Marriage Equality Just Reached a Historic Milestone – Is Climate Action Next?

Marriage EqualityLast Friday, the U. S. Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states. It’s the latest in a series of political and social movements that struggled for decades before suddenly gaining the crucial degree of momentum. This interactive graphic from Bloomberg Business shows the pace of social change for six major issues, including same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, and women’s suffrage. Once public opinion starts to change, support can go mainstream seemingly overnight.
 
As part of our own research into successful social change campaigns, ecoAmerica studied the marriage equality movement and found that the key message was not “gay people should have the right to marry,” but “the commitment of marriage holds the same values for both straight and gay marriages.” Once opponents realized that supporting gay marriage didn’t mean changing their own personal values, they became much more accepting. The same approach holds true for climate change. When people see how closely climate action aligns with their own worldviews and beliefs, they are much more inclined to support it.
 
That’s why the recent climate messages from the Pope and the medical community are so important. People who believe they have a moral duty to help the poor and vulnerable now see the link between that obligation and climate action. People who are concerned about the well-being of their loved ones now have a better understanding of the link between climate change and health. Fighting climate change goes along with being a good global citizen and a good parent or caregiver.
 
With so many powerful voices speaking out, and so many examples of why climate change is an issue we should all care about, the trigger point for climate action may be just around the bend.
 

This Is How Fast America Changes Its Mind

By Alex Tribou and Keith Collins, contributors to Bloomberg Business
 
Eleven years after Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex couples to marry, the Supreme Court has now extended that right nationwide. The decision came after a wave of gay marriage legalization: 28 states from 2013 to 2015, with 36 overall prior to the Court’s ruling. Such widespread acceptance in a short amount of time isn’t a phenomenon unique to gay marriage. Social change in the U.S. appears to follow a pattern: A few pioneer states get out front before the others, and then a key event — often a court decision or a grassroots campaign reaching maturity — triggers a rush of state activity that ultimately leads to a change in federal law.
 
We looked at six big issues — interracial marriage, prohibition, women’s suffrage, abortion, same-sex marriage, and recreational marijuana — to show how this has happened in the past, and may again in the very near future.
 
Social Change Chart
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Image credit: Guillaume Paumier / Flickr

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