Conservatives have lost the war against same-sex marriage on the two most important fronts: American law and American public opinion. Between 2003 and the 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage, it had become law in all but 15 states. During the same period, American public opinion shifted swiftly from solid opposition of gay marriage to swelling support.
Defeat is reality, but conceding it is not an option in the culture wars. So what is left for conservatives to do? For some, the last line of defense has been to insinuate that the American public is lying.
After a Washington Post-ABC News Poll showed that support for gay marriage reached an all-time high of 58 percent, former Republican presidential hopeful Gary Bauer declared, “the polls are skewed.” Ralph Reed, former president of the Christian Coalition added, “the idea that the American people are, you know, universally for same-sex marriage is just not backed [up].” Tony Perkins of the conservative Family Research Council made similar arguments at the time.
This theory has remerged yet again with Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, asking, “What if public opinion has not actually shifted nearly as much as is claimed?” It’s not the fault of the pollsters, he says, but “it does seem certain that a majority of Americans will tell a researcher that they support same-sex marriage, even if they believed the opposite just a few years before.”