Gay Marriage has come a long way over the past years. It seemed the 2012 election especially spelled the turning of the tide toward equality for same-sex couples. The past had been shaky for voting in gay marriage, but finally it won in 3 states, Maine, Maryland and Washington state. Minnesota voters also weighed in by defeating a possible “traditional” marriage amendment. In addition to all that, we elected our first openly gay U.S. senator, Tammy Baldwin.
Factually, the best is yet to come. History seems to be on the side of same-sex marriage. It’s just a matter of time. Advocates have been wondering, though, whether that time would come much sooner than anyone had predicted. Back in December the Supreme Court decided it would take up two separate cases on the matter. One is on California’s Prop 8, which could either accept or reject a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. The other is on the Defense of Marriage Act, the law signed by Bill Clinton that says no state is required to recognize a same-sex marriage from another state, and for federal benefit purposes same-sex marriage is not recognized.
People are wondering whether Chief Justice Roberts will be primarily concerned with his legacy or what one normally thinks of as conservative principles. What makes speculation on this so interesting is that he actually did pro bono work on a landmark gay rights case. That might not mean anything, though. He could have just been representing his clients to the best of his ability. We don’t really know. There’s also a lot of wiggle room to decide. It could push same-sex marriage as a right throughout the country, or rule much more narrowly for California.
The arguments the lawyers defending DOMA and Prop 8 came out last week, and the justification feels especially bizarre. Here’s what Paul D. Clement, lawyer for the House Republicans wrote:
“[Traditional Marriage Laws] reflect a unique social difficulty with opposite-sex couples that is not present with same-sex couples — namely, the undeniable and distinct tendency of opposite-sex relationships to produce unplanned and unintended pregnancies. Unintended children produced by opposite-sex relationships and raised out-of-wedlock would pose a burden on society.”
That’s right, the argument is no longer that same-sex marriage is immoral. It’s not that same-sex marriage would be a menace on our society or a slippery slope to “man on dog,” or marrying a table or a clock. No, now it has nothing to do with the apparent ridiculousness to conservatives of same-sex people being able to fall in love. It doesn’t even have anything to do with the myth that children are better with opposite-sex couples than same-sex ones, something which has been disproven. Now the argument is that opposite-sex coupling is actually inherently so dangerous to society as a whole that we need to incentivize them to bond more permanently. We can’t trust them to figure things out themselves. The idea is, apparently, that same-sex couples have to plan to have a child, and thus they don’t need marriage. Shall we call this the shotgun traditional marriage defense?
This week, Mitch McConnell declared the “era of liberalism is back” in response to President Obama’s Inaugural Speech on Monday. Conservatives in the media and online have gone ballistic over the speech; one that they claim is overly partisan and mixed with a highly liberal agenda. But is this actually true?
Well, Obama’s speech didn’t talk much about the fiscal issues of the day and really seemed to focus on a much more social agenda. These issues seemed to be focused on the rights of gays, climate change, immigration, and even a small nod to guns control. And you know what? Mitch McConnell and the Republicans are right to say that this was a very liberal speech.