Friday, October 21, 2005

Whither the Harriers?

While the pro and anti folk engage seemingly everywhere, we too seldom raise our eyes for the longer view.

Let us consider and project:
  • Same-sex marriage is a worldwide trend that is almost certain to continue.
  • Church attendance and membership levels do not determine how progressive a nation's legislative branch is.
  • Leading nations, like Canada, are those with the strongest commitments to human rights.
  • Trailing nations, like the United States, apparently need to see a progressive stance work before adopting it.
We can already see the traditional pattern of the coasts leading, the South screaming (but likely to capitulate) and the middle dug in against change. Then short- and mid-term, we might expect:
  • Legalization by state courts or legislatures of SSM or civil unions in Oregon, California, New York and New Jersey.
  • With Massachusetts and Connecticut legal now, that produces a pretty big lab for what the anti-folk like to call an experiment.
Longer term, we can look to a few states, like Rhode Island extending the traditional interstate full faith and credit to other states' types of marriage and civil union. That can have two interesting effects — exactly what the anti-gay, anti-SSM forces fear — legally married homosexual couples and families will live amongst them and voting citizens see that gay couples are not evil, troublesome or poor parents.

So, where that that leave us? First, we cannot know how long any of that will take, other than that the New York and New Jersey decisions should come down in months.

For the most virulent of the fearful fundies, what do they do as they continue to lose supporters and battles? They had a big, temporary boost with all the DoMA rules in the past couple of years. Yet, that seems to be as far as they can go.

There is a very good chance that they will get slapped down next month in Massachusetts trying to repeal SSM and in Maine trying to rescind anti-sexual-orientation-discrimination laws. Can we for a moment imagine that they will slink away when their the-people-are-with-us card goes in the trash?

They will surely try to sew up opposition stronghold states. Simultaneously, they will just as surely pick states to file suits and one ballot initiative after another.

While it is almost certain that when the WWII and Korean era folk are dead, the younger generations will legal SSM and forever wonder what the fuss was all about, we may not have to wait that long. The Baby Boomers are really two generations, as sociologists are quick to note. The earlier ones (like George the Lesser) tend to be less conservative than their parents, but more so than their youngest siblings.

As Americans learned and still learn from exposure, people who are different are not so different. The xenophobia directed against those from different countries, those of different religions, those of different skin tones have come and largely gone here. Exposure to homosexual families will continue to go through this same cycle.

We can try to keep that history and future in mind amidst the Chicken Little screams about the effects of legalizing same-sex marriage. It is tough to do so in the noise.

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