Equality in the making

Support for same-sex marriage is quickly growing

How quickly things change. In November 2008, California voters narrowly approved Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage; recently, just four years later, a statewide poll showed that 61 percent of the state’s citizens support marriage equality.

We’re seeing a remarkable and rapid shift in attitudes toward gay rights, and not just in California. Two significant events last week are indicative. First, on Feb. 26 some 70 prominent Republicans, including former Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, signed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court not only to preserve California’s same-sex marriage rights in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, but also to determine that homosexuals have a constitutional right to marry.

Then, on Friday, March 1, 172 U.S. representatives and 40 senators signed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case United States v. Windsor against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, a shameful relic of the Clinton administration that denies legally married same-sex couples more than 1,100 federal protections. As Chico Councilman Scott Gruendl, a gay married man, recently pointed out during a council meeting, because of DOMA he and his husband will be forced this year to file their federal income taxes as single persons and won’t be able to take advantage of the lower rate enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.

Whether these developments will succeed in compelling the court’s conservative majority to uphold the California Supreme Court’s overturning of Prop. 8 on constitutional grounds or to strike down DOMA and give marriage equality constitutional protection remains to be seen.

What is clear, as former John McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt said when signing the Prop. 8 brief, “The die is cast.” Marriage equality is coming to the United States. The sooner the better.