Marriage between same-sex partners is not “settled”
Americans of all political stripes are increasingly accepting same-sex marriage as one of the best news stories coming out of the culture war front. It has been a rare bright spot in an otherwise intractable polarization over all issues relating to the evolution of our cultural norms around race, gender, and sexual orientation, given the rancorous debates over reproductive rights and racial equality that have been going on for decades. According to a Gallup poll released last month, 71% of Americans now approve of same-sex marriages, a significant shift from a few years ago.
18 years ago, Republicans, including the “compassionate conservative” George W. Bush, won the 2004 election partly on the basis of nationwide ballot initiatives banning gay marriage, while Democrats blamed marriage equality advocates and supporters. During that time, Republicans used the issue to divide Democrats and some of their Christian, Hispanic, and Black constituents. All of it was quite effective. With a ballot proposition and state constitutional amendment known as Prop 8, they even succeeded in banning same-sex marriages in Blue California in 2008. Democratic presidential candidates split the baby by opposing marriage equality but supporting civil unions or making fatuous odes to states’ rights, while Republicans characterized them as out-of-the-mainstream radicals.
As far as gay marriage was concerned, the country was evenly divided in 2012, and President Barack Obama finally came out in favor of it (pushed by his vice president, Joe Biden), insisting that states should have the freedom to make the decision. There was a rapid change in public opinion after that. According to Gallup, 60% of Americans supported same-sex marriage after Obergefell v. Hodges was decided in 2015. Since many Democrats had lost races because of their support for the issue, Democrats saw it as a political victory. There were a few Republicans who voted for the bill and paid a price for it.)
Although it had been a hard-fought battle, it only lasted for a short time. By 2015, LGBT people had gained the right to marry after the issue erupted in the 1990s. We have been fighting for basic human rights in this country for so long that it was almost a miracle. There was something downright strange about it. Anti-gay conservatives, what happened to them?
They will point to Justice Samuel Alito’s assurance that Roe v. Wade will not be overturned using the same logic they used in Dobbs as if everyone who supports marriage equality just fell off the back of a catering truck full of gay wedding cakes.
America’s most powerful bloc of voters knows what they want. Those who think otherwise should not fool themselves. They’re just being patient.
Many right-wing commentators and politicians dismiss this concern as nothing more than election year hype. It is “settled law”, and they will point to Justice Samuel Alito’s reassurance that the court will not use the same logic as in Dobbs to overturn Roe v. Wade. Please. At Alito’s confirmation hearing, Roberts and Kavanaugh, both conservatives who pass for institutionalists, said Roe was “settled law.” There’s no doubt which way the wind is blowing.
Politicians like Ron Desantis are trying to walk a fine line with the abortion issue, knowing that the majority of the public opposes taking away women’s right to choose. Nevertheless, as one of the nation’s greatest culture warriors, he needs some red meat to feed the base, so he’s focusing on easy targets – transgender children, public school teachers. Amid the QAnon pedophile panic, Christopher Rufo, the latest right-wing wunderkind responsible for the contrived “CRT” controversy, has suggested gay teachers are grooming children. However, he’s only sidled up to the issue of gay marriage very obliquely by backing a bill that prevents teachers from mentioning their own same-sex marriages in the classroom. Except when he’s not, he’s for it.
Jordan on Marriage Equality Bill: This bill is simply the latest installment of the Democrats campaign to delegitimize and attempt to intimidate the Supreme Court pic.twitter.com/NJGYB4ycF2
— Acyn (@Acyn) July 19, 2022
Culture war issues do not only affect Democrats. Nowadays, it’s the Republicans who are having problems with their base and a divided constituency. As a result, they are asking for votes on such issues as same-sex marriage, contraception, and others.
It’s 2022, and 157 House Republicans just voted against marriage equality.
That’s where they come down on this issue.
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) July 19, 2022
Would it be possible to ask Ron DeSantis if he believes that Florida should finally repeal its same-sex marriage ban? Voters might be interested in knowing. Or perhaps they should ask Florida GOP Senator Marco Rubio if he is still standing by his words back in 2015 when he said, “I don’t believe any case law is settled law. Any future Supreme Court can change it.” Even after a direct threat from a sitting Supreme Court justice Rubio played dumb: “What’s the threat?”
It certainly can. It’s what a majority of Republicans are counting on. The Democrats must make sure that the rest of the country knows that.