As Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) noted in The Washington Post this past week, this ruling was an asset, not a liability, for gun-safety advocates. While there are almost 100 million gun owners in the United States, only 4 million are NRA members. This majority supports new laws to keep guns out of the wrong hands and reduce the risk of tragedies such as Newtown.
As long as calls for new restrictions are balanced with an affirmation of their Second Amendment rights, most gun owners will be on board.
Make a commitment to marriage
On marriage for gays and lesbians, 2012 has been a year of revolution. Previously, marriage proponents had lost 32 times at the ballot box. But this year, Obama publicly backed marriage for gay couples, the Democratic platform changed to include support for it, and four states voted in favor of it in November. A challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act is now before the Supreme Court, and by June it is likely that the federal government will have to recognize marriages of gay couples in states that allow them. And the majority of the public now supports them; between 2008 and 2012, there was a staggering 10-point shift in polls toward support for marriage.
While the prospects are bright, however, it’s not inevitable that this tipping point will result in progress for Democrats. Thirty states have constitutional amendments banning marriage for gay couples, and it will be a tough political fight to change the status quo there. To keep winning, marriage proponents must understand what was really behind their recent ballot box victories.
First, advocates have shifted the focus of their campaigns away from the question of rights, which had been the dominant frame for years. Straight couples don’t get married so they can get tax benefits or a spouse’s pension; gay and lesbian couples don’t, either. People get married to show their love and commitment to one another. Research by our group, Third Way, showed that making “commitment” the centerpiece of marriage campaigns could help sway crucial centrist voters.
Second, they must address, not dismiss, the concerns of undecided voters. That means, for example, ensuring that state marriage laws have robust protections for religious liberty and reminding Americans that the First Amendment guarantees that no clergy members would be forced to conduct marriages that violate their religious beliefs.