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Religious Tolerance logo

Movement toward same-sex marriage (SSM), LGBT equality etc.

Part 1: 2015-MAR-01 to 09: Accelerating changes
involving same-sex marriage, LGBT equality, etc.
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We use the acronym "SSM" to represent "same-sex marriage."
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

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Events from 2015-FEB were described in in the previous essay

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Developments during the first three months of 2015 have been remarkable and unprecedented:

  • We were expecting that March would be a slow month in the movement towards same-sex marriage. We thought that there would be little activity on this topic until late April when the U.S. Supreme Court holds hearings of four SSM cases, one each from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee. Then we expected more activity in late June or early July when the Court is expected to issue its rulings which may legalize marriage equality across the country. But we were wrong. Major conflicts broke out in many states, and dozens of "religious freedom to discriminate" bills were filed.

  • In mid-2015-JAN, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to accept appeals from the four states mentioned above. They have scheduled a hearing for 2015-APR-28, and will probably issue their ruling in late June or early July. It is widely anticipated that -- no matter what their ruling involves -- it will apply across the entire country, and immediately shut down dozens of lawsuits in state and federal court!

  • The General Social Survey is a truly massive poll which has measured demographic trends and American attitudes on many topics for almost half of a century. It is widely considered a very reliable source of information. The results from their 2014 survey were released during the first week of 2015-MAR. It shows high and increasing support for marriage equality in the U.S. (Linked essay being written)

  • The Republican Party is conflicted about marriage equality at this time. The party relies heavily on the support of independent voters at election time. Support for same-sex marriage among independents is growing. The attitude towards SSM among older teens and young adults -- even those within the Republican Party -- also heavily favors marriage equality. These people represent the future of the party. In response, the party appears to be shifting its position on SSM. The Nevada Republicans have endorsed same-sex marriage! Over 300 former and current Republican lawmakers signed a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of marriage equality. On the national scale, the Republican party decided to not issue a brief to the court -- a move that shows a major softening of their opposition to marriage equality.

  • As everyone expected, the Obama Administration did issue a brief to the high court, strongly supporting same-sex marriage. So did other groups ranging from sports organization to American industry.

  • With the battle for marriage equality possibly in its final stretch, a shift has been observed among organizations that have historically opposed same-sex marriage. Many are reducing the resources, money, and efforts that they have directed in the past at fighting marriage equality. They have seen the handwriting on the wall: they, along with the majority of the public believe that same-sex marriage is coming. Many of these groups are now concentrating on passing state legislation that increases the religious freedom of individuals, churches, and public accommodations to discriminate against and oppress the LGBT community. (Public Acclamations are typically retail outlets selling goods and services to the general public). This may be a dangerous strategy for these organizations to adopt because there is now a mass exodus of members from Christian faith groups, particularly among older teens and young adults. Many are becoming NOTAs (not affiliated with any faith group). Surveys have shown that one of their main motivations for leaving has been their denomination's negative teachings about science in general, and both human sexuality and the LGBT community in particular.

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2015-MAR-01: Current status of SSM in North America:

Same-sex marriage has been available throughout Canada since mid-2005. It is now freely available to more than 70% of the U.S. population. Locations with marriage equality include:

  • The District of Columbia,

  • 37 states including all the states bordering the Pacific Ocean, and all of the states along the Atlantic seaboard except for Georgia, and

  • In parts of Missouri. More information.

The most recent state to attain marriage equality was Alabama after a real struggle, which is continuing into March.

It remained unavailable in 12 states: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas.

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Developments between 2015-MAR-01 and 09:

  • 2015-MAR-02: Nebraska: A District Court judge issued s SSM ruling in favor of marriage equality. Senior U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon found that the year 2000 amendment to the state constitution violates the U.S. Constitution and is thus null and unenforceable. The amendment had banned same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships within the state.

He issued an injunction stating that:

"... all relevant state officials are ordered to treat same-sex couples the same as different sex couples in the context of processing a marriage license or determining the rights, protections, obligations or benefits of marriage."

His ruling was to become effective on Monday morning, MAR-09 at 8 AM local time. The state filed emergency requests with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asking that they impose a stay on the District Court's ruling and accept an appeal. More details.

  • 2015-MAR-03: Alabama: State Supreme Court issues order: Starting in early February, same-sex couples had been able to obtain marriage licenses and marry in some of Alabama's counties. Gradually during that month, the number of counties issuing such marriage licenses increased until all same-sex couples in the state were able to obtain a marriage license either in the county where they live or in the next county.

