The so-called culture wars that have reignited in the United States over the legitimacy of gay marriage may influence this year’s presidential election despite a general feeling that there are more important issues. The problem with gay marriage as a social issue is that both sides work against their own interests by politicizing it. Conservatives who push for a constitutional amendment to ban it come across as antidemocratic and fanatical, while homosexual couples who flock to San Francisco to get legally hitched reinforce the idea of marriage as a state-approved arrangement.

Conservative extremism has forced gay people and their supporters to embrace the “sanctity” of marriage just as fervently as their opponents do. Gay marriage is seen as a progressive idea, but the institution of marriage is anything but progressive.

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