One Giant Leap for Gay Rights

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Whitney Young, left, embraces her partner Marlena Blonsky as they listen to speeches at an election party in Seattle for proponents of Referendum 74, which would uphold the state's new same-sex marriage law.

Last night, as I sat in Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren's campaign ballroom taking notes on her win, I turned to Twitter and was stunned to discover that Americans have moved farther and faster on marriage equality than I had dared to dream. Maine and Maryland voted to let same-sex couples marry; Washington state is poised to do the same; and voters in Minnesota defeated a measure that would have amended the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Maine voted in favor of equality 54 percent to 46 percent, in the first voter-initiated referendum to do so. Maryland passed marriage equality 52 percent to 48 percent. In Washington, with 50 percent of the votes recorded, marriage equality was ahead 52 percent to 48 percent. (That last one will take a week to before we get final results; Washington votes entirely by mail, and some of those ballots won’t even be received for days.)

I underestimated y’all, America. Marriage equality has passed the tipping point. While I was still predicting votes based on how things were three years ago, you all started talking about “marriage equality” as if it were as ordinary as sliced bread. When President Barack Obama said he had come around, the rest of you came around with him. There’s no turning back.

Before yesterday, the marriage-equality forces were 0 for 32 at the ballot box—voters had opted to ban gay marriage every time the issue had been put to them. But from here on, we will win—if not every time, then the overwhelming majority of the time. A few more predictions: This year, the Supreme Court will strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bans the federal government from recognizing my marriage and every other marriage between two people of the same sex performed in the states. During Obama’s second term—you watch—Congress will repeal the rest of DOMA, and Obama will sign it. In 2014, Oregon will be among the next wave of states to pass marriage equality at the ballot. I don’t know what other states are on the list, but within two years the majority of Americans will be living in equal-marriage states. By 2020, the majority of American states will be actively marrying same-sex couples. Not long thereafter, the Supreme Court will slap the remaining Southern states into line.

The momentum has shifted decisively. That sound was the fulcrum shifting, the big turn. 

In the Warren ballroom, I grabbed the arm of a major lesbian political insider here in Boston as she walked by and said, "We are winning all four. We’re crushing it." We grinned at each other like schoolchildren. We’ve both been in this town all our adult lives. She’s a political operative; I’m a dreamer who wrote about things that no one else believed could win, who published a book about same-sex marriage in the 1990s—before we’d won a single state. I asked, "Could you ever have imagined this was possible?" She answered, "I knew for a fact that it was not!" Back then, 20 years ago, she was trying to stop the marriage faction of the movement from getting anywhere lest the issue derail every other possibility for progress on LGBT rights. She was wrong then. I was wrong yesterday, when I thought that the marriage votes would go the way they had in the past. To everyone who has tweeted me about being an Eeyore: I have never in my life been so thrilled to be wrong.

The world has changed. Ten American states have declared that I’m a full human being, a full citizen, with the right to love. California is in the queue. The rest will come around within a few years. Thank you—so profoundly—to Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Washington, and every one of you who voted to let your lesbian and gay friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family commit ourselves to the ones we love.

Comments

As a member of the other league, very successful in my own marriage, I congratulate the gay community on their progress. Just as I would not want to be in a world where gay relationships (or genderless?) dominated and I had to hide my search for a female partner (which would have been much less successful), and after finding her, had to hide our loving relationship from that world, I would not want to be part of the opinion group that has been denying gay people their right to search for love, and enjoy that love once found.

I remember an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in the 1990's involving a visit to a humanoid world where gender differences had been technologically suppressed by their ancestors at the biological level, effectively making all partnership bonds "gay" and using only medical tools for reproduction. This world suppressed all feelings of maleness and femaleness as criminal acts, and of course a "closeted straight female" was assigned to work with ... Commander Riker! The conflicts they faced were, to me, an excellent analogy to what (I imagined, as I had little personal acquaintance with KNOWN gay people at the time) the LGBT community was facing in the 1990's.

I hope the Biblical hate-mongers can understand the context of their "abomination" statements. Pagan cults used simulated and actual sex, both hetero and gay, in various rituals re-enacting the legends about their gods. Hebrew leaders, beginning with Moses, believed in SEPARATING overt sexual expression from worship, since YHWH is a non-material deity. Ergo, Hebrew priests and worshipers were kept away from pagan rituals by YHWH's hatred of the acts associated with these rituals. This ties in with the prohibition, at a time when men and women wore robes without underwear most of the time, of a priest ascending the steps to the altar without underwear, thus offending YHWH by exposing his nakedness.

In the New Testament, Paul (according to Bishop Spong, a closeted celibate gay man who considered himself condemned for his FEELINGS) condemned gay sex because it was part of the general promiscuity practiced at Greek and Roman orgies. He and his Christian followers barely tolerated heterosexual marriage, much less blessing any other expression of a loving partnership. Besides, the main emphasis was on loving Christ and the ENTIRE GROUP of believers (agape love, not philia or eros).

So there was and is no reason for loving, committed partners who happen to be gay and the same sex to feel excluded from a community that is SUPPOSED to be about love for everyone. I wish you and yours blessings and success; just try to be better at KEEPING your vows than too many of us "straight" people have been.

While America has moved far on marriage equality, the House of Representatives has not. There is simply not any chance the House, under Republican control, will pass a repeal of the DOMA. Nice thought, but terrible prediction, as it is not going to happen.

As an unmarried American I am still asking a question that no one will answer. Why should people who engage in this particular activity pay less taxes and have greater benefits than I do? I don't cause the health problems they cause. I can understand why people who reproduce might get a preference, but the entire idea of homosexuality is to avoid reproduction. by a engaging in a form of mockery. It makes no sense to me.

The key factor in the shift that has occurred in the general population towards non-straight people is VISIBILITY.

In the years when marriage bans were spreading like wildfire, most Americans said they didnt know any gay people. Today most say they do.

When we stopped hiding and lying, we stopped needing to hide and lie.

I thank God every day I was born when I was because I would hate to have to choose between food on my plate and being who I am. And I thank those who came before me.

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