The fight for marriage equality has reached has reached a hallmark: Americans are in favor of legalizing gay marriage 50-41%, a Quinnipiac poll shows. This statistic represents a rapid increase from a March 8 poll done by the university, which reported 47-43% in favor of gay marriage, and a marked increase from a July 2008 poll, which showed voters were 55-36% against gay marriage. The significant increase shows how quickly American voters are changing their minds on this issue. Why has the change happened so quickly since 2008?
With many religious institutions maintaining the same aggressively anti-homosexual language, what has successfully changed American minds? Is it the air time the issue has received of late? Or is it the fact that several Republican politicians along with the wave of Democratic senators have publicly supported gay marriage? Perhaps the white house endorsement of gay marriage has turned the tide? Have social media campaigns helped? Or perhaps as more people come out of the closet, more are faced with a decision: embrace my son/daughter/friend/coworker/parent/sibling, etc. as he or she is, or lose that person.
Perhaps Americans are just realizing how fundamentally unconstitutional it would be to prevent the legalization of gay marriage. As a nation founded on the idea that religion and the state remain separate entities, and that one individuals religious beliefs should not inform policy that denies another their rights, marriage inequality is truly the quintessence of “unconstitutional.” Justice Ginsburg summed it up well, arguing that laws like DOMA create two kinds of marriage, “full marriage,” and then a sort of “skim milk marriage” wherein over 1,100 statues that define benefits for married couples simply don’t apply to same-sex couples.
The Supreme Court has appeared reluctant to take on this issue, with Justice Roberts essentially calling out the Obama administration and the House for even requesting the Supreme Court review. The public however, seems ever more ready for a Supreme Court decision —expected in June — that guarantees marriage equality under the law. Supreme Court outcomes are notoriously difficult to predict, and the upcoming decision could leave certain parts of DoMA intact. Thus, pro-marriage equality lobbyists have been hoping to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, which would essentially invalidate DoMA.
In the absence of the Supreme Court’s decision, and amid hesitation on the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, polls like the aforementioned by Quinnipiac indicate that though long, “the arc of history” does indeed “curve towards justice” as so eloquently put by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
No group —even one as pesky as the Republican-controlled U.S. House Representatives for DOMA — can continually justify expending more time and money on hate in the face of overwhelming opposition. Hate is exhausting, and self-destructive. In our screwed up world, this is one fight that love and justice will win; we’re halfway there.