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The present and future of marriage equality

Old 04-12-13, 09:12 AM
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The present and future of marriage equality

Okay, so the same sex marriage thread has devolved into pages and pages of bickering between a couple of people and the rest of the forum. At the same time, there are lots of exciting developments around marriage equality. I'd like to make this thread a place to discuss the politics and policy of marriage equality. I'd also like to ask everyone to keep the religious bickering to the other thread.

Here's an article to get us started. I'll post another one in a separate post.

http://www.delawareonline.com/articl...put-fast-track

Gay marriage legislation put on fast track
Sponsors aim for passage and effective date of July 1

Written by
Doug Denison
The News Journal

WILMINGTON — Supporters of same-sex marriage came one step closer Thursday to making Delaware the 10th state in the nation to legalize gay marriage, offering legislation that will have its first hearing next week in the General Assembly.

The bill was released at a rally in Wilmington by a group of mostly Democratic supporters including Gov. Jack Markell, who said he will sign the legislation should it make it to his desk.

Republican Rep. Michael Ramone of Middle Run Valley is one of the co-sponsors of House Bill 75 and the lone legislator from his party to sign on so far.

The prime House sponsor, Rep. Melanie George Smith, says she is confident the measure has the support it needs to pass the General Assembly.

“I had the freedom to marry the person I loved. Let’s let our brothers, our sisters, our families, our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers and our children have the freedom to marry the person they love,” said Smith, D-Bear.

Milton resident Ron Lipton, who has been with his partner for 49 years, said it’s hard to believe that his relationship may be close to becoming legally recognized in Delaware.

“I just never imagined it,” he said. “It’s about loving, committed relationships, and I’m thrilled to be here. It’s like an out-of-body experience.”

Opponents reject the very premise that the state has the ability to alter the definition of marriage.

“Government didn't invent marriage, which has been upheld all throughout history, cultures, and faiths,” said Nicole Theis, president of the Delaware Family Policy Council. “Redefining marriage, making it genderless, does not simply expand the existing understanding of marriage; it rejects these truths.”

The legislation, which has 23 co-sponsors, deletes a prohibition against same-sex marriages added to Delaware law in 1996 and effectively supplants the same-sex civil union statute enacted in 2011.

Gay couples in existing civil unions would be able to obtain marriage certificates for a year after the bill’s July 1 effective date without going through another ceremony. After July 1, 2014, all Delaware civil unions would convert to marriages, under the proposed bill.

It also includes language to ensure that any references to marriage, spouses and their children in Delaware law are applied equally to same-sex married couples, and that those couples will be afforded the same rights as opposite-sex couples to litigate divorces and child custody disputes in Family Court.

The bill also makes clear that any legal definition of a dependent, family, husband, wife, widow, widower or next-of-kin would cover same-sex married couples. Same-sex spouses also would be permitted to enter their names on birth certificates.

Churches and clergy could not be compelled to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony if they choose not to, according to the bill.

“In the bill we very specifically protect churches and clergy people so that they have the freedom to decide whether to marry a couple or not,” Smith said. “We are not forcing any religious person or any church to do anything they don’t want.”

Opponents of the legislation say the religious protections are inadequate and can’t be counted on to protect people who don’t believe same-sex couples should be able to marry.

“HB 75 fails to protect the religious freedom of all Delaware citizens,” said Theis. “The absence of such protections is both unconstitutional and inequitable. Consistent with our country’s longstanding tradition of respect and tolerance for the sincerely held religious beliefs of all Americans — state laws must protect every individual.”

Theis mentioned the case of a Washington state florist who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding citing her religious beliefs. She said the case was currently being prosecuted for breaking the state’s discrimination laws.

Ramone said the legislation will promote committed relationships.

“I’ve known people my entire life who have wonderful, loving relationships, and I believe they should be able to marry just like anyone else,” he said. “I think anything we can do to promote people committing to one another and living a long, healthy, life in a committed relationship, I think we should do it.”

Ramone was one of two House Republicans who voted for the 2011 civil unions bill. The other was former Rep. Nick Manolakos, who lost a primary election last year.

“I may be the only [Republican] voting for this. . .” he said. “I’ve lived in a world where I’ve met a lot of people who are gay and lesbian and developed wonderful relationships with them.”

