Gay Marriage: What’s Taking Us So Long?

As more Americans say they support marriage equality, the government is dragging its heels

It’s common knowledge that in an election year – and the months leading up to elections – lots and lots of things get done…and lots do not. Same-sex marriage is an example of what’s not on the drawing board right now. And as politicians (and even our president) seem to fear backlash in supporting marriage equality for same-sex couples around the country, what these folks should really be worried about is a backlash from the LGBT community and its allies who are becoming much more vocal about the need for equal rights. In fact, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey released this week, public acceptance of marriage equality is growing – big time.

Almost half of all Americans surveyed admit that they support legalizing marriage for same-sex couples, says the survey, which was conducted during the last two months. And this was before the latest Kim Kardashian hoopla that had Facebook buzzing this week with the image of the unhappy couple calling it quits on their 72-day nuptials – with the tagline, “If you think gay marriage cheapens the institution, two words: Kim Kardashian.”

Even openly gay Star Trek actor George Takai tweeted about it, saying, “Kim Kardashian files for divorce after 72 days. Another example of how same-sex marriage is destroying the sanctity of the very institution.”

And he’s not alone, says Pew and several other organizations that have released data this year showing that more and more people in this country – straight and gay alike – overwhelmingly support gay marriage rights.

For the last 15 to 20 years, support for gay rights and same-sex marriage has been growing several percentage points each year, especially among younger people (and voters) who are helping to shift public acceptance for the better.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Baby Boomers (ages 47 to 65) who opposed same-sex marriage in the mid-90s by two to one now support it. And almost 60 percent of people under the age of 30 say they support legalization – and the numbers are growing, even among Catholics who seem to depart from the Vatican’s own condemnation of gay rights.

For Obama, who has been reaching out to LGBT voters this year as support for him drops off among older Americans, the gay marriage issue is a critical one. Many pundits have suggested that if Obama is re-elected – with the much-needed help of LGBT voters – that he could possibly legalize same-sex marriage on a federal level during his second term, having already taken a first, very important and symbolic step to diminish the legal impact of DOMA.

The sad part is that while politicians will ultimately be responsible for making or breaking gay marriage laws in this country – with the help of much-needed money from heavy-hitting donors (New York passed marriage thanks, in part, to a massive fundraising effort), they’re trailing behind the average American who is becoming more and more enlightened about people not being treated like second-class citizens.