Momentum for Gay Marriage: What It Means for Rhode Island
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
New York’s move reflects substantial movement in public attitudes. Public opinion has been moving quickly in the direction of support for gay marriage. In fact, recent polling reports the emergence of a national majority. A May 2011 Gallup Poll shows 53% Americans approve of gay marriage, while only 45% oppose it. These numbers are backed-up by similar results in other national polls. This is a relatively quick turnaround in public opinion given that only a couple of years ago a substantial majority opposed gay marriage.
While support for gay marriage is growing in all demographic groups, younger voters remain the most supportive and older Americans the most opposed. As a result, the question of whether there will be a significant expansion in the number of states adopting gay marriage seems more a question of “when” than “if.”
The remarkable movement in public attitude towards gay marriage reflects a broader recognition that it is a fundamental issue of civil rights. To fulfill the promise of America, gay Americans must have the same rights and opportunities as the rest of us. This same hard- won belief underlies the overwhelming majority of Americans who support gays serving openly in the military which resulted in the repeal of “Don’t Ask: Don’t Tell” at the end of last year.
A key factor in this significant shift is that more than 6 in 10 American adults have a friend, family member or acquaintance who is gay or lesbian, according to national polling. Familiarity brings knowledge about the unique issues facing those who have lesser civil rights and family members of gays and lesbians want to ensure they have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. In fact, the desire to provide equality for a family member was the main motivation for one of the key Republican money men who promised support to New York Republican State Senators who voted for gay marriage.
New York’s adoption of gay marriage, along with the continued movement of public opinion towards support of gay marriage, has major implications for the fight in Rhode Island where a marriage equality bill is stalled in the state legislature. Given the major public role played by Governor Cuomo in New York, it is likely that supporters of the legislation will expect more from Governor Chafee in future legislative sessions. Chafee supports gay marriage, but will likely be asked to follow Cuomo’s example and back-up his words with real political muscle and resources.
Legislators must also be mindful that two-thirds of Democrats support gay marriage and among primary voters support is even greater. If a gay marriage bill is not adopted before the 2012 legislative elections, primary challengers who gain grassroots support and funding from marriage equality supporters may emerge against Democrats opposed to gay marriage.
In Rhode Island it is nearly certain that the adoption of gay marriage is a question of when—not if. Politically astute state legislators should read the writing on the wall and pass it sooner rather than later.
If you valued this article, please LIKE GoLocalProv.com on Facebook by clicking HERE.
Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.
- Advocates: Gay Marriage Will Benefit RI’s Economy
- Democratic Chairman Backs Gay Marriage
- EXCLUSIVE: A Big Compromise on Gay Marriage?
- Gay Marriage Debate at the Statehouse: A Preview
- Gay Marriage Debate: Roach Responds
- Gay Marriage Intrigue at Statehouse
- Gay Marriage Opponents, Supporters Face Off
- Gay Marriage PR War Heats Up
- Gay Marriage: The Time Is Now
- Gay Marriage: What’s Wrong with a Referendum?
- Gay News Site Accuses MERI of Undermining Gay Marriage Battle
- General Assembly Horse Trading: ‘Woodmansee’ Bill for Gay Marriage
- Group Proposes Referendum on Gay Marriage
- Hundreds Flock to Statehouse for Gay Marriage Showdown
- LIVE ELECTION UPDATE Gay marriage group working the polls 1:20 PM
- NEW Gay Marriage Bill to Be Introduced Tomorrow
- NEW: Gay Marriage Group ‘Extremely Disappointed’ in Fox
- NEW: Head of Gay Marriage Group Resigns
- NEW: Providence College Students to Hold Gay Marriage Rally
- NEW: Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Gay Marriage Bills
- Poll: Most Rhode Islanders Support Gay Marriage
- Sources: Gay Marriage Can’t Pass RI House
- A LIVELY EXPERIMENT May 19, 2011 Civil Unions
- BREAKING NEWS: Civil Unions Passes House Judiciary
- BREAKING NEWS: Fox Supports Civil Unions
- BREAKING NEWS: House Passes Controversial Civil Unions Bill
- Civil Unions Goes to Senate Judiciary Committee
- Civil Unions: Senate Vote Coming This Week
- Gay Rights Rally Protests Civil Unions Bill
- NEW: Bishop Tobin Calls for Defeat of Civil Unions
- NEW: Chafee OK with Civil Unions
- NEW: Civil Unions Hearing Today
- NEW: Paiva Weed Backs Civil Unions
- UPDATED: Civil Unions Bill Introduced