There has been a heated debate regarding the legalization of same-sex marriage for over a decade now. While the idea still seems novel to many American citizens, there seems to be a general trend of acceptance of same-sex couples, similar to how the US society has come to embrace interracial marriages in the late 1960s.
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Legal restrictions prohibiting people from getting married existed not only in the case of the same-sex marriage. Only about half a century ago many states (located primarily in the conservative South) still had laws that declared interracial marriage illegal. As a rule, the anti-miscegenation laws simply classified the US citizens into “white” and “colored”. However, the status quo was ultimately changed in 1967 in a landmark Supreme Court ruling in the Loving v. Virginia case. Mildred and Richard Loving, a black woman and a white man, got married in Washington, D.C. in 1958 because their home state Virginia prohibited interracial marriages. Upon their return to Virginia, the police searched their house and collected the evidence for the couple to be later sentenced to one year in prison. The US Supreme Court, however, unanimously ruled that such laws were unconstitutional, effectively repealing them in sixteen states, including Virginia (Loving v. Virginia, 1967).
The same-sex marriage in the US followed a similar path. While many states have gradually come to allow at least some form of same-sex unions throughout the early 2000s, it was not until the 2015 Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges case that declared the prohibition of same-sex marriage by state legislations unconstitutional (Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015). Thus, currently all the states allow same-sex marriage. The Loving v. Virginia ruling was mentioned, as well: the Court cited it as a precedent that set that a right to marry as a fundamental human right. Moreover, some judges argued that this case established that tradition alone cannot serve as a justification to refuse someone their right to marry, thus discriminating against them based on their sexual orientation. The opponents of same-sex marriage argued, on the other hand, that the Loving v. Virginia decision cannot be applied in this case, as it discussed marriage as a union of persons of opposite sex (Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015).
The Supreme Court’s decisions on such matters certainly have an impact on the overall public opinion and attitudes in the United States. While some people may still have personal reservations and even prejudices when it comes to interracial dating and marriage, the situation has, nevertheless, improved greatly. The very fact that mixed couples can be seen in public slowly makes every citizen come to terms with it. Moreover, such couples enjoy legal protection of their rights. A similar pattern holds true for the America’s views on same-sex marriage. Only fifteen years ago, 57 percent opposed same-sex marriage, and only 35 percent supported it, with this trend being virtually reversed in 2015: 55 percent pro and 39 against. More importantly, a steady, albeit sometimes slow, increase in acceptance rates can be observed across different social groups, including gender, age, race, and religious and political affiliation (Pew Research Center, 2015).
Younger generations tend to be more open to the idea of same-sex marriage and, since I belong to this group, my views on the subject have been largely shaped by this fact. Same-sex marriage is not controversial and absurd to me, and I think that people should enjoy the state protection of their rights regardless of who they are.
Loving v. Virginia. (1967).
Obergefell v. Hodges. (2015). Web.
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Pew Research Center. (2015). Changing attitudes on gay marriage.