Courthouse marriage

By STEVEN STARK  |  April 21, 2009

Realizing that the federal courts were probably too conservative to promote such a change, the lawyers involved focused on state courts. And it worked, albeit slowly.

The steps forward hardly have come in a straight line; Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, and several states have explicitly banned same-sex marriage via referenda. For those dealing with discrimination independent of their ability to wed, too, this particular goal does little concrete.

Still, the strategy so far seems to have been a sound one, both in the courts and in the court of public opinion.

It's not just that same-sex marriage is now legal in four states (Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, and Connecticut, with California somewhat up in the air). The cause of same-sex marriage has, over time, transformed what had seemed to many Americans like a divisive fringe concern into a middle-of-the-road movement that seeks to embrace one of the bedrock conservative and mainstream values of the culture.

This is how history is made. And politicians and the ballot box had virtually nothing to do with it.

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