With Rhode Island about to deal with legislation to legalize gay marriage, PPP decided to poll the question. The poll found 50 percent of registered voters favor allowing gays and lesbians to legally marry, while only 41 percent oppose. What is interesting is the age demographics data, which mimics a classic paradigm shift. From Tom Jensen:

Rhode Island is another state where this breaks down very much as a generational issue. Only senior citizens, by a 48/39 margin, are opposed to legalizing same sex marriage. Young voters (under 30) support it 62/31, and middle aged voters (31 to 65) favor it by a 51/42 spread. It’s not going to be too long before the simple aging of the US population produces a lasting pro-gay marriage majority. The people who are opposed to it are gradually dying out and being replaced in the electorate by voters who are perfectly comfortable with it.

In the philosophy of science, a paradigm shift is when one way of looking at the world among the scientific community¬† is quickly replaced by a different way of looking at the world. I was told by a professor that what usually happens isn’t so much that at some moment a lot of older scientists instantly change their theories, but normally individuals who hold the older viewpoint just fail to gain young followers, so their way of thinking quickly fades away in a generation or two.

A generation ago, the overwhelming social paradigm was that the state should prevent gays from getting married, in about another generation, though, it will seem absurd that the state should have any reason to stop a couple from choosing to be wed.