Social Norms and the Law

Social norms are dynamic – slavery, racial segregation and sexual discrimination were all considered morally acceptable in the past but are now not only morally unacceptable but are also against the law. Meanwhile there is a growing acceptance for gay marriages, use of marijuana, perhaps even prostitution.  All of these were condemned by society in the past and many people still do have a problem with it but there is a large section of the public that thinks otherwise. My first question is – do social norms change faster than laws? There was a large swing in public opinion a long time before slavery, racial segregation and sexual discrimination were deemed illegal. At the same time gay marriages, prostitution and the use of marijuana is still illegal. One of the perfect examples of social norms changing before laws is the ability for people of different sexual orientations to serve in the military. While it was illegal for homosexuals to serve in the military in the past, this changed as social norms on sexual orientations changed and thus came the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy which allowed closeted homosexuals to serve in the military. Only recently were openly gay people allowed to serve in the military legally. So what other things would would be legal/illegal in the future based on changing social norms?  

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