Thursday, November 05, 2009

Same-sex marriage setback in Maine, hope for the future

Washington voted for domestic partnerships, but Maine, a similarly blue state (despite having two Republican senators), voted against same-sex marriage.

There is no denying that the vote in Maine is a setback for gay rights. Simply put, the anti-gay forces of the right mobilize well, as they showed in California last year, playing to lingering bigotry and fear, and they did again here. Furthermore, there was little support for the same-sex marriage law in rural, more conservative parts of the state. There will eventually be legalized same-sex marriage in Maine, but, clearly, there is much work to be done.

And yet, there is also no denying that, despite such setbacks, the country is, on the whole, moving towards a full acceptance, including under the law, of gays and lesbians as equal members of society who, among other things, can marry and have their marriages recognized by the state.

Providing perspective, allow me to quote two of my favourite bloggers, Andrew Sullivan and Pam Spaulding:

Somehow losing by this tiny margin is brutalizing. And because this is a vote on my dignity as a human being, it is hard not to take it personally or emotionally. But I also know that the history of civil rights movements has many steps backward as forward, and some of those reversals actually catalyze the convictions that lead to victories. A decade ago, the marriage issue was toxic. Now it divides evenly. Soon, it will win everywhere.

I know for many younger gays and lesbians, this process can seem bewildering and hurtful. But I'm old enough now to be able to look back and see the hill we have climbed in such a short amount of time, and the minds and hearts we have changed. Including our own.

Know hope.

We should find solace in the fact that the children and grandchildren of those who voted to rollback the rights of fellow Mainers will be embarrassed that their relatives were so short-sighted, duped by entities that exist solely to discriminate using the ballot box as a weapon -- and making money off of the hate with great gusto.


LGBTs -- and more importantly, allies -- need to come out of the closet advocating for equality in ways large and small. It's the only way to move many voters, particularly the ones who think they don't know someone who is gay. Too many politicians who support us privately still don't have the spine to step up their game when our rights are under attack. That has to change.

There is a lot that all of us can do, in large and small ways, to overcome the bigotry that still wins at the ballot box. There is reason to hope, and there is reason to expect, and demand, change.

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  • The change that should be demanded is the abandonment of the pretense that same-sex relationships are as valuable to society or as deserving of official recognition from it as opposite-sex relationships.I'm a never-religious lifelong Democrat who has generally identified as a "liberal" all my life,but this issue is one where the conventional wisdom of contemporary liberalism has turned itself into the textbook example of "having a mind so open your brains fall out".

    Standards of conduct apply equally to everyone,not just to those not inclined to violate them in the first place,and are not "bigotry" against those who disagree with them.Appropriate and inappropriate behavior are not "equal".And the presence of sexual dimorphism in a species determines opposite-sex sexual relationships to be exclusively normative for that species.We have a responsibility to promote that norm and discourage same-sex relationships,and that is why civil marriage (the only kind I as a believer that the Infinitely First Cause does not write books or found official fan clubs for itself can enter in good conscience) exists.

    By Anonymous Louis E., at 10:57 PM  

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