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Posts Tagged ‘DOMA’

Supreme progress on marriage

April 9th, 2013

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On March 26, 2003, a lawyer stood in front of the nine Justices on the Supreme Court and argued that states should not be allowed to criminally prosecute gay and lesbian people for engaging in sexual activity. At the time, 14 states still had laws on the books that made “homosexual conduct” a crime. Flash forward exactly ten years later, and the Court was considering whether Proposition 8, (barring gay couples from marrying in California) violates the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution. What a difference a decade makes.

To say our country has undergone a rapid transformation on the issue of marriage for gay couples is an understatement. The speed and breadth of this evolution have shocked even the most optimistic advocates. Just in the past two weeks, a cascade of Senators from purple and red states have added their voices to the chorus of marriage supporters, including Rockefeller, Kaine, Tester, McCaskill, Portman, Warner, and Hagan at last count. And this week’s Supreme Court arguments were another landmark moment for the cause.

Because this progress has come at such an astonishing clip, it is understandable that many had hoped the Supreme Court would take this opportunity to issue a broad decision that acknowledged a Constitutional right for gay couples to marry nationwide. After this week’s oral arguments, that outcome seems unlikely. But that reality should not be seen as a setback — rather, it is an opportunity to continue our nation’s swift journey toward full acceptance of gay and lesbian couples.

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A Full Circle on Marriage

September 21st, 2011

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In the fall of 1996, social conservatives in Washington, DC, pushed and passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman under federal law. It was signed—15 years ago this week—by a Democratic President who was considered the most gay-friendly in history. And its passage was meant to end the debate on marriage for gay couples once and for all. A decade and a half later, gay couples in six states and DC can marry, and more than a dozen other states provide civil unions or some other form of recognition for their relationships. What explains this fundamental shift?

First, public opinion has swung rapidly and remarkably in favor of gay couples. Support for allowing gay couples to marry has doubled since 1996, from 27 percent to 53 percent. This reflects a greater warming of Americans toward their gay and lesbian neighbors. Only 42 percent said they personally knew a gay person when DOMA passed, compared to 77 percent today. And in this case, familiarity did not breed contempt. Today, fully two-thirds of the country would use the word “family” to describe a gay couple with a child—in the DOMA days it was just 29 percent. Read the rest of this entry »

Then & Now: How the State of Relationship Recognition Has Changed Since DOMA

August 4th, 2011

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This piece was originally posted on The Huffington Post.

As gay couples begin to marry in New York, Third Way’s newest report details the seismic shift in our country since the passage of DOMA 15 years ago. There are many striking contrasts that illustrate this evolution, but one incredible change is this: in 1996 only 5% of the country lived in a state or locality that recognized gay couples’ relationships–now 46% do. Read the rest of this entry »

Gay marriage: Don’t make it about ‘rights’

March 21st, 2011

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This piece was originally published in the Baltimore Sun.

“What do we want? EQUAL RIGHTS! When do we want them? NOW!”

Catchy — but it doesn’t sound much like a wedding vow.

When couples make that lifetime commitment to each other in front of friends and family on one of the biggest days of their lives, few of them cite the 1,138 federal rights they will gain by making the promise of marriage. And the words “tax benefits” rarely come up in the best man’s toast.

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