Thought of the day

Here are the reasons marriage equality for gays passed this time around in Maine, even though it failed just three years ago here:

  • Opposition was far less active: The Catholic Church and other religious groups were not focusing all their efforts on this one issue, nor were they actively raising funds to the extent they did last time.
  • As people have more time to think about this issue, the more mature their response becomes: New proposals are often a shock to people. In fact, it took 3 or 4 attempts just to get gays equal rights in employment, housing, education, and other areas here in Maine, but we eventually did it.
  • It’s a Presidential election year: The last vote was in 2009, so the opposition to equality had an advantage. After all, it’s no secret that liberal ideas and candidates would do far better at the polls if every American had to vote. In 2009 we naturally saw a smaller sample size than 2008 or 2012.

Election results

The two results that concern me the most are the presidential race and the vote to legalize same-sex marriage in Maine.

Well, good news.

President Obama will continue to correct the mistakes of Dubya and gay people are no longer second-class citizens in Maine. In fact, while Washington is likely to also pass a pro-equality measure, Maine is technically the first state to approve gay marriage by means of popular vote. We’ve done some good up here. I’m proud.

Also, here is my favorite part of this night:

Equality for gay people is on its way

I expect to see more and more rulings like this one:

A U.S. appeals court in New York on Thursday ruled that a U.S. law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is now the second federal appeals court to reject part of the Defense of Marriage Act. It upheld a lower court ruling that had found a central part of the law unconstitutional.

Appeals in several cases are currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, which could choose to take up the issue in its current term.

Two members of a three-judge panel ruled in favor of Edith Windsor, an 83-year-old woman who argued that the law discriminates against gay couples in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

They found that gays and lesbians are entitled to heightened protection from the courts, based on the history of discrimination the group has suffered.

“Homosexuals are not in a position to adequately protect themselves from the discriminatory wishes of the majoritarian public,” Judge Dennis Jacobs wrote for the majority.

Here are two predictions I think I can fairly make from this. First is a repeat of what I’ve said about Political Figure Antonin Scalia: This ‘justice’ says he cares about stare decisis, the principle that past case precedence is an immensely important factor in deciding current cases. In Lawrence v Texas, it was established that states cannot make sodomy illegal, and Scalia said this sets the precedence that gay marriage cannot be outlawed. Thus, if this joke of a ‘justice’ actually believes in his so-called principles, he will vote against the idea that states can ban marriage by gay people. I predict he will not.

Second, Christians will claim that their religion always supported equal rights and protections under the law when enough time has passed. We may have to wait a couple of generations, but we should start hearing claims from mainstream Bible-thumpers that Christianity has not only always been in support of equal rights, but that it was the catalyst for the social and court movements we’re seeing today. That will be a blatant lie, but it is exactly what we have seen with slavery, anti-miscegenation laws, segregation, the Enlightenment, our secular forefathers, and especially science. I see no reason why these revisionist patterns will end.

Good job, Democrats

The Democratic Party is getting up to date with the 14th Amendment:

The Democratic Party is aiming to include support for gay marriage in its party platform this year for the first time in its history, a Democratic source said on Monday.

The platform drafting committee unanimously approved language on Sunday endorsing same-sex marriage among the policy positions that will be presented to the convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, where President Barack Obama will formally accept the party’s nomination in early September to run for re-election.

No official word yet on when the GOP will do away with its bigotry, but experts estimate it will occur roughly sometime between 2013 and when Satan gets Hitler and the boys together for a game of ice hockey.

Why gay marriage is becoming accepted

It isn’t that difficult:

“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:

NAACP endorses gay marriage

And the tide has turned:

The NAACP’s board of directors voted Saturday to endorse same-sex marriage rights – adding the influential voice of the country’s leading black civil rights organization to a debate that has divided the African-American community…

“Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law,” NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous said in a statement released Saturday. “The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people. The well-funded right wing organizations who are attempting to split our communities are no friend to civil rights, and they will not succeed.”

I have said in the past in one place or another (if it was on FTSOS, I can’t find it) that the black community should have been ashamed of itself given its high proportion of bigots during the Prop 8 days in California. (If memory serves, other minorities also suffered from a high rate of bigotry over the issue.) Of all the groups in the US, blacks may be the most well positioned to understand what discrimination is like and why it’s wrong. It isn’t merely an intellectual exercise for them; it have been reality for so many decades and centuries. Yet here we are, still trying to get over this hurdle. I think this announcement by the NAACP is going to give progress a big boost, but it’s slightly surprising that more blacks and other minorities aren’t ahead of the curve on this one. Chalk it up to Christian influence, I suppose.

The NAACP now presents itself as a counterbalance to the influence of the traditionally socially conservative black church. It can also help establish closer ties between blacks and gays, two of Obama’s most loyal constituencies.

I’ve always wondered what the black church looks like. Where is it located? Who runs it? Who are its members? How does it file with the IRS? Is it a made-up concept that unnecessarily simplifies all black people?

President Obama supports gay marriage

This really isn’t news except insofar as he has overtly said it. Everyone has always known that he supports gay marriage. He just hasn’t been able to say so because he has a tough re-election coming up and he doesn’t want to lose votes in some of the more bigoted swing states. Unfortunately, Joe Biden made a “gaff” (that is, he told the truth) by saying he was comfortable with gay marriage. That forced the President’s hand:

“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama told Roberts, in an interview to appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday.

There is a clip of the interview available at the above link. I would embed a YouTube video, but ABC news has disabled embedding and the other clips will probably disappear shortly. Because corporate America is filled with assholes. But I digress.

I’m glad President Obama supports gay marriage, but I think my liberal brethren have made a mistake by pushing the issue. It was always obvious the President supported equal rights but that he was holding back on saying so until after November. His stance is a vote-loser in many of the bigoted southern swing states. The jostling here has only served to put gay marriage in more danger.

Gay marriage repeal fails in New Hampshire

And it failed by a hefty margin:

New Hampshire lawmakers easily defeated a bill on Wednesday that would have been the first step toward reversing the state’s law that allows same-sex couples to marry.

The attempt to repeal a law that made gay marriages legal in the state, failed by a vote of 116-211 in the Republican-controlled legislature, drawing applause from many lawmakers in the historic statehouse in Concord.

Three things. First, good. Second, it was going to get vetoed anyway. Third, what state legislature needs nearly 330 members? Maine has 186 members in its House and Senate whilst boasting about the same population (1.3 million) as New Hampshire.

Gay marriage to appear on Maine ballot once again

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.

Washington passes equal marriage law

Lawmekers in the state of Washington have approved a law guaranteeing gays equal rights:

The Washington House passed the bill on a 55-43 vote. The state Senate approved the measure last week. And Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire is expected to sign the measure into law next week.

Democratic Rep. Jamie Pedersen, a gay lawmaker from Seattle who has sponsored gay rights bills in the House for several years, said that while he and his partner are grateful for the rights that exist under the state’s current domestic partnership law, “domestic partnership is a pale and inadequate substitute for marriage.”

It is almost certain this will be challenged at the ballot box in November, so freedom has an uphill battle to fight in Washington this year. Apparently a lot of people think the sky is going to fall is gay people have the same freedom as straights.