By TIME Staff
May 1, 2015

Welcome to TIME’s subscriber Q&A with TIME correspondent Elizabeth Dias. This week she has written about the Supreme Court’s consideration of same-sex marriage in a story about how the issue has divided Evangelicals, and another about Jim Obergefell, whose marriage is at the center of the civil rights question: do same-sex couples have a Constitutional right to marry? Her other stories can be found here.

sacredh asks, Do you think that Hillary can attract a significant number of women that would usually vote for the GOP? As a follow up, do you see the GOP making an effort to actually appeal to women?

Hillary Clinton has put women at the front of her policy agenda for decades now, but it is misguided to conflate her being a woman with automatically winning the whole women’s vote. Women do tend to lean Democrat as a voting block—according to the Pew Research Center, men and older Americans tend to be key for GOP victories. One of the open Clinton questions is that many people already have an opinion about her, so it remains to be seen how big her swing vote is. As for the GOP, much of the actual effort on this front is coming from women leaders themselves. As my colleague Jay Newton-Small wrote last year, “The party that was once against identity politics is learning to court the female vote.” Her coverage is worth a read.

DonQuixotic asks, Elizabeth, How defining of an issue do you see gay marriage being during the election once we narrow down to two candidates? We should have the SCOTUS decision by then; do you think it will keep coming up as a key issue?

Marriage will not disappear instantly as an issue in America with a Supreme Court ruling. Many conservative opposite-sex marriage activists are planning to make the issue like Roe v. Wade, and 40 years after Roe, we know that abortion is not going away as an issue, and the pro-life movement has remained vibrant in recent years. The polling however shows marriage to be different from abortion, especially as younger generations continue to be increasingly accepting of marriage equality. This election, there are so many issues on the table—economics, immigration, ISIS, etc—and so it is unlikely that marriage will be the top issue, but philosophies about the rights of states v. the federal government and the role of the courts will certainly come up.

DonQuixotic asks, Elizabeth, If we recognize being gay as not a choice, that is you are born gay, how can anyone sensibly argue that same-sex couples don’t have the right to constitutionally marry? They have no more control over being gay than someone does of being born male or female. Or white or black. Or right or left handed. Isn’t it the same argument that used to be used to deny interracial marriage? How can anyone reasonably justify deliberate persecution against a group of people because of they way they’re born and pretend that it’s an expression of their “religious freedom”, and not an expression of their own personal bigotry?

The states argued at the Supreme Court this week why same-sex couples do not have the constitutional right to marry. I’d suggest reading the four briefs for the respondents in the Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, and the associated amicus briefs—they give the topline arguments: http://www.americanbar.org/publications/preview_home/14-556-14-562-14-571-14-574.html?cq_ck=1425077268167

deconstructive asks, Elizabeth, for now at least, looking forward in time, what do you think Pope Francis’ legacy will be? Do you think he will radically transform the Catholic Church in new directions? Or help clean up past messes and bring it back to its traditional roots (bending the stick – or staff – back to the middle)? Or are there other new and exciting possibilities we haven’t yet considered?

Pope Francis is full of surprises. That is one of the reasons people tend to love him so much. So far, his legacy is already about reforming the Curia, turning the Church’s focus to the Global South, and putting pastoral bishops in positions of power. He also has shifted the world’s attitude about what the Catholic Church is—it is easy to forget now just how bad the last decade has been for the Church, with the sexual abuse scandals coming to define the Church’s identity and public image. Now, the public relations game is going in a new direction—addressing poverty, climate change, nuclear disarmament, changing geopolitics between the USA and Cuba. It’s a remarkable shift already. But don’t expect shifts like women priests and accepting gay marriage. That’s an overreach.

deconstructive asks, Elizabeth, as you and Michael Scherer gave examples of religious leaders opposing marriage for gay people in your recent story, when you interview or informally chat with everyday ministers, priests, rabbis, etc. – as opposed to national figures like Perkins – how do you find most of them feel about the GOP, especially, politicizing religious views like this? Do most favor making these issues front and center on the political front, or do most oppose them as private spiritual matters that the government should stay out of, along the lines of Jesus wanting us to separate stuff rendered onto Caesar vs. onto God?

America has always been a place where local religious leaders have had a public social-political role, even if just locally. That doesn’t mean they are activists, and they can’t preach politics from the pulpit, but everyday religious leaders on the right and the left and in the center often politicize their religious views, or assume that religious views have a political meaning, and they are certainly exposed to their national leaders doing the same. Tony Perkins helps to host the “Watchmen on the Wall” local pastors gathering to take back America for God, and Rafael Cruz, Sen. Ted Cruz’s father and a pastor, spoke to the 1000+ pastors gathered there last year saying that the Bible tells them who to vote for. Sam Rodriguez’ National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference had its national conference in Houston this week, and former Governors Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee both addressed the 1000+ pastors gathered.

yogi asks, let’s say SCOTUS issues a ruling that allows gay marriage across the land. How long will it be until the next LGBTQ discrimination issue rises to the SCOTUS? Will it be one of these “religious freedom restoration” laws similar to those in Indiana and Arkansas?

Good question. Several LGBTQ rights activists I have spoken with have mentioned surprise that marriage equality reached the Supreme Court before issues like job protection. A lot depends on how the Court rules—how narrow or broad the ruling is, and especially whether or not they name religious exemptions in the ruling. If those are left out, or if they are in but remain ambiguous, Religious Freedom Restoration Act laws definitely will continue to be an issue in states, perhaps even more so as states react to national mandates.

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