Republicans outside of Washington are dropping their opposition to gay marriage. Will the national party follow along?
Developments across the country in recent days signal a building momentum within the Republican Party to end the GOP's long-standing opposition to same-sex marriage, with activists arguing that doing so will allow GOP candidates to focus more on popular economic themes in this year's elections and help expand the party's appeal ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
Almost a year ago to the day, I wrote a piece declaring that "the political fight over gay marriage is over" and providing three charts to make the case.
Well, I'm a year older now -- and now I can make that case in just one chart. (Sidenote: As a kid, I LOVED the game show "Name That Tune" and am a firm believer it could and should make a comeback.) The chart comes courtesy of a fascinating Pew Research Center study on millennials -- people aged 18-33 -- that details their political leanings, their likes and dislikes and where they stand on hot-button issues.
A majority of the American public now supports gay marriage. That's a remarkable shift in public opinion from even a decade ago. It's also a fact that many people who oppose gay marriage -- and many who support it -- are entirely unaware of.
Buried amid a fascinating survey done by the Public Religion Research Institute is this amazing fact. (The entire survey is well worth looking through.) And, thanks to WaPo's data wizard Chris Ingraham, here's a chart that tells the story.
A federal judge on Wednesday struck down a ban on gay marriage in Texas, a socially conservative state where people are less receptive to same-sex marriage than the nation as a whole.
So how did it happen? In ruby red Texas of all places?
The answer is that that as gay marriage advocates have shifted attention to the courts, judges are playing an increasingly influential role in the battle over marriage. What happened Wednesday is a fresh sign that the national shift toward clearing the way for gay marriage isn't limited to socially liberal states as legal challenges have taken center stage in the battle over marriage laws.
Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring's decision Thursday to stop defending the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is the latest reminder that down-ballot races, while less sexy than contests for governor or Senate, have lasting political and policy consequences.
Herring, who won the AG's race last fall by less than 1,000 votes, announced Thursday that he would join two same-sex couples in asking a federal court to strike down Virginia's gay-marriage prohibition on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. In doing so, he joins a growing list of Democratic office holders who have opted out of defending same-sex marriage bans.
When it comes to the Cheney family, this much is clear by now: Sisters Liz and Mary don’t see eye to eye on same-sex marriage.
What’s less clear is precisely how their remarkably public spat will affect the Wyoming Senate race, in which Liz Cheney is trying to unseat Sen. Mike Enzi in the Republican primary. But it’s safe to say Liz Cheney needs to find a way to end the dispute for her campaign’s sake. At the least, it’s an unwelcome distraction for her; at the most, it’s a major obstacle that could severely strain her effort to convince voters she is genuine, which is already becoming a grind.
For the past year, same-sex marriage proponents have been on a winning streak, including on Tuesday when the Illinois legislature approved gay weddings starting in June. While Hawaii is expected within a week to become the 16th state sanctioning same-sex marriage, activists will face a tougher time expanding the map after that point.
The Illinois legislature may vote as early as next week to legalize same-sex marriage capping a months-long and racially-delicate debate that has tested President Obama’s enduring influence over the politics of his hometown.
A vote on the measure in the state House was abruptly delayed last spring amid rising anxiety among some black lawmakers from Chicago who faced an awkward dilemma stuck between the support for the bill from their favorite son in the White House and the stiff opposition from some of the city’s most influential black pastors.
Same-sex couples wedded in New Jersey for the first time Monday following a state Supreme Court ruling handed down Friday that cleared the way for them.
That means the number of states where gay marriage is legal now stands at 14 plus the District of Columbia. As shown on the map below, courtesy of The Washington Post graphics team, the vast majority of the states are in the Northeast or on the West Coast.
In six other states, civil unions are allowed. New Mexico, notably, is the only state that has no provision on same-sex marriage. The state Supreme Court there could decide whether it is legal in all counties.
