Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Small Blooms of Marriage Equality Hope

Bless their little hearts, Arizonans rejected a same-sex marriage ban. Like the volunteer flower popping up from the manure, it was a pleasant surprise.

It became the first state to reject such an amendment.

However, seven more states joined the existing 20 with constitutional amendments forbidding SSM, and in most, anything resembling marriage equality in the forms of civil unions or even domestic partnerships. Equality supporters can take a bit of heart in noting that in most places, the amendments passed by smaller margins than in the initial fearful rush.

With nearly all precincts tallied, the results are:

State

Yes

No

Arizona

48.6%

51.4%

Colorado

56.0%

44.0%

Idaho

62.9%

37.1%

S.C.

78.0%

22.0%

S.D.

52.0%

48.0%

Tennessee

80.4%

19.6%

Virginia

56.9%

43.1%

Wisconsin

59.4%

40.6%


With Tennessee and South Carolina vying for the most bigoted electorate, the others showed far weaker support than the anti-SSM forces claimed, promised and hoped. In fact, several look like the voters are in fact tired of this whole mess.

GLBT leaders said that the margins showed a positive trend. Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, remarked, "Two years ago we had 11 of these on the ballot, and in only two of them did we do better than 40 percent. This year there were eight and in at least five of them we did better than 40 percent."

In Arizona, a message may be that some anti-gay and anti-SSM expressions assume too much and go too far. "They were voting against a measure in the amendment that would have denied benefits to domestic partners," said Arizona State University political analyst Bruce Merrill. The majority in the state still opposes full SSM, but the ham-fisted days of gay bashing amendments may be going out. As Foreman put it, "What we're seeing is that fear-mongering around same-sex marriage is fizzling out."

The Arizona vote will likely find multiple interpretations. The most hopeful from the equality side came from Cindy Jordan, who chaired the No on 107 coalition. "It's significant, it says a lot about this state. I think it's going to turn the tide on these anti-gay, homophobic, bigoted propositions." Good attitude...but perhaps ahead of the curve.

About the same latitude but with a very different attitude, Tennessee and South Carolina jumped up and down on equality hopes. For the anti-SSM folk, 41-year-old Paula Donald in Lebanon, Tennessee seemed to be the spokesmodel in saying, "A lot of people don't realize that's damnation to their soul." That is not the voice of love or compassion. Then again, she most clearly is not Jesus.

AP exit polls "showed that the marriage amendment had the strongest support among married women with children, small-town residents, weekly churchgoers and conservatives." That suggests to us that Tennessee will not be among the first to overturn these amendments and may in fact not do so until forced to by federal courts many years into the future.

Likewise, South Carolina had the second highest shame margin for such an amendment -- 78% for the ban, which is on top of a DOMA law. We have mixed thoughts about the campaign there. It was very low key, as befitting that deferential and polite society. That didn't work any more than making nice in Maine did in pushing for gay-rights legislation.

That is a deeply engrained culture in South Carolina. We don't yet know whether the marriage-equality forces will take away the message that they need to be louder and firmer. We certainly hope so. They have seen what fails.

Colorado may be the norm in this election. You can look at it two ways: 1) voters supported the amendment by 12 points (56% to 44%), or 2) the margin is not insurmountable and shows the mellowing of public opinion. It could well be as in Maine that as more homosexuals come out, particularly those raising children together, that opinion slant is likely to narrow, then reverse. Of course, if there is no federal pressure for equality, the new amendment will rule for a long time. As the Denver Post article put it:
By supporting Amendment 43 by a double-digit margin, voters headed toward chiseling the existing legal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman into the state constitution - effectively closing the door to gay marriage.

"If these numbers hold, we're excited about the idea that marriage would be protected for future generations and cemented in the constitution, where it will be safe from activist judges and in the hands of the people of Colorado," said Jon Paul, executive director of Coloradans for Marriage, which got the initiative on the ballot.
There you go, piling suffering and discrimination on homosexuals and their children. That's the American way, eh?
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1 comment:

coachsappho said...

Yes, yesterday's victories were small on SSM but at least we now have a state who has weighed in on the issue and it has said such an amendment is'nt fair.

I say 'be the change we wish to see in the world' - instead of waiting for the world around us to give us an approving nod, each gay and lesbian couple needs to love their union enough for the world to realize how special (and equal) it is to heterosexual couples. It's as simple as that!

Barb Elgin
http://www.authenticloving.com
A blog for gays and lesbians who are creating deeply satisfying life partnerships!

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