Hey, America, stop changing the marriage equality goalposts
July 19, 2010
Posted by David Badash on gayrights.change.org:
"Marriage equality has seen more ups and downs — but mostly downs — than a soccer game, because America's right wing keeps changing the goalposts.
"Time was, marriage equality, or marriage for same-sex couples wasn't even a thought, not even a possibility.
"Then, in 1993 (seventeen years ago!) Hawaii's State Supreme Court ruled a state statute that limited marriage to one man-one woman was 'presumed' to be unconstitutional.
"But of course that wasn't the end, just the beginning, and in 1996, we got saddled with the [so-called] Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law prohibiting the federal government from recognizing marriages of same-sex couples.
"Then state courts began to rule as unconstitutional limits on marriage as an "opposite-sex"-only institution.
"In 2003, the Massachusetts State Supreme Court ruled that state must allow marriage equality, giving us our first state to offer marriages to same-sex couples. Similarly, in 2008, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled marriage equality must be honored. Iowa followed in 2009.
"Then, amid cries of 'activist judges,' we were told that judicial decisions on the freedom to marry weren't good enough, and it was up to the legislatures to create laws to 'allow' marriage equality.
"And so the state legislatures started to vote on marriage equality legislation.
"We won a few, and lost a few.
"But when the elected representatives of the people voted for marriage equality, especially in places like Washington, D.C., we were told we were denying the people their 'right' to vote on marriage. (Nowhere does it say the people have a right to vote directly on marriage.)
"Now, back to Hawaii. In perhaps the clearest example of political cowardice, earlier this month Governor Linda Lingle waited until the last day possible to veto a civil unions bill that she felt was too close to marriage, saying, 'I am vetoing this bill because I have become convinced that this issue is of such societal importance that it deserves to be decided by all the people of Hawaii.' (She also compared civil unions to incest.)
"But in an amazing exhibit of right-wing talking points, Lingle said, 'It would be a mistake to allow a decision of this magnitude to be made by one individual or a small group of elected officials.'
"The Governor, claiming 'all the people of Hawaii' should decide on civil unions for same-sex couples, apparently did not read the polls, as there was "broad support" for civil unions.
... "America's right wing has teamed up with the Republican party (which prides itself on exhibiting every chance it gets that government is evil), to decree marriage equality cannot be decided by the judicial branches of government, nor by the legislative branches of government, nor by the executive branches of government.
"So, the motto of America's first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, 'government of the people, by the people, for the people,' isn't good enough when it comes to decisions on civil rights, regardless of the fact that the Republican party was founded by civil rights activists in the first place."
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