Prior to Election night 2012, gay marriage had been defeated every time it has been on a ballot in the U.S. In Maine, voters in 2009 overturned a law passed by the state legislature that permitted it. Thirty-two states followed suit and voted it down. The six states that allowed gay marriage were decided by lawmakers or courts. But in this election, Maine, Maryland, and Washington State decided by popular vote to legalize same-sex marriage and Minnesota defeated the ban on same-sex marriage.
“You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby”
What has changed since 2009 is American support of gay marriage. In 2009, only 37% of Americans were in favor of gay marriage. In July 2012, support in the U.S. reached 48% in July, according to the nonpartisan Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. A poll by the Wall Street Journal/NBC News in March found 49% favored gay marriage, and 40% opposed it.
Like the President, Many ‘Evolved'
Our nation reelected a President who endorsed marriage equality, repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and refused to defend the “Defense of Marriage Act.” He also endorsed LGBT students’ rights and LFBT-inclusive bullying-prevention legislation. Led by example, many voters reexamined their consciences.
Polls turned around after the President’s announcement in May that he now favored same-sex marriage. Fifty-nine percent of Latino voters backed marriage equality, ahead of the 48% of the general public. A Public Policy Polling survey after Obama’s change-of-heart found a 10-percent jump in support, especially among African-Americans.
Other Contributing Factors Influencing Marriage Equality and LGBT Rights
New York City Michael Bloomberg and businesses like Starbuck’s advocated for LGBT rights. Studies of gay and lesbian parents show that their parenting skills are just as effective as those of the heterosexuals: “The Kids Are Alright.” “Modern Family” each week brings a gay married couple into the living rooms of Americans and illustrates that they are a normal family. More people are identifying as openly gay, including this year’s wins for House and Senate, making history.
What will Happen in the Future?
The Catholic Church, NOM (National Organization for Marriage) are not going away with their “tail between their legs.” Nor will Frank Schubert, the mastermind who launched many anti--gay marriage campaigns, quit.
Is Gay Marriage Headed to The Supreme Court?
How much political clout do gays and lesbians have? The Supreme Court has to decide this. Is Tuesday’s election proof that they have plenty of power or are they politically powerless groups that are discriminated against and consequently deserve greater examination from the court?
Some of the lower courts in New York and Massachusetts have already found the 1996 federal DOMA law unconstitutional. So, does this mean that the current cases considered are of a disadvantaged group that qualifies for more rigorous protection?
Will gay marriage, now allowed in nine states, continue to be settled, state-by-state or will the Supreme Court create a national standard, eliminating the Defense of Marriage Act in all the states? With Tuesday’s gains, will more people be adversely affected by DOMA?
Marriage is Marriage