In our eyes, and in the view of many others, including Democratic senator Edward Kennedy, outlawing same-sex marriage would be only a half step away in spirit from reinstating slavery. The American ideal of progress — indeed, the international modern concept of progress — seeks to extend rights, not to restict them. It took the modern civil-rights and women’s movements to ensure a fuller measure of equal rights for African-Americans and women. The fruits of the gay-liberation movement are now coming to fruition. But great difficulty lies ahead before its goals can be realized.
Optimists who thought the Massachusetts decision embracing same-sex marriage would usher in a new and more-humane national order have had a very rude awakening. In the Goodridge decision’s wake, 17 states have barred same-sex marriage and eight of those have closed the door on even the possibility of civil unions. And while the national move to make same-sex marriage unconstitutional appears — for the time being at least — to be stalled, its very existence should haunt people of good will. (For ideas on how the gay-liberation movement can regain its momentum, see the article “Libbing It Up” by long-time activist, scholar, and Phoenix contributor Michael Bronski.)
While the prospects for progress at this moment appear bleak, there are grounds for hope in the long run. Public opinion, even among those who personally oppose equal marriage rights, is against a constitutional ban. But more important, opinion among those 30-years-old and younger runs in favor of same-sex-marriage rights by a margin of more than three to two. The fact that more than 60 percent of voters under the age of 30 support equal marriage rights means that the George Bushes and Mitt Romneys of this world are backward looking reactionaries bent on preserving an old order that is in the slow and painful process of dissolving.
That makes calls to roll back the clock and deny progress by Bush and Romney — who clearly should know better — all the more cynical, self-serving, and reprehensible.
Senator Ted Kennedy is sponsoring a petition opposing the Federal Marriage Amdendment. Click here to sign the petition.
: The Editorial Page
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