Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Voting on marriage Nov 4: and why it matters

The four states voting on marriage equality in the next election are critical. The money from those opposed to equality is pouring in, with the same cries as the last few times. "Religious freedom!" (by which they mean, their "right" to impose their religion on YOU.) "Think of the Children!" (by which they mean, DON'T think of the children if their parents are gay, or if they are gay).

These usual memes are seasoned by increasingly strident anti-gay rhetoric that demonizes and dehumanizes LGBT people.

 I am no longer able to see this as a legitimate disagreement. This is the cynical politics of hatred and division. It is also a direct attack on me and my family, a direct effort to deny us any rights or protections, and a direct effort to harm our children.

If you live in, or know anyone who lives in MD, ME, or WA, ask them to vote YES. If they are in MN, ask them to vote NO.

 Meanwhile, Jeffrey Toobin explains why these votes are SO important. 
There is one unavoidable fact about American voters and same-sex marriage: every time the people have had chance to speak on the subject, they have voted it down. ... This may change in November, when voters in Maine (for a second time), Maryland, Minnesota and Washington State have their say….. 
As a technical legal matter, the results of these referenda are irrelevant to legal questions about gay marriage that are now before various courts. The Supreme Court will soon reveal whether it will hear one or two major cases about same-sex marriage this year. ... The Constitution either does or does not guarantee the rights of gay people to marry—and the opinions of voters has nothing to do with resolving that question. The whole point of judicial review is to protect minority groups from having their rights violated by the whims of the majority. In theory, the work of the courts and the will of the voters operate on entirely separate tracks.

The real world, however, works very differently. The courts, especially the Justices of the Supreme Court, are acutely aware of how their rulings reflect (or conflict with) public opinion…. It was not until 1967, in Loving v. Virginia, that the Justices got around to declaring that states could no longer ban interracial marriage. Many (but not all) such laws were ignored or obsolete by that point. This is not to diminish the significance of Loving. The case was and remains a key practical and symbolic statement about race and the constitution. But by 1967, the hard work of changing the country on this issue had already been done by the civil-rights movement. The Court was a lagging indicator of where the country already was. 
And so while both cases [DOMA and Prop8], as I wrote recently, are potential landmarks, neither may turn out to be as important as four ballot initiatives. The votes will give us the best picture of where the country is on same-sex marriage. ... given the Court’s history, even the more liberal justices may be reluctant to impose same-sex marriage on the country if the people—the voters—repeatedly say that they do not want it. The polls predict close races in all four states. The results will echo well beyond their borders.
And just to bring it home:


Mary Clara said...

Doing all we can in Maryland! Here in Baltimore there will be a prayer vigil at the Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation on Thursday evening (Oct. 4) affirming marriage equality. We will surely be there, and hope that our church's witness will help.

The video is great! God bless Expedia and all the other businesses that are getting behind marriage equality.

Counterlight said...

I certainly agree that this is not a legitimate issue, and never was.