The day has arrived when a majority of Americans see marriage as the romantic and legal union of two people. Gender doesn’t matter.
America is undergoing an agonizing transformation that’s dividing us — young vs. old, South vs. virtually everywhere else, Democrats vs. Republicans, evangelical Christians vs. Christians of a more accepting bent. It is quite a sight to see.
Our belief is that America is destined to become a nation that doesn’t legislate marriage. Our hope is that we survive the journey.
Today, same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Only one state (North Dakota) bans it and isn’t being challenged in court. Alabama is one of many states in which legal challenges are making their way through the judicial system. The latest effort began this week when the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama filed a lawsuit on behalf of April and Ginger Aaron-Brush, a Birmingham couple legally married in Massachusetts two years ago.
What once was only a few states with legal same-sex marriage is now a diverse map of the United States. Pew Center research this spring shows 54 percent of Americans now support marriage equality — a percentage that continues to trend upward with each passing year, particularly among younger Americans. An overwhelming majority of the states where same-sex marriage is legal are in the Northeast. It’s also legal in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois. Out west, it’s legal in California, Oregon, Washington state and New Mexico.
In every Southern state, legislative bans against same-sex-marriage are facing legal challenges or the bans have been struck down and appeals are pending. State by state, region by region, America is methodically embracing marriage equality. It is long overdue.
The wise would expect Alabama and its regional brethren to be the final holdouts against same-sex marriage. Indeed, Attorney General Luther Strange, a Republican, said in a statement after the ACLU filing that he “will vigorously defend the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. That has been the definition of marriage for the history of Western civilization, and Alabamians overwhelmingly voted to incorporate it into our laws.”
Strange isn’t alone in that belief. This week, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Ronnie Floyd, said his denomination won’t alter its stance on same-sex marriage — a significant development, considering the SBC is the largest protestant denomination in the nation. “We stand strong on what the Scripture says about marriage between a man and a woman. At the same time we do know that we have this issue facing our culture,” Floyd said.
It’s not merely an issue. It is a matter of equality for all, regardless of who you are or whom you love.