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Frank Capley-Alfano (L) and Joe Capley-Alfano kiss as they celebrate outside of San Francisco City Hall on February 7, 2012 in San Francisco, California. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the voter-approved Proposition 8 measure violates the civil rights of gay men and lesbians.
Advocates for same-sex marriage had a lot to celebrate, Tuesday. Voters approved of laws that let same-sex couples marry in Maine and Maryland, and a similar initiative is poised to pass in Washington state. Meanwhile, Minnesota became one of the first states to remove a ban on same-sex marriage from its constitution. That would allow the state legislature to pass a law that would let gay, lesbian, and transgender couples get married, though it’s expected to do so anytime soon.
Until this year, voters have typically not supported same-sex marriage, California’s Prop 8 in 2008 is evidence of that past perspective. But advocates say Tuesday’s gains show strong momentum and a change in public opinion. That in turn could influence the U.S. Supreme Court, which will have to decide in the next few months whether to take up the Prop 8 legal challenge or any of the cases that have called the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.
With President Obama’s reelection and growing support for same-sex marriage, the tide could be turning for LGBTQ rights. How significant will this momentum be on the national scale? Have a majority of Americans grown comfortable with same-sex marriage, or will the spread be limited to more progressive states? Could a change in public opinion affect how judges rule on the issue?
Scott Barclay, Senior Scholar in Public Policy at the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School, a think tank that researches LGBT law and policy
Cliff Rosky, professor of law at the University of Utah