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24 June 2011

Yay New York! Now can I tell you my biggest fear?[More:]

If New York and California both get marriage equality before the rest of the country, the rest of us gay Americans will be fucked. FUCKED. Nobody will care. There will be no fundraisers, and no Hollywood stars will be raising money to see that those of us in Georgia and Mississippi and Alabama get the same rights you now have. Victory will have been won. And we, down here, will be fucked.

The only reason the marriage equality debate is still going on is because it affects people in New York and California- or just California, now. When my home state of Georgia was getting ready to pass an anti same-sex marriage amendment to its constitution in 2004, one that even bans civil unions or anything like them, the national gay rights organizations couldn't be bothered to even address it. There were no email alerts, no fund-raising drives, no calls to action because, you know, it's Georgia! It passed overwhelmingly, because a lot of people hate fags and can't resist a chance to punch us anonymously from the voting booth.

So our last hope now is that the California Prop 8 case goes to the Supreme Court, which may or may not happen because there is some question about who legally has grounds to appeal the case... ironically, we WANT the anti-gay folks to appeal the case because that's the only way it could go up the chain of appeals, hopefully to the Supreme Court, and it's only if this is decided at the federal level that it will ever help those of us out here in the non-glamorous states. My partner and I have been together for 21 years... if something were to happen to one of us our home state of Georgia would consider us strangers, and that's just fucked up.

So I'm happy and I celebrate all the folks in New York who now have their families recognized, but please don't think the job of equality is anywhere near over.
I'd never really thought about it that way.



Wouldn't the constitutional doctrine of "full faith and credit" apply? Wouldn't that stand up to any legal challenge? A married couple from New York moves (for some insane reason) to Alabama-- they're still married, right? The state of Alabama has no power to declare the laws of New York invalid. Seems like the states that do not recognize marriage equality will be FORCED to accept it eventually through a blizzard of lawsuits. I hope.
posted by BitterOldPunk 24 June | 23:55
Economists have a saying: "growth is more like mushrooms than yeast".

What they mean is, you can't expect it to happen evenly everywhere from the start. It crops up one place, then another place, then it spreads itself around.

So just because right now there's only a mushroom in New York, doesn't mean there won't be mushrooms in Alabama eventually.
posted by TheophileEscargot 25 June | 04:35
Stynx reminded me this morning that a lot of social battles in the US started at the local/state level, and trickled up- like women's suffrage.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 25 June | 08:55
Or some more conservative states could be more energized to pass some virulent legislation further curtailing marriage rights.

Like my state, for example.

Good point. But I am still glad for NY.
posted by danf 25 June | 09:09
BoPo, I have never said this before (I love you, man!), but I hope that you are wrong wrong wrong! I hope that this only serves to energize people in all states to push this basic rights issue towards a Malcolm Gladwell-style tipping point, and legislatively and legally, all "in defense of marriage" acts are nuked back to the stone age, where they belong.
posted by msali 25 June | 09:29
I understand your fear, BoPo, but I'm hoping for momentum and an engagement of more supporters when they see a few success stories. This is a great step in the right direction, but I'm with you on not wanting to spend too long celebrating this victory. There's a long road ahead and it's going to be fucking bumpy.
posted by Slack-a-gogo 25 June | 10:45
I hope I'm wrong, too, and you guys are right- and I apologize for being a downer when something SO great has happened! (I was feeling depressed last night so I was in a negative frame of mind.) This is indeed a huge victory, all New Yorkers should be REALLY proud, and here's hoping it'll push the tide of equality a little further so it can spread to all of us.

Wouldn't the constitutional doctrine of "full faith and credit" apply?

Supposedly, yes, but I don't think anyone has challenged the law on that basis yet. The Prop 8 case is taking a different (and I think, stronger) approach.
posted by BoringPostcards 25 June | 11:20
I heard on NPR that Obama's been making noises about overturning DOMA.

Bishop Robinson has said that clergy should not have the power to perform marriages; it should only be a civil issue.
posted by brujita 25 June | 11:25
Bill Gates still gives money to fight malaria even though the disease isn't a problem in Washington.

I would think that victory in NY and CA frees up a lot of time and resources that can be spent in other states.
posted by mullacc 25 June | 13:08
Right now, I want to feel good. I know there are more battles ahead but right now, I have hope because love won. Love prevailed.

≡ Click to see image ≡

posted by MonkeyButter 25 June | 13:14
John Cole over at Balloon Juice agrees with the theory this may be a tipping point that will help marriage equality spread to other states.
posted by BoringPostcards 25 June | 13:40
please don't think the job of equality is anywhere near over.

Just the fact that we're so excited about this event in NY (and I AM excited, yippee!) shows that you're right: it's nowhere near over. Marriage equality should be a non-issue, a thing that every adult gets to take for granted. It's not, and that is (in the strongest sense of the word) a shame.

It's heartbreaking that every small redressing of a pervasive wrong feels like a triumph. But it's okay to want to celebrate when bigotry loses to fairness, even if it happens far too infrequently.
posted by Elsa 25 June | 13:46
I think the general complacency BP describes already began when Prop 8 hit the courts. Small pockets will gain a few state victories, no doubt, but I get the feeling the overall attitudes on both the federal and state levels became 'wait and see what happens with Prop 8'. I blame the economy; people are getting pounded too damn hard now to care much about non-fiscal issues.

However, this economy is also forcing major migrations of the middle classes (as well as the 2nd-tier upper class) to where jobs are, and away from states like California. I have a suspicion that these migrations include far more liberals than conservatives. I suspect further that these transplants will become quite vocal politically in their newly adopted communities.

Marriage equality is far from dead, just in a period of dormancy that is a part of political change.
posted by Ardiril 25 June | 14:35
"The fact is that once our LGBT friends and family are legally able to marry here in New York, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will prohibit them from enjoying over 1,000 federal rights and privileges that are afforded straight married couples. "
posted by gaspode 25 June | 16:52
Ultimately, the entire question will have to be settled before the SCOTUS. Right now, you have some states (like NY) legalizing gay marriage. In other states, you have state constitutions being amended to declare marriage is to be solely between a man and woman. Whether states with this prohibition will or won't honor the "full-faith" clause is a huge question. I suspect someone is going to force the issue one way or another. Possibly a "man-and-woman-only" state is going to blatantly arrest a gay couple that were married in NY and then relocated to the prohibition state. (or, conversely, a couple married in NY will purposely move to a prohibition state and force the issue.)

I'm not hopeful, though, that the current makeup of SCOTUS would come down on the side of gay marriage. In its current form, I can easily see SCOTUS deciding on the side of state's rights (basically punting on the issue), and allowing a patchwork of laws to develop. We'd be in the same situation as we were back in the time of anti-miscegenation laws, where a mixed couple, legally married in one state, could find themselves in jail in another state, even if they were just staying the night.
posted by Thorzdad 26 June | 08:20
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