Continuing the promise of America
On June 26, 2015, same-sex marriage became legal across the entire United States.
The historic decision signals a “cultural and political shift, the likes of which we’ll never see again; the likes of which America has, literally, never seen before,” said Joe.
While it’s been an uphill battle for gay rights activists, polls have shown rising support for same-sex marriage. In a little over a decade, the percentage of people who support the legalization of same-sex marriage has increased from 30 percent to 59 percent, proving that it is an important issue no longer relegated to certain segments of the population. Americans of all walks of life are becoming more open and more accepting of differences that once seemed irreconcilable. In the last six years alone, support for same-sex marriage has grown by 19 percentage points among all Americans.
While only five people ruled in favor of same-sex marriage on Friday, they clearly did so with the support of millions.
The evolution of Barack Obama
President Obama has been praised recently for his strong support of the historic change. But he wasn’t always as firm in his beliefs, or at least not as forthcoming about them.
In 2008, Obama defined marriage as “the union between a man and a woman,” an opinion he based on his faith. In 2010, the President affirmed his support in strong civil unions. His feelings on the matter were evolving, but slowly.
Then came Joe Biden.
“I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men marrying women are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties, and quite frankly, I don’t see much of a distinction beyond that,” the Vice President said in a 2012 interview.
Biden allegedly took a lot of heat from the White House for his comments, but they forced the President to finally take the stance that David Axelrod has argued Obama held all along – that “same-sex couples should be allowed to get married.”
The Supreme Court affirmed that belief on Friday. Now it’s the law.
What’s next for Republicans
Republicans are now scrambling to figure out a response to the ruling that won’t alienate their base along with the millions of Americans who support it. Importantly, those supporters include younger members of the Republican party, who want the federal government out of their lives as well as their bedrooms.
“That is one of the more interesting elements of this discussion,” said Mike Barnicle. “We can talk about what happened on the Court last week ad nauseam, but for most people under the age of 35 – Republican, Democrat – they’re saying to us, ‘what is the big deal?’”
Joe argued that the Republican Party today is where President Obama was three years ago. While some people might privately support same-sex marriage, they do not necessarily have the ability to extend that support into their political lives. The Party is, quite frankly, split on the issue.
“Some of the Republican candidates need to look at the evolution and the polls of late and get a sense that this is done,” argued Mika.
The debate is indeed finished, at least legally. What remains to be seen is whether it is relegated to a one-off decision, driven by the swift cultural changes that surround it, or whether the implications extend further, announcing a shift in the country’s political dynamic that extends far into the future.