The Supreme Court and Same-sex Marriage

UC Riverside scholars available to discuss culture shifts and possible political fallout from court ruling to uphold gay marriage

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled to uphold the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. Scholars at the University of California, Riverside are available to discuss possible political ramifications of the ruling, the national cultural shift toward acceptance of same-sex marriage, and partisanship of the court.

These scholars are available to discuss the court’s decision. Cell numbers are available upon request.

Benjamin G. Bishin, professor of political science

Professor Bishin is available to discuss the lack of opinion backlash response expected after the ruling, and the rapid shift in public opinion on gay marriage that has occurred over the last five years. In a blog post on The Policy Space, the political scientist and his co-authors wrote:

“Claims of inevitable backlash and claims that voters have the right to vote on the rights of others have long been used to discourage the pursuit of equality by traditionally disadvantaged groups. We are most concerned with the role of public opinion since it plays a central role in democracies.  We define backlash as a sharply negative and enduring shift in public opinion.  Backlash occurs in response to new policies implemented through legislatures or courts, or even through non-policy events such as the election of minorities. While the backlash story has persevered, finding empirical evidence of backlash in public opinion backlash is difficult. So, does public opinion backlash actually occur? Should the Court slow down and defer to the voters or risk a furious public?”

In a study published in April in the American Journal of Political Science ( the researchers determined that there is “no empirical support for the claim that opinion backlash will occur on the issue of gay marriage.  The court need not fear choosing between democracy on the one hand and liberty and equality on the other.”

Christine Ward Gailey, professor of anthropology

Professor Ward Gailey is available to discuss the national cultural shift toward acceptance of marriage equality vs. the gerrymandered districting in some states that produces very conservative legislatures, why that cultural shift is occurring, and the increasing partisan quality of the Supreme Court.

“Over the past decade especially, popular support has steadily grown for marriage equality. Any ‘backlash’ would be reaffirmation of opposition in expected highly conservative quarters. Affirming marriage equality puts state governments on notice that public employees, like County clerks in some red states, have the obligation to follow the law and marry eligible couples, or resign their positions. There is little likelihood for a cultural backlash, since the entire move toward marriage equality is embedded in a cultural shift toward acceptance. This acceptance is rooted in the success of the Lesbian and Gay Rights movement that has produced greater openness in discussing sexualities and greater safety for those ‘coming out’. As more families, co-workers, and communities accept homosexuality as an ordinary aspect of human diversity, barring marriage has appeared ever more as discriminatory in a secular democracy. The cultural shift has not yet come to characterize some pockets in some red states, and among some religious sects, but anthropology tells us that even rapid cultural change is uneven.”

Nancy Tubbs, director of the UCR LGBT Resource Center

“Americans are waiting to hear if the Supreme Court will extend marriage equality nationally, allowing same-sex couples to access the many rights extended only to legal spouses,” Tubbs says. “For many people, the right to marry also holds great emotional and cultural power.

“However, many members of the LGBTQ community also hope that all the energy that has poured into the fight for marriage equality will now be redirected to address violence against transgender people, the high rate of suicide and homelessness for LGBTQ youth, and the intersections of institutionalized racism and LGBTQ lives. While I see the impending Supreme Court decision trending on social media everywhere, I also see young people and college students especially asking when the attention of the nation, and national LGBTQ organizations, will finally look beyond the three most mainstream LGBTQ issues of recent decades: military, marriage, and ministry. A SCOTUS decision in support of marriage equality is not the end of the fight for LGBTQ equal rights. Rather, it could be the beginning of a serious national struggle for the lives of the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community.”

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