WASHINGTON – New polls show many more Americans support same-sex marriage. This, as the Supreme Court gets ready to hear a landmark case on marriage equality. But it’s not just the public that’s had a change of opinion on the issue; lawmakers’ opinions have changed dramatically over the past few years.
“It will allow for America to become a more whole country, I think, but it won’t take anything away from anyone,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH). “It will, rather, improve the civil rights of all people.”
The Supreme Court is looking at same sex-marriage bans from four states: Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Michigan.
“This is a country and society that should value civil rights and equal rights and fair play,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). “Marriage equality is people should be able to marry whom they choose.”
The court will first consider whether states have the obligation to perform same-sex marriages. Then, the court will hear arguments as to whether states are obligated to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) said this isn’t a states’ rights issue.
“People who live in every state are American citizens and they the right to have their Constitutional guarantees protected,” Kildee said. “No state should ever be in a position to decide that because of someone’s race, their gender, or who they love, that they don’t have protections under the Constitution.”
But, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) disagrees. Portman is a Republican and has a gay son. The senator said he supports same sex marriage but thinks states should decide.
“I have a different position than some of my Republican colleagues do on this, but I also think this is an issue that is best decided by the people,” Portman said. “It’s best decided around the kitchen table, talking to your family members, talking to your neighbors, talking to your friends at work. We ought to have an honest dialogue on this. There ought to be more respect shown on both sides of the issue.”
Another Ohio lawmaker, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), agrees it should be up to the states, but he doesn’t want to see gay couples allowed to marry.
“I’m for keeping the definition what it is,” Jordan said. “But better than Supreme Court inject themselves into this matter, its better that the state decides these matters.”
As some lawmakers continue to debate the issue of same-sex marriage, experts expect the court to rule in favor of same-sex couples.
A decision in the case is expected in late June or early July.