On Wednesday, America reacted to the Supreme Court’s decisions overturning the Defense of Marriage Act and allowing same-sex marriage in California. Social media participation exploded; #Prop 8, #Doma, and #loveislove were trending on Facebook and Twitter.
According to the data miners at Facebook, approximately 70% of the 195 million U.S. Facebook users have at least one friend who has identified himself or herself on Facebook as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Pew Polling shows that 87% of Americans personally know someone who is gay or lesbian. That’s exactly what Human Rights Campaign Chad Griffin wants to hear. “I’m one who believe that everyone evolves,” Chad Griffin told msnbc’s Thomas Roberts. “If we come out and we come out in our workplaces and we acknowledge who we are… then ultimately our neighbors, our friends, our allies come along with us. Because when you know us, you don’t want to discriminate against us.”
Republican Senator Rob Portman reversed his anti-gay marriage position in March after acknowledging that his son is gay. “I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I’ve had for over 26 years,” Portman told CNN in March while the High Court was hearing arguments in these cases. While he did receive pushback from other conservatives, the statistics show that knowing someone who is gay or lesbian does influence your stance on the issue.
Upon hearing of the Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday, Speaker of the House John Boehner released the following statement: “While I am obviously disappointed in the ruling, it is always critical that we protect our system of checks and balances. A robust national debate over marriage will continue in the public square, and it is my hope that states will define marriage as the union between one man and one woman.”
Yet as more and more politicians come out in support of gay rights, the American public is behind them. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll in April shows 53% support same-sex marriage.