The civil unions bill passed with comfortable majorities in both chambers, though a few yes votes cast by moderate Republicans were canceled out by no votes from conservative Democrats from Kent and Sussex counties.

Smith expects similar results for her bill, which she and other supporters intend to have signed into law and ready to take effect July 1.

“I’m confident that enough Delaware legislators have the courage of their convictions to be able to support freedom for all Delawareans,” she said.

The House Administration Committee will convene a hearing on the legislation at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in the House Chamber in Dover.
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Old 04-12-13, 09:15 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...t-gay-marriage

The final three: the Democratic senators against gay marriage

Only three Senate Democrats now refuse to support same-sex marriage. So why won't they toe the party line?

Harry J Enten
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 10 April 2013 12.30 EDT

We're now down to the final three!

No, I'm talking about a sports tournament. I'm talking about the number of Democratic senators who are opposed to gay marriage. With South Dakota's Tim Johnson announcing his support, only Arkansas' Mark Pryor, Louisiana's Mary Landrieu and West Virginia's Joe Manchin are left as Democratic senators against same-sex marriage. So just why are these senators holding out?

Mark Pryor hasn't made any statements to suggest that he personally approves same-sex marriage. In fact, he seems to be undecided on civil unions, which have long been a more accepted middle ground. Whatever he says, we'll have to take Pryor at his word, though he has some plain political reasons to oppose gay marriage, starting with the fact that Arkansans passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2004 – with 75% of the vote.


Even if the US overall has undergone a sea-change, there's little sign that opinion in Arkansas has altered much over the past nine years. Late last year, a University of Arkansas poll found that 55% of Arkansans were against any legal recognition for same-sex couples, including gay marriage and civil unions. Even in famously conservative Louisiana, only 41% were against some sort of legal recognition. In polls taken last year, only about 30% of Americans opposed recognizing same-sex couples in any official capacity.

In the same poll, only 18% of Arkansas adults thought gay marriage should be legal; when civil unions appear on the questionnaire as an alternative, support for gay marriage generally drops. Yet, on a similar question nationwide, support for same-sex marriage polled at 37% and 38% in Fox News and CBS/New York Times, respectively – double the numbers in Arkansas.

Pryor is running for re-election in 2014, and in a state shifting to the right. His Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Blanche Lincoln, lost by 21pt in 2010, after having won two terms. President Obama lost the state by 24pt, even as he won the national vote by 4pt. Republicans just gained control of the state legislature after Democrats had controlled it for nearly 140 years.

Adding to his problems, Pryor's approval ratings are lackluster. In the latest Talk Business/Hendrix College survey, Pryor has a +7pt net approval. That's quite the downturn for a politician against whom no Republican was willing to run in 2008. Also, that net approval probably obscures part of Pryor's troubles: many voters are unsure of him, and only 42% of Arkansans approve of his performance. In fact, a Republican poll already shows Pryor losing to a potential Republican opponent.

In the case of Mary Landrieu, it's clearly politics that are keeping her from endorsing same-sex marriage. Landrieu has more or less said that she supports it, personally, but has always couched those statements with a clear desire not to go against her state's consensus. Back in 2004, Louisiana voters passed a ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage, with 78% of the vote. The situation in Louisiana has changed, but not that much.

Today, only 29% of Louisiana voters think that same-sex marriage should be legal, and 59% believe it should be illegal, per Public Policy Polling (PPP). We might that expect to rise by about 3pt by 2014, but it will be a long time before Louisiana has anything near a majority supporting same-sex marriage.

Landrieu, like Pryor, is up for re-election in 2014. When she first won a seat in the Senate, Landrieu represented a state that was more Democratic than the nation as a whole. Since then, Louisiana has leaped to the right. President Obama won only 40.6% of the vote in the Bayou State in 2012 – 10pt lower than his national result.

Landrieu probably feels that she has little room for error. The latest PPP survey pegs her net approval at only +2pt. Put that together with the fact that she's never won a race with more than 52% of the vote, and you start to get a picture of a senator who is trying to walk a delicate line.

Joe Manchin's opposition to same-sex marriage appears to be borne almost completely out of ideology, rather than electoral concerns. He voted against the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", and he backed the Defense of Marriage Act. Overall, he's rated the most conservative Democrat elected to the 113th senate.

