(CNN) -- Issues such as same-sex marriage and gays serving in the military have played an important role in American politics for at least the past 10 years and may do so again in next year's presidential and congressional elections.
During such an era, gay life is inevitably touched by the politics that surround it, but has it been overly influenced by it? CNN.com asked readers that question and here is a selection of e-mails, some of which have been edited for length and clarity.
Jessica Sherfield from Beaufort, South Carolina
I definitely think that homosexuality in our society is dominated for the most part by the politics that surround it. It seems like when it comes time to vote, some people automatically think of "gays" when Democrats are brought up because this party is more likely to support homosexuals. Therefore, some voters will vote on the opposite party just because one supports human rights. This appalls me, because first of all, that shouldn't be what makes you decide on who you are going to vote for, and also I really cannot comprehend why it is such a problem to be for gay rights. After all, if someone is homosexual, transgendered, bisexual, or lesbian, it does not directly affect the rest of society in any way. So why do people feel the need to scrutinize them and be openly against them? It shows our society's inability to accept people for what they are.
William Gammage from Columbus, Georgia
As a 63-year-old gay man, I have seen so many changes that it is rather amazing. One thing that I am sure of is that social change is more powerful than politics. As much as the religious right has tried to politicize morality surrounding homosexuality, they will certainly fail, as is increasingly evident in public opinion polls. I may not live to experience a gay marriage for myself, but it will come for those to follow. My coming out did not take place until I was 54 years old, after many years of therapy and a divorce. My aging mother told me that I was going to hell, and I only came away with one family member who remains close. What a difference a generation makes. If I were a teenager coming out today, I would expect it to be much easier with a much better outcome. I am optimistic and thankful to be so.
Peggy Johnson from Marina, California
First of all, I'm not LGBT. I just want equal rights for all citizens. Should women be able to vote? Should whites and blacks be able to mingle? Of course. Should gays be able to marry and serve in the military? How silly will this question sound 10 or 20 years from now?
Kyle Littlefield from Boston, Massachusetts
I am a straight man in his twenties who has lived his whole life in Massachusetts. As a student of history, I am proud of the citizens of this country who worked so hard to enact the change that led to the Civil Rights movement. As a young man living through similarly tumultuous times, I can tell you that the recent events in my home state have made me prouder than I ever have been in my life to be a resident of Massachusetts. My state is leading the charge in what is now a divisive issue. In 50 years, all Americans will look back and be proud of the current events in Massachusetts, as I am proud of the Civil Rights movement.
Rena Harel from San Rafael, California
I've never understood the concept that homosexual relationships are a threat to marriage. If my relationship is a threat to all marriages, then perhaps one should consider why those relationships are frail and seek counseling.
Bambi Chapline from Middletown, Maryland
Our culture is so much more accepting of gays than 10 or 20 years ago. Although I don't agree with their choices, I'm not going to judge them for their own choices just as I don't want to be judged for my choices that others may deem wrong. However, I don't like people making it a big show that they're gay and making it a political point. I have friends who are gay and they know that I love them, I just don't like their choices. No one ever said we have to like every single thing about each other, right? I get so sick of everyone having an opinion that they think is the be-all and end-all about religions, politics, wars, sexual orientation. Can't we just all get along and agree to disagree without trying to tear each other down? Can we all let each other live without trying to change each other? I have opinions. I just don't like to push them onto others and I wish others would have the same respect for me.
David Laufenberg from Martinsville, Virginia
For me homosexuality is not political, it's science and personal. I have found far too many people of faith whose religious teachings tell them they should not judge another seem do so without hesitation when it comes to same gender relations.
Those teachings and writings were put to pen long before science was able to tell us mutated or missing genes are responsible for the idiosyncrasies in man's physical and mental makeup.
