In comments suggesting that the country is ready for gay marriage, US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Thursday that Americans won't need "a large adjustment" if the high court rules that gay marriage is a constitutional right.
As Alabama officials continue to resist efforts to implement same-sex marriage in that state, the 81-year-old justice said Americans are increasingly accepting of gays, in an interview with Bloomberg News.
“The change in people’s attitudes on that issue has been enormous,” Ginsburg told Bloomberg News. “In recent years, people have said, ‘This is the way I am.’ And others looked around, and we discovered it’s our next-door neighbor – we’re very fond of them. Or it’s our child’s best friend, or even our child. I think that as more and more people came out and said that ‘this is who I am,’ the rest of us recognized that they are one of us."
Polls suggest Ginsburg is correct.
According to a 2014 Gallup poll, 55 percent of Americans say same-sex marriages should be recognized by law and enjoy the same rights as traditional marriages.
Among young adults – those aged 18 to 29 – nearly 8 in 10 support gay marriage.
These figures reflect a dramatic shift in perception. When the Defense of Marriage Act became law in 1996, allowing states to deny recognition to same-sex marriages performed in other states, just 27 percent of Americans said marriages between gays and lesbians should be valid, according to Gallup.
In January, the Supreme Court announced that it will consider whether same-sex marriage should be legal across the nation. Arguments are set to begin in April, when the Court will hear four same-sex marriage cases, and a decision is expected by June.
Ginsburg, who has officiated a gay marriage, is one of four liberal judges expected to rule in favor of same-sex marriage. Anthony Kennedy, the court’s swing vote, will likely cast the deciding vote on the matter.
And while support for gay marriage has grown in the past two decades, staunch opposition remains. Ginsburg's comments follow a week of tense standoff in Alabama, where the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court has insisted he will continue to resist efforts to implement same-sex marriage in his state, even if the US Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage later this year.
"If it's an unlawful mandate you can refuse to mandate it. You can dissent to the United States Supreme Court," Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore said in an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day." "I will follow the law as I interpret it."
Moore has ordered lower court judges in Alabama not to implement a federal court ruling that overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage. He has asked them to not issue or recognize marriage licenses of same-sex couples. Judges in some of the state's counties refused to allow same-sex couples to marry, while others allowed it, making Alabama the 37th state to allow same-sex marriage.
President Obama, who was recently accused of lying about his initial opposition to gay marriage, came out in favor of gay marriage in 2012, and more recently told BuzzFeed News that he expects the court will agree.
“My sense is that the Supreme Court is about to make a shift, one that I welcome, which is to recognize that — having hit a critical mass of states that have recognized same-sex marriage — it doesn’t make sense for us to now have this patchwork system,” Obama said. “Same-sex couples should have the same rights as anybody else."