Liberals against gay Marriage
GAY marriage is illegal in Georgia, and only spouses can adopt a child jointly. This was a problem for Elizabeth Wurz, whose son recently fell ill. Because her female partner is the boy's only mother recognised on paper, Ms Wurz found herself struggling to convince paramedics that she, too, was a legal guardian. “People don’t realise the fear you feel at a time like that, ” she says.
Ms Wurz’s story is increasingly common in a country where two-thirds of the states now allow gay marriage; another 13 states still ban it. The Supreme Court is pondering whether these bans are constitutional. In this week’s paper, we include a dispatch from the oral arguments on April 28th. Few justices appeared to be swayed by the states' defence of their bans, but some still seemed cautious about redefining the institution. Another article this week considers cases like Ms Wurz’s, which show the harm these bans have done to gay people.
In a leader this week, we argue that state bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional and should be struck down. Also, in a series of blog posts, we explain in greater detail the arguments the lawyers who appeared before the Supreme Court have put forward to show that same-sex marriage is or is not a constitutional right.
Regardless of how the justices rule, public attitudes towards same-sex marriage have changed dramatically since 2004, when the first gay marriages were recognised in Massachusetts. Today most Americans support gay marriage. And as we show in this chart, the least gay-friendly state (Alabama), is about where today's most gay-friendly state was a decade ago (Vermont). Conservatives, Republicans and evangelical Protestants often still remain opposed, but many of them are softening, too. In October, when the Supreme Court agreed to hear the gay-marriage cases, we explained why gay rights have been advancing like a juggernaut.
In 1996, when The Economist published a cover story urging governments everywhere to allow same-sex marriage, the idea seemed outlandish. Today the author of that editorial, Jonathan Rauch, is married to the man he loves and living in Virginia, where gay marriage was legalised in October. "All men are created equal, " he wrote. Though America's founding fathers could not have imagined same-sex marriage, "its advent is a tribute to the revolutionary incrementalism of their liberal idea."
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