Dem 50
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Ties 1
GOP 49
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Senate Passes Same-Sex Marriage Bill

In 1996, when Gallup first began asking the question, just 27% of their respondents wanted same-sex marriage to be legalized. Just 8 years later, the number had crept into the low 40s, with the result that Barack Obama ran on an anti-same-sex marriage platform. That probably didn't reflect his true feelings, but sometimes a politician's gotta do what he's gotta do. Of course, when he ran for reelection, Obama flipped, and came out in support of same-sex marriage. That was still not yet a majority position overall, but it was a majority position among Democrats by 2012, and he needed to shore up his left flank.

All of this is to say that we are not far removed from a time when Congressional approval of same-sex marriage was unthinkable. Here's a chart of the responses Gallup has gotten on the issue over the last three decades:

Support began at 27% in
1996, was in the 40s for the first decade of the 2000s, went up into the 50s and then the 60s in the second decade of 
the 2000s, and is now at 70%.

As you can see, same-sex marriage legalization is now a solid majority position among all Americans. It's also a majority position among all political factions (Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, independents). That was enough to get all of the Democratic and independent senators on board, as well as a few Republicans. A few more Republicans could see the writing on the wall, and looked to salvage what they could on behalf of constituents who would prefer to keep discriminating against same-sex spouses. That added up to 62 votes, which was enough to forestall a filibuster and pass a bill effectively making same-sex marriage legal nationwide.

Note that states don't actually have to allow same-sex marriages, but they will have to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. So, gay Mississippians or gay Alabamians or gay South Carolinians will just have to travel to a nearby blue or purple state to get married. Between this and abortion rights, social conservatives certainly are doing their part to boost interstate commerce, aren't they?

The same-sex marriage bill still has a couple of hurdles to clear. It has to pass the House, where it will come up for a vote next week. That should not be a problem, since the country's finest cat herder still has the Speaker's gavel for another couple of months, and since a fair number of House Republicans support the legislation. Then it will need Joe Biden's signature, which he has promised is forthcoming. Ultimately, the Senate was the real challenge, since just a couple of Republican defections would have sunk the bill. Now that the Senate is in the rear-view mirror, it's shaping up to be a very gay Christmas, indeed. (Z)

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