Want to Protect Marriage? Then Recognize It
The latest gay marriage dramas bring us back to Proposition 8 and to New York State.
The anti-gay group ProtectMarriage.com -- don’t be fooled by the name, they are not interested in protecting your marriage if you are gay or lesbian -- lost its case last week when it went to court claiming that Federal Judge Vaughn Walker, now retired, should have disclosed his sexuality and his relationship status. By not doing so, they claimed, the ruling Walker issued last year, finding Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional, was tainted and should be nullified.
Similar claims have been lodged before against jurists who were female or belonged to an ethnic minority, and they have never held up in court. This was the first time a gay judge was so impugned, but the result was the same: the federal judge who heard the case torpedoed the claim.
The response? ProtectMarriage.com said they would file an appeal.
Well, of course they will. Anti-gay groups like ProtectMarriage.com and the National Organization for Marriage are forging an entirely new level of judicial time wasting and obstructionism as they proceed through the court system. In the end, this will all be worth it, because so much legal precedent will have been set that when we win full-fledged equality before the law for ourselves and our families, the anti-gay side will have nowhere left to turn: They will have exhausted all avenues in their attempts to extinguish our liberties.
Meantime, in New York, marriage equality is, at this writing, within a mouse’s whisker of becoming a reality for gay and lesbian families in that state. If that happens, the number of people living in states where marriage is available to all families, regardless of gender combination, will double -- as will the number of married same-sex families residing in marriage parity states, given how many New Yorkers have traveled elsewhere to tie the knot. (Their incentive to do so: Though New York does not, at the moment, offer to grant marriages to same-sex couples, the state will honor marriages bestowed on gays and lesbians in other jurisdictions. Why, thank you, and here’s a tip of the leather cap to the long-neglected "full faith and credit" clause of the Constitution, which DOMA, the anti-gay 1996 law, ignores.
Even if marriage in New York fails -- again, and as dramatically as it did in 2009 -- progress is evident: This time, only one Democrat, a Pentecostal minister, stood against marriage parity. And this time, unlike last, there were even some Republicans who supported the measure.
All the old arguments have been back in force as New York keeps us on tenterhooks and the courts deal another setback to the pernicious agenda of the anti-gay crowd seeking, desperately, to justify the inexcusable exercise in fear and bias that is Proposition 8.
"Protect marriage!" the anti-gay crowd cry out, convinced that if same-sex couples partake, the institution will somehow crumble, because... well.. who wants to belong to a club that welcomes queers?
And gay and lesbian families send up the same message, though for a different reason and with a different spin: Protect marriage! Don’t let it devolve into a bulwark of bigotry! Let us participate!
The same arguments are hurled back and forth by both sides, with the occasional outrageous new spark breaking up the monotony. For example, New York legislators have heard from ex-wives of men who came out as gay, and ex-husbands of women who came out as lesbian. These ex-spouses object to same-sex marriage, evidently, because they seem to think that if gays and lesbians could marry, why, they’d... marry other gays and other lesbians, and not hapless straight people who’d later get their hearts broken.
Can’t argue with that, I suppose, though it seems like an inane argument. (Er, you liked the fact that your spouse wasn’t really into you and would rather have been with someone of the same gender? Of all the kinky stuff out there, that has to be the most sick and twisted thing I ever heard.)
And when it comes to the latest Prop. 8 court case -- and God knows, they are proliferating more quickly than CSI spinoffs -- ProtectMarriage.com wasn’t simply handed a stinging rebuke for their attempt to paint Walker as a judge who was out to write the law to his own advantage. The group actually handed us a key admission: That marriage benefits same-sex couples. Otherwise, their argument -- that Walker and his long-term same-sex partner stood to gain something if they were to marry one day -- makes no sense.
Thank you! Finally! After hearing that we’re "selfish" (for, uhm, wanting to take responsibility for the welfare of the person we love, and, you know, provide for them) and that we don’t deserve marriage because we are incapable of long-term commitment (this, from straights who can’t stay married longer than five years on average), we finally hear... in court, mind you... that gay couples would benefit from marriage equality.
That’s right. In case you didn’t get the message, we actually want to marry each other because it’s good and right and natural for us to do so. It enhances our relationships. All of which casts homophobic opposition to marriage equality in a new light: Are they really worried that we will somehow scratch the paint on their shiny, sacred marital institution? Or are they just loath to give us something that we need so desperately and would appreciate so much?
Is this really a question of "protecting" marriage? Or is it a matter of depriving and hurting a detested minority? Because if the concern genuinely is for the well being of marriage as a social institution, the more the merrier! Better still: The more participants, the stronger, deeper, and more effectual as a social cement marriage will be.