(2/24/14) Fewer trends involving sexuality have garnered as much attention in recent years as the legality of same-sex marriage in the United States. As with most matters involving cultural values, it may just be that the old guard of legislative dinosaurs simply hasn’t caught up with the prevailing social reality yet, but the tipping point may finally be right around the corner.
As of 2013, 17 states have legalized gay marriage, leaving 33 who have not. Most of these are due to a combination of existing state constitutional bans and other prohibiting laws, so removing the remaining barriers is likely to be an agonizingly slow process if left to each individual state to decide. That said, there is now a sustained–and growing–majority of Americans who believe that same-sex marriages should be legally recognized with the same rights as opposite-sex marriages. According to Gallup polling trends, that number was at 42% ten years ago, but has been at or over 50% since May 2012–and is rising.
While states’ rights are certainly a key factor on the legal side of the issue, the preeminent twist is that the U.S. Constitution provides for equal protection under the law from state to state. This is specifically why an opposite-sex marriage in one state is recognized unanimously and without restriction in all others. So, where the matter of same-sex marriage is concerned, an inequality under the law exists, literally making a federal case out of it. As that critical detail applies to the looming tipping point, we are now at a place where the majority of Americans (52%) would, if allowed, vote for a federal law that would instantly make same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states. So, what’s holding up that kind of productive progress?
It’s important to remember that in a legal sense, we do not live in a democracy, but rather a republic. This is to say that “We the People” do not vote on the laws that govern us. We select others to propose and vote on them for us. So, rather than continuing to select representatives who stubbornly cling to archaic, outmoded and hypocritical ways of thinking, it’s really just a simple matter of making it a point to choose more wisely. The next opportunity to do that is just a few months away when, this November, every one of the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 33 U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs. If you genuinely want progress, make it a point to wisely select lawmakers who are in tune with the majority of citizens and prepared to act promptly.
The trend is clear: Most Americans want this matter resolved in favor of providing equality and justice–as it should be for a nation that embraces freedom and justice for all as defining virtues. It is no longer a matter of if same-sex marriage will be legal all across America, but when. The tipping point is just ahead. The time to prepare for it is now.
What say you?