Today, the Supreme Court weighs the constitutionality of California’s infamous Proposition 8, which declares that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” If the Court rules Prop 8 unconstitutional, gay marriage could become recognized nationally. However, if Justices rule otherwise, the choice to legalize gay marriage would be left to each state to decide individually.
Pete Williams of NBC News reported from outside the Supreme Court that there seemed to be “very little eagerness” from any of the Justices to embrace a broad ruling, but it’s possible that Justices will rule Prop 8 unconstitutional specifically in California.
While most advocates of gay marriage hope for the Supreme Court to rule Prop 8 unconstitutional, some believe a sweeping legalization of same-sex marriage would eventually hinder the gay rights movement, much like how the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973 ultimately resulted in more debate over abortion rights. A similar ruling for gay marriage could result in even more debate and strife for gays wishing to marry in more conservative states, which would likely contest the Supreme Court if they rule in opposition to Prop 8.
Although both are hotly-contested social issues, support for same-sex marriage has seen an sharp increase in support throughout the country in the last decade. According to an ABC/Washington Post poll, in 2004, 41% of Americans believed gay marriage should be legalized. Now, in 2013, 58% believe it should be legal. Perhaps more importantly, gay marriage has found increased support from the GOP, specifically those of a younger demographic. According to the same ABC/Washington Post poll, 52% of Republicans ages 18-49 believe gay marriage should be legal, which is a 15% increase from 2004.
Politicians in the GOP are also slowly voicing support for gay marriage, likely due to criticism that they are out of touch with the American public. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio most recently voiced his support, joining GOP elite Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah, and top advisors to former President George W. Bush.
We’ll keep you updated as the story progresses.