Brooks Cain is a senior from Norman, Oklahoma double majoring in Economics and Human and Organizational Development (with a focus on Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness). He is a part of Vandy Fanatics on campus, where he can put his Vanderbilt fandom to work for the student body. In the future, he hopes to dedicate his life to finding innovative solutions for problems on a national and global scale. When not following politics, you can usually find Brooks at the nearest golf course.
Same-sex marriage rights have a pivotal couple of months ahead. From multiple states passing favorable amendments to President Obama’s statement of support, same-sex advocates have had much to cheer for recently. However, the real battle is coming soon. On March 26th and 27th, the Supreme Court will hear cases over the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8 that bans the marriage of same-sex couples. The decisions in these cases will have long-lasting ramifications for years to come, positive or negative.
Earlier this week, nearly 75 notable Republicans filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court stating their belief that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry.  While none of the beacons of the Republican Party signed the brief, all of the signees hold impressive job titles or were formerly in prominent positions. Along with Republicans, leaders of major businesses in the United States will also file an amicus brief in support of same-sex marriage rights. These businesses will include Apple, Facebook, Nike, AIG, and Morgan Stanley among others.  Amicus briefs are less about legal arguments and more about political posturing. So, these “friend of the court” briefs are unlikely to be a deciding factor in the Court’s decision, but their impact is still staggering. As we saw with the ruling on the Affordable Care Act, it only takes one justice with a swing vote to change policy in the United States. The notion that 75 Republicans are willing to put their name on the line in favor of same-sex marriage rights gives hope to same-sex advocates that 1 conservative justice could put his name on the line in favor of same-sex marriage rights and overturn decades of policy in states. The entire country will be anxiously awaiting the rulings in these two cases that should be announced in early June.
Even if same-sex marriage advocates end up on the losing end of the two Supreme Court cases, there will still be cause for optimism. In the big picture, momentum seems to be favoring marriage equality. In December, a poll conducted by POLITICO and George Washington University found that 40 percent of Americans were in favor of same-sex marriage.  While not a plurality, other statistics were more striking in the poll. Among 18-29 year olds, 63 percent of those polled were in favor of same-sex marriage.  Just over 20% of those polled stated that their opinion on the matter had changed in the last few years, similar to President Obama.  These statistics show that while a majority of the country may not be in favor of same-sex marriage, the trend is toward support of same-sex marriage.
State laws are changing, as well. 9 states and the District of Columbia currently recognize same-sex marriage . Like the poll, though, the trend is toward acceptance. In the most recent election, 3 states (Maryland, Maine, and Washington) approved same-sex marriage and 1 state (Minnesota) voted against an amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.  That means same-sex marriage advocates won 4 of 4 battles in the most recent election. That may seem insignificant in a 50 state union, but same-sex equality measures had previously been defeated the last 32 times when put up to a vote.  Clearly, something changed in 2012 and the tide is now in favor of same-sex marriage.
While these next few months will be immensely important to same-sex marriage advocates, there is no reason to hang all hope on the decisions of 9 Supreme Court justices. Same-sex marriage rights have a chance at immediate victory when the upcoming Supreme Court cases are decided. However, if the Supreme Court finds no Constitutional basis for the assurance of same-sex marriage rights, there is still cause for excitement. Our country is in the midst of an attitude adjustment towards same-sex marriage, and it seems to be only a matter of time before equality is achieved.
[Image Credit: http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/25/us/scotus-same-sex-marriage]