America has gone through tremendous social changes over the last decade one of which may be more positive attitudes towards same-sex relationships. President Barack Obama has become the first American President to have openly declared his support for same-sex marriage and anyone who follows political news may be aware that other prominent politicians including Bill Clinton have also voiced their support for same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is close to becoming a reality in America because support for it has been growing in public, political, and judicial arenas.
Pew Research Center (Pew Research Center, 2013) recently conducted a national survey which found that 49 percent of Americans now support same-sex marriage while 44 percent oppose. This is a significant change from just a decade ago in 2003 when Pew survey found only 33 percent supported and 58 percent opposed same-sex marriage. The survey revealed that the Millennial generation has been particularly instrumental in bringing about change in national attitudes towards same-sex marriage as support for same-sex marriage among Millennials stands at 70 percent. Support among older population has also grown, with 31 percent voicing their support for same-sex marriage as opposed to 17 percent in 2003. Pew Research Center also attempted to find out why some oppose same-sex majors and the two leading factors turned out to be religious beliefs and concern for traditional American family structure. The survey has demonstrated that there has been a significant shift in public attitudes towards same-sex marriage.
Supporters of same-sex marriage claim denying marriage right to same-sex couples result in negative economic consequences. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) (Barro, 2013) investigated the economic impact of allowing same-sex marriage and concluded that the overall impact may be positive, albeit negligible. CBO estimated the budget deficit would be reduced by about $450 million or just 0.01 percent of total federal spending. The report stated that allowing same-sex marriage will reduce government spending on welfare programs such as Medicaid and Supplementary Social Income rolls. The government may also benefit from higher tax revenues because married couples tend to be charged at higher tax rate.
FindLaw (FindLaw), a public education website owned by Thomson Reuters, analyses the potential social and economic benefits and costs of same-sex marriage. First of all, married couples have greater custody and guardianship rights. Similarly, the surviving spouse also inherits the estate of a deceased spouse while the same cannot be said for couples without marital status. Married couples also benefit from lower estate taxes. Married couples also qualify for government benefits which non-married couples do not. But marriage can also inflict huge economic cost in case of a divorce.
The judicial system has also been paving the way for same-sex marriage. Jim Davis (Davis, 2013) suggests June 26, 2013 should be remembered as a Day of Equality because the date witnessed two Supreme Court decisions that lent support to marriage equality. In the United States v. Windsor (DOMA), the court ruled that Section 3 in DOMA violates Fifth Amendment’s Equal Protection Claude. Similarly, in Hollingsworth v. Perry (Prop 8), the court ruled supporters of Prop 8 didn’t have the legal standing to appeal a federal court’s case which ruled ban on marriage equality as unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. Jim Davis (Davis, 2013), a practicing lawyer in Las Vegas, informs Nevadans same-sex couples do not qualify for numerous federal government benefits destined for married couples. Jim does believe that marriage equality is on the horizon because a statewide referendum could take place as early as 2016 and lawsuits seeking equal rights for same-sex couples are being filed in the state courts.
Progress towards marriage equality is also underway in other states. Zelie Pollon (Pollon, 2013) recently reported New Mexico’s largest county has legalized same-sex marriage a court decision by Santa Fe county judge. The decision has set the precedent for other counties in the state as well some of whom such as Dona Ana County have voluntarily started issuing marriage licenses. Total thirteen U.S. states as well as District of Columbia now officially acknowledge same-sex marriage.
Pew Research Center surveyed 1,501 adults, 18 years and older from all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Roughly half were surveyed through landline phones and half through cell phones. In landline phone sample, responses came from the youngest male or female individual at home which may have skewed the survey towards opinion of young people. As a result, the survey may not be a reliable portrayal of national attitudes because U.S. population is aging and older people still tend to oppose same-sex marriage as a group. Similarly, the Congressional Budget Office used several assumptions to arrive at estimations and, thus, the reliability of estimations depends upon the accuracy of the assumptions that may turn out to be false.
Literate review reveals that public attitudes towards marriage equality have been changing and young people are particularly supportive of same-sex marriage. Courts have also struck down anti marriage equality laws on the ground they violate constitutional rights of same-sex couples. Many federal government programs favor married couples and do not recognize civil unions. The theme shared by all the sources is that marriage equality is now just a matter of time.
Barro, J. (2013, March 26). What Is the Fiscal Impact of Gay Marriage? Retrieved September 12, 2013, from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-26/what-is-the-fiscal-impact-of-gay-marriage-.html
Davis, J. (2013, July 29). Day of Equality. Retrieved September 12, 2013, from http://qvegas.com/august-2013-the-relationship-issue/qmmunity-ties/day-of-equality
FindLaw. (n.d.). Same-Sex Marriage Legal Pros and Cons. Retrieved September 12, 2013, from http://family.findlaw.com/marriage/same-sex-marriage-pros-and-cons.html
Pew Research Center. (2013, March 20). Growing Support for Gay Marriage: Changed Minds and Changing Demographics. Retrieved September 12, 2013, from http://www.people-press.org/2013/03/20/growing-support-for-gay-marriage-changed-minds-and-changing-demographics/
Pollon, Z. (2013, August 26). New Mexico’s largest county to allow gay marriage after court ruling. Retrieved September 12, 2013, from http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/27/us-usa-marriage-newmexico-idUSBRE97Q03E20130827