Commentary

11.21.14

Marriage Equality: Being Right Versus Being Popular

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The ACLU is not one to follow popular opinion.

It was socially acceptable for schools to segregate African American students until 1954 when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the practice in Brown v. Board of Education. The public supported the confinement of Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II. Even though these situations were the status quo, the ACLU still fought for the civil liberties of these groups. Both are now a part of our country’s shameful history.

The laws that deny same-sex marriage are no different. The ACLU has been fighting for marriage equality since 1971 and will continue to do so, not because it’s popular, but because marriage is a fundamental liberty for all Americans.

That’s why we’re asking the Supreme Court to review the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent ruling to uphold discriminatory bans on marriage rights for same-sex couples in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Views on Same-Sex Marriage in Flux

The Columbus Dispatch recently conducted a poll indicating a narrow majority (46 to 43 percent) of Ohioans oppose same-sex marriage. The people who responded to the survey were described as likely voters. It is important to note that the number of Ohio voters opposed to marriage equality has dropped more than 10 percent from 10 years ago.

It’s not just in Ohio. Opinions nationally towards same-sex marriage also are changing. A variety of polls conducted this year have found that between 48 to 55 percent of Americans favor marriage equality. In 2003, only 32 percent were in favor.

Taking It to the Supreme Court

Moving forward with Obergefell v. Hodges, our chances for a favorable ruling in this case are good. Although we can never predict what the Supreme Court will do, by refusing to hear the lower courts’ cases earlier this year, they were implicitly agreeing with the removal of same-sex marriage bans.

A decade ago, voters decided not to allow same-sex marriage in Ohio. It is now time for the Supreme Court to decide that Ohioans and all Americans, regardless of whom they love, should have the constitutional right to marry.

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