Filed under: Marriage equality
By Scottie Thomaston
The people of the state of Virginia are now joining the ranks of those who support marriage equality (most recently, majority support was found in Michigan, and in Nevada in February.) The recent polls seem to match the overall trend reported by Pew Research and Gallup: Americans in all age groups increasingly support same-sex marriage.
Metro Weekly has the report on the Washington Post‘s Virginia poll:
A Washington Post poll of Virginians regarding various social issues shows that a majority of Virginians believe same-sex marriage should be legal, a finding that challenges other polls in recent years showing that marriage equality still lacks broad support across the commonwealth.
According to the Post poll, 56 percent of Virginia adults believe it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to get married, while 34 percent think it should be illegal. Ten percent expressed no opinion. Among registered voters, those who thought it should be legal led by a similar margin, 56 to 33 percent.
The poll was conducted by telephone from April 29 to May 2 among a random sample of 1,000 adults in Virginia, including 887 registered voters and users of both conventional and cellular phones. Among registered voters, the poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
According to the poll results, independents and Democrats are showing majority support (which is the same in most recent polls on the issue) but Republicans are not. Women and non-whites support marriage equality more strongly than men and whites. And 72 per cent of 18-29 year olds in the state support marriage equality, but only 22 per cent in that age group are in the opposition.
Metro Weekly interviewed the executive director of Equality Virginia about the poll:
In an interview with Metro Weekly, James Parrish, the executive director of the nonpartisan LGBT rights organization Equality Virginia called the results of the Post poll “exciting to see.”
“It’s definitely nice to see, but it’s something we expected,” Parrish said. “Support in Virginia mirrors what’s going on nationally. Hopefully, this will set Virginia up to be able to remove the marriage amendment and allow same-sex couples to marry in the state.”
Parrish noted that the strongest movement in support for LGBT rights has occurred among Republicans. He said that polling by Equality Virginia has also seen that shift among Republicans in its own polling, which explains why a bill supporting workplace nondiscrimination protections in state employment garnered stronger-than-usal support from Republicans this past legislative session. That measure passed the state Senate 24-16 before being killed in committee by members of the House of Delegates.
The Advocate also notes, via a Talking Points Memo report, that Arizona voters (who banned same-sex marriage by voter initiative in 2008) now support marriage equality by a fairly strong margin:
Even Arizona, where the legislature is currently considering a bill that would forbid transgender people from using the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity, is feeling the push toward marriage equality. Although Arizona voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2008, 55% of voters now favor marriage equality, according to a Rocky Mountain Poll released Wednesday and published at TalkingPointsMemo. Opposition to the freedom to marry among registered voters is just 35%, according to the poll. Support for marriage equality was high among women, Latinos, and voters under the age of 55. But even among voters older than 54, 46% support marriage equality, while 40% of the demographic is opposed.
TPM notes that support in the state transcends race, gender, and age:
Large majorities of women, Hispanics and voters under the age of 55 support same-sex nuptials. A plurality of voters over the age of 54 — 46 percent — supports gay marriage, while 40 percent of the group is opposed.
All of these states have LGBT-related lawsuits pending in federal court: Michigan’s anti-gay amendment is being challenged in federal court, while a case involving gay rights in Arizona is pending before the Supreme Court: Brewer v. Diaz involves an attempt by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to rescind domestic partnership benefits from same-sex state employees; she asked the Court to allow her to continue denying the benefits while the case is pending in the lower courts. No action has been taken in either case, and since the Court will decide cases involving Prop 8 and DOMA, no action is expected until June at the earliest.
In Virginia, the state’s attorney general has appealed a decision striking down the “crimes against nature” (sodomy) law as unconstitutional under 2003′s Lawrence v. Texas. The full appeals court declined to rehear the case.
In these states, it seems unlikely at best that marriage equality will be legalized without court action. Although voters are changing their minds, many of the state officials are socially conservative. But these lawsuits will probably proceed after the Supreme Court rules next month.
By Jacob Combs
A new report by Media Matters reveals that coverage of recent marriage equality wins in Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota varied dramatically by cable news network, with MSNBC providing the most in-depth coverage and Fox News practically ignoring the issue.
Of the three legislative victories, MSNBC mentioned marriage equality stories 35 times, CNN mentioned them 13 times and Fox made just three mentions. The duration of each network’s coverage differed dramatically, with MSNBC devoting substantially more time to the issue than the other two networks. For example, MSNBC devoted more than 10 minutes of time to Rhode Island’s marriage equality law, while CNN spent a little over a minute and Fox News only 16 seconds.
