US Congress Considers Federal Same-Sex Marriage Law: Political Scientist Explains How The Issue Has Become Less Polarized Over Time | News from Mexico

WASHINGTON — While public opinion and various state abortion rights laws sharply divide the country, there are growing signs that most people agree on another once-controversial issue: Protect same-sex marriage.

The US House of Representatives voted on July 19, 2022 to enshrine same-sex marriage into law in a bipartisan vote: l220 Democratic representatives voted in favor, along with 47 fellow Republicans.

The Respect for Marriage Act, as it is called, would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, a federal law that defines marriage as a legal union between man and woman.

The bill faces an uncertain fate in the deeply divided Senate: So far, five Republicans out of 50 have said would vote for. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate would vote on the bill once it did 10 Republican votes.

“I am a student of political behavior and history in the United States. “I think it’s important to understand that the bipartisan support for this bill marks a significant political transformation in same-sex marriage, which was used as a point of contention that divided Democrats and Republicans about 15 to 20 years ago,” said Tim Lindbergh, assistant professor of political of Science at the University of Minnesota.

The bill faces an uncertain fate in the deeply divided Senate: So far, five Republicans out of 50 have said they will vote for it.

“But in recent years, same-sex marriage has become less politically divisive and gained more public approval, fueled in part by former President Donald Trump’s general acceptance of the practice. That environment made it politically safe for nearly a quarter of House Republicans to vote to protect that right under federal law.”

What makes opinions change?

Seventy-one percent of Americans say they support legal marriage between people of the same sex, according to a July 2022 Gallup poll. In 1996, when Gallup first polled same-sex marriage, 27% supported legalizing same-sex marriage.

This shift in public opinion occurred despite growing polarization in the US over gun control, racial justice and climate change.

What becomes, remains, or ceases to be a divisive political issue in the US over time depends on many factors. Changes in laws, changing cultural norms and Technological progress can shape political controversy.

“My research, for example, examines how Mormons were denied statehood by Congress in the Utah Territory, which would later become the state of Utah, until they renounced their religious belief in polygamy. polygamy is prohibited by US law and known polygamists are barred from voting and holding public office In the 1880s, approximately 20% to 30% of Mormons practiced polygamy. However, political pressure led the president of the Mormon Church in 1890 to announce that polygamy would no longer be sanctioned,” explains Lindbergh.

In 2011, 86% of Mormon adults reported considering polygamy it was morally wrongalmost in line with general public opinion.

Many political leaders, both left and right, were also largely hostile to same-sex marriage until the early 2010s.

A growing controversy

In 1993, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the state must have a compelling reason to ban same-sex marriage after a gay couple and two lesbian couples sued alleging that the state ban on same-sex marriage violates their privacy and equal protection rights.

Concern among conservatives that this legal argument would lead the Supreme Court to recognize the right to same-sex marriage prompted a Republican senator and congressman to file Defense of matrimonial law.

President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law in 1996 after 342, or 78 percent, of the House members and 85 senators voted in favor. Polls at the time put general population support for same-sex marriage at 27% overall, including just 33% among Democrats.

Seven years later, in 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Court overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. With a strong national majority of Republicans and independents against same-sex marriageformer President George W. Bush used conservative reactions to the ruling to boost voter turnout in 2004. Bush’s campaign highlighted state amendments to ban same-sex marriage, all of which passed easily.

Although voters prioritized other issues in the 2004 election, opposition to same-sex marriage helped Bush win re-electionwhile Republicans gained seats in both the House and Senate.

political change

The legal and political landscape surrounding same-sex marriage has become a lot more liberal in the years after 2004.

In 2008, state courts in California and Connecticut reversed same-sex marriage bans. Vermont became the first state in 2009 to pass a law legalizing same-sex marriage.

A major national shift occurred in 2012 when then-Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama they openly supported same-sex marriage. It was a big change for both men. Biden voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. Obama publicly supported same-sex marriage in his 2004 Senate campaign.

Joe Biden and President Barack Obama have openly supported same-sex marriage.

Joe Biden and President Barack Obama have openly supported same-sex marriage.

In 2015, the Supreme Court struck down all national and state restrictions on same-sex marriage, making same-sex marriage a state law.

the trump effect

Trump’s lack of focus on same-sex marriage is one factor that has helped make it a less divisive issue. While Trump’s actual record on LBGTQ rights is generally consistent with conservative Christian values, Trump said in 2016 that he was “okay” with legalizing same-sex marriage.

Yet despite the legality of same-sex marriage, many conservative states in the Midwest and South deny other legal protections to LBGTQ people. Twenty-nine states still allow licensed professionals conduct conversion therapy for young people homosexuals, a discredited process for converting LGBTQ people from homosexuals.

More than 20 countries allow discrimination in both housing and public places based on sexual orientation.

respect for marriage

Some Republican leaders grew bolder in their opposition to same-sex marriage after the Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to abortion in the ruling Dobbsv. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Other Republicans have said there is no need to codify federal same-sex marriage law because they don’t think the Supreme Court is likely to overturn federal same-sex marriage protections.

Democrats first moved to protect same-sex marriage in federal law because Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas he wrote in a concurring opinion in Dobbs that the court must review “all substantial due process precedents of this Court, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” the latter being the case that legalized same-sex marriage.

But even though public opinion polls show that most people are in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, including nearly half of Republicans, the issue could still be a risk for Republican politicians. They must answer to their core conservative constituents, who largely oppose the practice. That could mean Senate Republicans may have to consider breaking away from their own base or away from moderate voters.

Article published in The Conversation

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