Support for Gay Marriage Grows as Supreme Court Cases Near
Chris and Renee Wiley pose for a wedding photo last year in Times Square. Photo by Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images.
A new national poll reflecting a major evolution on attitudes toward gay marriage highlights the continued cultural shifts on the issue one week before it faces a monumental test at the Supreme Court.
The Washington Post/ABC News survey released Monday found that 58 percent of Americans believe it should be legal for gay couples to get married. The survey showed 36 percent of respondents opposed making same-sex marriages legal.
The Post’s Greg Sargent breaks down in detail the dramatic splits on the issue among certain demographic groups: Voters ages 18-29 support legalizing gay marriage, 81 percent to 15 percent; non-white voters support legalizing gay marriage by 61-32; and college-educated whites support legalizing gay marriage by 65-29.
All of these constituencies have favored Democrats in national elections.
As David A. Fahrenthold and Jon Cohen note in their story, the survey “reflects a remarkable — and remarkably fast — turnabout in American public opinion on one of the most emotionally raw and politically divisive issues of the past decade.”
It also found “a broader shift in American attitudes about homosexuality,” they write. “Two decades ago, fewer than half of all Americans said being gay was an identity people are born with, not a choice; today, a sizable majority, 62 percent, says so.”
Consider that a decade ago, strategists with former President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign helped the party plot state-by-state marriage votes they knew would boost the Republican’s chances at securing a second term. They worked with state parties to make sure efforts to ban gay marriage were on 2004 ballots, which brought out evangelical voters and others who overwhelmingly backed Bush. That strategy wouldn’t work today.
Ten years ago, Virginia lawmakers hosted a major event around the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. the Board of Education. They stood on the steps of the portico and apologized on behalf of the commonwealth’s forefathers for segregating schools and for the “Massive Resistance” movement in Virginia attempting to thwart desegregation.
Some Democratic lawmakers were joined by the first openly gay delegate to implore their colleagues to remember the moment. They compared the issue to the civil rights movement and argued that by banning marriage at the state level they might be setting up another apology decades in the future.
Those comments were seen as dramatic at the time, and the majority of the country opposed gay marriage and overwhelmingly backed state efforts to enshrine marriage as between a man and a woman. There have been all sorts of studies examining the issue, but over the years the nation has seen a slow shift in the other direction, as evidenced in Monday’s Post poll.
With just one week until the Supreme Court hears arguments in two major cases addressing gay rights — California’s Prop 8 law and the Defense of Marriage Act — more and more public figures are starting to declare their support for gays having the same marriage rights as everyone else.
Former President Bill Clinton penned an op-ed earlier this month explaining why he no longer agrees with the Defense of Marriage Act he signed into law in 1996. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman declared his position changed last week, telling his constituents that he evolved after his son came out to him.
And on Monday, in a possible overture for a 2016 presidential bid, Hillary Clinton announced in a long web video why she supports gay marriage.
She outlined what she had seen abroad as secretary of state and said she believes it is “in our DNA” to “champion the freedom and dignity of every human being.”
“I support marriage for lesbian and gay couples. I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law embedded in a broader effort to advance equality and opportunity for LGBT Americans and all Americans,” Clinton said. She even acknowledged marriage can be challenging.
On his new political blog, David Catanese gets reaction to Clinton’s announcement from hotshots in early presidential primary states. When she ran in 2008, Clinton had wide support in the gay community but only backed civil unions. Early-state reaction was generally positive, but it’s important to note she’s actually one of the last possible contenders to embrace same-sex marriage. Vice President Joe Biden, and Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Martin O’Malley of Maryland were out front on the issue last year.
Watch Clinton’s video here or below:
The release of the Post poll on this major cultural issue came as the Republican National Committee released a forensic examination of its challenges connecting with younger and minority voters, as previewed here. (The report, which you can read in full here, actually makes no mention of marriage despite some officials acknowledging the party is losing younger voters on the issue.)
Politics desk assistant Simone Pathe was at the RNC’s Washington rollout and filed this report looking at the blueprint for the GOP’s path forward.
On the NewsHour, Gwen Ifill talked with Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report and Susan Page of USA Today about the splits among Republicans and how they can work to win the next national election.
Watch the segment here or below:
- The Senate Democrats’ gun bill won’t include California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s assault weapons ban proposal as part of its core legislation. Instead, the assault weapons ban will be offered as an amendment to a bill that could include gun trafficking, school safety and background check measures.