Fox chose not to even mention the marriage law that passed in Delaware, while CNN spent a little under a minute and MSNBC a little under two. On Minnesota, Fox spent 44 seconds, CNN spent around 2 minutes, and MSNBC devoted a whopping 37 minutes of time, most of it from multiple segments on the story on Up with Steve Kornacki.
In a related report, Equality Matters (a Media Matters affiliate) pointed out that while Fox News spent only one minute of airtime on developments in the three states, the network did include some stories on marriage equality, most of which were not decidedly positive.
For example, the day before Rhode Island’s marriage vote, Bill O’Reilly featured a speech by Russian gay activist Masha Gessen saying that marriage equality would “change” the institution of marriage and that “it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist.” O’Reilly cited Gessen’s statements as evidence that “a lot of gay activists” secret plan is to destroy marriage -something he called “the Swedish model.” (As Equality Matters’ Carlos Maza points out, marriage rates in Sweden are actually increasing.)
On May 10, TV personalities on the network’s Fox & Friends lambasted the “P.C. police” for modifying federal forms (such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA) to include gender-neutral language that is inclusive of same-sex couples.
Nobody doubts that MSNBC and Fox News have their unique philosophical and ideological bents. Still, it’s remarkable to see Fox essentially ignore this month’s marriage equality news, which has seen a dramatic acceleration of increased progress for equal marriage rights.
By Scottie Thomaston
The state of Nevada is moving forward on pro-LGBT legislation. This week the state Assembly added gender identity and expression to its existing hate crimes legislation. The state’s Republican governor Brian Sandoval is expected to sign the bill:
Similar legislation passed in the state assembly during the last legislative session in 2011, only failing in the Senate. During that session, the legislature passed transgender inclusive non-discrimination legislation in housing, public accommodations and employment. Republican Governor Brian Sandoval signed all three pieces of legislation during the first year of his first term and is expected to sign this bill as well.
The bill passed overwhelmingly, with only one senator voting no last month, and a large number of House members voting for it this week:
The Assembly passed the measure on a 30-11 vote with only Republicans opposed. The bill already cleared the Senate and now heads to Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.
“This does afford victims special rights,” said Assemblyman Andrew Martin, D-Las Vegas, who is openly gay. “This is a statement of what our society is, and that we will not tolerate the systematic targeting of individuals who are historically disadvantaged groups.”
Sandoval spokeswoman Mary-Sarah Kinner told The Associated Press Tuesday that the governor supports the legislation.
The bill, SB139, would add “gender identity or expression” to the list of motivations deemed to be hate crimes under state law. Supporters outlined in graphic detail several instances of the violent nature of crimes motivated by hate, saying the added protection would help deter more violent crimes.
As EqualityOnTrial recently reported, the state is also moving forward on marriage equality, albeit at a much slower pace. A constitutional amendment to replace the anti-gay marriage amendment would eventually be placed on the ballot in 2016, after it passes this legislative session and then gets through the Assembly again in 2015. With three weeks left in the session, the bill should pass quickly.
Activists in the state have been pursuing marriage equality there for years. The state’s domestic partnership law treats same-sex couples almost exactly the same as opposite-sex married couples, but same-sex couples are denied the title of marriage. That regime is seen as irrational, and it’s being challenged in federal court by Lambda Legal in Sevcik v. Sandoval, who believes the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage denies them equal protection of the laws. That case is on hold, though, pending the Supreme Court decisions in Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor. The district court had ruled against the plaintiffs, same-sex couples, and the case is on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. But the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, the proponents of the ballot initiative that amended the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, petitioned the Supreme Court to review the case before judgment at the appeals court. The plaintiffs oppose review at this stage. The Court hasn’t taken action on their petition and no other action is expected until the Court’s other rulings. The Sevcik case is expected to be heard on a parallel track with Hawaii’s marriage equality case, Jackson v. Abercrombie. The Ninth Circuit, which struck down Prop 8, seems like a more favorable court, so they may be inclined to strike down Nevada’s ban as well when it reaches them.
A recent poll showed majority support for the amendment to overturn the marriage equality far ahead of the 2016 election. Whether the courts strike the ban or voters invalidate it in 2016, things are progressing in Nevada.