Rulings on two U.S. Supreme Court cases for marriage equality aren’t expected until June, but in other realms victory for same-sex marriage can already be declared.
As the justices on March 26 assembled to hear a defense and a challenge to California’s constitutional amendment barring gays and lesbians from marrying, thousands rallied in the plaza outside. That there was a demonstration is not extraordinary. What is extraordinary was the wave of support for same-sex marriage compared to the miniscule numbers marching against.
Addressing a cheering crowd, activist Brendon Ayanbadejo, a Baltimore Ravens linebacker who declared himself a “patriot,” promised, “In the end, love is always going to win the game.”
The wave rushed out from the court.
Millions of surfers on the Web exchanged personal profile photos for a red equal sign, or variations of the box – from ordinary Joe in Wisconsin to Willie Nelson in Texas, from ordinary Jane in Florida to Martha Stewart in New York.
The tide brought in new declarations of support for same-sex marriage from politicians in city halls, county administration buildings, state capitols and the U.S. Capitol.
The wave churned rip tides for the right. The day after the court heard arguments against the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars the federal government from recognizing legal same-sex marriages, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh acknowledged, without cheer, “This issue is lost. I don’t care what the Supreme Court does. This is inevitable.”
Justice Antonin Scalia, during the DOMA arguments, reacted with sarcasm when it was suggested that many have changed their minds since Bill Clinton signed the law in 1996. Scalia said there’s hardly been a sea change when same-sex marriage is against the law in 40 states and legal in only nine states and the District of Columbia.
But there has been a sea change.
When DOMA was passed, there were no legally married same-sex couples in the United States and 27 percent of voters supported same-sex marriage.
Today there are more than 112,700 married same-sex couples and polls show 58 percent support marriage equality – and the number is rising rapidly.
Scalia, clearly, is in the minority in the court of public opinion. And, the way the arguments went on March 26 and March 27, it’s likely he’s in the minority on the Supreme Court.