Will Minn. lawmakers face retribution for gay marriage vote?
As Minnesota lawmakers voted to support gay marriage, some knew it was a vote that could cost them their jobs.
One lawmaker feeling heat is Rep. Joe Radinovich, a Democrat from Crosby, who called his support of gay marriage, “the right thing to do.”
Radinovich represents a district that supported a constitutional ban on gay marriage last November and a recall effort is now underway.
In his speech on the Senate floor Tuesday before voting to support gay marriage, Sen. Branden Petersen, a Republican from Andover, openly wondered what impact the vote would have on his political future.
“You’re going to see a few races where it might make a difference,” says Hamline University professor David Schultz.
While Schultz believes a handful of lawmakers could be at risk for their votes on gay marriage, he cautions that the next elections are far off.
The Minnesota Senate isn’t up for re-election until November 2016. House members are up for re-election in November 2014.
“As they always say, in politics a week is an eternity. Eighteen months is more than an eternity,” says Schultz.
Lawmakers in other states that have approved gay marriage have not seen a backlash.
Third Way, a national think tank, studied Washington state and New York where a whopping 97 percent of lawmakers who voted for gay marriage and ran for re-election, won.
“It gets back to the fact that once something is law, once people get used to it, then they are less likely to take it against people in terms of how they are going to vote,” says Schultz.
Schultz believes the lawmakers most at-risk for their marriage vote, are lawmakers who would have been at-risk anyway for a variety of other issues.
“I think it’s going to be the bread and butter issues about taxes, the budget and the economy,” says Schultz.
Today, on Tax Day, we are reminded while our country continues to evolve in its views towards gay and lesbian couples, our tax code lags. Married same-sex couples must continue to cope with financial hurdles other married couples don’t have to deal with.
Businesses now routinely offer family health care benefits to domestic partners and same-sex couples who are allowed to marry under state laws, but federal tax law punishes both the businesses that offer these benefits and the employees who use them. It treats the value of these benefits as income, forcing the employer and the employee to pay extra taxes that would not apply to other couples.
Not only does this cost more for everyone, it is convoluted to administer, because businesses must keep a separate set of books for employees with a same-sex partner in order to calculate these added taxes—including payroll taxes.
Simply changing the tax code to put health coverage for domestic partners on the same footing as coverage of other family members would remove this headache for employers and ensure that all employees are treated equally and can receive the protections they deserve.
Back in the late 1990s, social issues were the GOP’s raison d’être.
With the economy thriving, Republicans famously kept their political footing by fighting Democrats over God, guns and gays. Immigration was a winning issue for the GOP too. The list went on.
Fifteen years later, the dynamic has almost completely reversed. Two years ago, Republicans were playing footsie with the idea of amending the Constitution to deny citizenship to the children of unauthorized immigrants U.S. Today, five months after President Obama’s re-election, they’re coalescing around legislation that could ultimately turn 11 million immigrants into voters.
Obama’s victory was likewise the bellow that triggered an avalanche of political support for marriage equality.
But when it comes to guns, things don’t look much different than they did just over a decade ago. In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, elected officials still lie in paralytic fear of the NRA. And supporters of new gun regulations are taking a close look at what makes their issue immune to the demographic and cultural phenomena that have seemingly changed the politics of gay rights, immigration, and other issues forever.
On March 26, 2003, a lawyer stood in front of the nine Justices on the Supreme Court and argued that states should not be allowed to criminally prosecute gay and lesbian people for engaging in sexual activity. At the time, 14 states still had laws on the books that made “homosexual conduct” a crime. Flash forward exactly ten years later, and the Court was considering whether Proposition 8, (barring gay couples from marrying in California) violates the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution. What a difference a decade makes.
To say our country has undergone a rapid transformation on the issue of marriage for gay couples is an understatement. The speed and breadth of this evolution have shocked even the most optimistic advocates. Just in the past two weeks, a cascade of Senators from purple and red states have added their voices to the chorus of marriage supporters, including Rockefeller, Kaine, Tester, McCaskill, Portman, Warner, and Hagan at last count. And this week’s Supreme Court arguments were another landmark moment for the cause.
Because this progress has come at such an astonishing clip, it is understandable that many had hoped the Supreme Court would take this opportunity to issue a broad decision that acknowledged a Constitutional right for gay couples to marry nationwide. After this week’s oral arguments, that outcome seems unlikely. But that reality should not be seen as a setback — rather, it is an opportunity to continue our nation’s swift journey toward full acceptance of gay and lesbian couples.
This graphic provides a snapshot of the dramatic transformation of public opinion in favor of legal relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples. In 1996, DOMA was thought to have ended the debate on marriage. But it seems to have been only the beginning of a more profound shift in favor of gay and lesbian couples.
You can download a pdf here, or share this image via Flickr.
This week the Supreme Court will take up two historic cases dealing with marriage for gay couples. We made a cheat sheet breaking down what you need to know about each of the cases, including a easy-to-read charts that will help clarify the many possible outcomes as the Justices ponder their decisions.
The quasi-triumphant coverage of this week’s Supreme Court oral arguments in cases related to marriage equality is making me uncomfortable. Not because I don’t want the high court to rule in a way that upholds the dignity and equal protection of same-sex couples who are or want to be married, but because I don’t think lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans fully appreciate just how tenuous things are on the court right now. The undeniable forward momentum propelling today’s hopeful enthusiasm could be the very thing that keeps the Supreme Court from going big.
The arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry (a.k.a. the Prop 8 case) and United States v. Windsor (a.k.a. the DOMA case) mark the high point of the startling transformation in public opinion in a relatively short period of time. When President Obama took office in 2009, same-sex marriage was legal only in Massachusetts (where it was approved in 2004) and Connecticut (2008). Today, marriage equality reigns in nine states and the District of Columbia. Three of them (Maine, Maryland and Washington state) said, “I do,” last November.
This is happening in tandem with an incredible swing in public opinion. In 2003, 55 percent of the American people were against same-sex marriage in the Washington Post-ABC News poll taken at the time. Last week, a new Post-ABC News poll revealed 58 percent support for marriage equality. That’s a complete flip in public opinion and marks the highest level of support ever.
All of this is fantastic. And it could lead the Supreme Court to decide to take a back seat to a political process moving in the right direction.
WATCH: Is the fight for gay marriage the new civil rights movement?
Earlier today The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart hosted a Google+ Hangout about the state of marriage in America. He was joined by the Center for American Progress’s Winnie Stachelberg, Third Way’s Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, Capital Insight’s Jon Cohen and National Black Justice Coalition’s Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks.
Marriage in the Supreme Court: What Could Happen? (Hollingsworth v. Perry)
The Supreme Court has announced that it will hear two cases this term involving marriage for gay couples. This chart explains some possible outcomes for the case that challenges California’s Proposition 8: Hollingsworth v. Perry. The Court will likely hear oral arguments next week and will render a decision by the end of June 2013.
Marriage in the Supreme Court: What Could Happen? (United States v. Windsor)
The Supreme Court has announced that it will hear two cases this term involving marriage for gay couples. This chart explains some possible outcomes for the case that challenges the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): United States v. Windsor. The Court will likely hear oral arguments next week and will render a decision by the end of June 2013.