What impact has the legalization of same-sex marriage had on the political landscape?
For the first time in decades, President Barack Obama has signed into law a federally protected right to same-sex marriage. The move, which President Biden celebrated on the White House lawn Tuesday, marks a major victory for the LGBTQ community and a historic shift in national politics.
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Several years ago, the issue of same-sex marriage was a lightning rod for anti-gay activists, who pushed state laws to ban it and helped Republicans win elections. But in the decade since, it has become a centerpiece of the LGBT movement and an issue that’s more widely embraced by political parties.
Support for Same-Sex Marriage in the United States.
The percentage of Americans who say same-sex marriage should be recognized by law as valid has reached a high point. Eighty-three percent of Americans, including 87% of Democrats, say that a person should have the right to marry the person they love regardless of their sexual orientation.
There are a few factors that could explain this rise in support. For one, it’s been a long, arduous journey to this point.
In 2004 and 2005, several states put same-sex marriage bans on their ballots, leading to intense pushback from the gay rights movement. Even President Bill Clinton was on the fence about same-sex marriage, but in 1996 he backed the Defense of Marriage Act to protect marriage as a constitutional right for all Americans.
Now, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. The court overturned a number of statewide bans on same-sex marriage, including Oregon’s ban on same-sex partnerships in 2001 and Nebraska’s prohibition on same-sex marriage in 2005.
A number of GOP members have jumped on the same-sex marriage bandwagon as well, with some senators saying they have changed their views about the issue after coming to terms with the fact that it’s not about being “gay” but about protecting individuals and families from discrimination. Some have cited changes in their own personal lives as the reason, while others have pointed to a newfound respect for their constituents who have supported same-sex marriage.
Portman, who has endorsed same-sex marriage since 2013 when he announced that one of his sons was gay, says that people who support the change now call him to thank him for supporting them. He added that he has seen the impact that same-sex marriage has had on his own family and that it’s something he wants to continue to do.
As it stands now, most Senate Republicans oppose same-sex marriage. But a number of them – like Ohio’s Rob Portman, Maine’s Susan Collins and North Carolina’s Thom Tillis – have said they will vote for the legislation if it gets to the floor.
This has created a potential problem for the Senate Republican leadership, which has to take into account the views of their core conservative constituents. Moreover, the issue is a big deal for some within the LGBT community, who are frustrated with the slow pace of progress and believe that same-sex marriage is a top priority.