Yglesias Award Nominee


“There is something like an emerging consensus. Quite literally, the opposition to gay marriage is dying. It’s old people,” – George F. Will.

I am worried about two things. I'm worried that we will fail, and I'm worried that we will succeed. It may be that SCOTUS will decide not to decide on the Big Issue, but will decide that California's marriages can continue and that the federal government should simply recognize the legal marriages states provide for the married couples who live in that state. To my mind, that smaller decision would be a relief. Why? Because I do not want a gay Roe vs Wade, a decision that appears to foist a premature answer on a still-not-entirely-convinced public.

And then I listen to the arguments I have long made coming back at me. And my prudence and federalism take a back-seat to the moral clarity of our cause. As human beings and citizens, as Hannah Arendt once put it,

"The right to marry whoever one wishes is an elementary human right compared to which ‘the right to attend an integrated school, the right to sit where one pleases on a bus, the right to go into any hotel or recreation area or place of amusement, regardless of one’s skin or color or race’ are minor indeed. Even political rights, like the right to vote, and nearly all other rights enumerated in the Constitution, are secondary to the inalienable human rights to 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence; and to this category the right to home and marriage unquestionably belongs."

Are we not human? Do we not need love and commitment and intimacy and family as much as any other human does? Are we citizens equal to our siblings and parents? Of course we are. And the reason to believe this would not be like Roe vs Wade is that the issue is of less moral gravity (it does not involve life and death), and, unlike abortion, where public opinion has remained pretty stable over the years and the generations, this reform has gained support very quickly and becomes more entrenched with every generation that arrives. So George Will is right.

And the arc of history may be getting shorter.

(Photo: Couples exchange vows during a mass wedding for 25 same-sex partners at Seattle First Baptist Church on December 9, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. Today is the first day that same-sex couples can legally wed in Washington state. By David Ryder/Getty Images.)