And the 30 states with such constitutional amendments could repeal those amendments by popular vote.
That would require continuing debate and discussion. A good place to start is for everyone to recognize that, as Portman writes, "well-intentioned people can disagree on the question of marriage for gay couples."
I believe that large majorities of people on both sides take their stands out of good motives. Yes, you can find some haters on both sides if you look hard.
But the large majority of Americans believe that their view -- traditional marriage or extension of marriage to same-sex couples -- is or would be good for individuals and good for society.
Backers of traditional marriage can cite hundreds of years of experience and tradition. Backers of same-sex marriage can cite the growing acceptance of gay individuals and couples in all parts of the country.
Those who oppose it fear it will weaken the institution of marriage. But so far I haven't seen evidence that extending marriage to the 3 or 4 percent who are gay has weakened the institution nearly as much as the much larger number of Americans who get divorced or have children without getting married at all.
This is an issue that divides Americans not just on partisan or religious but most conspicuously on generational lines. Young people, including many Republicans, heavily favor same-sex marriage. Elderly people, including many Democrats, heavily oppose it.
If opinion continues to move toward same-sex marriage, it will be a tough issue for Republicans, since most of their voters currently are opposed. But it will be a tough issue for some Democrats, as well, since many black voters are staunchly opposed.
But it's an issue we can handle better if we respect and acknowledge the good faith of those on the other side.
Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2013 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM