Same-Sex Marriage Legalised in the USA
It's a big ol' party in the USA right now...
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Directly prior to this landmark ruling, same-sex marriage was legal in 36 states, but the issue of whether states should recognise marriages performed in states where it was legal was more complicated.
Altogether, only 69.4% of the population lived in states which both performed and recognised same-sex marriage. Therefore, no same-sex couple’s rights were guaranteed – if a couple were to marry in one state and move to another, their rights as spouses could have been questioned.
Following last week’s SCOTUS ruling, however, all same-sex couples in the United States have a constitutional right to marry and have that marriage recognised in any of the 50 states.
Recent studies have indicated that the majority of Americans (around 60%, with that figure rising significantly when only young Americans are polled) now support the legalisation of same-sex marriage. Proponents of the ruling have recognised and celebrated a long fought battle.
One gay couple who have been together for 20 years were quoted as saying “A lot of people gave their lives – their blood, sweat and tears to make this happen”. The Human Rights Campaign have been leading proponents in the battle to legalise equal marriage, saying that they believe all couples should have the right to honour their relationship in the greatest, most significant way that society has to offer.
President Obama also supported the ruling, saying that “shifts in hearts and minds is possible”, perhaps paying homage to his own history of expressing mixed views on same-sex marriage.
Those on the right of the spectrum, however, find themselves torn on how to respond to the new legislation, with promotion of ‘traditional marriage’ being a key policy of many of the 2016 Republican candidates’ manifestos despite growing support for equal marital rights.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz called the decision to legalise same-sex marriage ‘tragic’, while David Huckabee voiced his opinion that the ruling would “open the door to something very dangerous to our way of life…” A somewhat more moderate GOP candidate, Jeb Bush, expressed his disappointment in the ruling, yet added that “good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side”, and also called on the country to protect religious freedom, while also not discriminating.
On that topic, religious rationale is commonly cited by opponents of same-sex marriage, with churches such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claiming that children prosper in life when raised by a mother and a father. The United States, therefore, finds itself in the delicate situation of adopting and accepting the fact that same-sex marriage is now legal, while also protecting the freedoms of the approximately 75% of Americans who identify as religious.
While this is perceived as a conflict, Republican same-sex marriage proponent Ana Navarro notes that there need not be a compromise. Writing for CNN, she stated her belief that tolerance is a “two way street”, and that the right to marry who you choose, and the right to practice the religion that you choose, can co-exist.
With this unique light shone on recent events, and legal rights in the USA extending further than ever before, it’s hard to take anything but positives from this landmark ruling.