I bow to no one in my support for marriage equality. I have been fighting for it since 1996, when the cause seemed crazy and only the courts offered any hope at all. As part of that fight, the hardest thing I have done is to counsel my gay friends and allies that litigation was necessary, but that real civil rights—durable, deeply rooted civil rights, as opposed to what James Madison called “parchment barriers”—come from consensus, not from courts. …

Gay Americans are now, at long last, winning the battle for marriage equality where it counts: in the hearts and minds of our straight fellow citizens. Only recently, polls began showing a narrow majority of the public supporting same-sex marriage. That trend broke through into politics in 2012, our annus mirabilis. The president and the Democrats embraced gay marriage after years of opposing it; so did some of the country’s leading conservative thinkers. …

Gay Americans are in sight of winning marriage not merely as a gift of five referees but in public competition against the all the arguments and money our opponents can throw at us. A Supreme Court intervention now would deprive us of that victory. Our right to marry would never enjoy the deep legitimacy that only a popular mandate can bring.