Rhode Island’s House of Representatives just voted for it by a massive margin of 51 – 19. The Senate is iffier, apparently, but that’s a huge margin of victory in the lower House.
A reader writes:
This morning I was reading the Indiana University student newspaper (my wife is an alum, so I check it out from time to time), and I came across a stirring example of how the cause of same-sex marriage continues to progress among the younger generations. Here is a letter to the editor, written by an undergraduate who identifies as straight, Catholic, and a Republican – and he's written a concise and very persuasive defense of marriage rights for all. Reading it gave me hope.
Marriages already take place in casinos, court houses and without religious officials, and 50 percent of them end in divorce. If we don’t even bother to hold Christians to standards of a traditional marriage (“’til death do us part”), then how can gays be held to standards of traditional Christian marriage?
An anti-gay amendment is being discussed by the state legislature, while public opinion seems to be racing ahead of the politicians' assumptions.
Simone Eastman explores the harder parts of marriage equality:
We are one of the only married queer couples most of our friends know, and they've unwittingly turned us into their Poster Couple…. Getting married has created a huge amount of pressure for us to be a SUCCESSFUL HAPPY LOVING LESBIAN COUPLE who you can point to as a great reason to support gay marriage. Sometimes we aren't happy or loving. Sometimes, like almost all couples, we annoy the fucking shit out of each other. And sometimes we have serious disagreements or conflicts in our relationship. But it becomes impossible to talk about them or admit that my genetic inability to hang up my towel after a shower makes my wife want to strangle me. How could we? We know that people think we're "perfect together," which is its own kind of pressure, but even more than that, our relationship has all these other meanings for other people. We're your friends who Got Married In California, Isn't That Great? What would it mean if we were your friends who got divorced in California, too? What would happen then?
(Photo: Gay couples kiss during their ceremonial wedding as they try to raise awareness of the issue of homosexual marriage, in Wuhan, in central China's Hubei province, on March 8, 2011. By STR/AFP/Getty Images.)
My, how the tables have turned.
John Corvino joins the monogamy debate:
While monogamy may be hard, it’s not so hard that a monogamous couple (straight or gay) can’t look at a non-monogamous couple (straight or gay) and conclude, “Nope, that’s not right for us.” After all, people read the Bible without deciding to acquire concubines. More generally (and realistically), people encounter neighbors with different cultural mores while still preferring—and sometimes having good reason to prefer—their own.
As our opponents are fond of reminding us, gays and lesbians make up a relatively small minority of the population. Coupled gays and lesbians make up a smaller minority, coupled gay males an even smaller minority, and coupled gay males in open relationships a smaller minority still. As Jonathan Rauch has written in his excellent book Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, “We might as well regard nudists as the trendsetters for fashion.”
Or put it this way. Which couples are more likely to be monogamous: gay men with no social, familial or legal support for their relationships – or couples married under law in front of their families, friends and neighbors? In some ways, you could argue that lesbians have, from the perspective of sex alone, the least need for social support for their relationships, heterosexuals need more, but gay men need it the most of all. And whose mores are likely to define an existing institution: the 98 percent of those already in it, or the 2 percent trying to join?
Today is the crucial one as the state House debates the question. It has already passed the Senate and the governor has said he'll sign a marriage equality bill. From the debate unfolding:
Del. Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore City), presented an amendment to change the name of the bill to include "Civil Unions" not "marriage." Glenn said she has promised activists supporting same-sex marriage she would be lead sponsor of legislation providing protections, but as long as that is called "civil unions" not "marriage." "It's all about the word of God," she said. "It truly is."
Del. Kathleen Dumais (D-Montgomery County), co-sponsor of the marriage bill, countered that by saying, "Creating something separate is not equal, and I respectfully request rejection of amendment." Glenn's amendment was rejected by a voice vote.
Robert Farley is dead on:
I read a lot of Savage in the 1997-2003 period, and it really, really seemed like much of his project was about convincing people that drag queens could be good Republicans, too. What I mean by this is that much of his writing and activism seems motivated by the idea of creating a standard nuclear family, with relatively standard ways of transmitting family mores, and simply substituting out some of the “traditional” members. Savage seemed enraged not by the notion of a “traditional” nuclear family, with pre-set roles and expectations, but by the idea that he should be excluded from this traditional vision. There’s some merit to that, of course, but it also reflects a certain comfort with a conservative vision of politics and family life.
Of course. That's why Dan was an early supporter of marriage equality and was a huge moral support in my own efforts to move the debate forward. What he really sees as the root of marital and relationship collapse is deception. It is lying to your spouse rather than dealing with reality. I've been around his family; it is as traditional as it is refreshing.
(Photo: Terry and DJ chilling on our deck in Provincetown a couple summers ago.)
David Kaufman says black "voters who don't support marriage equality still appear willing to elect politicians who do":
"The truth is, we just don't see blacks voting against a candidate based on [his or her] support of gay marriage," says Patrick Egan, assistant professor of politics and public policy at New York University. "We actually don't see this becoming an important issue for voters of any race."
Poor Karl Rove. Outfoxed by history in 2011. But, hey, he got Bush re-elected in 2004.
(Hat tip: Alvin McEwen)
It may be that high water-mark of the GOP tide has been reached in Wisconsin:
In Ohio, Republican lawmakers agreed to modify a bill that would have banned collective bargaining, allowing state workers to negotiate on wages. Michigan's GOP governor offered to negotiate with public employees rather than create political gridlock. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) called on GOP lawmakers to abandon their "right to work" bill that would have made it a misdemeanor for an employer to require workers to become or remain members of a labor union.
Increasingly, it seems to me, Scott Walker's political gamesmanship is discrediting the vital cause of tackling deficits and debt in the states. It's a classic case of over-reach.
And the same can be said of marriage equality in Maryland, where extreme rhetoric in the debate turned some previously anti-gay marriage legislators around. The NYT reports on the muted response of the GOP's potential presidential candidates to the Obama administration's decision not to defend Section 3 of DOMA in the courts. I don't for a minute believe that the Christianist base will be satisfied if the House decides to let sleeping gays lie, but the feeling is different now, don't you think?
The genius of the Holder decision is that it forces the GOP to decide very quickly whether to double-down on this issue.
It's the last thing Boehner wants to be thinking or talking about. And Obama has wisely restricted his shift to the federal government's recognition of what states have already done. In other words, Obama's decision can be viewed as a federalist one. Why, after all, should some states not have all their marriage licenses recognized by the federal government, rather than, say, 98 percent of them? Since the DOMA provision protecting every state's right to decide how to define civil marriage remains, this becomes an issue of the states versus the federal government. Which again intensifies the Republican internal conflict.
Meanwhile, the gays are ecstatic – a little too ecstatic in my view. Not to say I am not extremely gratified by the DOJ's decision. Just that I recognize its limits. As Obama used to say: no sudden moves. But his legacy on gay rights is beginning to build into a historic one. Yes, I have complained loudly in the past. My loyalty is to the issue, not the president. But he is coming through – more cunningly than most of us grasped.
Which is not the first time one can say that on many issues, where Obama's caution and incrementalism have begun to create a legacy that is deeply unsatisfying in the present but looks rather substantive from the rear-view mirror.
(Photo: In this photograph taken January 21, 2011 a baby green turtle crawls to the sea after being hatched at a turtle sanctuary in Sukamade island in East Java province. By Sonny Tumbelaka/Getty.)