Thirty-seven U.S. states and the District of Columbia currently issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But it has been only 11 years since Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to overturn its law banning same-sex marriage.
At that time, only 30 percent of Americans supported the idea. In 2015, that figure has doubled to 60 percent, and more than 70 percent of Americans now live in states where gay marriage is legal. For many gay rights activists, the quick legal and cultural change has been nothing short of a revolution.
As same-sex couples sought the same legal recognition and protections that heterosexual couples enjoy, they challenged state bans in courts. Many courts that sided with them took the view that marriage is a right guaranteed to everyone under the U.S. Constitution, and discrimination based on sexual orientation is unlawful. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a 1996 federal law that restricted the terms of “marriage” and “spouse” to apply only to heterosexual unions. The court will be hearing arguments April 28 that could ultimately lead it to overturn all remaining bans on same-sex marriages in United States.
America underwent a cultural transformation as younger generations, more exposed to and accepting of same-sex relationships, lent their support to ballot measures and state efforts to overturn the bans. Many mainstream religious groups and political organizations, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, have lent their public support for the rights of same-sex couples.
This video highlights the attitudes of many younger Americans who agree that love is love, regardless of gender.
As New York University professor Patrick Egan asked, “Are you going to legally recognize these people who are willing to make a lifelong commitment to one another, or are you going to use the force of law to render that commitment null and void?”