What are some of the future challenges facing the movement for same-sex marriage?
Despite the progress that the LGBT movement has made in recent years, the fight over gay and lesbian rights remains a tough battle. Whether it is violence committed by populists against gay people, state repression of LGBT activists, legal and judicial obstacles to same-sex couples’ recognition, or the need to promote sex education, LGBTQ advocates continue to face challenges around the world.
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The Challenge of Civil Disobedience.
In the wake of the first successful court ruling on same-sex marriage, a wave of spirited and often lawless civil disobedience began to sweep across the nation. In Boston, for example, a coalition of religious groups and anti-gay activists threw up their arms in opposition to a proposal for a civil union ceremony for same-sex couples. Other towns and cities sprang up to oppose the marriage equality initiative, causing civil unrest and a nationwide media firestorm.
Amid these protests, some religious leaders redoubled their efforts to oppose same-sex marriage. The Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and many evangelical Christian groups stepped up their advocacy.
But the emergence of a new generation of pro-LGBT political candidates in some states brought a renewed hope that the fight would move forward. And the 2006 election was a major turning point: A wave of pro-LGBT legislation passed in some statehouses, including civil union measures in New Jersey and Connecticut.
The Challenge of Legal Advocacy.
In a number of states, however, courts found that same-sex couples did not have the right to marriage under their Constitutions. The high court decisions in Maryland, New Jersey, and Washington in 2006 and 2007 held that the only remedy was through legislative action.
While these decisions were a setback for the fight for same-sex marriage, they provided a much-needed reminder of the legal power of the gay and lesbian community. The cases were also a catalyst for a growing number of civil rights organizations to start litigating on the issue.
As a result, litigation has been launched in numerous other states. But the legal successes that the gay and lesbian community enjoyed in Massachusetts, Vermont, and other states have not been replicated.
This has been because of a series of controversies over the constitutionality of marriage. The most prominent of these is Obergefell v. Hodges, a Supreme Court case that established that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry.
A subsequent lawsuit in California, where the issue was once again before the state court, was also a major victory for the gay and lesbian movement. The case, which involved two celebrated attorneys, Ted Olson and David Boies, was a test of whether the court could deliver a judicial ruling on same-sex marriage that would overturn state laws denying same-sex couples access to marriage.
In the aftermath of these victories, legal advocates shifted their focus to persuading the public and legislators to support same-sex marriage. This was an important development because state legislatures are usually more sympathetic to the views of the LGBT community than state governors, who tend to be less supportive. Moreover, some state supreme courts were reluctant to take up the case. Nonetheless, the victories in Massachusetts, Vermont, and other states helped to create a new generation of political candidates who were more supportive of gay and lesbian rights.