Here is an interesting theory floated in today’s New York Times. It holds that the Republican Party had to unite around the sequester, even though it would harm our nation’s economic recovery, because it is deeply divided on social issues such as marriage equality. According to the article by Richard W. Stevenson:
Same-sex marriage has gone from being a reliable motivator for the conservative base to gaining broad acceptance.
Republican lawmakers are so fearful of social issues, in fact, that House leaders ignored intense objections from conservatives last week and allowed the passage of Democratic legislation on domestic and sexual violence against women. All of which helps explain why Speaker Boehner and reflects the civil war in the party since the November election.
In recent weeks it has become conventional wisdom that the battle for gay rights in America is over (albeit with years of hard work remaining). On Sunday morning I was watching ABC This Week’s roundtable and it seemed to be a forgone conclusion that marriage equality would be a reality in most, if not all of the states. The Los Angeles Times reports that this rapid change in public opinion could sway the Supreme Court in the two historic marriage equality cases it will consider in March, particualrly with Anthony Kennedy, the key swing vote. According to the LA Times.
Public opinion on marriage for gay and lesbian couples has shifted with almost unprecedented speed since California voters banned such unions in 2008. That shift could influence the Supreme Court, in particular Justice Anthony Kennedy and possibly Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., as it decides whether to uphold proposition 8 in coming months.
“Among all the justices, he is most concerned about public opinion,” New York University law professor Barry Friedman said of Kennedy. “The more there is a groundswell of support for gay marriage, the more it is likely he will vote to support it.”
Other than in a few strongholds of bigotry, same-sex marriage is hardly shocking and quite mainstream. It is legal in urban states, such as New York and Massachusetts, as well as rural states like Vermont and Iowa. In all of these places, gay marriage is now a non-issue. The people understand that it does not redefine marriage, as recalcitrant social conservatives falsely claim — since all heterosexuals will still be marrying opposite sex partners. It simply expands the institution to allow same-sex couples. This has zero effect on heterosexuals and the public began to figure that out a couple of years ago. Hopefully, this reality will resonate with the court, as it already has with the business community.