The “Lawless” Push for Same-Sex Marriage?

November 3rd, 2013

USA Today has a lengthy profile of how supporters of same-sex marriage are pursuing changes in the states since Windsor and Perry. Noticeably, nearly all of the changes has comes from a combination of civil disobedience by clerks who issue marriage licenses in contravention to the law, and state executives who decide not to defend the laws in courts.

Since June, couples have filed 23 lawsuits to end bans in 21 states; governors and state attorneys general in at least three states have refused to defend their state bans in court; and county clerks in four states have issued marriage licenses to gay couples despite laws against it. …

The movement that had been gaining strength even before the high court’s ruling is embracing many of the same strategies of the 1960s civil rights movement. Yet opponents see these efforts as “lawless” attempts to circumvent the will of the majority of the country, including many places that have voted for gay marriage bans.

How should something as significant as same-sex marriage be implemented? Through judicial decision? Through executive failure to defend a law banning it? Through the legislature? Through a constitutional amendment? Through a voter referendum?

In many southern states, a constitutional amendment will be a necessity, as many state constitutions have amendments banning it.