very troubling attitudes toward gays.There’s never been a better, safer time to be non-heterosexual in America. Sure, there are still regular reports of anti-gay violence and bullying. Sure, there are plenty of people who still believe practicing homosexuality is incompatible with God’s plan. Sure, there are still people who still believe that gay sex practices are physically harmful or weird or icky or … well, whatever. And outside of America’s borders, some other countries still have some
But 2013 made it abundantly clear: American culture, largely, is down with the gays. This year made it clear that the war is over. American society will openly accommodate the homosexuality that has been part of its community all along. Acceptance has increased at what feels like an exponential rate (especially for anybody born prior to the 1980s).
Though several cultural and legal precedents from previous years helped get the country here, 2013 can arguably be defined as a tipping point. Here’s a look at how “It Got Better” for gays in America this year. While some developments improve liberty for all, certain other trends present First Amendment challenges, a reminder that many folks don’t discern the difference between government-mandated discrimination and private expressions of freedom of association.
The Wedding Bells Don’t Stop Ringing
The amazing expansion of same-sex marriage recognition actually began in November 2012. For the first time in American history, the pro-gay side won ballot initiatives to expand marriage recognition to same-sex couples. In Washington state, Maine and Maryland, voters gave the thumbs up for gay marriage.
So, even right as 2013 began, gay marriage recognition was expanding. Maryland’s law took effect on New Year’s Day, and the mayor of Baltimore married the first couple at 12:30 in the morning.
The wedding party continued across the country. In 2013, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Utah all joined the list of states recognizing gay marriages, some through legislative action, some through judicial rulings. California began recognizing same-sex marriages again after a Supreme Court decision denied standing to proponents of an anti-gay ballot initiative that passed, bouncing it back to courts that had declared the law unconstitutional.
As 2013 comes to a close, there are now 18 states (and the District of Columbia) recognizing same-sex marriage.
On the federal level, a divided Supreme Court ruled in June that the part of the Defense of Marriage Act that forbid the federal government from acknowledging legal same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. The decision alters the rules for federal taxes and benefits for scores of partnered gay citizens, both in the private realm and among government employees and the military.
As same-sex marriage recognition continues spreading, now would be a good time for libertarian-leaning policymakers and politicians to start looking at what federal policies, privileges and benefits are tied to marital status and start questioning why that’s the case and whether they can be changed.
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