On Monday, the Supreme Court denied review to seven gay-marriage cases, allowing lower-court rulings in favor of marriage equality to stand. In effect, this brought the tally of states recognizing same-sex unions from 19 to 30. Then yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found gay-marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada unconstitutional; with Alaska, Arizona, and Montana also under the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction, gay-marriage bans in those states are expected to fall easily, bringing the tally of states recognizing gay unions to 35.That is a staggering turnaround. Two days ago, there were 19 states where gay marriage was legal. Now that number is 35. In other words, there are now fewer states that don't allow gay marriage than did allow it two days ago. If this were a football game, there would still be some time on the clock, but the fans would be leaving the stadium.
While I hesitate to declare victory prematurely, I really can't see any possible way that this could turn around now. The score in terms of lower court decisions is 40-2, with only lower courts in Louisiana and Tennessee coming down (unsurprisingly) on the side of continuing discrimination against gays. The worst-case scenario is that the fifth or sixth circuit will uphold a gay marriage ban, at which point SCOTUS will no longer be able to duck the issue the way they did on Monday. But it is inconceivable that SCOTUS will reverse the overwhelming majority of lower court decisions. By the time the case comes around to them again (if it does) there will be tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of married gay couples all over the U.S. They will be in California and Massachusetts and Kansas and Utah. (Utah!) They will be in Nevada and Oklahoma and Virginia and Illinois and New Mexico. They will be in Pennsylvania and Maine and Vermont and Rhode Island. They will be in... well, you get the idea.
They will even be in Texas and Tennessee and Louisiana and the twelve other holdouts for bigotry, because people move in this country. And not a single one of those states will be able to show any actual harm that has been done to anyone by letting gays get married. Zero. Zip. Nada. That is, and has always been, the central issue. All of these chicken-little predictions of the horrible consequences of gay marriage have been -- always have been -- wrong. And now that wrongness has been removed from the realm of speculation and has become demonstrable.
If there is doubt in anyone's mind that this war is over, they need only look at the latest poll numbers among 18-39 year olds. In that demographic, support for gay marriage is an overwhelming 72%. Anti-gay bigotry in the U.S. is, quite literally, dying.