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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Marriage Equality Is Coming

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When the people lead, eventually their leaders will follow. That even includes leaders like sanctimonious Supreme Court justices who expect their small-minded prejudices to be treated as the last word on the law.

What was most apparent about the testimony last week before the U.S. Supreme Court on gay marriage is it doesn’t really matter how cautious the court ruling is.

Gay marriage is well on its way to becoming the law of the land. All opponents can do is drag their feet, but they’re already being left behind.

One theory is that Justice Antonin Scalia, the court’s most extreme conservative, got other conservatives to hear the case now because he knew the court’s vote would be even stronger against banning same-sex marriage as unconstitutional in the future.

But he’s already too late.

America is very different than it was just a few years ago when George W. Bush’s advisor Karl Rove encouraged states to put gay marriage bans on their ballots in 2004 to pump up the Republican hate vote to help re-elect the President.

Wisconsin has changed, too, since state Republicans scheduled their vote against gay marriage in 2006 to bring out Republicans to try to defeat Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.

Doyle won, but marriage equality lost 59% to 41% with every county except for Dane County voting for a constitutional ban.

A recent national opinion poll had a similar percentage with an even wider margin in the other direction, favoring same-sex marriage 58% to 36%. The latest Wisconsin poll showed a dead-heat, 46% opposed to same-sex marriage and 44% in favor, within the margin of error.

Not only do the president and vice president of the United States now publicly support marriage equality, but any other Democrat who may ever want to run for president like, say, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has jumped on board.

Some Republicans are even scrambling to get their minds right. Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, once considered a possible running mate for Mitt Romney, now supports gay marriage since learning his son is gay.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the conservative Republican female politician from Alaska who’s not Sarah Palin, suddenly started evolving as well.

But the real eye-opener was when Rove himself and hater-in-chief Rush Limbaugh proclaimed Republicans have already lost the marriage debate.

 

Scott Walker’s Weaselly Response

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, peddling his name on national television as a possible presidential candidate, had to slap together some way to weasel out of taking a definitive stand.

Instead of government extending the right to marry to gays and lesbians, Walker said, it should consider getting out of marriage legalization entirely and leave it up to individual religions to determine who has the right to marry.

Nobody in Wisconsin was surprised to hear Walker advocating for the government to eliminate more rights that should be enforced fairly and equally. That’s been his agenda.

But since the other marriage equality case before the Supreme Court involves millions of dollars in marriage benefits written into thousands of federal laws, the government isn’t about to let any band of yahoos who call themselves a church decide who’s legally married.

And would it then become illegal in America for anyone who didn’t go to church to get married?

It’s understandable that so many right-wing Republicans who have benefited politically from homophobia for so long would be caught flat-footed by the startling reversal of U.S. opinion toward gay marriage. It came out of nowhere.

It seems like only yesterday Republicans were alarming their voters about an evil gay agenda threatening their children. All the while, those same children were becoming responsible for one of the most dramatic public opinion shifts in American history.

When President Barack Obama openly supported gay marriage five months before the national election and won overwhelmingly, Republicans, terrified for their future, began frantically examining what happened.

It turned out Mitt Romney won only about a third of young voters, suggesting his party has very little future indeed. And, guess what, more than 80% of young voters now support gay marriage.

Because gays are becoming more visible every day, young people, gay or straight, can see for themselves gays and lesbians are not some alien species. Gays don’t have to hate themselves. Those who aren’t gay care about gay friends, family members and work colleagues.

And no one ever told young people that they shouldn’t take seriously the constitutional amendment that guarantees everyone equal treatment under the law.

Now we’re stuck with a bunch of young people who respect their gay brothers and sisters and want to see them treated fairly. More and more parents, even prominent Republican ones, also are beginning to expect equality for their gay sons and daughters.

There’s nothing the U.S. Supreme Court can do about that even if it tries to take some kind of cautious half-step. Marriage equality is coming.