Third Way Perspectives

Subscribe via RSS

Posts Tagged ‘Marriage Equality’

Supreme progress on marriage

April 9th, 2013

by

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Marriage for Gay Couples: A Snapshot of Public Opinion Research

May 11th, 2012

by

Given the President’s announcement of his support for marriage this week, folks are understandably searching for data on how his position will play with voters in the middle. Our four years of in-depth research into that question provides crucial insights—here’s a quick look at some key numbers from our July 2011 poll.

1. A strong majority of Americans say they will accept marriage for gay couples.

When asked how they would feel if gay couples could marry, 32% said they would be glad, 23% said they would not like it but it would be acceptable to them, and 37% said it would not be acceptable to them (another 9% said they didn’t know). So approximately a third of the country will likely be energized by President Obama’s announcement, and another third will accept it. Only about a third will find it unacceptable—and our guess is that likely very few (if any) of those folks were planning to vote for President Obama before his interview.

2. The “rights” argument may fall flat with the middle, but “commitment” can woo them.

Only a bare majority agreed that “marriage is a basic human right that should not be denied to gay people” (52%) and only slightly more thought that “not allowing gay people to marry is discrimination.” But 60% of respondents in our poll agreed that allowing gay couples to marry would “help committed couples take care of each other and their families.” That included 63% of Independents and 78% of those who rated themselves 5s on a 1-10 comfort scale with marriage. And 61% of all respondents thought the following statement described the issue of marriage for gay couples very well or pretty well: “I believe gay couples want to marry for similar reasons as anyone—to make a public promise of love and commitment.”

A solid 61% described this statement as convincing, including 37% who said it was very convincing:

Some people say that gay and lesbian couples who are truly committed to each other want similar things as the rest of us—to build a life together based on love and commitment, staying together through thick and thin. The Golden Rule is one of the most important values we teach our children—to treat others as we want to be treated. So if a couple is willing to stand up in front of family and friends and make a lifetime promise to each other, it’s not for us to judge, or to deny them that opportunity.

Those who thought that statement was convincing included 64% of Indepen­dents, 79% of those who rated themselves a 5 on the comfort scale, and 80% of those who said marriage would be acceptable but they wouldn’t like it (the grudging acceptors).

Read the rest of this entry »

Will the middle say ‘I do’ to gay marriage?

May 11th, 2012

by

This piece was originally posted on Politico.

President Barack Obama’s announcement Wednesday in support of marriage for gay couples answered one key question: Where does he — and so his party — stand? Now the big question is: Are Americans in the middle ready to accept this?

That answer can be yes, based on our four years of extensive research into that precise question — if marriage supporters heed three crucial lessons about how the middle views this issue.

First, the “rights” frame is wrong. One word emerged during our nine rounds of research that described how Americans in the middle view marriage: commitment.

In fact, when undecided Americans were asked what marriage means to them, “commitment” came up four times as often as the word “love.” “Rights” never came up — not once. To folks in the middle, marriage is about making a promise to care for each other for a lifetime, through better or worse.

They often focused on the latter — because that is what makes marriage unique from other relationships. To them, marriage is about one thing: the obligation and responsibility that comes with making a public promise of lifetime commitment.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

March 21st, 2011

by and

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Asking for Your Hand in Marriage

January 19th, 2011

by

This piece originally appeared in The Advocate.

“It’s going to happen. Whether you like it or not.” This quote from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, among the nation’s fiercest equality advocates, became the tagline for one of the most frequently aired—and effective—ads run by marriage opponents in favor of Prop 8 during the 2008 battle in California.

Read the rest of this entry »

What Would Jesus Do?

January 29th, 2010

by

This piece was originally posted on the Huffington Post.

Will the culture wars ever end? We have now had three Presidents in a row who promised to unite the country. They all failed.

Bill Clinton said in 2004, “If you look back on the sixties and, on balance, you think there was more good than harm in it, you’re probably a Democrat. And if you think there’s more harm than good, then you’re probably a Republican.”

Read the rest of this entry »