At least from Ronald Reagan, GOP administrations have enabled demons. After post-WWII through the civil-rights era, America had seemed determined to overcome its bigotry, foster egalitarianism, accommodate races, cultures and gender, and, well, be small d democratic.
Then the long tenures of Republican Presidents and Congresses lifted the lids on the secret doors. Aided by an overly pragmatic Bill Clinton, Congress instituted the blatantly theocratic Defense of Marriage Act. Muttering, fringe evangelicals and their ilk rushed to claim their share of policy. The Presidents Bush reinforced devils with honorifics of Reverend to attend public and private meetings. Hundreds of winger groups who had stifled their addled distrust and even hate of homosexuals, leftists of all sorts and those who would live Jesus' commandments to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and love all as we love ourselves were empowered.
It seems the most malicious of these groups were on both coasts. Befuddled Virginia doesn't seem to know whether it wants to be nice or nasty. More riven states are California and Massachusetts. Each has a large concentration of well-educated and open lefties, but each also harbors some of the strangest and most hostile demons of all.
From here, it seems like egalitarianism and democracy are just too much, too fast for some Americans. The resentment of such national reactionaries as Focus on the Family reminds me of my childhood that saw integration of schools and eventually most of the country. Then it was, "We let the Negroes vote. What else do they want?" Similarly today, even in states with gay-rights laws that forbid employment and housing discrimination, there's the same spite over same-sex marriage. Somehow, some Americans refuse to understand that equality is just that.
So here in New England, we have the tepidly hateful and unequal, like the Roman Catholic hierarchy. In fairness to our Cardinal and some bishops, they operate in a military-style structure. Their very old-school boss does not invite discussion.
We also have splinter and fringe cells and cliques who have been feeling very right and righteous, particularly for the past eight years. Here, we can look at:
- Massachusetts Family Institute
- Christian Civic League of Maine (just devolved into Maine Family Policy Council, part of Focus on the Family)
Only a few years ago, when these characters were trying in the courts and legislature and at the ballot to overturn the Goodridge decision, they were the winger touchstones. If the Globe or Herald did a piece on SSM or any GLBT issue, they'd visit the crypts, lift the lids and get a moan from one of these guys.
A funny thing happened on the way to marriage equality. The more evident it was that these extremists' predictions of doom and chaos was just that much crap, the fewer people called the crazies. The fewer dollars came in to support their raving. The fewer nodding seniors and loners protested or gathered signatures or even came to meetings.
If the intent of these groups was not so malicious and against American principles, they might deserve pity for how they have fallen — how far and how quickly. Unfortunately for them, far too many of us see them clearly now in their meanness and dishonesty.
Now November fourth is likely to be yet another milestone for these demons. We already look squarely into an army of troubles, particularly financial disaster and turmoil, largely the legacy of winger economic fantasies. It is relatively meaningless for people to distract themselves with thoughts of hampering and harming homosexuals when their livelihoods and futures are at risk.
Hate requires either a mob mentality or leisure. An isolated individual and fester on his own, but consolidated action is not for those busy with other pressing concerns. So we must wonder what an Obama victory, particularly one coupled with a Democratic Senate of 60 or more seats could mean.
Nationwide, several well-funded anti-gay, anti-democracy groups also flourished and have done their best to sweep back the tides of equality and fairness. There are the dreadful Liberty Counsel and Alliance Defense Fund. Their cudgel is the lawsuit and the ballot initiative. The very tools that they disdain pro-equality folk for using are how they attack the advances of us lefties.
They deplore court decisions that favor gay rights, same-sex marriage and separation of church and state. They slur the justices as activist judges and call legislating from the bench. Of course, for any decision that reinforces their positions, they point to the absolute proof of their righteousness.
The demons who would take rights from others are understandably in a panic this week. Their top candidate is likely to lose, and with him, the support they have seen for at least the last eight years for repression from the top. At the same several states (notably Arizona and Florida) want to add DOMA-style amendments or revisions to their constitutions.
Yet, the real battleground for pro- and anti-equality forces is California. Proposition 8 would stop the recently court-legalized same-sex marriage. The legislature had twice legalized SSM, only to have their law vetoed by the governor. However, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has repeatedly said he'd stand by the court's decision and has, although he has not campaigned against 8.
