Marriage equality is now legal in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Alabama joined the growing list today after the Supreme Court denied a request to stay a federal judge’s ruling that declared the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Al-a-bama, people!
This comes as the justices are set to decide by June whether there is a constitutional right to marriage for same-sex couples. Everyone expects them to rule that equal protection under the law does indeed apply to same-sex couples, especially since Justice Anthony Kennedy’s 2013 majority opinion in United States v. Windsor provided the legal foundation for the wave of pro-marriage equality rulings in federal courts.
The Alabama news continues the spectacular progression of the movement for LGBT rights. Things have changed so much that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which played a significant role in the passage of Proposition 8 in California in 2008, announced last month that it would support anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT Americans. But this support from the Mormon church came with a caveat: There have to be exemptions for religious organizations. That move is a harbinger of things to come.
The celebration over Alabama and the majority support for marriage equality nationally is tempered by the results of an AP poll released last Thursday. When asked if wedding-related businesses should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex married couples because of religious beliefs, 57 percent said yes. This is the terrain — the post-marriage-equality terrain — on which the next battles for LGBTQ equality will be waged. And the movement is nowhere near ready. I’ll get into why in my next post.
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