The Long Struggle For Marriage Equality

Evan Wolfson criticizes Michael Kinsley for prematurely declaring victory on marriage equality:

We’ve built a 58% majority for same-sex marriage nationwide, up from 27% in 1996, when Congress passed the so-called DOMA as I was co-counseling the world’s first-ever trial on whether the government actually has a good reason for denying the freedom to marry in Hawaii. We are, happily, winning … but we are far from having won.

Freedom to Marry … is gearing up for the next round of work and battling it will take to turn the public opinion we have persuaded into the actual legal and political action that will be the true “mission accomplished” that Kinsley is prematurely celebrating. We know we will win, but also know we have a huge amount still to do – organizing, educating, enlisting, lobbying, door-knocking, fundraising, and campaigning that Kinsley’s piece trivializes when he writes, “The challenge [is] simply getting people to think about it a bit.” If only it were, or had been, or will be that simple.

I think Evan mistakes Mike’s enthusiasm – and the extraordinary gains we have indeed made – with complacency. But they’re both right; we have won the argument in a way few movements have so swiftly; but we still have not come close to accomplishing the mission. We saw the still-enormous gap to overcome yesterday as gay couples were removed from being covered under the new immigration reform. The reform tries to include everyone weddingaisletrapped in immigration hell or limbo (and sometimes, trust me, purgatory), but it explicitly excludes only one group of people: gay and lesbian Americans who have taken up the responsibilities of civil marriage.

These people are not immigrants; they are American citizens forced to choose between their country and their spouse. No heterosexual would see that exclusion as anything other than what it is: the American government’s persecution of its own citizens, even as it seeks to ease the plight of its resident non-citizens. And breaking up families or forcing them to move abroad to stay together is more than discrimination. It’s cruelty. It doesn’t get clearer than that. Gay citizens are regarded as less worthy than straight non-citizens by their own Congress.

The quote of the day was from Lindsey Graham: “You’ve got me on immigration. You don’t have me on marriage. If you want to keep me on immigration, let’s stay on immigration.” There are things I would want to say to Butters that only human decency prevents. I wish he’d treat Americans like my husband with a scintilla of such respect.

Harry Enten examines the deep-red states least hospitable to equality:

With the exception of Virginia, it’s pretty clear that southern Republican support for gay marriage is lower than among Republicans nationally. As such, it’s difficult to see how support among southern Republicans will hit 50% anytime before 2040. It’s hard to imagine more than the stray Republican voting for same-sex marriage. Polarization is at all-time high, and politicians are more afraid about losing primaries than general elections. Republicans have no need to vote for same-sex marriage.

Thus, unless the federal government jumps in, most, if not all southern states won’t legalize same-sex marriage for the foreseeable future. Most of their citizens don’t want it, and by the time they do, most Republicans still won’t. Considering you’ll need a majority or supermajority of state legislators to get the bans reversed, and that Republicans have a strong hold over these chambers, same-sex marriage in the south doesn’t have much of a chance anytime soon.