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Thursday, Jan 14, 2010
by PopMatters Staff
by Margaret Talbot
The New Yorker (18 January 2010)

In 1993, few Americans had heard of same-sex marriage. Now some forty per cent of Americans support marriage for gay couples, and more than fifty per cent support civil unions. Many more people condone gay marriage today than condoned interracial marriage at the time of Loving v. Virginia, when only twenty per cent of Americans told Gallup that they approved of it. Why push the Court far ahead of public opinion if public opinion is moving in that direction anyway? Even a victory for Olson and Boies could cut one of two ways. It could be like Brown v. Board of Education, which accelerated a gradual shift in public opinion. Or it could be like Roe v. Wade, in 1973, which interrupted a move toward abortion rights, and froze public opinion in two polarized camps. Olson is undaunted. “I have spent a fair amount of time reading Dr. King’s response to people who said, ‘People aren’t ready for this,’ ” he said. “His ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail,’ one of the more moving documents in history, addresses this. If people are suffering and being hurt by discrimination, and their children and their families are . . . then who are we as lawyers to say, ‘Wait ten years’? ”


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