Even if Manchin wanted to get in touch with his liberal side, the fact is that West Virginia, too, has rapidly turned to the right – much like Louisiana. Clinton won it by 15pt in 1996, and he was winning nationally by 8.5pt. In 2012, even though Manchin won re-election by 24pt, Obama lost West Virginia by 27pt. Add the fact that only 19% of West Virginians supported gay marriage in 2011 – meaning that majority support is hardly likely by 2018 – and Manchin has no electoral incentive to break with his own convictions and support same-sex marriage.


But should any of these politicians fear a political backlash if they change their tune to fit with the rest of their party?

Probably not: gay marriage, as an issue, can rarely make or break a politician.
It didn't even register in a national CBS News poll last month, which asked voters to rank their most important issues. Last year, the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that a politician's position on same-sex marriage was not important to whether they were voted into office. That's why you saw North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan come out in favor of gay marriage, even as she gears up for re-election in a state that chose to ban gay marriage last year with 61% of the vote.

The issue for Landrieu, Pryor and, to a lesser extent, Manchin is that they represent states in which Obama is deeply disliked. Given that neither Landrieu nor Pryor are particularly popular themselves, they likely worry that any issue at all could be the final nail in the coffin of their hopes for re-election.

Maybe, next week, we'll see if these stragglers fold into the party ranks. One way or another, we'll see the consequences come November 2014.
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Old 04-12-13, 09:17 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

I'm very excited that my home state is moving forward with marriage equality, and there is also a strong possibility that Illinois may also move forward.

I also find it interesting that support of same-sex marriage has moved to a place where it won't really hurt a national politician (well, at least as that politician is a Democrat.)
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Old 04-12-13, 09:19 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

This article I posted yesterday in the other thread might have gotten missed in the back and forth exchanges.

Nevada is also making a move according to a blurb on the Human Rights Campaign Facebook page

http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/one-st...lity-in-nevada

One Step Closer to Marriage Equality in Nevada

April 11, 2013 by Guest contributor

Post submitted by Nelson Araujo, political co-chair for the HRC Las Vegas Steering Committee.

Just moments ago, the Nevada Senate Legislative Operations and Elections committee voted to amend SJR13, legislation that would begin the multi-year process that would repeal the state’s ban on same-sex marriage to include language that would allow same-sex couples the right to marry the person they love.

The committee voted in favor (3-2) along party lines to adopt the amendment. The next step for the bill is to head to the full senate for consideration.

In order to amend a constitutional amendment and allow for full marriage equality to take effect in the state, the legislature must pass the legislation, without gubernatorial approval, in this session and the same bill in next legislative session (2015); the bill will then go up to a vote by the people in 2016, where a simple majority is needed to pass.

In 2002, Nevada voters passed Question 2, banning marriage equality for same-sex couples. In 2009, the state passed domestic partnership legislation, becoming the 17th state to provide relationship recognition to same-sex couples. In recent polling, public opinion has shown growing support for marriage equality with 54% of Nevada voters supporting same-sex marriage.
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Old 04-12-13, 09:23 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

Good news in Nevada as well. If 54% of voters support marriage equality in 2013, by 2016 it should be even higher, well within the margin of error for passage.
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Old 04-12-13, 09:32 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

Now if only something similar to Nevada would happen in Michigan. We were one of the states, a couple of elections ago, that passed an amendment to the state constitution to define marriage, pretty much a state DOMA.

It's sad that discrimination has been codified in the state constitution. Hopefully it is reversed in the near future as it would have a direct impact on me and my partner, if it was.
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Old 04-12-13, 09:38 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

I was born in Missouri and live in Kansas. Missouri has a law specifically forbidding same-sex marriage, and I think Kansas will eventually pass one. At any rate, our governor, Sam Brownback, is slightly to the right of Attila the Hun, so they don't call my state "Brownbackistan" for nothing.

I was glad to hear about Delaware in the news this week, and also Uruguay.

A little surprised that France is resisting it, though.
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Old 04-12-13, 09:39 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

I honestly am amazed at how fast marriage equality has gone from pipe dream to reality, and the rapid shift in public support. It gives me some level of hope for a future where positive social change won't take generations to achieve as it did in the past.

