It makes me happy that reports of equal rights and equal treatment being rightfully expanded to gays are practically non-stories at this point.
“The numbers are inexorably moving in one direction,” said [pollster Mark] DeCamillo. “Older folks, who are more in opposition, are dying out and younger folks are more inclined to support it. It’s not rocket science.”
At least, I believe that is the major reason why things are turning around. Of course, there is also the Harvey Milk strategy of making sure people realize that they do, in fact, know gay people. That and coming-out movements have worked fantastically. However, it cannot be denied that the overwhelming opposition to equal rights for gays is among older generations. As they die out, younger, more enlightened, more well-educated people are taking their place. Even conservatives aren’t surprised:
After the Maine legislature and governor passed equal rights measures for gays in terms of marriage in 2009, our religiously-motivated bigots got organized and turned the clock back quite quickly. They won that battle, but the war continues:
Gay-marriage advocates turned in more than enough signatures to move ahead with a citizen initiative that would allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in Maine, the secretary of state’s office ruled Thursday.
More than 85,000 signatures were declared valid. The groups needed only 57,277 signatures for their bill to get to the Legislature.
The decision means lawmakers will now be presented with a citizen initiative to allow gay marriage in Maine.
I’m proud to say my signature was among those turned into the secretary of state.
I’m cautiously optimistic about this. It’s great that this is back on the ballot, and early poll numbers are positive, but equal rights were defeated by a hefty margin in 2009, 53-47. It’s going to be an uphill battle for sure, but I suspect it will help that it is a Presidential election year.
At any rate, even if we continue to treat some people in Maine as second-class citizens after this November, it’s only a matter of time before the state gets on the right side of history and continues to make New England proud.
There are a number of nations whose military allows gay soldiers to serve openly with straight soldiers. The obvious reason is that being gay does not make someone a sex-crazed rapist whose only interest is to cause irreparable moral harm to other people by giving them gay. Recent polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans realize this. In fact, the U.S. military largely realizes this, dismissing fewer gay soldiers per year than they did prior to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars; they may as well be saying, ‘Okay, there’s a lot of hatred for gays out there and, really, that’s our motivation, but when it comes down to it, we need good service members.’
Fortunately, in addition to the other recent positive rulings, a judge has declared the military must reinstate a lesbian soldier it dismissed under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. He cites the lack of constitutionality of the law due to its uselessness.
“The application of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ to Major Margaret Witt does not significantly further the government’s interest in promoting military readiness, unit morale and cohesion,” he wrote.
If it did any of these things, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ would have some validity within its scope. Unfortunately for all the bigots out there, judges are increasingly recognizing that sexual orientation is irrelevant to the effectiveness of military members.
But I think it’s worth pointing out that calling ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ a failure would be a mistake. The law was a compromise that marked a major step in terms of equal rights for gays. This is in a similar vein to when Jefferson put an end to the slave trade in 1808. That point was pivotal in the effort to end slavery, but it was also virtually all that could be done politically. Learning from his earlier days in Virginia politics, he knew any effort to end slavery was premature in his lifetime, lest he lose all political capital and ability to govern in any other area. A similar tale can be told of Clinton. Outright ending the unjustified discrimination against gays in the military was virtually impossible at the time (and it’s still proving to be difficult). But by getting the best deal he could for gay service members, Clinton made the first big step in ending the discrimination they face in the military. The fortunate difference here is that it won’t take us 57 years to reach Clinton’s goal.
A federal case is set to start in the coming days. At issue is the federal constitutionality of California’s Prop 8 bill that passed, damaging the lives of thousands of Californians and ignoring the rights of every last one of them. I’m sure it will be some time until this reaches the Supreme Court (where Scalia will not consider any legal issue), but it will certainly get there.
Interestingly, one of the opponents of equal rights has asked to be dropped from the lawsuit. Since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown correctly refused to mount a defense for California, others had to step in. One was Hak-Shing William Tam, an official bigot and proponent of Prop 8.
On Friday, Tam told the court that he was harassed and his property vandalized during the campaign, and feared similar retribution if he continued to represent gay marriage foes’ interest in the lawsuit and trial, which is scheduled to start Monday in San Francisco.
“In the past I have received threats on my life, had my property vandalized and am recognized on the streets due to my association with Proposition 8,” Tam said in a court filing. “Now that the subject lawsuit is going to trial, I fear I will get more publicity, be more recognizable and that the risk of harm to me and my family will increase.”
While the guy is a scumbag, he doesn’t deserve that. Dare I say, the actions toward him represent, gasp!, bigotry! No one has to accept Tam’s beliefs, but tolerance is required.