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When the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law against sodomy a month ago, religious conservatives viewed the decision as a terrible defeat. But now they increasingly think it has handed them a winning political issue: opposition to gay marriage, the Washington Post reports.

Polls show that public support of gay rights in general, and of “civil unions” for same-sex couples in particular, has fallen about 10 percentage points since the court’s ruling.

Leaders of the Christian Right say this is because Americans have realized that the legalization of gay marriage, which once seemed remote, is suddenly a real possibility.

Any day now, the highest court in Massachusetts will rule on a case that could make that state the first to allow gay couples to marry. Last month gay Americans began flocking to Canada for marriage licenses, and in the next week Episcopalians may risk a schism by voting to develop a blessing for gay couples.

Both religious conservatives and gay rights activists see these events pushing the definition of marriage onto the national agenda. Before long, they say, Americans will have to decide whether marriage is fundamentally a civil or religious institution, and whether it is really about procreation or commitment.

More than a dozen religious broadcasters and Christian political organizations are pushing for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman. They also are lobbying state legislatures to pass so-called “defense of marriage” measures that prohibit gay unions.


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