Those ideas are as false as they are hurtful. But despite the group's influence with some conservative politicians, its has also been left behind by the nation's laws and culture. The Supreme Court has struck down laws against homosexual conduct. The medical establishment has recognized that homosexuality is a natural, inherent and immutable characteristic of a certain percentage of the population. Gay characters and themes in popular culture have become unremarkable, gay public officials are becoming increasingly common, and millions of American families openly love and accept their gay friends and neighbors. The question now is not whether views like those the FRC espouses will prevail — or whether they should even be considered a valid part of the public dialogue — but whether the great multitudes who believe gays should be treated fairly and equally can overcome the last, persistent vestige of legal inequality: marriage.