Tens of millions of dollars have fluttered into California for both sides to try to influence the vote outcome. It could go either way still. That speaks to the basic social conservatism and slowness to advance of most Americans. We get there, just after the rest of the industrialized and civilized world.
Prop. 8 is huge for both sides. The anti-equality forces decidedly don't want the largest state to have beaten back the final effort to forbid SSM. On the other side, while waiting for New York and New Jersey to get around to sealing the deal, the pro-equality side wants both coasts to have outposts of marriage sanity and fairness.
Some days, I allow myself to consider an Obama victory and on some of those some days, I go onto a solid Democratic Senate majority. Beyond trying to repair our bleeding economy after the Republican fantasies' failures, we have much to do and undo.
All Americans' civil rights have been breached and redefined by those Bush demons and their imps. The freedoms most of us grew up with and our soldiers fought and died for were shelved , particularly since 9/11/01. Of course, it is bitterly funny that a Republican party that claim to be so American and so freedom-oriented would do that unapologetically. It is what it is and that is what an Obama administration would inherit and have to fix.
That worked after Reagan and Bush the elder. Bill Clinton then had to and did reverse the disastrous failings of the unworkable trickle-down economics and related tripe. He had a so-so record on GLBT issues, but he was fabulous on economic issues and policies.
Again, after a prolonged period of incompetent fiscal policies, we all seem aware of the need for very new, very different and very clear-eyed leadership. We can be positive that an Obama administration would have to deal with these issues as high priorities even before officially taking office. Already, John McCain's campaign has derided Obama for speaking with potential cabinet-level candidates. I say that Obama would be a fool not to begin such planning in the anticipate of the terrible conditions he would inherit and be expected to fix.
Back to the demons, the dirty tricks and schadenfreude by those who want to punish homosexuals and prevent them from full equality seem relatively trivial to many now. Even though who only recently concerned themselves with the marital right or sexual activities of fellow Americans have important considerations now.
So, the Dark Side has DOMA laws, amendments or both in many states. There's Clinton's disgrace, DOMA, on the federal books. Also, only a small subset of states offer SSM, civil unions or domestic partnerships.
Somewhere someone was having fun and it had to stop.
While the trend continues slowly, embarrassingly slowly, toward marriage equality, that will take decades. Under our federalist government, marriage is and will surely remain under per-state regulation. The 40-plus states with firm DOMA-restrictions will dig in and change glacially. Perhaps 8 or 10 others will institute SSM before too long. In fact, I expect that we'll end up with a gay-friendly thumb in the eye of the country right here in New England. That's where our drive for freedom from colonialism began, after all (apologies to Patrick Henry).
So what will that mean to the anti-equality/anti-gay demons? We can immediately think of the joke about Puritanism meaning that they were afraid that somewhere someone was having fun and it had to stop. Likewise, those show despise homosexuality, those who want to impose their personal religious beliefs on all Americans, and those who want to narrow families and marriage as much as possible will still be unhappy. Somewhere out there in places like Boston and Sacramento, same-sex couples are marrying, having or adopting children, being protected by state and eventually federal laws, and yes, being happy and having fun.
As Massachusetts citizens and those in our neighboring states learned after Goodridge, nothing bad and much good happens with SSM. The more years pass after marriage equality, the more accepting the public is and stronger society becomes.
Meanwhile, the distraction of the worldwide economic disasters are crippling to the anti-equality groups. They had their time when we felt pretty secure and their supporters could spare time to harm, hamper and hinder strangers in groups. Now, they have real things to be concerned with and don't have the time and emotional energy for the pettiness.
I predict continued dwindling of those in the demon groups. I predict fewer donations of money and time. I predict that an Obama victory coupled with a real Democratic majority will restore some humanity and reason to federal policy.
That process will not flip the huge majority of states with one-man/one-woman marriage laws. Make no mistake by thinking Americans will suddenly become expansively free and open.
On the other hand, the anti-equality demons who would torture others for their own nefarious reasons can easily become too few and too weak to cause much if any damage. A big victory for the good guys next week can do a lot more than set the economic engine in the right direction.
Tags: massmarrier, Massachusetts, elections, California, same-sex marriage, DOMA, Obama