A new Pew survey confirms what observers have long intuited, that most people (72%) now see the legalization of same sex marriage a inevitable, up from 59% in 2004. What is significant is that 59% of opponents see it as inevitable too. Even though they seem resigned to it, it is still a divisive issue with just 51% favoring same-sex marriage and older, religious, Republicans, blacks, and those with less education showing the most opposition.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the House of Lords approving the bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the UK by a surprisingly large margin of 390-148 three days ago, the Church of England, that country’s official church, has dropped its opposition to the bill, signaling that it too sees this as inevitable even though they oppose it. There are still some procedural hurdles to overcome which means that the first such marriages will only occur next summer. Here is a useful Q&A on the issue.
NPR’s Nina Totenberg had an interesting interview with Margaret Marshall, the former chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court who in 2003 authored the first judicial ruling in the US declaring that bans of same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. She too feels that national acceptance is inevitable, even if the Supreme Court declines to act in the cases currently before it.
In the interview, Marshall addresses a question that Antonin Scalia, who clearly opposes same-sex marriage, raised in oral arguments back in March.
During this spring’s oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court over same-sex marriage, Justice Antonin Scalia asked when it became unconstitutional to bar people of the same sex from being married.
“I’m curious, when did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage? 1791? 1868, when the 14th Amendment was adopted?” Scalia asked. “When did the law become this?”
Marshall says for her, the answer was clear: “When the states started giving huge benefits and privileges to one section of the population.
“If you’re married, you have just enormous benefits, and if you’re in the same committed lengthy relationship, but you happen to be within the same gender, you have none of those benefits and protections,” she observes. Her 2003 opinion listed many of the hundreds of laws that give preferences and benefits to married couples.
The principle involved really is that simple: The state should not grant and deny privileges based on sexual orientation.