I think the internet plays a huge role in this, support among those under 30 is something like 80%.
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Old 04-12-13, 09:39 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

By the way, Tracer Bullet, I have you to thank for my own evolving position on this issue. A few years ago I remember arguing with you for civil unions. What you said in response made me think and I did some studying and came to understand why marriage is what we should be working for. So thank you.
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Old 04-12-13, 09:46 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

The problem with these things is that there seems to be a conservative bias against marriage reform in legislatures. By 'conservative bias' I don't necessarily mean that legislators are biased against it, but rather that, it takes a supermajority of voters to support reform before legislators take notice. Among other reasons this might explain why the law is lagging well behind public opinion on this issue.
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Old 04-12-13, 09:46 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

Originally Posted by Nausicaa View Post
I honestly am amazed at how fast marriage equality has gone from pipe dream to reality, and the rapid shift in public support. It gives me some level of hope for a future where positive social change won't take generations to achieve as it did in the past.

I think the internet plays a huge role in this, support among those under 30 is something like 80%.
Great point. Not only the Internet, but social media specifically. It is almost nightly that one of the local news channels mentions something posted to their FB page or Twitter.

Though, I have to admit that I'm surprised it isn't going faster. I would think states at this point would rather be pro-active than wait around and be reactive.
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Old 04-12-13, 09:48 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

Originally Posted by wendersfan View Post
The problem with these things is that there seems to be a conservative bias against marriage reform in legislatures. By 'conservative bias' I don't necessarily mean that legislators are biased against it, but rather that, it takes a supermajority of voters to support reform before legislators take notice. Among other reasons this might explain why the law is lagging well behind public opinion on this issue.
What is annoying is that, at one point, the opposition said that the issue needed to be argued in the courts. Now that it's winning in the courts, the opposition says it should be up to the people.
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Old 04-12-13, 10:01 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

Originally Posted by wendersfan View Post
The problem with these things is that there seems to be a conservative bias against marriage reform in legislatures. By 'conservative bias' I don't necessarily mean that legislators are biased against it, but rather that, it takes a supermajority of voters to support reform before legislators take notice. Among other reasons this might explain why the law is lagging well behind public opinion on this issue.
Do you think that U.S. senators coming out in support of marriage equality has any effect on their state legislatures?
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Old 04-12-13, 10:02 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

Originally Posted by Vibiana View Post
By the way, Tracer Bullet, I have you to thank for my own evolving position on this issue. A few years ago I remember arguing with you for civil unions. What you said in response made me think and I did some studying and came to understand why marriage is what we should be working for. So thank you.
You're welcome!
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Old 04-12-13, 10:14 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

Based on the stuff I read/heard about the DOMA arguments in the SCOTUS, it seems the argument to strike down DOMA because of states rights. The Fed should defer to states rights and let them define marriage and then respect that.

If that logic wins, wouldn't that be pretty harmful to the gay marriage fight since many states have constitutional amendments against gay marriage? Shouldn't the goal be to get SCOTUS to rule it as a constitutional right not a states right issue?
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Old 04-12-13, 10:16 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

Originally Posted by Venusian View Post
Based on the stuff I read/heard about the DOMA arguments in the SCOTUS, it seems the argument to strike down DOMA because of states rights. The Fed should defer to states rights and let them define marriage and then respect that.

If that logic wins, wouldn't that be pretty harmful to the gay marriage fight since many states have constitutional amendments against gay marriage? Shouldn't the goal be to get SCOTUS to rule it as a constitutional right not a states right issue?
It depends on what you mean by harmful. Will it stop marriage equality? Nope. Will it cause unnecessary harm and suffering to gay people living in states with no hope of passing marriage equality in the next 15-20 years? Yup.
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Old 04-12-13, 10:24 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

Originally Posted by Venusian View Post
Based on the stuff I read/heard about the DOMA arguments in the SCOTUS, it seems the argument to strike down DOMA because of states rights. The Fed should defer to states rights and let them define marriage and then respect that.

