These Surprising Supporters of Gay Marriage Are Probably Really, Really Excited About The Supreme Court's Decision
Right now, a few surprising supporters of gay marriage are definitely celebrating after the Supreme Court's decision to make same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional in all 50 states. Prior to the ruling, 36 states allowed same-sex unions, with Gallup polls estimating that 60 percent of Americans favor same-sex marriage. According the Pew Research Center, the United States now joins 20 other countries who have legalized same-sex unions, following closely behind Ireland's landmark referendum in May.
Though the majority of the country now favors the ruling, national opinion on marriage equality has shifted dramatically within the last decade. Just 10 years ago the numbers were almost switched, with 36 percent of the country favoring same-sex marriage and 55 percent stating their opposition. The dialogue revolving around marriage equality has evolved as well. Whereas many politicians would shy away from supporting true same-sex marriage (often favoring civil unions instead), it has now become rare to find a Democratic politician who does not publicly endorse marriage equality.
However, many prominent supporters— such as Hillary Clinton, vice president Joe Biden, and former president Jimmy Carter— have only expressed their support within the past five years. In contrast, some of the earliest supporters of of same-sex marriage are extremely surprising.
President Barack Obama
President Obama has had a slightly confusing history regarding his stance on same-sex marriage. Though we know that he supports it today, when campaigning for president in 2008 he initially favored civil unions instead. However, a timeline compiled by Mother Jonesargues that the then Senator Obama expressed his support for same-sex marriages as early as 1996. In a recently unearthed survey from 1996, Obama stated, "I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages." As of May 2012, Obama became the first sitting president to officially endorse same-sex marriages during an ABC interview.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney may have been the first prominent Republican supporter of same-sex marriage when he announced his support in August 2004. Cheney, whose daughter Mary is lesbian and active in her support for same-sex marriage, told an Iowa crowd that he believed "People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to." At the time, Cheney was in stark contrast to President Bush's policy on legalizing same-sex marriage.
The 2016 Democratic presidential candidate may have legalized same-sex marriage during his term as Rhode Island governor in 2013, but Chafee's support for marriage equality dates all the way back to 2004. Though Chafee was a Republican at the time, he joined Cheney in his strong protest against President Bush's support for a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex unions.
Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
In 2008, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stated his opposition to California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage within the state. Though the Republican governor had previously made statements against marriage equality earlier in his career, his views appear to have evolved after he called for the repeal of Proposition 8. ""It's unfortunate, obviously, but it's not the end," the governor told CNN, regarding his desire to help overturn the decision.
Former First Lady Laura Bush
Deviating from her husbands views, Former First Lady Laura Bush told CNN's Larry King in 2010 that she supported same-sex marriage. "When couples are committed to each other and love each other, that they ought to have, I think, the same sort of rights that everyone has," Bush said. Laura Bush is not the only Bush family member to indicate support- though former President George H. W. Bush has never publicly expressed support, in 2013 he served as a witness to a same-sex union in Maine.
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