About 10 years ago, the map would have looked very different. Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage, in November 2003.
The landmark gay marriage decisions the Supreme Court handed down in June received widespread attention across the country.
But did they shift the public's opinion about gay marriage? Nope.
A new Gallup poll released Monday shows that 54 percent of Americans say same-sex marriage should be recognized by the law as valid, with 43 percent saying it should not. It's the first Gallup poll since the high court gave advocates of gay marriages big victories when it struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California.
When Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane became the first woman and first Democrat ever elected to her position in November, she not only beat her GOP opponent David Freed by double digits. By garnering more than three million votes, she outperformed every man on the ticket, including President Obama and the state's incumbent Democratic senator, Bob Casey.
Now that the gay marriage fight is intensifying on the state level, how much will both sides spend on it over the next three years? Tens of millions of dollars.
An array of groups has already mapped out plans to raise and spend millions between now and the end of 2016. Here is a look at some — but not all -- of the key players:
A couple years ago, it was fairly trendy for straight celebrity couples to delay their wedding plans in support of LGBT rights. Actors Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard have been engaged since 2010 but have held off on getting married to "stand up for what they believe in" regarding same-sex marriage. Bell even called a straight weddings "tacky" in light of the fact that gays and lesbians can't marry in many places in the United States.
The Supreme Court's invalidation of a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act changed the political and legal landscape for gay marriage across the country. But nowhere will the effects of the ruling be seen more immediately than in New Jersey.
First, there are the politics. Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who supports civil unions but opposes gay marriage, is up for reelection in a blue state this fall. Opponent Barbara Buono (D) is already trying to put some heat on him over DOMA. In a recent email blast, her gay daughter called Christie "a giant roadblock to New Jersey achieving equality for all." In the wake of the Supreme Court decision, Buono is pushing the legislature for a vote to override his veto of gay marriage legislation last fall.
Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert looks at the court's "so-called judicial reasoning."
Many conservatives are upset with Wednesday's Supreme Court decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. For many, their anger has less to do with DOMA itself than with the fear that the decision will soon lead the Court to take more drastic action -- declaring all state marriage bans unconstitutional.
In the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling striking down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, one thing is clear: Republicans will determine whether same-sex marriage becomes universal in the United States.
In case there was any doubt about this, consider this: The American Civil Liberties Union is launching a multimillion-dollar campaign spearheaded by GOP strategist Steve Schmidt to enlist the support of Republicans nationwide in legalizing gay marriage on the state level.
In twin rulings issued Wednesday, the Supreme Court provided further momentum for the forces advocating for the right of gays and lesbians to marry, a political fight that has been moving rapidly in favor of legalization in recent years.
In declaring the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and throwing out a challenge to unconstitutionality of California's Proposition 8, a ban on same-sex marriages, the Court effectively removed one of the major hurdles in the quest for the right to marry for gays and lesbians.
All eyes are on the Supreme Court again Tuesday, when the justices could announce decisions in a pair of landmark gay marriage cases and a key voting rights case. While the gay marriage cases have received more widespread media coverage, Americans see the two issues with equal measures of intrigue, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.
Supreme Court decisions on a pair of landmark gay marriage cases could come as soon as Monday morning.
To help make sense of how the court could rule and what it will mean across the country, we are reposting this fabulous Washington Post interactive graphic. You can explore all the possibilities and look at which states the decisions would affect.
(Interactive graphic by Masuma Ahuja, Robert Barnes and Emily Chow)
When it comes to the case involving California's same-sex marriage ban, there are five possibilities. The case involving the Defense of Marriage Act has two possible outcomes.
For even more on same-sex marriage, check out this map and rundown of public opinion. And stay tuned to Post Politics and The Fix for the latest news and analysis once the court has made its decision.
The Supreme Court could announce decisions in a pair of landmark gay marriage cases as soon as Thursday morning.
So, how might the highest court in the land decide, and which states will be affected? Thanks to a fantastic new interactive Washington Post graphic, you can explore all of the possibilities.
We've written repeatedly in this space that the political fight over gay marriage is all but over due to increased acceptance across a broad section of society of same sex couples' right to marry.
A new study by the Pew Research Center raises an important question about that perceived momentum: Is it being created, at least in part, by positive news media coverage of the possibility of legalization?
Michelle Obama's altercation with a lesbian activist this week sparked a debate about the merits of heckling. The popular first lady's many fans loved the way she stood her ground, and an outburst from an irate LGBT activist struck many as surprising given President Obama's record of support for gay rights.
Two things are clear in a new Pew Research Center poll on gay marriage:
1. The political fight over gay marriage is over. (This fact has been apparent for quite some time.)
2. Cultural acceptance of homosexuality broadly, and gay marriage in particular, remains far less advanced in society.
EARLIER ON THE FIX:
Minnesota is poised to become the 12th state to legalize gay marriage after the state House signed off on it Thursday on a 75-59 vote. The bill is expected to pass the state Senate next week and Gov. Mark Dayton (D) has said he will sign it.
We spoke with state House Speaker Paul Thissen (D) about the bill, what it took to win passage, and what it means for the larger debate.
A battle within the Republican Party over same-sex marriage is unfolding on two fronts, in public, and behind the scenes. In the latter case, one of the most influential players is a billionaire hedge fund manager largely unknown to those who don't work in finance or mix with political mega-donors.
That man is Paul E. Singer, who over the years has used his wealth to spur Republicans to support gay marriage laws. Now, Singer is expanding his reach with the creation of an advocacy group which aims to spend millions influencing the legislative debate over same-sex marriage across the country.
Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert offers his recommendations for how conservatives should respond to gay marriage.
The Boy Scouts of America's proposal to welcome openly gay scouts -- even while still ban gay adult scout leaders -- is sure to reignite an already hot debate over the role of gays in society. And, at least when it comes to the Scouts, the issue isn't totally cut and dry.
A slim majority -- 51 percent -- said Boy Scouts should allow gay members in a March CBS News poll, with support peaking at 64 percent among those under age 30. But as noted by the Pew Research Center's Michael Dimock, a USA Today/Gallup poll last fall found a similar majority -- 52 percent -- saying the Boy Scouts should not allow openly gay scout leaders.
As abortion opponents are scoring a string of victories in the states, it raises a question: why are conservatives gaining ground in this one arena, even if they're losing in the battle over gay marriage and marijuana?
A few factors help explain this contradiction.
The passage of new abortion laws comes despite the fact that public opinion has been stagnant -- and mostly supportive -- of the right to legal abortion since the 1990s. Fifty-five percent of respondents said abortion should be legal in all or most cases in an August 2012 Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll, with just over four in 10 (42 percent) saying it should be illegal in all or most cases. That poll result is smack in the middle of where support for legal abortion has stood over the past decade, seesawing within a narrow band of 53 to 57 percent in Washington Post-ABC News polls.
Three weeks and one day ago, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that she now believed gays and lesbians had the right to marry.
Since Clinton reversed course 14 Senators -- 13 Democrats and 1 Republican -- have followed suit. The 14 switches over 22 days amounts to a Senator changing position on same sex marriage on average every day and a half. In just two days last month -- March 25 and 26 -- six Democratic Senators changed their position to support gay marriage. (This timeline -- created by Yahoo's Chris Wilson -- is a terrific way to chart who said what when on gay marriage.)
The last ten days have seen a cavalcade of Democratic senators announcing their support of gay marriage -- with Delaware Sen. Tom Carper the latest to "evolve" on the issue. (Sen. Mark Kirk became the second Republican to come out in support of gay marriage today.)
And yet, there are still seven Democrats in the Senate who have yet to come out in support of gay marriage despite the momentum both within the chamber and the public more broadly in that direction.
Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz), the father of a gay son, explained his opposition to gay marriage by saying he hasn't "evolved to that stage."
He may not be joining same-sex marriage supporters. But he's adopting their vocabulary. (Remember the evolution of Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, California Sen. Barbara Boxer, and Secretary of State John Kerry, among others.) Now Republicans looking for breathing room on gay marriage are joining in. How did "evolving" become so prevalent?
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said he thinks it's "inevitable" that a GOP presidential candidate will someday support gay marriage.
And Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus advised the GOP against acting like "Old Testament heretics" on the issue.
Yet neither is backing away from opposition to allowing same-sex couples the ability to wed. The line they are walking has become a familiar one for Republicans, as gay marriage has moved back onto the national radar in recent weeks. And while some party strategists are welcoming the posture, others -- on both sides of the issue -- are warning about its drawbacks.
The past few weeks -- heck, just the past few days -- have been huge for gay marriage.
We won't know until late June or maybe even early July how the Supreme Court will decide on California's Proposition 8 or the federal Defense of Marriage Act. And, as we learned with President Obama's health care law, making predictions based on oral arguments is never a good idea.
During Wednesday's Supreme Court oral argument over the Defense of Marriage Act, Chief Justice John G. Roberts was intent on getting one question answered from those seeking to overturn the law: were the politicians who passed the measure bigots?
As Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr. explained that DOMA denies equal protection to gay Americans under the law since they are barred from getting married, Roberts pressed Verrilli on the point.
So, how likely is that? And who will it be?
Barring a surprise candidate who emerges in the next couple years -- not an impossibility by any means -- we have a decent idea of the potential 2016 field. Here's where the heavyweight potential candidates stand now and where we think they'll go in the next few years.
It started Sunday night with Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). "I have come to the conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on who you love," she wrote on her Tumblr. Or maybe it was last Thursday, when Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) casually told a reporter he'd (privately) backed gay marriage since 2006. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) chimed in Monday, just as Sens. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) announced that they no longer support the Defense of Marriage Act. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) joined them Tuesday with a Facebook post, followed by Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) on Wednesday.
A new Pew Research Center poll shows conservatives think the Supreme Court is a bunch of liberals, while liberals think the court is a bunch of conservatives.
So who's right?
Below, we look at two competing theories, illustrated by Randy Schutt and based on data compiled by academics at two major universities.
Lost amid today's Supreme Court oral arguments on California's Proposition 8 is a simple question: How did a gay marriage ban pass in one of the most liberal states in the country just four years ago?
The answer is both fascinating and complex, and reveals just how much the Golden State (and the country) has evolved on the issue since the 2008 election.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll last week showed support for gay marriage hitting an all-time high at 58 percent, with support having risen by 21 points over the last decade alone.
But some social conservatives say polls like this one are wrong, and that they over-sell the actual amount of support for gay marriage.
If you follow politics with even a passing interest, you know by now that support for gay marriage is surging -- even as the Supreme Court prepares to take on two major cases dealing with the subject.
What has been less obvious from the scads of polling data on the movement toward legalizing gay marriage is the "why" behind that movement. As in, why, over the last decade, has public opinion changed so rapidly on the issue?
The Washington Post kicked off a series of five Google Hangouts Wednesday to examine the state of marriage in America.
The goal is to look at marriage in light of the Supreme Court hearing two cases: 1) a challenge to California's Proposition 8 which banned gay marriage and 2) a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act. Both cases are expected to be heard by the Court next week.
Less than a decade ago, almost six in ten Americans said gay marriage should be illegal. Today that same six in ten believe it should be legal.
That rapid change -- particularly on what had long been a divisive social issue -- is remarkable in an age of politics where the entrenchment of the two parties seems close to permanent. And, it begs the question: What the heck happened?