If that logic wins, wouldn't that be pretty harmful to the gay marriage fight since many states have constitutional amendments against gay marriage? Shouldn't the goal be to get SCOTUS to rule it as a constitutional right not a states right issue?
It should be ruled as a constitutional right. "States' rights" is a term that reminds me of slavery. A heterosexual couple is married in all fifty states the minute they sign that marriage license. So anything less for a gay couple is discriminatory.
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Old 04-12-13, 10:29 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet View Post
It depends on what you mean by harmful. Will it stop marriage equality? Nope. Will it cause unnecessary harm and suffering to gay people living in states with no hope of passing marriage equality in the next 15-20 years? Yup.
i meant the latter. if the goal is marriage equality everywhere, then the states rights approach doesn't work
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Old 04-12-13, 10:37 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

Originally Posted by Vibiana View Post
It should be ruled as a constitutional right. "States' rights" is a term that reminds me of slavery. A heterosexual couple is married in all fifty states the minute they sign that marriage license. So anything less for a gay couple is discriminatory.
I've been working my way through Caro's biography series on LBJ, and I'm currently reading the third volume, Master of the Senate. It's really funny to read entire chapters on how southern Democrats in the Senate used "states rights" as the excuse to filibuster all civil rights legislation that came before the Senate in the 40s and 50s.
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Old 04-12-13, 10:37 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

Originally Posted by Vibiana View Post
By the way, Tracer Bullet, I have you to thank for my own evolving position on this issue. A few years ago I remember arguing with you for civil unions. What you said in response made me think and I did some studying and came to understand why marriage is what we should be working for. So thank you.
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Old 04-12-13, 10:38 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

Originally Posted by wendersfan View Post
The problem with these things is that there seems to be a conservative bias against marriage reform in legislatures. By 'conservative bias' I don't necessarily mean that legislators are biased against it, but rather that, it takes a supermajority of voters to support reform before legislators take notice. Among other reasons this might explain why the law is lagging well behind public opinion on this issue.
The gay marriage issue aside, I like that kind of bias. I prefer the government moving slowly and seeing that there is support for it. Would have been nice on the health care legislation, for example.

Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet View Post
Do you think that U.S. senators coming out in support of marriage equality has any effect on their state legislatures?
I don't think so, personally.

Originally Posted by Vibiana View Post
It should be ruled as a constitutional right. "States' rights" is a term that reminds me of slavery. A heterosexual couple is married in all fifty states the minute they sign that marriage license. So anything less for a gay couple is discriminatory.
I don't think it will be, however. But I don't think it will take all the states passing it for it to happen nationally, either. The big roadblock I see for the SCOTUS is that sexual orientation is not a protected class federally. They are in many states, however. But since the feds don't have gays as a protected class, I think they punt it back to the states. But at some point, the feds will make it a protected class, and then it is a pretty easy SCOTUS thing, and probably doesn't even need to get there again if that happens.
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Old 04-12-13, 10:39 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

Originally Posted by Venusian View Post
i meant the latter. if the goal is marriage equality everywhere, then the states rights approach doesn't work
Well, that is the goal of course, but honestly I would be happy to have marriage equality continue to roll out on a state-by-state basis and have DOMA struck down so all the federal marriage benefits apply to people in same-sex marriages.
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Old 04-12-13, 10:39 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

Originally Posted by Vibiana View Post
By the way, Tracer Bullet, I have you to thank for my own evolving position on this issue. A few years ago I remember arguing with you for civil unions. What you said in response made me think and I did some studying and came to understand why marriage is what we should be working for. So thank you.
Impossible. No one changes opinions on internet boards!
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Old 04-12-13, 10:45 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet View Post
Do you think that U.S. senators coming out in support of marriage equality has any effect on their state legislatures?
It can't help but have some effect, but so far, IIRC, only two GOP Senators have come out in favor, so it's relatively easy to marginalize them. But, in the context of other party elites*, acknowledging at the very least that the tide has turned on this issue, eventually this will trickle down.

Without having hard evidence to support this, I think the reasons for the lag are two-fold - this issue is breaking so fast, relatively, that legislatures can't help but be left behind, and second, while public opinion has shifted so that there is majority support for equality, that's 'soft' support. I would guess that, of those people who feel strongly about this issue, enough, e.g., that it would decide their vote, that group probably still has a majority in opposition. I think most people favor it but of that group, it's just not that important to them.

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Old 04-12-13, 10:51 AM
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Re: The present and future of marriage equality

Yay! I can finally view this thread since the other was blocked. Our content filter blocks the word "sex" in URLs.
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