Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Massachusetts and its Anemic Neighbors

The political climate in New England is like the Caribbean weather — many similarities, but not homogeneous. Massachusetts trumped Vermont with same-sex marriages to civil unions, but the direction of this fairly liberal region in a pretty conservative nation is unsettled.

So, for trends we have:

  • The entire region has anti-discrimination laws.

  • Two states have civil unions.

  • One has same-sex marriage.

  • One has a government that says it will recognize all Massachusetts marriages

And yet, with the exception of Vermont, every New England state has its own version of that Fright and Spite Circus. Every state has anti-gay groups actively campaigning against extending rights, fighting to prevent or rescind same-sex marriage, and repeatedly and shrilly prophesying disaster for any tolerance or protection of homosexuals. Like Doomsday cults, no matter how many times they are proved totally wrong, they are only more strident and sure in their ravings.

Yet, in the mid-term, it is not hard to extrapolate inclusive Northeast and Northwest slabs sandwiching a fearful and still reactionary continental United States. Oh, yes, there is that little matter of Canada, showing daily as a nation that you can have your Charter of Rights and freedom too.

It may be a long time before Maine even considers civil unions, much less that other form. In New Hampshire, Republicans and other reactionaries will continue to do their damnedest to see that no one even talks about such matters. Vermont has settled into a comfort with civil unions and might only begin recognizing Massachusetts same-sex marriages. Rhode Island seems fairly commonsensical; it could join us in evil next.

Then there is poor Connecticut. It fetched and moaned, tossed and tripped on its way to civil unions. By the time it got there, most of its gay citizens were not interested. They can fairly smell the real thing wafting from the near North. We suspect both court and legislative efforts to make that into a same-sex marriage state.

Out West, despite the bluster, California, Oregon and Washington are all likely mid-term SSM states, by legislature or court.

The Fright and Spite ringmasters will not stop announcing their horrifying acts. Yet, pragmatic Americans seem to sway as they consider co-workers, cousins, brothers and friends, who are gay and married, partnered or in a civil union. Nothing bad happens to anyone. The myth of the raging drag queen bed bunny representing all gays gives way to the normality that the ringmasters and their clowns so fear and despise.

America will eventually welcome its own, but why is it so hard?

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