Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Is the Redefining Game Over?

In a double kick in the butt for anti-gay types, today Maine's governor signed same-sex marriage into law and neighboring New Hampshire's lawmakers completed passing their version. Now it's on to their governor for action.

In this small flurry of equity and reason, we should wonder if this foretells the demise of some of the big lies we have heard in recent years. The worst among those is redefining marriage.

In the moving public testimony and legislative debates in both states, the anti-gay and anti-SSM side had little ammunition. On one hand, numerous lawmakers pointed out that they were talking about civil marriage, and the religious rituals were unchanged. Some noted that various religious groups and clerics disagreed about SSM in particular and homosexuality in general. Thus, there was no justification for legislating one religious view over another.

On the other hand, the increasingly desperate anti forces repeatedly fell back on claiming that expanding marriage to include homosexual couples would be redefining marriage. Some were melodramatic, adding that it would be redefining it out of existence.

Of course, on planet Earth, that is so much hooey. The concept of marriage between two adults of different genders existed before Goodridge here and after. Marriage was then open to more. There were more marriages. Kids in those homes were better off and safer for it. SSM in Massachusetts was about as pro-marriage as any change.

The underlying irony of the anti types' comment is how anti-marriage it is. They actually would redefine marriage away from its long-standing meaning as the civil licensing, marriage ceremony and recording process that lends stability and continuity to such unions. Trying to redefine it as a Catholic or Protestant ritual is a huge leap.

I was among the many who thought that the years would wear the edge off the screaming by the drama queens. Well, in places and ways it has. The phrase "the sky hasn't fallen" is common in the news as well as on the lips of comedians. The larger culture realizes, albeit slowly, that SSM doesn't cause problems, doesn't affect existing marriages in the slightest, and is only good for society. That may well be a huge factor in the steadily growing public support for SSM as reported in the polls.

Again, I am impatient. I shouldn't be. I was also pessimistic about the drive for 6 by 12, the New England states all with SSM by 2012. It looks almost certain now, even if there is backpedaling in Maine or New Hampshire and if we have to wait until Rhode Island's reactionary governor leaves office next year.

Meanwhile, nailing the redefining-marriage lie to the wall is long overdue. It was never accurate. In fact, it doesn't really make sense. Expanding something is just that and not a destructive act. This is one chant that we should call out as a lie whenever we hear it.

The morally and intellectually impoverished anti-SSM sorts have those 40 some states with various anti-SSM laws or amendments. They can cling to them, at least for the time being.

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1 comment:

John Hosty-Grinnell said...

Whoops, there goes another rubber tree plant!

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