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Saturday, October 22, 2016

As the legal future of same-sex marriage in America is debated at the Supreme Court, marriage equality’s political future is rapidly brightening on Capitol Hill. In the 72 hours before the Court began hearing arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, six Democratic senators publicly endorsed gay marriage.

On Sunday night, Claire McCaskill (D-MO) changed her position via a post on her Tumblr page. “I have come to the conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on who you love,”she wrote,  adding, “Supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is simply the right thing to do for our country.”

On Monday, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) announced on his Facebook page, “I support marriage equality because it is the fair and right thing to do,” noting that “like many Virginians and Americans, my views on gay marriage have evolved.” That same day, Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) ended his silence on the issue, releasing a statement asserting that “gay and lesbian couples should not be denied the ability to pledge their love and commitment through the civil institution of marriage.”

Then on Tuesday, spokesmen for senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Tim Johnson (D-SD) told BuzzFeed that they no longer support the Defense of Marriage Act, for which they both voted in 1996. Additionally, Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) posted on his Facebook page, “I’m proud to support marriage equality because no one should be able to tell a Montanan or any American who they can love and who they can marry.”

The sudden shift towards marriage equality reflects the new political realities surrounding the issue. Polls show that support for same-sex marriage is rapidly rising, and equality advocates won in all four states in which gay marriage was on the ballot in 2012. Additionally, after President Barack Obama and all of the major contenders for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination voiced their support for marriage equality, the issue is likely to become a litmus test for Democratic politicians with national ambition.

Interestingly, however, this pattern has not played out during the ongoing debate over new gun safety measures. Universal background checks for gun buyers, stricter laws to prevent gun trafficking, and a new assault weapons ban all poll much higher than marriage equality does, state after state has been toughening gun laws since the Newtown massacre, and the White House has been outspoken in its support of the measures. Yet while Democratic senators are rushing to declare their support for gay marriage, many of them are simultaneously refusing to stake out a position on the gun proposals.

Senate Democrats are smart to recognize the future consequences of being on the wrong side of this civil rights issue, but if they don’t come around on gun control, the electoral consequences could end up being far worse.

Photo: Mark Warner/Flickr

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • Eleanore Whitaker

    So being gay is a genetic disease? Oh puhlease….Being violent is a mental illness. How about we start focusing on why the US has now become the world’s most violent society? It’s obvious that some people who read the Bible ignore the “love is like a clanging bell….” passage? Who you love is not as important as THAT you love with an honest heart. Who you choose to spend your life with is not anyone else’s business. A lot of people love their pets and consider them their “children.” Should we judge them as having a genetic disease too? It’s a natural human instinct to love and desire to be loved. Love…that’s it. Nothing more…nothing less. Some all too righteous people in the US just don’t get it. You can love anyone you want. You can spend your life with anyone you choose…Free will…some in the US would love nothing more than to destroy the free will humans are born with. Judge not, lest ye be judged. How many women look the other way while McHubby commits numerous adulteries? How many men have no respect, much less love, for women they treat like chattel? See? Once you start picking away at a festering cancer, the rest of the wound is in the spotlight.

    • lana ward

      The violence is because of years and years of dems Godless policies. Marriage is a man and a woman, or did God create Adam and Steve??

      • The sad reality of your faith, Iana, is that it is inflexible and incapable of growth. You actually apparently cannot understand that the Adam and Eve story is religious myth meant to address issues far different than homosexuality. You also apparently do not understand that the kind of same-sex behavior addressed negatively in a few passages of Scripture reflects an ancient and non-Scientific understanding of human sexuality when loving and mutual relationships between two homosexual persons were not openly known or understood. It was a time when men preyed on boys and men raped men as a display of power to humiliate their enemies. Your sarcastic remark concerning “Adama and Steve” is unworthy of a Christ-follower. But, yes, the truth is, acknowledging the metaphor, God did create Adams and Steves. In the world of nature, a significant number of animals, as well, are same gender oriented. It’s a fact grounded in modern scientific evidence, the way of all creation, but apparently something your rigid faith is incapable of embracing.

        • lana ward

          Truth is truth. It doesn’t change. God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. You are wishy washy for straying from the truth

  • I think it is important to be careful when we speak of our freedom to marry whoever we love, that homosexual marriage is between mutually loving and responsible adults in a relationship of genuine respect and parity–just as in heterosexual marriages. But we are not free to marry minors even if we love them (child sexual abuse/rape). We are not free to marry our biological brother or sister even we love them (incest). We are not free to be married to more than one person at the same time even if we profess to love them all (polygamy). The ethical rationale behind such societal prohibitions has to do with the inequity of those relationships in which there can be no true adult mutuality and responsibility or in which the relationships may create genetic disorder as in the case of incest. Contrary to some conservative arguments about a slippery moral slope, there is a vast and qualitative difference between hetero- or homo-sexual marriage and the kinds of inequitable, and appropriately regarded as immoral, relationships described by child sexual abuse, incest and polygamy.

  • This message is a reponse to Tom Toren’s response to Fran Perry as my browser won’t post a “reply.” Tom Toren, I think that the full, neutral and celebrative acceptance of homosexual marriage is such a sea change for most Americans, let alone the rest of the world, we need to cut one another some slack. Fran Perry has gone to extraordinary lengths, given her ideological framework, to embrace gay rights. I congratulate her. It is still hard enough to convince many gays that they are not somehow “defective.” Indeed, many gays would say, given their minority status in a world that misunderstands them, that, were they given a choice, they would choose to be straight. But they don’t have that choice. I know southpaws who would rather be righthanded, but it’s not going to happen. We might wish that some people were not born blind or deaf or mute, but we are still a long way from not thinking such handicaps are somehow birth disorders that we would like to someday ameliorate. But people who are blind or deaf or mute struggle with the idea that they might be considered somehow “defective.” Typically, they rightfully conclude they are gifted rather than defective. But not to acknowledge the challenge of these differences in a sighted, hearing and speaking world is calloused at best. Like it or not, gays will always be a small minority in a heterosexual world. How well does our science comprehend the roots and causes of same sex orientation? Not very well, yet. Come on, Tom. You are making judgments castigating people like Fran as full of “easy going, hypocritical hate.” I didn’t hear that in her statement at all. I hear a woman overcoming a huge cultural nemesis of rejection and abhorrence toward gays with a reasoned compassion. That’s huge. Give her time and understanding and her own unconscious condescension will come to the light of day and she will deal with it. Now it’s your turn (and mine!)to deal with our own condescension.