June 27, 2017

The Country Has Move on Gay Rights But Religious Conservatives are Stuck in The Past

Same-sex marriage, once central to America's culture wars and a defining topic in the 2004 presidential campaign, has largely become a non-issue in the courts of both law and public opinion, leaving social conservatives with few options to fight the historic trend.

As LGBT activists and their supporters celebrated the second anniversary Monday of the U.S. Supreme Court's Obergefell decision making same-sex marriage the law of the land, the Pew Research Center reported that public support for gay marriage is at an all-time high.  

The center's survey found that 62 percent of Americans favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while 32 percent are opposed to the unions – a near reversal of public sentiment in early 2004 when Pew found that 30 percent of the public backed same-sex marriage and 63 percent opposed it.

Moreover, the survey showed that for the first time, a majority of baby boomers favor gay marriage and a majority of Republican and Republican-leaning independents do not oppose it – indicating the public is changing its collective mind on the issue and not just that gay marriage foes are dying out.

The findings dovetailed with another Supreme Court victory for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, as justices Monday reaffirmed equal treatment for same-sex married couples. The court ordered Arkansas to list the names of both same-sex spouses on a child's birth certificate, even though one person might not be the child's biological parent. The ruling reversed a decision by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

"Legally and politically, I think for the vast majority of American citizens, [marriage] equality is resolved," says Jason Pierceson, a University of Illinois–Springfield political science professor who has authored several books on same-sex marriage and sexuality and politics.

But despite being stymied by the courts, opponents of gay marriage have pressed on, seeking religious exemptions to enforcing or endorsing it, he notes.

"What's happened is that the country's moved on, but I think religious conservatives haven't," Pierceson adds.

Social conservatives also won a victory – or the possibility of one, anyway – when the Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a case – Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission – about whether a baker in Colorado should have been allowed to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. The Colorado Court of Appeals earlier ruled that the baker, Jack Phillips, broke state law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation. 

US News and World Report

Big win for Religious Conservatives at the Court:

(NEWSER) – The Supreme Court's big headline on Monday involved partially instating President Trump's travel ban, but it was far from the only consequential development on the last day of the court's term. In a big church-state ruling, the court sided with the church. Justices ruled 7-2 that the state of Missouri was wrong when it rejected a request from Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia for funds to build a playground, reports NBC News. The church had sought money from a state fund set aside for non-profits. The ruling could jeopardize laws in other states designed to keep a clear separation between church and state, a point emphasized by Sonia Sotomayor in her dissent. Other developments:
Gay rights: The court is putting a high-profile case about gay rights on the docket for its next term. The justices will decide whether a baker in Denver who objects to same-sex marriage was OK to refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, reports the Washington Post. The decision would have a bearing on similar lawsuits around the country that pit merchants' free-speech and religious rights against anti-discrimination laws.
Gun rights: The court rejected another call to decide whether Americans have a constitutional right to carry guns with them outside their homes, reports the AP. The justices on Monday left in place an appeals court ruling that upheld the San Diego sheriff's strict limits on issuing permits for concealed weapons.

Sheriff Joe: The court rejected former Sheriff Joe Arpaio's request to let a jury instead of a judge decide whether he is guilty of a criminal charge for disobeying a court order to stop his immigration patrols. The rejection from the nation's highest court came hours before the retired lawman's trial is set to begin on Monday in Maricopa County, Ariz.

Inmate loses: The court ruled against a Texas death row inmate who said his lawyers failed to challenge a faulty jury instruction. Erick Davila was convicted in 2009 of the shooting deaths of a 5-year-old girl and her grandmother at a children's birthday party, and prosecutors said Davila was trying to shoot someone else as part of a gang dispute. Davila claimed the jury should have been instructed it could find him guilty of both murders only if he meant to kill two people. He said he only meant to kill one.

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