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Religious Tolerance logo

Changes following the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing of same-
sex marriage (aka gay marriage) across the U.S. in its ruling of
the Obergefell v. Hodges case from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio,
and Tennessee.

Part 71:
2015-OCT:
U.S. public support for gay marriage.
Speculation about the future of
marriage equality in the United States.

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We use the term "gay marriage."to represent the marriage of two persons of
the same sex. We prefer "Same-sex marriage," a more inclusive term that
includes spouses with a bisexual sexual orientation, but it would make this web
site harder to find because most search engines cannot handle synonyms.
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.
"LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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LGBT symbol Levels of support & opposition to gay marriage across the U.S. by state:

As of early 2016-NOV, the latest data on attitudes towards gay marriage on the PPRI web site was for the year 2015.

Their American Values Atlas (AVA) asked the question:

"All in all, do you strongly favor, favor, oppose, or strongly oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally?"

Responses were grouped into three categories: favor, oppose, and "don't know or refused. A list on their web page shows that the percentage of adults who favor same-sex marriage range from 25% in Mississippi to 76% in Massachusetts. It is worth noting that Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize gay marriage, and so the public there has had the longest time to accept the change. Nationally, they found that:

  • A majority of U.S. adults (53%) favored same-sex marriage; 37% are opposed, for a margin of 16 percentage points. 8% had no opinion or did not respond to the question.

  • States, in alphabetic order, with support at 60% or more include: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hamphsire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington state.

  • States, in alphabetic order, with support at 40% or less include: Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee.

  • Regions in the U.S. had a wide spread in their level of support:
    • Northeast states: 63%
    • Western states, including Alaska and Hawaii: 59%
    • Midwest states: 54%
    • Southern states: 46%.

  • Cities with over 60% support, included:
    • Boston: 78%
    • Chicago: 65%
    • Denver: 65%
    • Minneapolis-St. Paul: 61%
    • New York City: 63%
    • Philadelphia: 64%
    • Phoenix: 61%
    • Portland: 64%
    • San Francisco: 73%
    • Seattle: 70% 1

  • These values will probably increase at about one to two percentage points per year, partly due to teens with more liberal views becoming adults and being counted in polls for the first time, and older adults dying.

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Future status of gay marriage throughout the U.S. during the rest of the 2010's:

With the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefill during mid-2015, same-sex marriage appears to be secure, at least for now.

Almost instantly, many religious and social conservative groups switched most of their attention from opposing equality for lesbians, gays and bisexuals to preventing transgender persons and transsexuals from being able to express their gender identity.

Within months after the High Court ruling, marriage licenses became generally available to same-sex couples in every state in the U.S., and in four out of five U.S. territories. Exceptions included:

  • American Samoa, a territory in the Pacific Ocean. As of 2016-NOV, their government has not yet decided whether the High Court's ruling applies in their territory. Most of their population is considered to be American residents, not American citizens. Thus, decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court do not necessarily apply there. A court challenge will probably be needed to bring marriage equality to that territory.

  • Most Native American tribes still do not allow same-sex couples to marry. They are given freedom to form their own cultural standards for marriage.

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In some county clerks offices, an accommodation was arranged to allow some employees to be excused from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of the clerk's anti-LGBT religious beliefs. In a few counties, particularly in Alabama, clerks still refuse to issue marriage licenses to any couples. Couples who were turned away can usually go to a neighboring county to obtain a license.

One potential problem might appear in 2016-NOV due to the election of Donald Trump (R) as president. He has promised to nominate conservative, strict constructionist, Justices to the U.S. Supreme Court to replace Justices who have retired or died in office. They interpret the U.S. Constitution according to their perception of the mind set of the original authors of the Constitution and its amendments. Although Trump's main focus is to have Roe v. Wade appealed, and thereby terminate women's access to abortion, Obergefill could also be threatened:

  • Since, in the late 18 century, same-gender sexual behavior was a crime and given some very severe jail sentences, it is obvious that all the authors of the Constitution would have been opposed to gay marriage.

  • More liberal Justices view the Constitution as a living document and interpret it in terms of the present-day culture. Since most American adults support gay marriage and this support has been incresing over the past few decades, liberal judges tend to vote in favor of marriage equality.

The Justices' 5 to 4 vote in favor of marriage equality in mid-2015 could easly switch to a 5 to 4 vote against marriage equality, if a liberal Justice retired or died and two strict constructionist Justices were added to the Court. President-elect Trump has promised to do exactly that. There is little doubt that the Senate would confirm such a nomination because it is under Republican control.

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This topic concludes in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "American Values Atlas: 2015 LGBT Trends," Public Religion Research Institute, 2015-OCT-07, at: http://publicreligion.org/
  2. "Marriage," Gallup, 2015, at: http://www.gallup.com/
  3. "In U.S., 87% Approve of Black-White Marriage, vs. 4% in 1958," Gallup, 2013-JUL-25, at: http://www.gallup.com/poll/
  4. Peter Montgomery, "... Global LGBT recap.," Religion Dispatches, 2016-APR-08, at: http://religiondispatches.org/

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How you may have arrived here:

Copyright © 2015 & 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2015-OCT-31: Halloween and Samhain
Latest update: 2016-AUG-07
Author: B.A. Robinson
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