Monday, May 11, 2009

Marriage Equality Becomes Less of a Threat and Makes Opponents Irrelevant

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin says he's changed his views on gay marriage and would oppose any effort to overturn an Iowa Supreme Court decision last month that legalized same-sex unions. He even told "Iowa Press" Friday he would vote no on a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality.

This is just another blow to marriage equality opponents as their deepest fears of becoming irrelevant takes another step towards reality.

Take another instance. Massachusetts. Washington Post reporter David Crary wrote a piece Saturday titled "5 years on, gay marriage debate fades in Mass.":
One of the striking developments, since 2004, is the fading away of opposition to gay marriage among elected officials in Massachusetts.

When the state's Supreme Judicial Court ruled in 2003 that banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, there seemed to be sufficient support in the Legislature for a ballot measure that would overturn the decision. But efforts to unseat pro-gay-marriage legislators floundered; a gay-marriage supporter, Deval Patrick, was elected governor; and a climactic push for a referendum was rejected by lawmakers in 2007 by a 151-45 vote.

Last year, lawmakers went further, repealing a 1913 law that blocked most out-of-state gays from marrying in Massachusetts. The vote in the House was 119-36.

But it's not just in the legislature that the issue of marriage equality has faded from "red hot" issue into normal and almost mundane.

In 2004, Mass. Sen. Marian Walsh, whose district is heavily Catholic and socially conservative, faced intense pressure from constituents wanting to know whether she would support efforts to overturn the Supreme Court ruling. But after doing her homework and studying the law, she concluded the court was right - it came down to civil rights. She faced a "firestorm of anger" in response.

But the amazing thing - she won her seat in 2004 and again in 2006.

Michael-in-Norfolk summed it up well:
One of the reasons why the extreme Christianists are so strident as marriage equality is spreading - other than, of course, the fact that it's a cash cow for the fundies' bogus "ministries" - is that they realize that once gay marriage comes to a state and becomes more prevalent, the general public will see that the Christianist cries of "saving marriage" were disingenuous at best if not patently dishonest. Massachusetts is a case in point where the debate over gay marriage has died away and such marriages have become common place - all with no diminution of heterosexual marriage. Indeed, Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate of any state, thus further demonstrating the lack of merit of arguments peddled by those like Maggie Gallagher who is herself on the anti-gay marriage financial gravy train.
What Massachusetts offers is, in scientific terms, lab results. Throw in X (heterosexual marriage), add Y (same-sex marriage), throw in a catalyst that creates equality (Supreme Court ruling), and you get . . . THE END OF THE WORLD?!

No. You get more of what you had before. Loving relationships. Loving families. And as result, the staunchest opponents to marriage equality in Massachusetts begin to accept that the horrible apocalyptic "prophecies" from the church will in fact not come true.

Yet these Christianists don't give up. They say the demise of our society won't happen overnight. ". . . we believe it would be a generational downfall, not an overnight downfall," says Kris Mineau, a former Air Force pilot and pastor who is president of the Massachusetts Family Institute.

Here's the weakness in that argument. Do they really think that LGBT families didn't exist BEFORE marriage equality? We've existed for generations! And yet, somehow, miraculously, generation after generation, our society didn't devolve into an anarchic pit of hell.

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin is a great example of how society is turning, recognizing that the world hasn't ended since Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage, and even better, LGBT families have existed for generations and have contributed to society. So why not spread marriage equality?

This turning in thinking is the marriage equality opponent's greatest fear. Why? Because it makes them irrelevant. And once you're irrelevant, you're over.

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