The Arc Bends Towards Marriage Equality


UPDATE: The Minnesota state Senate voted 37-30 today to approve same-sex marriage in the state. The governor’s office said he will sign the bill into law tomorrow.

As marriage equality is gradually–and, lately, rapidly!–being embraced state by state (let alone being considered by the highest court in the land), a statement that Martin Luther King Jr. made in the tumult of the Civil Rights movement springs into memory: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

A similar sentiment would be echoed 40 years later when the man who would become the first black president in the U.S. declared in the months before his election that, “It does not bend on it own. It bends because each of us in our own ways put our hand on that arc and bend it in the direction of justice.”

The last few months have seen the bending of an arc once so stiff that it had become a sword. Now it’s difficult to keep up with the states that have been recognizing same-sex marriage. We’ve reached a tipping point, a moment of inevitability, where marriage equality is becoming a reality. Though it may seem all of this is happening abruptly, it has been anything but. This state-by-state domino effect is the end game of tireless pushing by equality advocates and activists to perfect this nation’s laws and call people to action.

The latest state on the cusp of allowing same-sex marriage is Minnesota, with a measure that has just passed the state’s House and is expected to fly through the Senate before being signed by Gov. Mark Dayton. This would make Minnesota the 12th state to legalize gay marriage, and the first in the Midwest.

The impending victory comes on the heels of gay marriage passing in Rhode Island and Delaware, which recently became marriage-equality states 10 and 11. And that happened only months after Maryland, Maine and Washington also legalized same-sex marriage. Public attitudes are shifting quickly, with The Washington Post and other news sources declaring the political fight for same-sex marriage over, citing their own polls that show approval of marriage equality increasing with each generation. Societies may wade in bigotry for long stretches of time, but there comes a pivotal point where that ultimately gives way to a fundamental sense of fairness.

With states increasingly supporting marriage equality and with the DOMA and Proposition 8 rulings to come down in June, it’s becoming strikingly clear that pivotal point is upon us.

Photo courtesy of TA via Creative Commons 2.0.

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Associate editor of Ms. magazine