Monday, August 9, 2010

Peter Dreier: Gay Marriage: The Tide is Turning And There's No Going Back

lenghty but informative

Peter Dreier: Gay Marriage: The Tide is Turning And There's No Going Back: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Major court decisions on controversial social issues are sometimes ahead of their times. That was certainly the case with judicial rulings decades ago that struck down laws banning interracial marriage. But despite conservative claims that U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling Wednesday to overturn California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage is outside the mainstream, the reality is that his decision is in sync with public sentiment.

The gay rights movement has won Americans' hearts and minds. The tide has turned. Opponents can try, but they can't push it back.

Although nobody believes that homophobia has disappeared, polls show that public support for gay rights - including marriage - has increased dramatically in the past decade, especially in the last few years. Moreover, support for gay marriage is much higher among younger Americans, indicating that the future belongs to the advocates, not the opponents, of same-sex marriage. Soon, conservative politicians and groups will no longer be able to use gay marriage as a "wedge" issue to stir controversy and win elections.

The battle for gay marriage is often compared with the struggle to end the prohibition against marriage between blacks and whites. In fact, Americans' attitudes about same-sex marriage changed much more quickly.

In 1948, when California's Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage (the first state to do so) in Perez v Sharp, most Americans opposed it. In the 1950s, when half the states still had laws prohibiting interracial marriage, over 90% of Americans still considered it wrong. By 1967, when the U.S. Supreme Court, in Loving v. Virginia, knocked down state anti-miscegenation laws everywhere, 16 states still had such laws on the books and 72% of the public still opposed interracial marriages.


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