Without too much fuss or national publicity, on Tuesday the Illinois state legislature approved a bill that legalizes same-sex marriage and the governor has said he will sign it, with such marriages beginning next June.
This makes Illinois the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage, but they have arrived at it in different ways. Seven have had state legislatures pass it, five had courts demand it, and voters approved ballot initiatives in three states. In addition, Washington, DC passed a local law.
The way this latest move was perceived says a lot about how views have changed on this issue, because passage is seen as a good thing for Republicans because this whole same-sex marriage issue has become a headache for them and they just want it to go away.
“This is actually a good thing for Republicans because it gets this issue off the table. This is a loser for them in Illinois,” Yepsen said. “This discussion and in so many of these social issues, some of the rhetoric in this makes them look intolerant. Now, Republicans can focus on their traditional winning issues, fiscal issues, jobs and the economy.”
It was only ten years ago that Massachusetts electrified the nation by having their sate supreme court rule that bans on such marriages were unconstitutional. That galvanized conservatives in the 2004 election where they won sweeping victories across the nation. So in just one decade, opposition to same-sex marriage went from being a clear winning issue to becoming a losing one.
It is the fastest change on a major social issue that I have ever seen. I see many doctoral dissertations in the future trying to explain why.