Gays winning the marriage battle in US

Washington, April 1 (IANS) America’s top court is expected to rule on same-sex marriage in mid-June, but going by the growing tide of support for it, gays and lesbians have already won half the battle.

Though it’s hard to predict how the nine justices of the Supreme Court divided almost evenly between conservatives and liberals would eventually rule, but after last week’s oral arguments on two cases, the writing on the wall appeared pretty clear.

“Gay Marriage Already Won” proclaimed the cover of influential Time magazine observing “Like a dam that springs a little leak that turns into a trickle and then bursts into a flood, the wall of public opinion is crumbling.”

Exit polls during the November presidential showed that 83 percent of voters believe that same-sex marriage will be legal nationwide in the next five to 10 years, according to a bipartisan analysis of the data cited by Time.

Before that a Gallup poll last October showed that 3.4 percent of Americans adult identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender with non-whites more likely to do so.

The survey results showed that 4.6 percent of African-Americans identify as LGBT, along with 4.0 percent of Hispanics and 4.3 percent of Asians. There well might be many more both white and non-white who have yet to come out of the closet.

According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Centre, 1 in 7 American adults say their initial opposition to same-sex marriage has turned to support.

Before 2012, no major presidential nominee favoured same-sex marriage, but after Barack Obama finally “evolved” into a supporter in May before sailing to an easy victory over Mitt Romney in November, many a politician have changed their minds.

Among then leading potential 2016 Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton who during his 1996 re-election bid signed the very Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) denying federal benefits to same sex couples, into law, calling it a “mistake.”

Earlier Senator Rob Portman of Ohio became the first Republican in the Senate to back same-sex marriage, explaining his decision was influenced by his son, who is gay.

While an ABC/Washington Post poll showed that 68 percent of Republicans over age 65 oppose same-sex marriage, it also showed younger Republicans between 18 and 49 were more supportive. In that age group, 52 percent said same-sex marriage should be legal.

Same-sex marriage is currently legally recognized in nine states-Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington-as well as the national capital Washington, District of Columbia, representing 15.7 percent of the US population.

In addition, Rhode Island recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions and California, where same-sex marriages were legal for 142 days in 2008, now recognizes them on a conditional basis.

About 18,000 gay couples married in California during the window when it was legal. Nine other states prohibit same-sex marriage by statute and 30 prohibit it in their constitutions.

But as Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito pointed to the difficulty of taking a decision “based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cellphones or the Internet?” a respected biology professor advised the judges to just look out of their windows at the flowers and trees.

“Let those who wish for marriage to be ‘founded in nature’ take note: the view outside the Supreme Court is full of life’s beautiful sexual variegation,” wrote David George Haskell in the New York Times.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])

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