Karen Ocamb

The Changed Political Climate for Marriage Equality

Filed By Karen Ocamb | July 28, 2011 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, Evan Wolfson, Freedom to Marry, gay marriage, lesbian, LGBT, marriage equality, Respect for Marriage, same-sex marriage

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Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson posted an op-ed in The Hill blog Wednesday pointing out how the landscape has changed in favor of marriage equality. Wolfson noted that during last week's congressional hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA), Senators who voted for DOMA 15 years ago now strongly favor its repeal.

Wolfson wrote: "That change of heart on Capitol Hill is reflective of the journey the majority of Americans have made as minds have changed and hearts have opened. Fifteen years ago, only 27 percent of Americans approved of ending discrimination in marriage. Today, six national polls confirm that support has doubled to 53%, a national majority in favor of the freedom to marry."

Wolfson also noted a new bi-partisan poll analysis from Republican Jan van Lohuizen, President George W. Bush's former pollster, and Democrat Joel Benenson, President Obama's pollster. In "Rapid Increase in Support for Marriage Changes Political Equation: Emerging Majority Supports the Freedom to Marry," the pollsters "challenge the conventional Washington wisdom on marriage." Wolfson writes:

"Those who would now try to tout their anti-gay opposition to motivate narrow segments of voters will find that group of voters dwindling--and will quickly learn that anti-gay politics may turn off a vast voter pool on the other side that rejects division and discrimination. According to polling by the Washington Post, "strong" opposition to the freedom to marry dropped 13 points since 2004--and "strong" support in favor has risen 12 points. Whereas just a few years ago the opposition to the freedom to marry had greater intensity, now the numbers of those who support the freedom to marry outnumber those who strongly oppose it.

One of the major drivers of this momentum shift is a generational tidal wave. Almost 70 percent of those under 40 support the freedom to marry. Every day, as more and more young people come of age and enter the voting population, support will only increase."

View the full report here.

(Cross-posted at LGBTPOV)

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Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | July 28, 2011 4:42 PM

And now, after a brief pause following that modest-in length pro-marriage equality message, we return you to our usual parade of lengthy comments trashing the whole concept.

Jay Kallio | July 29, 2011 4:32 AM

Don, I think when the reality of the actual benefits of marriage for the least fortunate of LGBTQ people sinks in that people will give it more respect as a goal of our movement. We still need to repeal DOMA for the full equality of 1,300 rights and benefits even here in NY, where we have newly won the right to civil marriage. It is only one of many short and long term goals, but it is so soothing to win one for a change! :)

I will always totally favor bestowing all civil rights and privileges on everyone, regardless of relationship status, but that goal is likely to be generations away, if ever it comes to pass in the US. At least this small step brings us a bit closer to equality for all, which is heading in the right direction.

Perhaps when historians with a vantage point several hundred years from now look back on our times they will reflect on how all the hard won, tiny incremental victories slowly brought us closer and closer to true equality for all they will point to how the wheel of justice ground down ignorance, blind bigotry, and bitter enmity to dust, never to return. How hope, and love, sacrificed again and again, thrown against the stone wall of hatred and fear, finally wore down that wall, and flooded over in victory, like a healing balm.

Or maybe they will just squeal in horror of the dismal barbarism of our times, and the blatant injustice perpetrated on so many for so long, but at least they might be relieved of the burdens of fighting discrimination themselves, and be available for the bigger jobs, like fighting to save life on our planet and restoring the environment from the destruction wreaked upon it. We will need all hands on deck for that heavy lifting, not just the soft scions of the wealthy and privileged, for sure.

The work changes, but never ends...

We have made huge progress but we have a long way to go. With the right to marry in only seven states and bans in 40, we are not near a tipping point. Inter-racial marriage was not legalized nationally for more than two hundred years (1967) after the first state abolished slavery (New Hampshire in 1787). Hopefully we won't have to wait till the year 2200.