Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Marriage momentum

by Laura Smith-Gary

Today the governor of Maine, John Baldacci, signed a same-sex marriage bill into law. He doesn't personally believe in gay marriage, he says, but he does believe in equal protection under the Constitution. I'll take it. I like that he didn't take the easy way out and just let it sit on his desk for 10 days, then become law without his signature. Furthermore, he acknowledged that it really was an equal protection issue, and that whatever his personal opinions he couldn't "allow discrimination to stand" when the bill hit his desk. So well done, Governor Baldacci. The law won't go into effect until late June, and opponents are trying to get a petition with 55,000 signatures, which would suspend the law pending a referendum. That's not an unlikely scenario, but like the governor I have faith in the "good and just" people of Maine.

Yesterday, the Washington D.C. city council voted 12-1 to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal. For those keeping score in the "decisions by judges" vs. "decisions by elected officials" race, that's another check on the "elected officials" side. The White House and Congress are being very, very quiet about this. President Obama's spokespeople are merely saying -- quietly mumbling, really -- that he supports civil unions and that marriage is between a man and a woman. At this point the silence from Congress is actually more relevant -- they can choose to review the bill within the next 30 days, or just let it go to the mayor, a Democrat who will presumably sign it into law. This would seem to be a golden opportunity for the Republicans to wreak havoc in the ranks of the Democrats, but at least on the first of the 30 available days they haven't seized on this issue. Because I'm feeling sunny and optimistic about humanity today, I'm going to hope that this is because they realize that it's not their place to dictate to the duly elected city council. I also hope, on many levels, that recognizing marriages legally performed in other states would not prove to be a havoc-wreaking wedge issue.

So between these two victories, I have faith and hope -- and there are thousands of same-sex couples just waiting to provide the (legally recognized) love. Love which has, at this point, been patient enough.


At May 6, 2009 at 6:56 PM , Blogger TommyD said...

Regarding the DC vote: it's good we have principled citizens like Marion Barry willing to stand up for traditional values.

At May 6, 2009 at 8:46 PM , Anonymous AC said...

If everyone agrees with you, you must be right! (Of course if everyone disagrees with you you're still right, just oppressed.)

At May 8, 2009 at 9:32 AM , Blogger LSG said...

That's odd, AC, I was under the impression that I had formed my convictions about my rightness on this issue based on my understanding of justice, human rights, the nature of sexual orientation, and equal protection under the Constitution. Thank you for clarifying that my moral convictions are merely based on my herd instinct and/or my overwhelming sense of victimhood.

Which is also odd, when you think about it, since although marriage equality is picking up steam it doesn't exist in the vast majority of states and denied in federal law and lacks support even among some self-identified feminists who write on this very feminist blog. It's also pretty weird that I'm wallowing in my own sense of oppression, seeing as I can marry anyone I'm sexually attracted to anywhere in the country even if I plan to divorce them three hours after the ceremony just for fun.


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