Who would have thought, just a few years ago, that the states on the vanguard of marriage equality would be the deepest red states? But here we are: From December’s decision in Utah to the past two weeks in Arkansas and now Idaho, we’ve seen a string of a dozen decisions, largely in red and purple states, each declaring bans of same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional.
Bianca Cody-Murphy (L) and Sue Buerkel (R) share a kiss on the steps of City Hall after receiving their marriage licenses May 17, 2004 in Provincetown, Massachusetts. (William B. Plowman/Getty)
How can this be happening? What was in recent memory one of the most hotly contested political and legal issues—an issue that continues to divide the parties at the state and national levels—has become a rare island of consensus in the courts. To be sure, cracks are likely to appear as the cases progress through the appellate process. But the degree to which liberal and conservative judges in red, blue, and purple states alike have agreed on this issue is stunning. What explains this turnabout?