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How a Mind-Blowing Number of Americans Came to Support Marriage Equality in a Short Time

This week the Supreme Court gears up to hear two cases that will decide the fate of same-sex marriage.

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But there is one good reason for cautious optimism. The court, and Kennedy in particular, have always been mindful of public opinion when it comes to questions of civil rights and social mores. As Michael Klarman, a Harvard law professor and former Ginsburg clerk,  has shown at length, gay rights decisions have usually followed public opinion, not the other way around. And we know where public opinion is headed: swiftly, and inexorably, towards equality.

Olson goes to court Tuesday with the wind at his back, knowing that whatever happens this week, gay marriage will be legal nationwide soon. The question is when, and how. At age 76, Kennedy has one clear shot to write a decision that will go down in history as the most significant civil rights decision of our time – one that not only affords us the right to marry, but states once and for all that we are equal under the constitution.

I wouldn't plan a wedding in  Mississippi yet – but we must hope Kennedy is tempted by the thought of that legacy.

Jason Farago is a New York-based writer and critic who contributes to the London Review of Books, Monocle, n+1, and other magazines. He is also editor of The Bugle, an American publication on culture and ecology.
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