Monday, October 13, 2014

The Gay Thing: New Marriage Equality Landscape

I was on vacation all last week, so I wasn't able to comment on the stunning* developments in the marriage equality movement over the past stretch of days. In the past week, we've gone from 19 states and Washington, DC, to DC plus thirty. And the number will likely grow to 35, given the fact that there are a few holdouts in those states already covered by a Circuit Court decision. That's nearly double, in what will amount to a few weeks.

Image from Wikipedia. Dark blue represents those states
with full marriage equality. For the full key, see: Wikipedia.
Ironically, the marriage equality movement would likely not be where it is without the anti-gay movement. When marriage equality seemed to be on the horizon in Hawaii back in the 1990s, a tsunami of pre-emptive anti-gay marriage state constitutional amendments hit the whole country. Caught by surprise, the notoriously nebulous gay rights movement (gay agenda my butt) had no working strategy. While we had all of the good, legally sound arguments, they just weren't at the forefront, and attitudes were still much less supportive at the time. Add to that, the fact that only abortion and gun legislation draws arch conservatives to the polls more reliably, and you really had a perfect storm.

But, as I said, opinions were slowly shifting, and those good arguments started to stick their landings. Except for some blatantly anti-gay judges (looking at you Tennessee and Arkansas), there was simply no way for the judiciary to decide any other way: same-sex couples should have the same rights, responsibilities and benefits that opposite sex couples receive. Calls to tradition, religion and "nature" simply aren't effective in a court of law. Thankfully.

Now, interestingly, my marriage is suddenly effective in my state of residence (though the nutbars at the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage are still trying to intervene). My husband's home state recognizes us too. In three of the four states we just visited (Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania), we were also legal. But, unfortunately, in my home state--a state we may move to in the months or years to come--we are not recognized. Our marriage winks off when we cross the border into Ohio.

Ohio (and Kentucky, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee and the rest of 'em) should be embarrassed. So should those who are still fighting in states covered by the cases the Supreme Court chose not to review. You're being a roadblock just to be a pain at this point. You're dragging your feet for the sake of delay. Knock it off. These are real peoples' lives.

*It should be noted that the Supreme Court's decision to do nothing with all of the cases before them on this topic really was stunning. I don't think I have seen a single pundit, blogger or even commenter who seriously considered the possibility. Most thought they'd take up one or all of the cases, and I think most gave us fairly decent odds of winning. 5-4 or 6-3 were both speculated, with a fear that it might go 4-5, with us losing. There was a smaller group of people who thought they might just sit on all the cases indefinitely, putting them into legal limbo. But I don't recall "refusing to hear the cases" as anything other than a bullet-point nobody thought would really happen.


  1. I read an article on this subject and a there was a comment that summed it up nicely I thought: Marriage is a legal agreement not a religious one, you don't go to church for a divorce.

  2. I've seen the argument that marriage is a religious institution, and that the state should butt out of it. This ignores the many, many legal aspects of marriage of course. But it also ignores that there are atheist marriages and interfaith marriages. No one religion owns the concept or the word. I'm THRILLED that the subject will soon be moot, and that I won't have to rebut their ridiculous arguments any more.

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