My position on homosexuality is simple -- it's about sex behind closed doors and what my wife and I do behind closed doors is nobody's business but ours, which in turn makes it non-political. Furthermore -- if a person can be born with missing legs, no eyes, genius of mind, dumb as a post intellect, MS, ALS, Siamese twins -- who's to say homosexual tendencies were not determined through one's genetic makeup? This question makes the subject more about ... science!
Matthew Brooks from Boston, Massachusetts
Living in a state that allows same sex couples to marry has been a surprising experience as a gay man. It seems like within days of legal same sex marriage, the social "walls" eroded and the gay community was accepted and completely integrated into society. There almost isn't "gay" anymore in Massachusetts; it's the two guys/girls next door, my boss and his husband, my teacher and her wife, and no political or social lines in between. I wish this freedom on every person, gay or straight, in the entire country. I think people would be surprised at how happy THEY could be, by just opening their minds.
Jerry Combs from Salem, Oregon
I believe that gay rights are being crammed down our throats whether we like it or not. Civil unions give gays in Oregon the same rights as married couples with no ties to break like a marriage license. Allowing these people to have whomever on employer paid benefits allows them to abuse this system at my taxpaying expense. I was always taught that this lifestyle was wrong, and now I am just supposed to believe that it's right? These people are confused just like the Bible says they are.
Bill Roos from Brooklyn, New York
Acceptance seems to be steadily increasing, but in response the religious right is becoming increasingly more strident, apparently threatened by the trend. In the long run the homophobia will hopefully dissipate, as it becomes more and more apparent that the LGBT community has a place in society. The victory last week in Massachusetts should be a real watershed, and should become a truly significant event in the country's history, akin to the abolition of slavery and the right to vote for women.
Maggie Tracy from Virginia Beach, Virginia
I believe it depends on where you live. I know that Virginia is very against providing any legislation that will benefit the partnership between two of the same sex. Recent legislation made common law marriage and partnership impossible if you were a homosexual couple. To me it is very sad. Our country claims we have separation of church and state. So why is it any business of the government to step in and tell us who we can and cannot love? If it isn't for the beliefs of those who were raised that this is religiously wrong and against "God's Law" why does it matter?
Christine Butts from Xenia, Ohio
I am a lesbian and my fiance is in the military in Iraq. After she returns from this deployment, she gets sent out again for a 15-month redeployment eight months later. This aspect of our relationship and more makes us unique. After a failed attempt at getting "chaptered" out, we have come to terms with the fact that she may, after all, have to finish her enlistment. This is something we would be fine with if it weren't for the fact that our relationship is against regulations. She did what she was supposed to do along their guidelines and that was all we could do to get her out. We cannot marry or form a union. She cannot be seen committing acts of homosexuality, so we'd have to sneak around behind the military's back. I've been made aware of loopholes to be able to live with her but have no wish to sneak around. If only the military would allow us to be together without such fuss, gays and lesbians would have no need to want to get out. There would be no statements without proof needing to be turned away. There would be no bitterness. More importantly, in regard to the press for more troops, more gays and lesbians would be willing to serve their country.
Matthew Bailey from Boise, Idaho
Homosexuality is almost inarguably more accepted in America today than previously. The irony is that this is almost entirely due to the faction, primarily on the religious right, that has tried so hard to condemn it. For example, in my home state of Idaho there was no "gay movement" until the '80s, when a right-wing group in the guise of a religious organization pushed for legislation banning "special rights" for gays. The fact that no gay individuals or groups were asking for these "rights" appeared to bother them in no way. Not surprisingly, these efforts failed miserably, as their proposed laws were painfully and obviously unconstitutional. Even less surprising -- a gay rights movement began in Idaho. Where there was once a small gay organization on the campus of Boise State, and one (very discreet) gay club, there are now gay parades, ads in local weeklies in gay sections, and so forth. The so-called "gay lifestyle" is considerably more visible in this state not because of any gay agenda, but because of the response to those who would use their existence as an excuse to cull power.
Irony is hilarious sometimes.