Why do more than 50% of Americans agree with gay marriage rights?

Striking down DOMA was the first step to true equality for all Americans. Photo: Kim (l) and Rachel (r) Hadley after exchanging wedding vow in SF, hold their twins Sidney (c) and Phin (r) AP photo

WASHINGTON, July 1, 2013 — The Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 was when Congress, in its so-called wisdom, passed the law that denied equality to more than 10 million people. It inserted the federal government into an issue that traditionally belongs to the states.

Last week Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion for the High Court overturning DOMA, summed it up best:


SEE RELATED: DOMA and Prop 8: The Supreme Court’s radical conservatism


“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

“By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

Most Americans, especially those under 40, are comfortable with gay rights, including gay marriage.


SEE RELATED: Log Cabin Republicans react to upcoming DOMA and Proposition 8 rulings


Who doesn’t have a gay relative, colleague at work, friend, or neighbor? As Americans find themselves increasingly aware of gay friends, they’ve grown increasingly comfortable with gay rights.

Being gay carries a stigma in a variety of religious traditions, but we live in a secular society, and the standard for making illegal what religious belief says is immoral must be whether there is a compelling societal interest.

The Bible is not our standard for law; it permits slavery, stoning of women for adultery, and amputation as a legal remedy for torts.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee tweeted after the Supreme Court ruling that “Jesus wept.” Really, Governor?

Jesus actually never had one word to say on homosexuality, so we really don’t know what he thought, but we do know he was against stoning women for adultery. His words can be used to support policies on the left, as well as on the right, a point that highlights the dangers of using his words to support or attack secular political policies.

A surprising 62 percent of young evangelicals (18 to 29) are in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. The times, they are a-changin’. So look for gay marriage within a decade to be a non-issue for most states as well, probably because in the long run, same-sex marriage will be found to be very good for America in lots of different ways.

Positive affect on the family and children:

When it comes to children, having parents in a same sex marriage who are not stigmatized by the government is a big step forward in creating a stable home environment. Even if we believe that the optimal family includes a father and a mother, the evidence is that a stable family with two parents, regardless of their sex, is better for children than a family without two parents, and some studies show children with same-sex parents do better than their counterparts in other households.

Being legally recognized by the federal government and receiving all the benefits that accrue makes for a real, stable family, not unlike the kids next door with their heterosexual parents.

As of now about six million American children have LGBT parents, not an insignificant number. And despite the dire warnings from the right, study after study shows that children raised by same sex couples do well, probably because children in all families with two parents thrive better than in most single family homes.

San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus sings as gay couples wed at SF City Hall AP photo

Spousal benefits from private to military:

The benefits of ending DOMA immediately started being enforced from the military to immigration to social services.

But perhaps the biggest ones are Social Security, military housing for spouses, health insurance, veterans’ benefits, retirement savings, joint tax filings, and exemption from federal estate taxes. These are life changing for the nearly 80,000 couples already married and the thousands now taking out marriage licenses.

Marriage is good for the economy:

It is amazing how striking down DOMA can boost the economy. Just look at the $259 million in revenues that New York City raked in during the first year that gay marriages were made legal there.

It will also add to the tax revenues flowing into the U.S. Treasury with a conservative estimate of at least $40 billion a year, a number that may be much more.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, legalizing same sex marriages across America would actually help in curbing the deficit, probably because weddings are big business and they will generate much needed dollars that will improve economies from California to Maryland (now same sex marriage states).

A gay wedding cake

One unexpected benefit for the business world was noted by some major corporations, which like the idea of same sex marriages being recognized, saying it makes it easier to recruit top talent, especially since DOMA and California’s Prop 8 “send an unmistakable signal that same sex couples are in some way inferior to opposite sex couples” by denying them the benefits conferred on straight couples.

Marriage contributes to community stability:

All of these contribute to a more stable community. By being inclusive and not exclusive, America has moved closer to what being equal in America means. It may take awhile, including some court challenges, but when a state with an anti-gay marriage law is challenged, as it will be, the case will soon be before the Supreme Court.

And the handwriting is on the wall for a very simple reason: Gay marriage represents true equality and not just lip service.

Last week’s ruling was the first giant step for America.

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.


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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe

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