In the last decade since the Massachusetts Supreme Court declared a gay marriage ban unconstitutional on Nov. 18, 2003, marriage equality has made significant gains with public opinion and within state legislatures. Now 14 other states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage. Illinois is expected to join those states Wednesday with Gov. Pat Quinn’s signature to legislation approving same-sex marriage for his state.
“A decade after marriage equality arrived in Massachusetts, support for gay and lesbian Americans continues to rise to historic levels,” GLAAD’s Wilson Cruz told msnbc. “Anti-gay activists said the sky would fall, but the sun has shone; they said marriage would become weaker and that Americans would turn their backs on our nation’s founding principle of equality for all, but we’ve only moved closer.”
Indeed, a September poll this year found that 85% of Massachusetts voters saw a positive or little to no impact from gay marriages in the commonwealth. In the poll, voters in the state support legalizing gay marriage 60% to 29%. Nationally, support for marriage equality has almost doubled since 1996 when a Gallup poll found 27% of Americans thought same-sex marriage should be legal. In 2013, that figure jumped up to 53%.
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But now, marriage equality has majority nationwide support, is finally recognized by the federal government, and is now the law of the land in 16 states and DC. Just this month, Hawaii became #15 and Illinois became #16. And more are likely on the way.
And let's not forget what's happening in our own state. Here in Nevada, SJR 13 passed Round 1 in the Legislature this year while Sevcik v. Sandoval (Nevada’s federal marriage law suit) has reached the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals. After waiting a number of years and suffering a number of painful defeats along the way, Nevada is finally on the road to equality.
And 10 years ago, none of this was considered possible. Even in Massachusetts, then Governor Mitt Romney (R) requested a constitutional marriage ban! While we've run into plenty of obstacles in the past decade, we've nonetheless experienced a whole lot of progress.
Who would have thought a decade ago that opposition to marriage equality would one day become a political liability? We've come a long way, baby.