Monday, January 05, 2009

In the Works for SSM

Even the huge marriage-equality fight in California is not over. In Massachusetts and elsewhere, we'll need lots of eyes in 2009 and 2010 to keep track of skirmishes and trends.

After taking a fair year-end break, I am looking for:
  • Resolution in California in the next couple of months
  • Likelihood of a couple of breakthroughs in Eastern states this year
  • Positive entrenchment in Massachusetts and Connecticut
  • New SSM champions emerging in Massachusetts
  • Slow, steady advances in the rest of New England

Golden State Warfare

Proposition 8, halting legalized SSM in California is far from settled. The good guys, including AG Jerry Brown want the state's high court to invalidate the vote. The other side wants to make sure it strips homosexual couples of existing rights by rescinding over 18,000 marriages there.

The request by Brown to the state Supreme Court, plus several other suits will keep this boiling and roiling for several months. Leaving no doubt that their aim was punitive against GLBT couples, Prop 8 supporters are demanding that those thousands of legal marriages be nullified. Brown and separately the legislature as a group want full equality. TBD

New Battlefronts

We could easily see legalized SSM in New Jersey, New York and maybe even conversion of civil unions to full marriage in New Hampshire and Vermont this year. Rhode Island could go at the end with a change in their statehouse.

A few other states scattered about might have high-court decisions mandating equality — sure to bring screaming, court fights and maybe rushed, revised legislation. Here, the fights were foreshadowed years ago, with the nation and individual states more firmly favoring equal rights, including for homosexuals, highlighting the conflict with anti-gay/anti-SSM legislation and amendments. These fights could go for decades.

Even very low-key Maine looks at a pro-equality legislature, gay-rights victories, and open organizing toward SSM. With safe SSM in Massachusetts and Connecticut, a solid marriage-quality New England, plus New York and New Jersey, is a very real possibility within a couple or three years.

Bay State Tumbling

A couple of Massachusetts lefty pols did manage to find disgrace last year. One's gone and the other is not long for any influence or position. Yet, the replacement for the pro-equality state senator looks at least as strong for GLBT and related rights. It may take her (Sonia Chang-Díaz) awhile to be as influential in the African-American community, but she is tenacious and a strong civil-rights advocate.

We can use more people to stand up and speak out. Despite the overworked cliché of an ultra-liberal Massachusetts, we saw the danger of that in similarly stereotyped California — laissez-faire and liberal, anyone? Both states have plenty of wingers and other conservative extremists of narrow aims.

Here in Massachusetts, the chief anti-equality and anti-gay groups lost considerable influence politically and financially. After a long series of defeats in the courts, legislature and ballot initiatives, they have a hard time getting crowds, volunteers or donors. Moreover, they smell of losing and are largely abandoned by national groups that see better pickings elsewhere.

They won't go away, even in their diminished forms. They'll continue to lie and try, but will be easier to defeat in any given effort. They are best at wasting everyone's time, money, intellect and emotion.

The Prop 8 vote was a bitter surprise. It illustrates all too clearly how even good struggles are not necessarily linear. Yet, the direction remains positive, nibbling away at the ambivalent states and even the DOMA ones.

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1 comment:

Pat Gozemba said...

I share your optimism about the Northeast states. We will see progress towards marriage equality.

My prediction: the California court will throw out Prop 8.

We're everywhere!