Happily Watching History

Marc Abrams

Last night, New York became the sixth state to adopt gay marriage (after Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Iowa; DC also has it). It is a wonderful moment for the forward march of equal rights in this nation, and hopefully will spur other states ― notably Maryland which inexplicably failed to pass it earlier this year ― to move forward and let all adult Americans marry the person they love. Perhaps Oregon as well.

The outpouring of joy in the New York Senate chamber, in front of the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village ― where a boycott 42 years ago is generally considered the beginning of the gay rights movement ― and elsewhere contrasts with the mean spirited tone in last week’s GOP Presidential debate in New Hampshire. It was depressing to watch six out of the seven candidates for President, only moments after expressing their deep devotion to the idea of “states’ rights,” then come down in favor of a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage because, after all, we can’t let states have THAT right! We can’t allow states to make decisions unless they agree with the GOP orthodoxy.

Fortunately, this pandering to a rapidly shrinking constituency is unlikely to succeed. Polling now shows support for gay marriage to be growing rapidly. A CNN poll in April even showed a +4 margin nationally supporting gay marriage.

More importantly, thankfully, there is virtually no chance that any such constitutional amendment would ever be enacted. It only takes thirteen states not consenting to an amendment to doom it. It is logical to assume that the six states with gay marriage would never approve a constitutional amendment banning their own laws. Even in New Hampshire, where a massive shift to the GOP took place in 2010, there has been no appetite for undoing gay marriage. Then add to those six the states where domestic partnership has passed: Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Illinois, New Jersey. Those states, I would wager, while not yet approving full gay marriage, would be unwilling to ban them either. Yes, I know several have bans in their state constitutions, including Oregon. But, again, polling shows in these states such bans would not likely pass again, and it seems less likely a majority of both houses of the legislatures of these states would pass a federal constitutional ban. That’s thirteen right there. Then add states with limited partnership rights ― Colorado, Maine, Maryland and Wisconsin ― and a few other states where progressive tendencies would likely block passage ― Delaware, Rhode Island, and Minnesota ― and it can be seen that the GOP hopefuls are doing nothing more than engaging in meaningless pandering and posturing to appeal to the most right wing and socially conservative in their base.

In a college auditorium in New Hampshire, we witnessed an attempt to go back in time to a fictional America that never truly existed, where Ozzie and Harriet and the Beaver and his family lived simple lives surrounded by people just like themselves. In an ornate chamber in Albany last night, we watched history move forward. And it is that advance that characterizes what is best in America. Sadly, none of the GOP contenders appear to be watching or listening.

  • (Show?)

    This is a truly historic passage. However, just as states can bestow rights they can also oppress and deprive human beings of rights. It looks like we are headed to a period of time when gay rights, voting rights, labor rights, and rights to contraception and women's health care and reproductive rights will be available in some states but denied in others. Blue States can rightly then claim the mantle of personal freedom while Red States are zones of oppression. Those who want to live in the free zones will move there,

  • (Show?)

    Excellent piece. It was nice to witness, here in New York, a handful of Republican State Senators put common humanity above their own political interests and support this bill.

open discussion

connect with blueoregon