Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Pro-SSM Forces Wired for Action

You can pick your own pertinent cliché, like dance with the girl that brung ya or maybe if life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

The executive director of Freedom to Marry
seems, if anything, energized by last week's inane and cowardly decision by Washington State's high court on same-sex marriage. In a column in Seattle's The Stranger, Evan Wolfson wrote "...the classic American pattern of civil rights advance is patchwork, and social justice movements go through periods of creeping as well as leaping. When we look past the rocky patch to where we’ve come from, and look ahead to the advances still to come, there is ample reason for hope and equal reason for redoubled determination."

The Washington ruling has disturbing parallels to the recent New York State one. Four aspects of particular moment are:
  1. The majorities in both states narrowed the area of consideration to pretty much guarantee the right of the legislatures there to define marriage as they saw fit, regardless of civil-rights protections.
  2. They claimed a link between banning SSM and both promoting het marriage and encouraging procreation. Huh?
  3. Their opinions included statements of looking our for children, while ignoring both the preponderance of evidence that gay couples are as good parents as straight ones, and that forbidding SSM robbed the kids of all manner of benefits and protection.
  4. They turned to their legislature and said, "Fix it."
Wolfson is taking the courts at their word, that if they won't consider the real issues here, the legislatures have to do so. After all, in Washington, a majority of the judges urged Olympia lawmakers to get to work on this. Even the majority opinion rejecting a call to legalize SSM included the call, "We see no reason, however, why the legislature or the people acting through the initiative process would be foreclosed from extending the right to marry to gay and lesbian couples in Washington."

Perhaps Wolfson was intellectually and emotionally ready in case the vote went against SSM. For the immediate future, he state:
We cannot accept the right’s invitation (or that of some of our “friends”) to declare our fight over and slink away. And we should not let our politicians off the hook by saying it can’t happen here in Washington or that it will take forever; you don’t rally people to action or hold politicians accountable by declaring at the outset that your goal is beyond your reach. The work ahead will entail organization, outreach, lobbying, education, and supporting candidates who are for marriage (and replacing those who are not).

Judges and politicians who don’t do the right thing now will feel deep shame at their abdication in this moment of history. So will we—unless we move now to nudge past 5-4 to a full victory, ending the exclusion from marriage and creating a community of equality, liberty, and justice for all, just as Washington envisioned.

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