist ways.

We need many more people who understand what my forefathers fought for: liberty and freedom for all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Robinius in Broomfield, Colorado replied:

I assume you are not sitting back with your favorite adult beverage while you bemoan the horrors of the country's sliding ever closer to the financial abyss. Please enlighten us with what you are doing to stop it and how you are fighting for liberty and freedom for all. We need solutions, not just empty rhetoric. Sorry, I'm kind of in a bad mood today.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 1:24 PM

Dave in SoCal replied:

When did this become my fault? ;-)

Like about 2/3 of my fellow citizens I vote. Unlike most of them I always vote for candidates with conservative fiscal views. Sometimes that turns out to be a Republican, more often a Libertarian. I live in California, so with the winner of so many or our races pre-ordained to be a leftist of one sort or another, I often am free to disobey the Buckley rule, because there is no conservative candidate with any chance of winning.

Around here I try to point out from time to time that the GOP's obsession with being the "party of Christianity" is driving people away from the party. So long as they follow this path I fear they never will be successful in a big enough way to affect the trajectory of our country. In so doing, they abandon the field to the Democrats who seem to be hellbent on driving us toward fiscal ruin.

Meanwhile, I prepare as best I can for the real fiscal cliff which I believe is still some time away, but inevitable unless we can turn around the hearts and minds of more voters. The folks we elect to "serve" in D.C. are not the problem. Rather, they are in fact a symptom of the problem.

BTW, three of my ancestors took up arms against the British. I hope we are able to right our course through more peaceful means.

Cheers.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 4:32 PM

Ted R. Weiland in Nebraska said:

Had the constitutional framers established government upon Yahweh's perfect law and altogether righteous judgments (including sodomy as a capital crime and lex talionis, an eye for eye, etc.), neither of these would be issues today.

Sodomites would either in the grave or in the closet and few little boys would be sodomized.

As for marijuana, it would not be unlawful. However, anyone under its, any other drug's, or alcohol's influence who was responsible for the death or injury of another person would be liable for reciprocal life or injury. And with that, there would be no need of insurance companies, or a host of bureaucracies, including FDA and OSHA.

For more, see online Chapter 17 "Amendment 8: Bail, Fines, and Cruel and Unusual Punishment" of "Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective" at http://www.bibleversusconstitution.org/BlvcOnline/biblelaw-constitutionalism-pt17.html.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Dave in SoCal replied:

Fortunately, the founders had enough wisdom to avoid creating a religious theocracy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Ted R. Weiland in Nebraska replied:

"There is no escaping theocracy. A government’s laws reflect its morality, and the source of that morality (or, more often than not, immorality) is its god. It is never a question of theocracy or no theocracy, but whose theocracy....

"People recoil at the idea of a theocracy’s morality being forced upon them, but because all governments are theocracies, someone’s morality is always being enforced. This is an inevitability of government. The question is which god, theocracy, laws, and morality will we choose to live under?"

Excerpted from "The Preamble: WE THE PEOPLE vs. YAHWEH" at http://www.missiontoisrael.org/biblelaw-constitutionalism-pt3.php.

Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Dave in SoCal replied:

Not really, you simply do not understand the meaing of the term theocracy.

I need no more than the Golden Rule as (perhaps) first elucidated by Confucius five centuries before the time of Christ as the foundational principle for the conduct of one's life: "Perhaps the word 'reciprocity' (shu) will do. Do not do unto others what you would not want others to do unto you."

The golden rule also serves admirably as a principle for the conduct of a just government.

Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 6:55 PM

Ted R. Weiland in Nebraska replied:

"The rejection of one god leads inescapably to the choice of another god. If a person, group, court, etc. establishes himself as the final arbiter of right and wrong, then he/they have assumed the attributes of a god. Thus, he/they are theocratic…. Democracy can become theocratic if absolute power is given to the people. …vox populi, vox dei, 'the voice of the people is the voice of God.' Those who promote a particular worldview and want to see it implemented socially, educationally, politically, and judicially have elevated the majority to the status of gods….

"One assumes the mantle of deity when he sets himself up as the ultimate authority. It’s the attributes of deity that makes someone god-like. In the eighteenth century, the French revolutionaries declared “reason” to be the goddess of their new state religion. Nineteenth century France was spoken of as “goddess France” by patriotic figures like Victor Hugo and Charles Maurras. Hegel, the philosophical patron saint of communism, wrote that 'the State is the Divine Idea as it exists on earth…. We must therefore worship the State as the manifestation of the Divine on earth…. The State is the march of God through the world.'" (Gary DeMar, “Defining Terms: Theocracy,” 26 February 2007, http://americanvision.org/1629/defining-terms-theocracy/.)

Friday, December 14, 2012 at 2:08 PM

Dave in SoCal replied:

Dude, you ought to look in the mirror. You are the one suggesting we should arrange our affairs of state to comply with the dictates of your god and no other. Dictates, I might add, which are simply words written by men.

Seems to me you are setting yourself up on the pedestal as the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong. You will fall back on the so-called words of your god, but it is YOU that is claiming they are the right words, as opposed to the words in the Koran, or the words of Buddhism, or the words of the Norsemen, or the words of the Sioux. They are all simply words written by men. This doesn't make them any less full of wisdom, but that's all they are.

I am not going to tell anyone which mythological system is best for their life, or indeed even that any are necessary. There are many that provide wisdom, guidance, and solace. To each his own. Our country was founded by people that believed we each should be free to make that choice. I am glad they had enough wisdom to see that was the right thing to do.

That is all.

Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 4:27 PM

Robinius in Broomfield, Colorado replied:

I've always been confused as to how an "eye for an eye" squares with "turn the other cheek." Could you ask "Yahweh" and get back to me? BTW I am a conservative who doesn't believe in any god. And how does "Yahweh's perfect law" differ from Sharia law constitutionally?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Robinius in Broomfield, Colorado replied:

It just struck me that you are most likely the preacher Ted Weiland out of Scottsbluff, Nebraska. The Patriot Post allows you access to promote you political ideas. Your religious beliefs are not necessary here in my humble opinion.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 1:47 PM

Joe in Texas replied:

"Eye for an eye" is in the Old Testament. "Turn the other cheek" is in the New Testament and is the word of Jesus Christ.

Lots of people quote the Old Testament and attribute it to the Christian faith and as the law of God. Many quotes that people throw were said by other people in the bible, like Moses, Job, etc. and do not come directly from God's mouth.

I'm no biblical scholar, but I believe that sums it up.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 4:21 PM

Ted R. Weiland in Nebraska replied:

"The law of Yahweh is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of Yahweh are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of Yahweh is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of Yahweh is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of Yahweh are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward." (Psalm 19;7-11)

While it is true that under the New Covenant we are not justified by the law, Yahweh's morality codified therein is immutable and reflects His righteousness. To abolish the moral law (His commandments, statutes, and judgments) is to abolish Yahweh's righteousness, and to abolish Yahweh's righteousness or morality would, for all practical purposes, be to abolish Yahweh Himself.

"Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." (Romans 3:31)

An eye for an eye is a civil law and turn the other cheek is a personal response. Neither have been abolished.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 5:46 PM

Norm in Galena, Missouri replied:

I appreciate that pastor's comments from Nebraska, who brings a necessary balance to these otherwise secular dialogues. If we were to give more credibility and observance to the Laws of Yahweh, this nation's government and people would enjoy the blessings promised an obedient population by their Creator.

As a nation, we need more men of the nature mentioned in the hymn below...

God Send Us Men
Lyrics written 1909 by Frederick J. Gillman (1866-1949)
Published: 1916 / Tune: Kedron, 1799

God send us men whose aim 'twill be
Not to defend some ancient creed,
But to live out the laws of Christ
In every thought and word and deed.

God send us men alert and quick
His lofty precepts to translate,
Until the laws of Christ become
The laws and habits of the state.

God send us men of steadfast will,
Patient, courageous, strong and true,
With vision clear and mind equipped
His will to learn, his work to do.

God send us men with hearts ablaze,
All truth to love, all wrong to hate;
These are the patriots nations need;
These are the bulwarks of the state.

Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 4:35 PM

Chris in Wisconsin replied:

Robinius,

I can see why you're so confused. "Only a fool says in his heart 'there is no God' ".

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 11:49 AM

Robinius in Broomfield, Colorado said:

It just struck me that you are most likely the preacher Ted Weiland out of Scottsbluff, Nebraska. The Patriot Post allows you access to promote you political ideas. Your religious beliefs are not necessary here in my humble opinion.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 1:52 PM

Joe in Texas said:

As a practicing Catholic, I'm against gay marriage. However, I believe it's a state issue. The problem is the courts mandating gay marriage as a civil rights issue. It's not. Marriage is a human behavior and a contract with the state, no where near the issue of slavery/civil rights for minorities.

As far as pot goes, I'm tired of my tax dollars going to fight the war on drugs and building prisons for non violent offenses. What people want to do in the privacy of their own home is no concern of mine (homosexuality, drug use, prostitution). And, no, I'm not saying that gays should not practice in public. They can do whatever they want, just don't act like you're burdened like slaves, or banned from certain places like blacks' separate but equal facilities.

Drug use can still be considered criminal if abused in public, just like alcohol.

Both of these are state issues, like the writer says. Keep federalism alive!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 2:41 PM