With the election of Barack Obama as President, I think that the issue of racial discrimination will fall off the front burner for a few years. This will allow the issue of gay marriage to move into the forefront. I think it will be a bitterly divisive issue.
In fact, I think it will become bigger than abortion, second historically only to how divisive the slavery issue was in the mid 19th century. It will certainly play a role in the deathwatch. It is the classic irresistible force colliding head on with the immovable object. It’s Blue vs. Red states, Progressives vs. Traditionalists, and the side that loses will be furious - likely to the point of violence.
On one side we have the liberal multiculturalists and what I call their Prime Directive:
There shall be no discrimination or intolerance of any kind, against any minority group, for any reason. Violations are nothing but bigotry and homophobia. Their key point is that homosexuality, like race, is innate and it's grossly unfair to discriminate against one but not the other.
On the other side, we have the Christian faithful, large in number and very passionate in their belief that matrimony is holy, a sacred covenant, an oath taken under God only by a man and a woman. Their key point is that heterosexual marriage has a traditional procreative orientation, and has proven to be very beneficial to society, because it leads to stable families and to children who grow up to be productive adults.
I can't see any middle ground here, and no compromise by either side. I expect to see gay marriage approved in nearly all of the Blue states over time, (including its re-approval in California), but banned in all of the Red states. A future Supreme Court challenge and ruling is likely at some point, and would greatly enrage the loser. This potentially long and bitterly divisive issue will further deepen the "morality gap" between the Blue and the Red states and hence continue to weaken the national union overall.
Forced to choose sides, I have to agree with the traditionalists. The problem I see is that if gay marriage were legal nationwide, this would not be the end of the issue.
First, there would be no reason to prohibit other nontraditional marriages such as polygamy, or adult marriages to minors. They would be the next group to claim discrimination. We would travel down a slippery slope with no end in sight.
Second, traditional marriage already has become so weakened by high no-fault divorce rates and out-of-wedlock births, any further revolutionary changes would render it meaningless. Some traditions are just to valuable to society to experiment with, and marriage, with its centuries of Judeo-Christian heritage behind it, is one of them.
Finally, gay marriage allowed from a strictly civil standpoint would create a deep cultural gulf between its loose standards, and the absolute bar for religious heterosexual marriage. There would be tremendous pressure from the Left to eliminate that gulf and demand Church sanctioned gay weddings. This is where the issue would become the most explosive: the sight of two men in matching tuxedos or two women in matching bridal gowns taking the solemn vow while everyone silently shouts “God approves!" would be just too much to bear for the religious right. Gay marriage is so visible, it would be worse for them than just watching a pregnant woman walking into an abortion clinic, since you don’t actually see the abortion.
Should religious gay weddings become common, it would lead to an even more potentially divisive crisis - a schism within American Christianity itself. This would be very dangerous, a weakened Christianity, occurring along with an increasingly militant group of non-believers and the growth of Islam, would put America in the same perilous situation Europe finds itself in.
To conclude, this doesn't mean I'm condemning all gay relationships per se. I'm tolerant and libertarian enough not to do that. I'm just asking that for once, could a minority group please make a sacrifice for the greater good, and lighten up with the demands.