With the release of today’s Washington Post-ABC News poll, and the recent rush to jump on the pro-gay marriage bandwagon by many Republicans and a few foot-dragging Democrats (see Hillary Clinton), it is official: Americans are no longer aiming their pitchforks at gays. In fact, a very solid 58 percent of American adults agreed that “it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to get married”; 62 percent accept homosexuals are born, not made; and a surprising 64 percent believe it should be a national law, not a matter of state’s rights, according to the joint poll released on March 18, 2013.
Although the Republican party platform officially opposes same-sex marriage and supports the Defense of Marriage Act, over 100 Republicans filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief asking the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to overturn California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in the state. SCOTUS will be hearing two cases about same-sex marriage next week.
The slow leak of leading Republicans announcing their support for gay rights and same-sex marriage has now turned into a raging waterfall. Most recently, conservative Republican and Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who was considered a front-runner at one time for the GOP vice-presidential slot, announced last week that he was in favor of gay rights, same-sex marriage and, coincidentally, that his son is gay. Former Vice-President Dick Cheney was one of the first conservatives to do so; he came out for gay rights in 2009 and same-sex marriage in 2011, surprising those who didn't realize that years earlier his daughter Mary Cheney had made her sexuality public.
Finally, this morning, in a surreal, Youtube announcement, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, quoted from her own 2012 speech in Geneva, saying, “Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights” and announcing that she supports same-sex marriage. The twitterverse exploded, some pundits expressing surprise Clinton was just getting around to announcing and others arguing she had done so years ago. A personal favorite tweet? Journalist David Weigel (@daveweigel), of Slate and MSNBC, tweeted, “‘I'm surprised to learn that Hillary Clinton supports gay marriage.' -- someone waking up from a 11-year coma." This is in marked contrast to her infamous appearance on Ellen Degeneres’ talk show in 2007, when she announced she was in favor of civil unions, not same-sex marriage.
The Washington Post-ABC News poll indicates the strongest measure of overall support to date, although in recent months many other major national polls have reported an uptick in support of specific gay rights and same-sex marriage.
- In February 2013, a CBS News Poll found 54 percent of adults were in favor of legalizing gay marriage.
- Also in February, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll reported 51 percent of adults favored same-sex marriage, with two-thirds of them strongly in favor.
- Earlier in March, a Fox News Poll of 1,010 registered voters indicated the country was split, 46 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed to same-sex marriage. That poll showed a significant upswing in support for same-sex marriage from a poll just four months earlier with only 42 percent in favor and 14 percent unsure.
- In December, 2012, two separate Gallup surveys showed solid support amongst Americans, with 63 percent stating that bias against homosexuals is a serious matter, 61 percent supporting adoption rights for gay couples, 77 percent supporting health insurance and other employee benefits, and 78 percent saying gay couples should have the same inheritance rights as straight married couples.
Who knows? Perhaps even the Boy Scouts of America will reverse their policies banning gays as scout leaders and scouts. In January 2013, they announced they’re considering doing just that and in early March, they sent out a survey to all scout members and their parents asking their opinion on a wide range of scenarios, including, for example, can Bob, a 15-year-old gay scout share a tent with a heterosexual boy? The national council is expected to vote on this issue at their annual meeting in Grapevine Texas in May. Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,772 registered voters nationwide in February and March; 55 percent said the BSA should end their ban.
A survey of columns, articles and essays by most political prognosticators indicate that we should expect to see a continued and speedy decline of bias against homosexuals, irrational arguments that a gay marriages threaten heterosexual marriages, and a general die-off of hate speech against gays and lesbians as younger Americans find this a far less polarizing issue than older Americans did. Welcome to the 21st century, America!