- Politico rounds up the five things to watch for in Tuesday’s primary for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. Republican former Gov. Mark Sanford may not grab enough votes for a clean win of his party’s nomination, so he and another candidate could advance to an April runoff. The winner there likely will face Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch ( comedian Stephen Colbert’s sister) in the election to fill the seat left vacant when Republican Tim Scott was appointed to the Senate.
- Three women have now retracted claims that they were paid to have sex with Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. They admitted a Dominican lawyer paid them to fabricate the allegations.
- President Barack Obama’s approval rating has dipped to 47 percent in a new CNN/Opinion Research survey. Fifty percent of respondents said they disapproved of his job performance. The poll also shows the Republican Party’s brand in bad shape, with 54 percent of respondents holding an unfavorable view of the GOP. Just 38 percent said they have a favorable view of the party.
- Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will announce his support for a path to citizenship Tuesday morning before the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
- Immigration reform has become the top political issue for Latino voters, according to a Latino Decisions poll released Monday. Latino voters who say that new policy on immigration is their top priority has risen to 58 percent, compared with 35 percent in November. Nearly two-thirds of the 800 who participated in the telephone survey conducted last month said that either a member of their family or a close personal friend is an undocumented immigrant.
- The Senate’s bipartisan Gang of Eight plans to unveil its immigration reform legislation after a two-week recess in early April, although members claim they’re on target to finish by the end of March.
- Former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Richard Camona announced Monday he will not run for governor of Arizona in 2014.
- Chris Cillizza uses seven charts to illustrate the Republican Party’s challenge with Hispanic voters.
- The Miami-Dade County online elections system faced a cyberattack in an August primary last year. The attack requested thousands of absentee ballots and is the first known attack of its kind on a U.S. election.
- Reproductive rights groups plan a big rally Wednesday against anti-abortion measures in Raleigh, N.C..
- Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank announced Monday she will leave the post to become the next chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Former Washington state Gov. Booth Gardner has died.
- Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, objected last week to a resolution commemorating Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week over what an aide said was insufficient time to review the measure.
- Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is turning her attention to the homefront, forgoing interviews with Hill publications for a profile in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, in an effort to bolster support in her district. She was re-elected in 2012 by one percentage point.
- Baltimore Magazine profiles the city’s former mayor, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, and gets him on record regarding that little TV show he doesn’t like to acknowledge. He calls it “David Simon’s whinings.”
- Stuart Rothenberg gets ““in the weeds” for a district-by-district look at what each party has going for them to win control of the House in 2014.
- Poop cruise is not a joke. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., plans to introduce legislation for a “cruise-ship bill of rights,” which would protect passengers in case of an on-board emergency.
- Need a pick-me-up? The Washingtonian posts letters from children welcoming the new elephants to the National Zoo.
- Today’s tidbit from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA totals billions of pounds of pollution caused by traffic congestion.
- Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal joined Gwen Ifill on Monday’s NewsHour to discuss a voter registration case heard by the Supreme Court. The case questions whether Arizona’s Proposition 200 measure, which requires registering voters to prove their U.S. citizenship, oversteps the National Voter Registration Act. Still, the ongoing controversies over voter rights and Arizona’s immigration crackdown provided a backdrop for the case.
Watch the discussion here or below.
- We livestreamed Pope Francis’ installation Tuesday. Watch video of the festivities here.
- Our final coverage of the Conservative Political Action Conference includes Allie Morris’ profile of the man who has sold buttons there for four decades and Cindy Huang’s behind-the-scenes video showcasing the activists running booths to attract young conservatives.
- We reflect back on 10 years since the Iraq War began. You can join in the conversation by tweeting @NewsHour using #Iraq10.
- Ray Suarez blogs from Ireland about the evolution of the country’s economy.
- Kaiser Health News looks at how hospitals rank.
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) March 18, 2013
Schumer’s poop cruise bill shall be known as the FECES Act: Fully Ending Cruise Excrement Situations Act
— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) March 18, 2013
As of 3:30 pm, there have been 324,960 views of the RNC’s Growth & Opportunity Project report, per an RNC source
— Abby Livingston (@RollCallAbby) March 18, 2013
— Bob Goodlatte (@RepGoodlatte) March 18, 2013
— Tony Romm (@TonyRomm) March 19, 2013
— John King (@JohnKingCNN) March 19, 2013
From press bus at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. Brought Nikon. Will have better snaps later. twitter.com/MajorCBS/statu…
— Major Garrett(@MajorCBS) March 19, 2013
Terence Burlij, politics desk assistant Simone Pathe and Cassie M. Chew contributed to this report.
For more political coverage, visit our politics page.
Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.
Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.
Follow the politics team on Twitter: