Southern states are in somewhat of a turmoil over the Supreme Court’s recent denial of same-sex marriage cases that could have clarified if voter-inspired bans were lawful.
“Until the courts rule on the matter, South Carolina will seek to uphold our state constitution,” which bans gay marriage, said the state’s attorney general Alan Wilson, in The Associated Press.
But other states in the South aren’t standing so strong.
“[The court rulings will] change the culture of the South,” said the Rev. Nancy Petty, a lesbian who serves at the Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, a state where resistance to gay marriage is crumbling. “I think these kinds of cultural shifts in society and in religion mean that we become a much more accepting, tolerant, diverse community. That’s really important because we have to learn here in the South how to live with our differences, instead of fighting over our differences.”
Virginia Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, meanwhile, said the Supreme Court’s decision — to make no decision — is a disservice to voters and has “left Virginians without a definitive answer,” AP reported.
Gay marriage has traditionally met its staunchest opposition in the South, but even those statistics are changing. In September, one poll from AP-GfK found 34 percent of Southerns favored the legalization of same-sex marriage. The year before, that same poll reported only 28 percent in the South said similarly, AP reported.
By comparison, 47 percent in the Northeast favored gay marriage, 43 percent in the West and 38 percent in the Midwest, AP said.
“The South, like the nation, is changing,” said William Ferris, a professor with the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in the AP report. “We’ll accept same-sex marriage just like we accepted desegregation and the end of slavery. These other barriers that have burdened us for too long are coming down, and the people in the South are open to change.”