CNN poll: 52% say gays should have a constitutional right to marry

Note the distinction. Ask people whether gays should have the right and you get a 52/46 split. Ask them whether gays do have the right — which of course was the point of Walker’s due process and equal protection rulings in the Prop 8 case — and it shrinks to 49/51, which is still a thinner margin than when Gallup polled a similar question just two months ago. It’s hard to draw strong lessons from a three-point swing, which is within the margin of error, but it does point towards the possibility that you’re more likely to build public consensus by taking the incrementalist approach and letting legislatures create rights than having courts divine them from the Constitution.

And as I’ve said before, given the demographic background, it won’t be long before plenty of legislatures are willing to comply.

Forty-nine percent of respondents think gay and lesbian couples have the constitutional right to get married and have their marriage recognized by law, while 51 percent say those rights do not exist.

The gap widens dramatically when age is taken into account. Nearly six in ten Americans under the age of 50 say gay rights are protected under the Constitution. Only 38 percent of Americans over the age of 50 say the same thing.

“This is one of the few instances when independents side with one party rather than falling in between the Dems and the GOP,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. “56 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Independents think the Constitution conveys the right to marry to same-sex couples. Only a quarter of all Republicans agree.”

On the question of whether gays should have the right to marry, the under 50 crowd splits 61/39 while the 50 and older group splits 41/56. More from Jonathan Rauch, who’s not only a gay marriage supporter but a partner in a gay marriage himself — and yet underwhelmed by Walker’s decision.

Burke, a British contemporary of Madison’s, was the founder of modern conservatism.

Though he was no reactionary, he believed that utopianism and perfectionism, however well intended, should never displace reasonable caution in making social policy. It’s much easier to damage society, he pointed out, than to repair it…

I think [Walker’s] decision is a radical one, but not, ironically, as it pertains to homosexuality or to marriage. No, Walker’s radicalism lies elsewhere: In his use of the Constitution to batter the principles of its two greatest exponents – Madison and Abraham Lincoln, a Burkean who was steadfast in his belief that ideals must be leavened with pragmatism.

History will, I believe, vindicate Walker’s view of marriage. Whether it will see him as having done gay rights a favor is less clear. For all its morally admirable qualities, his decision sets the cause of marriage equality crosswise with moderation, gradualism and popular sovereignty. Which, in America, is a dangerous place to be.

Elsewhere in the CNN poll, fully 68 percent say they oppose the Ground Zero mosque. Between that result and the one on gay marriage, does that mean we’ve got majority support for the Greg Gutfeld gay bar?