We’re going to see a new round of litigation over these bills. Some of these bills that say local municipalities can’t pass protections for LGBT citizens mirror Romer v. Evans, which struck down a similar law in Colorado years and years ago. There might be some pushback, but remarkably little, and you have to keep the pushback in perspective. I think for the most part, states have accepted this. They’ve moved on. For most people, it’s kind of a big shrug.
Resistance against same-sex marriage is muted compared to past civil-rights movements.
There are a few voices out there that certainly have protested. But I don’t think you’re going to see the kind of massive resistance that you saw in the previous century to the Supreme Court’s desegregation orders, for instance. One Alabama Supreme Court justice does not make massive resistance. I do think that for the most part, most Americans—the majority of Americans, the polling shows—support same-sex marriage. I think that for those who don’t, many see it as an inevitability.
Same-sex marriage is not a politically decisive issue anymore.
In the last election, when President Obama came out in support of same-sex marriage, many of his advisers were quite worried about whether that would hurt him. In fact, what the polling shows is that it helped him. It helped him with younger voters, who just don’t see this as an issue; for them, marriage equality is a touchstone issue, up there with global warming. And I think his pollsters would tell you that it helped turn those voters out for Obama. When you look at the polling numbers even for self-identified religious conservatives, this is not one of their top five [or] ten concerns. And so you don’t have the same level of pressure on the side of people who don’t support this.
We have seen this shift—and it is a shift. I mean, basically both candidates on the Republican and Democratic side, including Barack Obama during the first presidential race [in 2008], were opposed to same-sex marriage—they came out against same-sex marriage, based on a liability.
What you have seen in recent years is what many political scientists and pollsters have said is the most remarkable shift in public opinion on any social issue in modern political history.
More people coming out helped make same-sex marriage more accepted.
How did we get to where we are? The number one reason why we have gotten to where we are is that more and more people have come out, and they’ve told their story. And in telling their story, I think that it really does change people’s views. If you look at the polling, people who know someone who is gay are far, far, far more likely to support marriage equality than people who don’t. I think for many years, people just didn’t realize that they knew gay people because gay people weren’t out. And so, I think that the movement began years and years ago and took decades and decades of work for people to come out and tell their story, [starting with] Harvey Milk. It was his mantra: Come out and tell your story, that’s what it will take [for widespread acceptance]. And I do think that’s enormously important.