More than 100 big-name Republicans have signed a new brief urging the Supreme Court to codify the right to gay marriage in one of the biggest shifts toward embracing gay marriage in the recent history of the GOP.
But while significant, the shift is less than meets the eye.
The fact is that the vast majority of the signers are no longer in office or never were and don't have to worry about their next election (New York Rep. Richard Hanna and Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen are the only federal officeholders on the list). For Republicans who have to face their party's voters ever few years, it's a much harder hill to climb, and that will prevent the larger party from embracing gay marriage any time soon.
Social issues worked in President Obama's favor on Election Day -- the same day that multiple states voted for the first time to legalize both gay marriage and recreational marijuana.
And that confluence has some suggesting the country is shifting to the left on social issues.
But it's really too early to say that.
Last Tuesday's election was a watershed moment for the gay marriage movement. Voters in three states voted to legalize it -- something no state had done before -- and a fourth state voted against a proposed ban.
And if the movement catches on in other states, African Americans and Latinos will be a big reason why.
Americans remain just as divided on gay marriage as they were before President Obama’s announcement in early May he now publicly supported it.
The Pew Research Center poll shows views of gay marriage remain basically unchanged since April, right before Obama announced his support for gay marriage — a reversal from his past public opposition. Support has gone from 47 percent to 48 percent since April, while opposition ticked up from 43 percent to 44 percent. Neither is even close to statistically significant.
Amazon founder gives $2.5 million to gay marriage effort in Washington state; Bloomberg balks at Chick-fil-A ban; Dem poll shows GOP up 6 in North Carolina GOV; and Churchill’s bust remains in the White House, after all.
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The President of the United States is the most powerful person in the world. But when it comes to shifting public opinion, even POTUS struggles.
So when President Obama came out in favor of gay marriage, the storyline was all about how evenly split the American population is on gay marriage and how it might affect Obama in November’s election. It was rarely about whether Obama could actually bring people with him.
Yet anecdotal evidence suggests he might be doing just that — at least with one very specific group of people: African-Americans.
Updated at 11:40 a.m.
President Obama said in an interview airing Tuesday that he will win reelection this year.
“I’m going to win,” he said in an interview with ABC’s “The View,” which was taped Monday.
Obama acknowledged continued difficulties with the economy present a challenge for his campaign, but also said that the election should be a choice between candidates. He said he hopes American voters will make a decision between his and Mitt Romney’s visions for the country.
“Don’t compare me to the almighty; compare me to the alternative,” Obama said, quoting Vice President Joe Biden.
Does a majority of the country really support gay marriage?
As is often true in polling, it depends on how you ask the question.
The difference: Gallup gave voters just two options — support or oppose — while the CBS/NYT poll added a third, civil unions.
When given that third choice, polls show that it draws significantly from both the pro-gay marriage and anti-gay marriage camps, but in the end, overall support for gay marriage drops well below a majority.
Mostly, though, it just shows how mushy the middle is on this issue. While there are certainly passionate supporters and opponents, there are just as many people who are lukewarm (as evidenced by a Gallup poll last week). And their responses are highly dependent on how the question is asked.
During Mitt Romney’s address this weekend to the evangelical Liberty University, he made precisely one mention of gay marriage, saying simply: “Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.”
By passing on the opportunity to fire up the socially conservative base in perhaps the most ideal setting, Romney served notice of two things.
First, he made clear (again) that he’s not going to make President Obama’s embrace of gay marriage an issue in the 2012 campaign — at all. This much has become pretty apparent over the course of the last week.
And the second, perhaps more significant lesson, is that Romney’s team is not worried about turning out the GOP base in November.
Six in 10 Americans say President Obama’s embrace of gay marriage will have no impact on their vote this year, according to a new Gallup poll. But of the rest, twice as many say it makes them less likely to support the president.
Twenty-six percent of Americans in the poll said Obama’s switch on the issue makes them less likely to vote for him this November, compared to 13 percent who said it makes them more likely to support him.