By Wayne Besen
Only ten years ago, it looked like gay people would not be able to marry until the cows came home. With an Iowa Supreme Court victory and the state legislature approving marriage in Vermont, gay couples will soon be coming home to their cows — with marriage licenses in hand. The farm teams have brought us major league victories and reinvigorated the GLBT marriage movement.
“Today we have overridden the governor’s veto,” Vermont Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin said in a written statement released by the Human Rights Campaign. “I have never felt more proud of Vermont as we become the first state in the country to enact marriage equality, not as the result of a court order, but because it is the right thing to do.”
It feels odd to be partying like it’s 1999 in 2009. Just several long months ago, the GLBT movement suffered a stinging marriage defeat in California. But, our short period of tribulation was swiftly followed by surprising jubilation. It was downright shocking to see hog-wild homosexuals dancing in the streets of Des Moines. For anti-gay organizations, the once easy game of whack-a-marriage is feeling more like whack-a-mole. They can’t be sure where marriage equality will pop up next.
On the same day that marriage for gay couples was legalized in Vermont, ice cream mogul Ben proposed on one knee to Jerry in Waterbury, saying that they went together like cookie dough and ice cream. Well, okay, that didn’t happen — but the Washington, D.C. Council did vote 12-0 to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
“It’s no secret that I have been working on legislation that would take us further,” said openly gay Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) “This is the march toward human rights and equality. This is not the march toward special rights. This is the equal march and that march is coming here.”
The barrier breaking in Iowa and Vermont rightfully caused a bit of urban envy in some places. Garden State Equality chair, Steven Goldstein, wasted no time scolding New Jersey’s lawmakers for falling behind the times. New Jersey currently has a Civil Unions law, but has dragged its feet on a marriage upgrade.
“New Jersey legislators, when will you wake up and smell the inequality?” asked Goldstein. “Today’s enactment of a marriage equality law in Vermont marks the official end of the failed civil union era in America. Civil union laws now join the Edsel, New Coke and 8-Track Tapes in the dustbin of history’ failed inventions.”
While the cows may have come home in some places — it will take flying pigs to get states like Mississippi to allow marriage equality. Still, with advances in Iowa and Vermont, the writing is on the barn wall for social conservatives.
“The battle over same-sex marriage is on the way to being lost,” wrote Cal Thomas, a founder of the modern Religious Right. He went on to say that those who think they can count on the political system to win are “closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge.”
Recognizing the direction the nation is rapidly going, Thomas — who is still anti-gay – questioned the priorities of his Bible-beating brethren:
“To those on the political and religious right who are intent on continuing the battle to preserve ‘traditional marriage’ in a nation that is rapidly discarding its traditions,” wrote Thomas, “I would ask this question: What poses a greater threat to our remaining moral underpinnings? Is it two homosexuals living together, or is it the number of heterosexuals who are divorcing and the increasing number of children born to unmarried women, now at nearly 40 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?”
The big question on everyone’s mind is will the Iowa Supreme Court decision amplify pressure on the California Supreme Court justices to overturn Proposition 8? I don’t know if we will win, but I do think it increases the odds. After all, Californians are known for surfing large waves and the recent wins in Iowa and Vermont certainly qualify.
Our opponents will milk the marriage battle as long as it remains a cash cow. But with gay couples marrying in the countryside, it is clear what direction the country is headed.