The journey towards marriage equality has been ongoing for decades, having originated in 1971 in the case of Baker v. Nelson. Since then, couples have gone through many legal battles to be married. However, it was not until 1993 that same-sex marriage became legal in a state. When the Hawaii Supreme Court declared that the state’s prohibition of same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, same-sex couples were able to wed inside the United States for the first time.
Political leaders, however, remained resistant to the change. When President George W. Bush was running for re-election in 2003, he persuaded a large group of voters to vote for him by running a campaign against same-sex marriage. He promised that not only would he never legalize same-sex marriage, but he would actually amend the constitution to make same-sex marriage illegal in every state, even ones like Hawaii and California that already had marriage equality.
It has been over a decade since Bush’s election, and the world has definitely changed. Perhaps education and exposure have contributed to tolerance; in Hollywood, same-sex couples have been featured in television shows such as “Will & Grace”, allowing people to view a different lifestyle. Such coverage has helped to persuade audiences to understand and accept what they could not previously understand. The past decade has proved to be very important in how the general society views each other’s differences. Recently, President Barack Obama, the only U.S. president to ever support same-sex marriage, signed a bill amending the constitution. On June 26, 2015, marriage equality became legal in all 50 states. Since then, many couples have wed, some of whom have already been together for decades.
Despite the fact that same-sex marriage is now legal in every state, a couple, Robbie Blankenship and Jesse Cruz, who have been together for 20 years and reside in Kentucky, have exposed the fact that not everyone is so happy about the President’s decision. Robbie Blankenship and Cruz applied for a marriage license, but were denied because the clerk, Kim Davis, felt it violated her religious beliefs to issue licenses to two gay men. Kim Davis, a woman who was married four times – her first ending because she was pregnant with twins by a man who would become her third husband, however the twins at the time of birth were adopted by her second husband – became an icon for people who chose to use their interpretation of Christian beliefs to condone the spread of prejudice, hate and intolerance. Later on, she was jailed for abusing her governmental position. Cruz and Blankenship were married while Davis was in jail.
Kim Davis was released from prison days later to a warm welcoming from anti-gay religious fanatics who had white wooden crosses and praised Davis with the song “Eye of the Tiger”. Attending this event also were presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and other politicians who subsequently found themselves involved in controversy after having mingled with the crowd–one that was very similar to Ku Klux Klan gatherings which were notorious for promoting hate and prejudice. Adding to the controversy was the fact that all this occurred at a makeshift, televised public rally. The Kentucky judge who jailed Davis warned others using religion to halt same-sex weddings that they would face similar legal issues. He emphasized that this behavior would not be tolerated.