Want an indication of how quickly the cultural landscape has shifted on the issue of same-sex “marriage”? In a Washington Post op-ed today, President Clinton flipped on DOMA, arguing that the law he signed 17 years ago, opposed by only 81 of the 535 members of Congress, is in fact unconstitutional. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is one of two major marriage-related cases to be heard by the Supreme Court in the near future. The other has to do with the Proposition 8 law passed in the state of CA in 2008, and is scheduled for oral arguments later this month. Emily Belz explains the significance of both cases. Excerpt:
The lead-up to the high court taking these two cases parallels the lead-up to the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion. At the state level in the decades before Roe, voters blocked referendum after referendum to legalize abortion by sizable majorities. But then the Supreme Court stepped in and overturned many state-level restrictions on abortion with one decision. Similarly, in the last decade, 38 states have passed traditional marriage laws, either by referendum or in legislatures. The Supreme Court could upend those laws with these cases.
One difference is that public opinion against same-sex “marriage” is weaker than it was against abortion at the time of Roe. In the last 15 years, opposition to gay marriage has dropped by 20 points according to the Pew Research Center, down to 43 percent this year. In 1972, a Gallup poll showed that 66 percent of Americans opposed elective abortions. The court, of course, enjoys ignoring public opinion in all of its cases.
The court will likely hear both cases in late March, according to court expert Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog.