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There has been a sea change in just the last decade on Americans' feelings toward gay marriage. Shifting public opinion and decades-old fights over judicial power were at the nexus of perhaps the most important social issue the high court has addressed in recent years: same-sex marriage.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that denies to legally married same-sex couples the same federal benefits provided to heterosexual spouses. The court also dismissed an appeal over same-sex marriage on jurisdictional grounds, ruling that private parties do not have "standing" to defend California's voter-approved ballot measure (known as Proposition 8) barring gay and lesbian couples from state-sanctioned wedlock.
California's Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom said he believes the topic of gay marriage is something that will not even be discussed by the time his young children are in their 40s.
Citing public opinion polls, Newsom told CNN, "If you're 29 and younger, an overwhelming majority, regardless of political stripes, regardless of ideology, 70 plus percent support marriage equality."
Newsom said such polls did not look favorable in 2004. Newsom unleashed a political and legal tempest in 2004 when as mayor of San Francisco, he ordered the city clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
On Wednesday, Newsom cheered the Supreme Court's decisions.
"I think that arc of history, as Dr. King talked so eloquently about, is moving in the right direction," said Newsom.