Saturday, January 27, 2007

Gay Marriage: One baby step at a time

Rell Would Veto Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Wow, I thought my beautiful Saturday morning was going to be ruined when I saw that headline above. I even debated whether I wanted to read the article or not. But glutton for punishment that I am, I took the plunge:

With advocates and opponents of same-sex marriage gearing up for another battle at the state Capitol, Gov. M. Jodi Rell on Friday said that she would veto any legislation that allows gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Okay, at this point I’m working myself into a huff. My heart is starting to beat faster. My adrenalin is beginning to flow. My face is starting to feel a bit hot. And my fingers are starting to twitch in anticipation of the digital tirade I know I’ll be going on in just a matter of minutes -- when lo and behold -- the second and third paragraphs give me a chance to take a deep relaxing breath:

The Republican governor signed the bill in 2005 that allowed same-sex couples to enter into legal civil unions. Connecticut was the first state to voluntarily pass such legislation without court pressure.

"I said ... when I signed the civil union bill that I believed it covered the concerns that had been raised. And I believe that that bill was the appropriate way to go and I still do," Rell told reporters at a state Capitol news conference. "And the answer is `yes,' I would veto a bill that provides for same-sex marriage."

Now I may disappoint some with what I’m about to say next, but I have to say it anyway. Governor Rell is a Republican governor. That’s huge people. When it comes to doing anything positive for gays and lesbians, a Republican politician definitely puts their political career at risk by being a trailblazer in this area. And let’s face it, on this she is a lone voice of reason in the enemy camp. The fact that she signed a civil union bill in spite of the intense anti-gay climate that her fellow Republicans have created and successfully used for political gain should not be minimized. She signed a civil union bill in spite of the risk to her political career, and you and I both know plenty of Democratic politicians who wouldn’t touch this issue with a ten-foot pole. And don’t kid yourselves, you know Governor Rell signed this bill under the immense pressure of opposition from the faux “Family Advocacy” groups, which could not have been easy. And lest you forget, these nutcases are her base.

Yes, of course I would like to see same-sex marriage legally recognized in every state (tomorrow), but I strongly believe this fight is only going to be won in baby steps and with patience. Getting impatient and pushing for gay marriage so soon after this huge victory with civil unions in Connecticut is, in my opinion, counterproductive and could be detrimental to achieving the ultimate goal of marriage equality. Many people will perceive this as shoving same-sex marriage down their throats, which isn’t what anyone should want. The push-back from foes will be fierce. And the last thing we need is to have this nasty divisive issue on our plates any longer than we have to. It’s certainly the gift that keeps on giving for the James Dobson crowd. And lord knows it has been the lifeblood that sustains them since doing the work of Christ isn’t as financially lucrative as the hate-monger business.

I believe we need to give the good people of Connecticut time to see that their lives will not fall apart when two people of the same sex are allowed to enter into legally sanctioned civil unions. Give them time to see that allowing more people access to legal unions helps contribute to a healthy, stable, and more responsible society, and not the other way around as James Dobson would have them believe. Give them time to see that all the doom and gloom predictions were just homophobic fear-mongering from people who have so much to gain by keeping a whole class of people oppressed simply because of who they love. Give them time to see that gay unions will actually encourage sexual responsibility and less promiscuity, which in turn will lead to less HIV, hepatitis, and other STDs. Give them time to see that protecting the children and spouses of all families is the ultimate family value and one that every family should be entitled to. And give them time to realize that gay people are really no different than themselves, that wanting what’s best for one’s family is a universal desire, not one contingent on sexual orientation. And once people start realizing that we humans are more alike than different, it becomes more difficult to deny basic rights to people based solely on who they love.

Please don’t get me wrong on this. I dream of a world in which my gay son can some day marry the man he loves if he so chooses. I long for the day when he can have a family if he so chooses. I hope that one day I can be a mother-in-law to his spouse and a grandmother to his children. And I pray that one day his biggest worries won’t be how he will provide his children and his spouse with the same protections we take for granted, but rather how he can be the best spouse, father, and member of society that he can be. And I pray that society will soon realize that when it treats him like an equal, it will get paid back in dividends.

I hope I have not offended those who have thanklessly and tirelessly fought for equality for so much longer than I ever will. It is not lost on me that I am relatively new to this fight or that I have never been denied any of these rights they are fighting for, but that does not make me any less passionate about the cause. And until my gay son has the same rights my straight son has, I shall never rest. Share


Jarred said...

I see your point, and to a degree, I'm inclined to agree with you.

However, I'm concerned about one statement that Rell made:

"I said ... when I signed the civil union bill that I believed it covered the concerns that had been raised."

Rell's statement is actually representative of many people in this country: Civil unions are enough. The problem with this is that this sentiment couldn't be further from the truth.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that too often mistakes stopgap measures (such as civil unions for same sex couples, though the principle applies to other political issues) for permanent solutions. Because of this, there's a strong tendency to become too comfortable with such a stopgap measure and never push on for a more comprehensive, permanent solution.

I believe we have a duty to fight against that tendency. We need to continue to point out that civil unions are a stopgap measure and that we need to push on to the permanent solution, so that society doesn't get a chance to settle so deeply into its comfort that it becomes that much harder to move in the proper direction.

I suspect this is the reason that legislators in Connecticut are pushing this issue again, to help keep the momentum going. Even if the effort fails this time around, it will keep the fact that we're not there yet in mind.

Along those lines, while I think you may be on to something in letting the public see that gay civil unions has proven to be a positive step for society, I think we also need to keep educating society on why same-sex marriage is so important, and exactly wherre civil unions fall short of the ideal.

