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Posted at 5:32 PM ET, 02/ 1/2011

Why Barbara Bush's support for gay marriage is no surprise

By Alexandra Petri

Barbara Bush endorses marriage equality? Not that Barbara Bush, the other Barbara Bush. The one who's 29.

"Twenty-nine year-old comes out in favor of marriage equality"? Seriously, how is this news? That's just the natural order of things asserting itself. Barbara Bush may be the daughter of George W., but she's in the demographic where, if you want to marry a shoe, we'll marry you, as long as the shoe is a consenting adult of your species to whom you are not related.

It would have been more shocking if she'd come out against it.

Here's the video.

Right now, this just makes sense. But let's see what happens as she ages.

According to a Pew survey of attitudes toward gay marriage, after age thirty-five, there's a drop of more than ten percentage points. Suddenly, everyone's attitudes towards gay marriage become just as polarized as those of sixty year-olds. Perhaps this is just a function of current demographic trends -- people under forty are more liberal generally and are more likely to know a gay person -- and we just need the current generation of thirty-somethings to move along the demographic curve for the bells of marriage equality to peal gaily over the land. Or maybe something terrible happens to you at thirty-nine, like gay marriage sneaks up on you in an alleyway and makes cutting personal remarks. But I assume not.

Fortunately, even if something terrible does happen, she has a few bolstering points -- college-educated people tend to be more supportive of gay marriage than people without, as do urban residents.

Currently, the trend towards opposition continues as you age, with a few noteworthy kinks in the curve (Why are people in their late seventies more tolerant than people in their early seventies? Fond memories of Liberace?) By the time you hit 85 the approval rating dips below 10 percent. At this point there are maybe seven people left who support marriage equality, and possibly they think you are referring to something else. "Of course married people should be each other's equals," they say. "Why not?"

So, Barbara Bush, Jr., endorses gay marriage?

That's nice! But it'snot news. Meghan McCain's in favor. Cindy McCain's in favor. Even Dick Cheney and Laura Bush are in favor, and that's somewhat demographically defiant of them.

Barbara Bush, Sr., endorses gay marriage? That's news. Of course, we'd have to make certain it wasn't Betty White.

By Alexandra Petri  | February 1, 2011; 5:32 PM ET
Categories:  Big Deals, Petri  | Tags:  Barbara Bush, age, kids these days  
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why do we want to control everyone? Government free marriage is the only way to fix this issue. Time to change the argument. Why are we asking the government to control our lives? Why do we want the government to recognize anything? For or against should not be the argument, government free marriage NOW!

Posted by: sarah9miller | February 1, 2011 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Petri -- With all do respect, you took a column that started with a good premise (a 29 year old supports gay marriage -- big deal) and went onto suggest that the differences in support for gay marriage by age group suggests people's attitude on the issue change as they age. The Pew survey you quote contains nothing to support that premise, nor does any other study of which I am aware. (I find it hard to imagine a case where someone actually goes backward in their support for equality -- "sorry my friend, yesterday I thought your relationship was equal to mine, but today I realized that heterosexual marriage actually is better.") Maybe this happens on an issue like abortion, but I don't see it happening on gay marriage. This post is not up to the journalistic standards of the Washington Post. Of course, from your bio it doesn't appear that you are a journalist. Then again, there is nothing funny about the post either.

Posted by: dwaldman | February 2, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Apologies for "do respect" and other typos. I need to learn to proofread before hitting SUBMIT.

Posted by: dwaldman | February 2, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

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