It was a good Valentine's Day for advocates of same-sex marriage. A week ago, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court’s ruling that California’s Proposition 8 forbidding same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. On Monday, Washington governor Chris Gregoire signed a bill making it the seventh state where same-sex couples can legally marry.
I have argued for a long time that it is only a matter of time before same-sex marriage is legal across the U.S. It’s not just that the legal case for same-sex couples marriage is strong, since there could nevertheless be five votes on the Supreme Court to uphold same-sex marriage bans. It's really because public opinion is steadily turning in favor of same-sex marriage. Last year, for the first time, four national polls found a majority of Americans favored same-sex marriage. The margin in those polls was slim, but that margin is growing.
That’s because it’s mostly older Americans who oppose same-sex marriage, while younger Americans support it by large margins. In 2009 Jeffrey Lax and Justin Phillips found that if marriage laws were determined by a majority of voters under 30, same-sex marriage would be legal in all but 12 states. As Alex Pareene wrote last year, even the head of the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family has conceded that with large majorities of young Americans in favor of same-sex marriage its opponents have probably lost their fight against it. The future for same-sex marriage looks bright.
Gay couple image from Govincity / Shutterstock.com