Monday, July 29, 2013

Tipping Point

The last session of the Nevada Legislature was historic for many reasons. One was the passage of SJR 13. For the first time ever, the Legislature cast a vote in favor of marriage equality. And not only that, but the final vote for this session happened just weeks before the US Supreme Court issued its Prop 8 and DOMA rulings.

In a relatively short amount of time, we've seen a major sea change in public opinion both in Nevada and nationally. We're seeing yet another confirmation of this, courtesy of Gallup.

If given the opportunity to vote on a law legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states, the slight majority of Americans, 52%, say they would cast their vote in favor, while 43% would vote against it. [...]

In the same poll, Gallup asked a separate half-sample of Americans whether they think marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages. The 54% saying they should be recognized conforms with the 53% expressing the same view in May, and prior to that in November 2012.

This is the first update of this Gallup trend since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in July, making same-sex couples eligible for federal benefits in states where gay marriage has been legalized. The court also reportedly paved the way for gay marriage in California, by denying supporters of Proposition 8 in California standing to appeal a federal court's decision declaring the anti-gay-marriage amendment unconstitutional. It thus appears that these much-anticipated, and widely covered, decisions did not cause any realignment of public opinion, at least in the short term.

Gallup used two separate approaches to measure public support for gay marriage this month, and they produced similar results: 52% would vote for a federal law legalizing same-sex marriages in all 50 states, and 54% think gay marriages should be recognized as valid, with the same rights as marriages between men and women. This adds to the body of evidence in Gallup trends that public opinion on gay marriage has reached a tipping point, whereby the majority now clearly supports it.

Again, this is a major change from the not-so-distant past, when many Democratic and Republican politicians did not want to be associated with "gay marriage". Now, Nevada Democrats nearly universally support marriage equality while Republicans are divided. We truly seem to be under going a major tipping point.

Of course, nothing can be taken for granted just yet. After all, SJR 13 still must pass the Nevada Legislature in 2015. And if that happens, SJR 13 then goes to a vote of the people in 2016 for final approval.

But now, LGBTQ equality advocates feel more confident. The tipping point seems to be here. Progress is being made, and even more is now within reach.

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