Encouraging news this week in the struggle for marriage equality. According to a new ABC News/Washington Post survey released this week, for the first time in over a decade of polling a majority of Americans support the legalization of same-sex marriage.
In the poll, 53% of American adults said they think same sex marriage should be legal, compared to 44% who said it should not be. ABC found support for same sex marriage up six points from just one year ago, when 47% of Americans told the network it should be legal, while 50% said it should remain illegal.
The poll follows a significant administration policy shift on the issue, with the White House announcing last month that it will no longer defend certain provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, whose constitutionality is currently being challenged in a number of high-profile court cases. Emboldened Democratic lawmakers have introduced bills in both the House and the Senate aimed at repealing DOMA, and the issue of same-sex marriage, long thought to be a mobilizing issue for the conservative base, is increasingly being considered a potential political wedge issue now favoring Democrats.
While this shift in public perception about marriage equality is certainly encouraging, it is shameful that the legislative and judicial branches have bowed to popular pressure on the issue for so long by passing DOMA and its state-level equivalents, and by allowing such laws to stay on the books. Our constitutional protections were put in place to prevent precisely the sort of majoritarian abridgment of rights that has kept same-sex partners disenfranchised for so long. Among House GOP leadership, who have indicated their intention to defend DOMA in lieu of the administration, we see remnants of an intolerant and reactionary culture that is, by every available rubric - morally, theologically, and now, according to this recent poling data, empirically - on the wrong side of history. Speed now the day when we recognize the question of equal rights for all people should be no question at all.