The signs are so large it can't even be considered mere writing on the wall any longer. Same-sex marriage is coming to America -- the entire country; not isolated pockets.
Currently, 37 states have legal same-sex marriage. Three states voted it in, eight state legislatures made it law, and 26 became that way via a court ruling. Many of the court-ordered states, such as Kansas, remain in a state of confusion -- attempting to fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court even if those justices don't want to hear all the cases.
The nation's highest court has accepted a 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals case involving Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee's state laws that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. There is much speculation the court will grant same-sex couples the constitutional right to marry this spring by as much as a 7-2 vote.
Most of the country is ready for this overdue paradigm shift. A Pew Research Center survey last year found 72 percent of Americans saw legal recognition of gay marriage as inevitable -- including 59 percent of those who oppose it.
Still, there are various attempts being undertaken by ultra-conservatives to fight the push toward equality. And the once populist and progressive state of Kansas is providing some of the more outrageous characters in a dark comedy.
Even though Kansas has legal same-sex marriage by virtue of the appellate court ruling, only approximately 25 counties have issued such licenses. Gov. Sam Brownback and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt continue fighting the "activist judges" using resources the state doesn't have. They have vowed to uphold the state constitution's definition of one-man, one-woman -- even though that is what the 10th Circuit Court has declared unconstitutional.
"It's an outrage that every federal court up to the Supreme Court has turned away the state's appeals and requests for stays, and yet Gov. Brownback and Attorney General Schmidt keep acting as though they have a chance of winning," Equality Kansas Executive Director Thomas Witt said in a November report.
Last week, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., brought along 29 co-sponsors to reintroduce the Marriage Protection Amendment.
"Given the current legal chaos on marriage, it's important that we work to enact a definitive marriage policy on a national level," Huelskamp said. "Defining marriage as between one man and one woman will preserve religious freedom, strengthen families and benefit children."
Also last week, Brownback unilaterally reimposed legal discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Kansans by taking away the ban on firing, discriminating against or harassing state workers who aren't "straight." The governor said only the Legislature should decide whether LGBT individuals, some 3.7 percent of the state population according to a 2013 Gallup poll, deserve protection as a class.
The current Legislature, which spent two days last week debating the value of marriage as an institution to be enjoyed only by one man and one woman, likely will not extend protection to the LGBT community.
Thank goodness there are powerful women, namely Fort Hays State University President Mirta Martin and University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, who said state employees at their institutions would continue to enjoy freedom from such discrimination. FHSU's policy prohibits discriminating on the basis of both sexual orientation and genetic information.
We applaud both university leaders for standing firm. They are on the correct side of history, and we do not intend to infer political correctness in that statement.
State and national leaders should be free to enjoy their religious beliefs and freedoms for themselves. They should stop attempting to force that religion on others. The melting pot metaphor should extend all the way to the center of the nation.
We cannot wait until the Supreme Court puts the legal argument to rest and makes nuptials possible -- and constitutional -- for all. It won't end the moral argument, but at least it should put the brakes on mean-spirited and fruitless challenges.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry