Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), should we expect a strong backlash from opponents of gay marriage? If so, what will this backlash look like? Right now, we have heard statements from a few key opponents – from Michelle Bachmann to Mike Huckabee. But will opposition grow into a full-scale countermovement, especially as state legislatures increasingly become the site of the gay marriage conflict? I also ask this question in light of the recent French example where the legalization of gay marriage led to significant involvement of both grassroots and elite elements (albeit motivated by different grievances) converging to attack the Hollande government’s legalization of same-sex marriage.
Supporters of gay marriage celebrate after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act and declined to rule on the California law Proposition 8 in Washington, D.C., U.S. on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg
Countermobilization in France around the recent legalization of gay marriage raises several key issues. First, despite the fact that it was well known to activists that protests would not deter the French government from going through with the legislation, protests grew increasingly more intense and continued to do so following the legislation. Second, as I noted in a previous post, it became increasingly clear that what has people mobilized is not so much the right of gays and lesbians to marry but rather, the part of the legislation that deals with assisted procreation and surrogate motherhood for gay couples. Continue reading
My wife and I lived in California during Proposition 8. We got married before the vote, “just in case,” although I swore (clearly ignorantly) that a state wouldn’t vote to take an already extended right away from its people. We saw our share of “Save Marriage” bumper stickers, but I was unshaken until the election proved me wrong. Then, I was filled with pure rage; a sense of utter gall that someone else would vote about my marriage.
Obviously marriage is a political and social institution, blah blah blah. I am used to hearing both sides of the argument and even courting both sides in classes. But, when you are married and there is a vote affecting the validity of your own marriage, it feels very personal. Continue reading
Mobilizing Idea’s recent Essay Dialogue on movements and the courts was inspired in part by the DOMA case on the U.S. Supreme Court docket. In her essay, Martinez discusses the role of the Supreme Court in light of a changing political and cultural context regarding gay marriage. While U.S. states have become increasingly polarized on same-sex marriage (SSM), public opinion appears to have shifted in favor of marriage equality. These environmental shifts may be important for legal mobilization. Drawing from classic sociological theory, Martinez writes that “When activists turn to law and demand legal change, it only works when the cultural conditions and political conditions are out of alignment with law. The law changes to match social beliefs and practices.” As Bua of the Huffington Post claims, “the times they are a ‘changin.’” Continue reading
Social movement scholars have increasingly broadened their view of the role of social movements vis-à-vis institutions and political outcomes– that is, beyond using direct action to challenge authority. The fact that you are reading a short essay about social movements and the courts is a testament to that. As movements became increasingly viewed as part of “everyday politics” and the use of institutionalized tactics more common, not surprisingly, legal mobilization emerged as an area of interest among political sociologists and social movement scholars. Continue reading
My esteemed colleagues have noted the many recent victories regarding LGBT rights and same-sex marriage and that public support for same-sex marriage is growing stronger, especially among younger cohorts. However, policy change and social acceptance are uneven and, arguably in states with constitutional defense of marriage acts (DOMAs), things may even be worse now in terms of policy than they were previously. Continue reading
Has the LGBT movement made great strides in recent years? Without a doubt, yes! Has the “tide turned” for the LGBT Movement? A resounding no!
Clearly the LGBT movement has been experiencing a wave of considerable legal and cultural gains. Lately, there have been many states passing or on the verge of passing marriage for same-sex partners. According to Freedom to Marry, six states and DC afford marriage equality to same sex couples. The states of Washington and Maryland will potentially be added to this growing list (assuming victory against the anti-gay forces who are currently working to stop the enactments on the upcoming November ballot). Further, New Jersey finally passed legislation in favor of marriage equality. While it was quickly vetoed by its governor, mobilizing efforts to overturn this action have already begun. Several other states afford some lesser version of marriage equality (Freedom to Marry 2012).
I was invited to contribute to this essay exchange a few weeks ago. In that short period of time:
- Governor Chris Gregoire signed Washington’s marriage equality bill into law.
- The Maryland state legislature passed a same-sex marriage bill that was strongly supported by Governor Martin O’Malley.
- The New Jersey state legislature voted in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples.
- More than 150 mayors from over 30 states signed a pledge to support the “freedom to marry.”
- A judicial panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Proposition 8, California’s gay marriage ban, is unconstitutional.
- U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White became the second judge to invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
- Just three years after voters in Maine voted to repeal the law that had legalized same-sex marriage, supporters of marriage equality have collected the signatures needed to bring the issue of same-sex marriage back to a referendum.
Many supporters of marriage equality and, more broadly, LGBT rights—and perhaps some opponents as well—may see these events as evidence that the “tide has turned.” Others might not be as convinced. The tides of change are often followed by counter tides. Continue reading
Looking at recent advances on the freedom to marry it seems the “love that dare not speak its name” has become the love that politically can’t be stopped.
In February alone, marriage bills were passed by legislatures in Maryland, New Jersey and Washington State, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that found that California’s Prop 8 violates the U.S. Constitution and groups in Maine have announced that they are going to the ballot to win the freedom to marry.
In many ways it seems after so many years of playing defense, fighting against anti-gay ballot campaigns and attempts by conservatives to add anti-gay language to the U.S. Constitution that the LGBT movement is finally on offense. Continue reading
At the moment I write this, same-sex marriage laws are being seriously considered by three state legislatures across the country, and at least one state governor has signed a same-sex marriage law. This shift—same-sex marriage being passed by legislatures rather than through judicial ruling—has been seen as a sign that the tide has shifted for LGBT activism.
And indeed, progress is being made across the country.
Among many other accomplishments, in the past decade, a federal hate crimes law has been passed, along with numerous LGBT-supportive public policies under Obama. The Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy has been rescinded in the military, leading to open inclusion of lesbian and gay military members. In 2003, sodomy laws across the country were overturned with the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas. And according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, a majority of citizens of the United States are covered by nondiscrimination laws that include protections based on sexual orientation either in their home state or city. Some of these nondiscrimination laws include gender identity and expression, which provides protection for transgender individuals. Continue reading