Truth be told, I've found in discussing the issue of same-sex marriage over the past few years that a great deal many people don't have a grasp of just how many protections civil marriage offers a couple. In reality, I think that lack of understanding is our biggest obstacle in achieving our goals.

aaronjasonsilver said...

I feel that I must commend and congratulate the mother that has such conviction on the issue of marriage for gay people. The word marriage is such a silly semantical issue. It's such thinly veiled attemnpt to appease many gays if they toss us a few crumbs and at the same time patting themselves in the back. "See how liberal I am" At the same time they are very uncomfortable with the "M" word. Is it because they see marriage as a religious instution?

Somebody then please help me understand why marriage by many is considered a religious institution. For the sake of discussion I would like someone to tell me why atheists are then eligible for marriage? It seems to me that heterosexual marriages are afforded just about any opportunity and environment they choose to take their vows. They can choose a church marriage, they can get married underwater, on a mountaintop, by a justice of the peace, by a ship captain and the most beautiful and holy place I can imagine to pledge their vows of love and fidelity and the promise to be there through thick and thin, is driving through a drive-in chapel in Las Vegas, as one would order a family meal. The best part, no one has to even get out of the car and the best man and woman are readily available for one of the most holy of events in ones life; holy matrimony. Has it dawned on anyone that the constitution of the United States says very clearly that all people shall be treated as equal? There are no clauses added to that, such as, except gays and African Americans. What was stated in that document then still rings very clear yet today and likely for many years to come. We don’t have to look to awfully far back into our history to find examples of how we ignored the constitution for selfish heterosexual white Anglo-Saxon citizens. It wasn’t until the early part of the nineteenth century before woman were allowed to vote. Not so long before that it slavery was legal. It wasn’t until nearly fifty years ago that African Americans weren’t allowed to marry whites. If we are to learn anything from our countries history we should then know that whenever we veer off from what the beautifully crafted document we call our nations Constitution says, it is eventually changed for reasons of being unfair. Back to my original question, I am hoping someone can give me a valid reason to prevent any two people that love each other from having the right to marry. I have heard some reasons that make no sense to me. One being that if gays were allowed to marry it would have the impact of destroying traditional marriage. We only have to look at the statistics of the success of heterosexual marriages to discover that more than half end up in divorce. Gays did not cause that. Fidelity within marriage has a terrible track record as well. Therefore I would truly like to hear some reasonable argument posed that would make sense why gay marriage ought not to be allowed. Thank you, Aaron Jason Silver; Fennville, Mi 49408

Mike said...

Gov. Rell is facing veto-proof majorities of Democrats in both houses of the Connecticut General Assembly. So announcing her intent to veto this measure is a political win-win for her.

She can veto the measure, which will appease social conservatives. Ultimately, however, she can then say that, if the Democrats couldn't pass it over her head, that it was the right thing to do for Connecticut.

What we all need to remember is that this is happening in Connecticut with no court intervention whatsoever. Connecticut is the only state in the union where civil unions were legalized by the legislature without prior court action.

Besides, until there is some sort of federal recognition of gay marriage, the distinction between civil union and marriage at the state level is close to nil.

Anonymous said...

I just can't reconcile that we don't want "activist judges" giving people their rights (which, when it's a question of minority rights, is sort of their JOB), but one man is going to veto when the legislature does it? Let's admit it that they don't want ANYONE giving people equal rights, instead of all this activist judges crap. ::still angry::

Anonymous said...

sorry to double here, but I also find it problematic (not that I'm blaming you, or angry or anything but) you're essentially espousing a view of "don't rock the boat". There've been queer people who've been saying the same thing ALL along. Bringing attention to gay people will only bring more violence, will only bring more hate. "You'll only make things worse". And, contrary to that, things have only gotten better. I refuse to believe that actively working to change minds and hearts will ultimately have a negative effect.

Jarred said...

I don't know, second anon. I think interpreting SeethingMom's words as a blanket statement against "rocking the boat" is taking things a bit far.

Mark said...

You believe that homosexuals should be allowed to express their sexuality within marriage, right?

Do you claim to support full equality for bisexuals? and will you support bisexuals' right to express their sexuality within a polygamous marriage?

Jarred said...

"Bisexual" and "polygamous" are not synonymous, Mark. You are constructing a straw man argument.

Not that this is surprising, mind you. From what little I've seen of your comments here, it's a practice you appear to favor.

Mark said...


Thanks for the non answer.

Jarred said...

The fact that you don't like my answer doesn't make it any less an answer. The question itself is poorly conceived.

Mark said...

"Bisexual" and "polygamous" are not synonymous,

Thanks, I realize that.

Will you support bisexuals' right to express their sexuality within a polygamous marriage?

Will you support any polygamous marriage?

Mark said...

Marriage is love right?

Jarred said...

To be honest, I'm inclined to neither actively support polygamous marriages nor oppose them.

Truth be told, the entire legal system surrounding marriages would have to be massively changed in order to support polygamous relationships. This is because it's currently designed to be a two-party contract. A polygamous marriage would be a multi-party contract, which would have its own challenges and concerns that would have to be addressed. Should we as a country go ahead and go through all the effort it would take to address those challenges and concerns? I honestly don't know.

Jarred said...

And no, marriage and love are not synonymous. The former is greatly improved when the latter is present (and I can't imagine entering into a marriage where there is no love), but they're two different words for a reason.

Mark said...

but they're two different words for a reason.

I am glad to hear you say that jarred. Then you agree, the rainbow banner with Marriage is Love is deception for all concerned!

Jarred said...

In the sense that the vast majority of slogans everywhere oversimplify the greater matter being represented, yes.

But then, that's the nature of slogans. It's why discussions about such topics should extend beyond repeating slogans.