Gay Rights Win Big in Ballot Measures

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Yesterday, four states had same-sex marriage on the ballot in one form or another, and all four states voted in favor of upholding or extending rights to same-sex couples.

What do these ballot initiatives in Minnesota, Maine, Maryland, and Washington do? And what do they say about the desire of the people, the limits of the law, and the very idea of constitutionality?

Evan Wolfson is the president of Freedom to Marry, which is an American coalition committed to extending and preserving same-sex marriage rights. And Kenji Yoshino is a constitutional law professor at New York University.

Yesterday, four states had same-sex marriage on the ballot in one form or another, and all four states voted in favor of upholding or extending rights to same-sex couples.

What do these ballot initiatives in Minnesota, Maine, Maryland, and Washington do? And what do they say about the desire of the people, the limits of the law, and the very idea of constitutionality?

Evan Wolfson is the president of Freedom to Marry, which is an American coalition committed to extending and preserving same-sex marriage rights. And Kenji Yoshino is a constitutional law professor at New York University.

"It's a landmark and a turning point for the movement, in that we have for the first time direct democracy working in favor of same sex marriage," Yoshino says. "The talking point on the other side has been, legislatures do this, courts do this, but whenever we actually put it to the voters themselves, we win."

So what's next for marriage equality? 

"We're not likely, and nor should we have to, win our fundamental freedoms vote by vote, state by state, year by year," Wolfson says. "What we need to do is get enough momentum to encourage Congress or the Supreme Court, and most likely the Supreme Court, to bring the country to national resolution — just as it did with race restrictions and religious restrictions and so on in previous chapters." 

"What happens is that we build a critical mass of states," Yoshina says. "And then the Supreme Court comes in and washes out the outliers."

Guests:

Evan Wolfson and Kenji Yoshino

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