Last week, conservative Ohio Senator Rob Portman reversed his stance to favor gay marriage. The reason: His son is gay.
On Monday, the New York Times profiled a cousin of Chief Justice John Roberts who is gay and planned to attend this week's historic oral arguments at the Supreme Court about same-sex marriage.
Of course, the I-now-support-gay-marriage-because-my-family-member-is-gay pioneer is former VP Dick Cheney, whose daughter was an outspoken lesbian.
These familial connections create a strong cultural undertow toward equality—especially because they directly attach powerful decision-makers to LGBTQ issues and struggles.
Yet, in spite of this mounting public support for same-sex marriage equality, discrimination remains codified and blatantly out of step with national attitudes.
In 2004, for example, an overwhelming majority of Oregon voters joined 13 other states that year to ban same-sex marriages. But since then the national attitude toward gay rights has radically shifted and softened. Last week, a Washington Post poll reported 58% of Americans believe same-sex marriage should be legal.
On Tuesday morning, this rift between public sentiment and public policy became increasingly clear when the Supreme Court heard arguments on Prop 8, a California voter initiative banning same-sex marriage. What was particularly illustrative about the case is that California Gov. Jerry Brown and the state's attorney general declined to defend the law; said more plainly, the very elected officials meant to uphold the law do not support it.
President Obama went further on Wednesday, sending the solicitor general to argue against the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, a law passed in 2006 that denies benefits to same-sex partners.
Even so, that the Supreme Court will favor same-sex equality is far from a LeBron James slam-dunk. In fact, it is woefully uncertain, if not unlikely. Part of the reason is that deference towards state sovereignty has been the calling card for the Supreme Court over the past decade—and with close to half of U.S. states banning same-sex marriage, certainly a federal assertion for equality bangs its head against this wall.
But, even if the Supreme Court ultimately denies same-sex marriage its constitutional due, equality will happen. It is inevitable.
Point being: The number of same-sex marriage opponents is rapidly declining. Those who remain opposed are increasingly isolated and their arguments increasingly inane and mean-spirited.
The often-used assertion that America's social values will crumble into chaos has no credible evidence. In fact, overwhelming data illustrate the opposite, that gay parents, most who struggled with their own emotional puzzles, are exceptionally well-equipped to be caring parents with deep empathy. Moreover, Biblical references have been chanted so ferociously that they have worn thin and exposed that the Bible more importantly teaches a steady moral spirit of kindness and generosity.
Regardless of what the Court decides when it releases its opinion later this summer, we will be the ones to determine how a variety of marriage arrangements, sexual preferences and family structures are incorporated into our community.
Outside of the ballot box, Bend and Central Oregonians have had very few recent high-profile tensions over same-sex rights. What the region does have is a well-articulated interest in community and healthy families—and how residents fold that spirit, and same-sex parents, into their communities will say more than the Supreme Court could ever articulate. Oregon: Here's a GLASS SLIPPER.