First, public opinion has shifted dramatically in favor of recognizing same sex marriages. In May, the Gallup Poll found that for the first time a majority of Americans supported legalizing gay marriage, aided by a boost from independent voters, whose support increased from 49 percent to 59 percent in the last year alone. The high-profile court case to overturn California's Prop 8, led by the bipartisan legal team of Ted Olson and David Boies helped depolarize the issue politically, along with the endorsements of former First Lady Laura Bush and Cindy McCain. In New York, the Siena Poll showed that 59 percent of union households and 59 percent of Catholics in New York supported marriage equality--crucial voting blocks. To some extent, the politicians were following the people.

Second, the coalition that rallied in support of marriage equality in New York was broad-based and bipartisan. Republican donors provided critical early funding this round and labor unions mobilized alongside leading corporations. In a critical test of mainstreaming a cutting-edge issue, the LGBT activist community was not the only face of this fight--instead, it was a hockey player from the New York Rangers, prominent Republicans and the independent mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg. Together, they successfully made the case that this was an issue of human rights and civil rights, not a gay rights issue alone.