The debate over same-sex marriage continues to be a political issue, but many do not feel as strongly about the issue as they did a decade ago. There are politicians in several states who have changed their positions about the legal unions of same-sex couples, taking a more liberal stance than in the past. At this point in time, it is unclear whether the issue of gay marriage will be on or off the table before the next presidential election. Even though opinions differ throughout the country, there are still those strongly opposed to gay marriage and they could make it difficult for political parties to remain united.
Currently, it is legal for same-sex couples to marry in 37 states, and 36 states have some form of legal protection for same-sex couples who are not married. Specific guidelines and boundaries vary from state to state. In 2012, New Jersey was the fourteenth state to adopt the legalization of gay marriage. New Jersey grants same-sex couples in domestic partnerships the same rights that all heterosexual married couples are entitled to, including making joint health care decisions and filing tax exemption claims.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments this spring on the whether states have the right to ban same-sex couples from getting married. A decision is expected sometime in June which will coincide with the 2016 presidential race. It is likely to be a hot issue that will be strongly debated during the Republican primary.
Established Republicans are reluctant to highlight the issue of same-sex marriage while making efforts to get a Republican president elected to the White House, especially when the majority of Americans are in favor of same-sex marriage.
Fifty-seven percent of Americans think gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to get married according to a recent CNN/ORC International survey. Some strategists feel that a June decision will bring closure to this issue before the election. Others are concerned it will refuel the ongoing debate.
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