Marriage Equality and the Turn of the Tide

February was a remarkable month for marriage equality.  Three state legislatures passed bills to allow same-sex couples to marry:  Washington, New Jersey, and Maryland.  In Washington and Maryland, the bills passed by an average of 54%.  This jibes with a Gallup poll from May of last year which showed, for the first time, majority support for marriage equality at 53%.

Yesterday, the Washington Blade reported that a growing number of Democratic senators — 22 at this writing — are calling for the Democratic Party national platform to include support for marriage equality.

And in a total switch-a-roo, in my poor, beleaguered state of California, a recent Field Poll found that a record 59% of registered California voters support gay marriage.  In 2008, vile Prop. 8, which ended gay marriage in the Golden State four months after it began, passed by 52% of the vote.  In the same Huffington Post article, Rebekah Orr of Equality California cautions that while the Field Poll results are all well and good, the poll covered registered, not likely, voters.  She notes that a similar poll in 2008 found that register voters approved of marriage equality by about 51%.  Still, 59 is better than 51; one can hope and speculate that the percentage of likely voters also increased by a similar amount.  Meanwhile, Prop. 8 itself continues to take a beating in the judiciary.  In this take-no-prisoners ruling, the adults have spoken:

Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.

We’ve come a long way, baby.  In 1996, fearing a repeat of the 1994 beating from Republicans, President Clinton quietly signed the silly and harmful Defense of Marriage Act.  President Clinton has since repudiated the act.  In 2004, part of the President Bush reelection strategy was to put anti-gay marriage initiatives in ballots across the country to draw conservatives out to the polls.  Sadly, the cynical and divisive tactic worked.  Today, one of the architects of this plan, Ken Mehlman, is not only out of the closet, but remorseful about his role in that campaign.

There is still much work to be done, and the progress made in Washington and New Jersey can sadly be undone by Sons of Prop. 8 initiatives in those two states.  Indeed, the whole culture war business that the Republican Party seems to be engaged in at the moment — including of all things anti-contraception rhetoric — only proves how much things have changed.  The change has provoked a strong reaction.  Opponents to change know they are losing.  They know that there will be more Februarys in the future, more state legislatures passing marriage equality bills.  Therefore, they are fighting harder and nastier than ever to stop it.

The nasties will continue their campaign against history, but will ultimately fail.  All we have to do is keep up the vigilance in the face of hate.

© 2012, gar. All rights reserved.

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