As of today same-sex couples can get married in Connecticut, just over a week after anti-gay marriage measures passed in Florida, Arizona, and California. This, at least, is good news. One step in the right direction is still one step in the right direction, even if it follows three gigantic leaps the wrong way. But what does this mean?
Is Connecticut really a more enlightened and compassionate place than California, Arizona, or Florida? Or is its population of contemptuous bigots just too small and poorly organized to stir the public against the cause of gay equality? The recognition of same-sex marriages came there just as it did in California, through judicial decree. Does that mean it can be undone by a similar popular referendum to the ones just passed in California, Arizona, and Florida? Will it?
I really, really hope not. The passing of amendments to the state constitutions of California, Arizona, and Florida banning same-sex marriage was the biggest blight on what will be long remembered as one of America’s brightest days. It’s especially hard to make sense of writing one form of bigotry into the law on the same day that we repudiated centuries of another form.
Federalism is a great idea. Not only has it proved to be a decent form of government, but it’s also provided the perfect excuse to politicians too gutless to take a stand on the gay marriage issue one way or the other. “I think it should be up to the states to decide” has become the favorite euphemism for (usually Republican) politicians who don’t want to come right out and say “Fuck no, those queers shouldn’t be able to get married!” because they have the nutty idea that might make them sound like contemptible, ignorant, backwards fucking throwback cavemen. This is an issue where leaving it to the states is the wrong thing to do. This is an issue where, as it did when it guaranteed women the right to vote, and a whole plethora of citizenship rights to blacks, including the right to not be dragged around a cotton field on the end of a chain unless you’re into that sort of thing, the federal government has to step in and lay down some new rules that everyone will have to play by.
It won’t be easy. Fuck, it might even be impossible. Still, it must be done. Democracy is the greatest form of government every devised, and the only fair and just one known to me. But human rights can’t be left up to the whim of the people. They have to be established, and protected, period.
By the way, it’s especially fashionable lately for opponents of same-sex marriage to argue that marriage is not a fundamental human right, and never has been. Rather, they say, it’s a privilege that governments bestow on certain members of society, like a drivers license. Fine. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, I agree with that. Marriage is not a right; it’s a privilege, like driving a car. Great. Explain to me why that privilege should be denied to same-sex couples. Give me one reason that is rational, that is not founded in bigotry or some arbitrary, religiously derived moral code. I’d love to hear it.
By the way again, have I mentioned that Arnold Schwarzenegger is now my favorite Republican? He was on Late Edition over the weekend where, among other things, he expressed his disappointment over the passage of Proposition 8, and advised his party not to get stuck on ideology. Good on you, Arnold. His admirable defense of gay rights pissed off Laura Ingraham so much that she suggested that he switch his affiliation to Democrat, and that California secede from the United States.
Laura, do you really want opposition to same-sex marriage to be a prerequisite for being a Republican? Broadminded, inclusive attitudes like that are the reason the Republicans are close to becoming a dying party. You can’t continue to shrink your base and grow ever narrower and more exclusive and expect to keep winning elections. Thankfully, there aren’t that many close-minded zealots left in America.