    Two conservative Christian non-profit groups petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court to terminate future same-sex marriages. In an unprecedented move, by a vote of 7 to 1 with Chief Justice Roy Moore abstaining, that court directly opposed the District Court's ruling. They ordered all Probate Judges to stop issuing licenses to same-sex couples. This created a constitutional crisis that many observers compared to Governor Wallace standing in the University of Alabama door over 40 years ago and blocking two black students from registering for classes. The supply of marriage licenses to same-sex couples completely dried up throughout the state.
    There are suggestions that even if the U.S. Supreme Court were to legalize same-sex marriage across the U.S. that Alabama may refuse to recognize the high court's ruling. More details.

  • 2015-MAR-05: Nebraska: The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals invoked a stay on the lower court ruling. Same-sex couples remain unable to marry in the state. More details.

    The 8th Circuit Court now has four same-sex cases before it, from Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota. In each case, a District Court has overturned a state ban on marriages by same-sex couples. Because of the four cases' similarities, the 8th Circuit has consolidated them. The court has scheduled hearings for the cases during the week of MAY-11. The 8th Circuit may not have sufficient time to issue its ruling before the U.S. Supreme Court issues its decision which may legalize same-sex marriage across the entire country.

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  • 2015-MAR-09: Results from three recent national polls: A number of widely regarded national polls during early 2015 indicated increasing support for marriage equality, and fading levels of opposition to same-sex marriage. Wikipedia reported: 3

    • The January–February 2015 Human Rights Campaign poll found that 60% of likely voters favor same-sex marriage, while 37% are opposed. The same poll also found that 46% of respondents said that they know a married same-sex couple. 4

    • A February 12–15, 2015 CNN/ORC poll found that 63% of Americans believe same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, while 36% are opposed. 5

    • A February-March 2015 Wall Street Journal poll found that 59% of Americans favor same-sex marriage. They also report that support among Republicans has risen by 13 percentage points from 27% in 2013 to 40% in 2015-MAR. Support among Democrats has now reached 74%. 6

    Janet Hook, writing for the Wall Street Journal said:

    "The findings help explain why same-sex marriage is receding in prominence as a political issue, even among Republicans. Some likely Republican presidential candidates have tried to defuse or sidestep the issue by, for example, deferring to states to set marriage policy." 6

    Back in 2013, some commentators who favored marriage equality speculated that when:

    • 26 states had attained marriage equality, and
    • Most Americans lived in states where same-sex couples can marry, and
    • Public opinion in favor of same-sex marriages exceeds 60%, then:

    the U.S. Supreme Court would be likely to make such marriages available across the U.S. as they did with interracial marriages during 1967.

    By mid-2015-MAR, all three criteria appear to have been met:

    • 36 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage. Also the city of St. Louis and two counties in Missouri issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
    • Over 70% of Americans live in places where same-sex marriage licenses are available.
    • The average of the above three recent polls indicates that support for same-sex marriage now exceeds 60%

    During mid-January, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted appeals involving same-sex marriage lawsuits from four states: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. Hearings are scheduled for 2015-APR-28. The high court's ruling -- in which there is a possibility that the Justices may legalize same-sex marriage across the entire country -- is expected in late June or early July.

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This topic continues in Part 2 with developments later in 2015-MAR.

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Oklahoma House approves bill shifting marriage licenses from state to clergy," Breitbart, 2015-MAR-10, at: http://www.breitbart.com/
  2. Matt Baum, "Laws to Stop Marriage Equality Grow Increasingly Weird: Mar 16 MNW," AFER, 2015-MAR-16, at: https://youtu.be/
  3. "Public opinion of same-sex marriage in the United States, Wikipedia, as on 2015-MAR-10, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  4. Steven Shepard, "Poll: 60 percent of likely voters back gay marriage,"Politico, 2015-FEB-13, at": http://www.politico.com/
  5. "CNN poll: 63 percent of Americans say same-sex couples have a right to marry," LGBTQNATION, 2015-FEB-28, at: http://www.lgbtqnation.com/
  6. "Support for Gay Marriage Hits All-Time High — WSJ/NBC News Poll," Wall Street Journal, 2015-MAR-09, at: http://blogs.wsj.com/

 

 

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Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2015-MAR-04
Latest update: 2015-MAR-17
Author: B.A. Robinson
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