Gay Marriage in America (The Gathering Storm)
Gay Marriage in America (The Gathering Storm)
On April 3, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision (Varnum v. Brien, 07-1499) holding that the prohibition of gay marriage violated the equal protection guarantees of the Iowa State Constitution. This decision has been hailed by legal scholars as a model of clarity; the fact that it was also unanimous has gone a long way towards discrediting the notion that an “activist” court “found” a right to gay marriage that did not exist in the state constitution. In addition, the court held that gay persons comprise a “quasi-suspect” class for the purpose of state equal protection analysis, and that any law discriminating against gay persons much be subjected to “quasi-strict” scrutiny (or intermediate-level review).
Quasi-strict scrutiny requires that any law impacting the group in question (in this case, gay persons) must be demonstrated, by the state, to be "substantially related" to an "important" government objective. This court followed the examples set by the state high courts of Massachusetts, California, and Connecticut in finding that the respective state constitutions prohibited the denial of marriage licenses to gay couples (sadly, the California decision was reversed in November 2008 by a state constitutional amendment).
Shortly after Varnum was handed down, Vermont became the first state in the nation to legalize gay marriage as a result of legislative action (as opposed to prompting by a state high court); the state legislature of Vermont voted, overwhelmingly, to legalize gay marriage, overriding the Republican governor’s veto in the process.
The states of Maine and New Hampshire are currently debating this issue, and it is clear to thinking persons that it is now only a matter of time before activists for marriage equality succeed in extending equal marriage rights to gay persons in other states. Other states where gay marriage is expected to be recognized in the near future include New York and New Mexico; New York governor David Patterson has just introduced a bill that would legalize gay marriage in that state. In addition, the District Council in Washington, DC voted to recognize the validity of gay marriages entered into in those jurisdictions where gay marriage is legal; this means that a gay couple who marry in Connecticut (or anywhere else where gay marriages have legal force) will be recognized as married should they move to Washington, DC.
In response to this movement in the direction of marriage equality, those men and women who continue to argue that gay persons should not be permitted to marry have formed an organization named the “National Organization for Marriage” (a truly bizarre misnomer, given the fact that this organization’s remit is to prevent gay persons from marrying in those states where gay marriage is not yet recognized). Maggie Gallagher – a right-wing shill who has attacked gay marriage for many years now – sits as the President of this organization, which recently produced an advertisement named “The Gathering Storm”. This advertisement has been screened throughout New England (where gay rights activists are expending considerable energy in their campaign to legalize gay marriage), in the hope of swaying members of the public to pressure their elected representatives to vote against gay marriage.
What is remarkable about this advertisement is its comical, over-the-top, desperate atmosphere. Instead of presenting the viewers with a sober assessment of the state of gay marriage in the US at the present time, this advertisement literally shows lightning strikes in the background and massive purple clouds brewing in the sky, as ham actors, pretending to be members of the public, talk about how “afraid” they are of gay marriage, and about how their personal and private lives have been ruined as a direct result of the legalization of gay marriage! This advertisement is actually very funny – which it most certainly was not intended to be by those who produced it!
Even more amusing is the fact that this advertisement cost about $1.5 million to produce! Those viewers who have seen this advertisement on YouTube (where it has been featured for several days now) overwhelmingly mock, belittle, and laugh at this production. A quick sampling of the comments posted on YouTube reveal that at least 80% of the comments ridicule and denigrate this advertisement – surely not something that Maggie Gallagher and her cohorts intended. As if this weren’t bad enough, numerous spoofs of this advertisement have been produced on YouTube – spoofs that have literally caused activists for marriage equality to roll around on the floor with laughter!
Frank Rich, writing in the New York Times, has pointed out that this advertisement represents the best and only effort of those who continue to oppose gay marriage; while Gallagher and her cronies try to attack gay couples with this inane joke, the mainstream media have pretty much ignored the developments in Iowa and Vermont, barely mentioning them in network newscasts. Those references to gay marriage that have been made by the mainstream media have largely been neutral, or even positive, in their description of these developments. A large number of actors have produced their own spoofs of “The Gathering Storm”, literally smothering this pathetic attempt at stoking the flames of bigotry and hatred with a blanket of cackling laughter.
What is truly amazing about this advertisement is the fact that the "National Organization for Marriage" paid such a massive sum of money to produce such a ludicrous and amusing spectacle.
Maggie, Maggie, what has become of you?
As Frank Rich pointed out, this is truly “The Bigots Last Hurrah”. Rich notes that support for gay marriage and opposition to gay marriage are both largely generational – and it is the older generation that opposes gay marriage. Population dynamics make it clear that the number of supporters of gay marriage will continue to rise, just as the number of opponents will continue to fall. Put bluntly, older people die, whereas younger people grow up and replace older people, carrying forward their more enlightened attitudes and convictions.
The movie “Searching for Bobby Fischer” contained a scene that is emblematic of the current state of gay marriage in the US. The protagonist, Joshua Waitzkin, plays chess at grandmaster level against another child prodigy towards the end of the movie. Several moves deep into the game, Joshua’s opponent makes a subtle but fatal mistake, which is obvious only to those grandmasters who possess sufficient knowledge and insight into the game to appreciate the nature of this player’s mistake. Joshua spots the mistake, and offers his opponent a draw, telling him “You’ve already lost. You just don’t know it yet.”
And so it is for the "National Organization for Marriage".
The game is over. All that remains to be seen is whether those who continue to oppose gay marriage will insist on dragging out their defeat and humiliation for as long as possible, or whether they will acknowledge that they have been beaten, and climb on board. All signs now are that the more intelligent and well-connected members of the right (including ex Presidential hopeful John McCain’s chief strategist) have already seen the end coming, and have decided to climb on board.
Let us behave with a degree of class that they have not shown, and sincerely welcome them.
Comments 11 comments
Listening to "King of Rome"...
Servilia Suicide (from HBO series "Rome"
Marcus Tullius Cicero ruins Mark Antony
WHY DO SO MANY STRAIGHT MEN HATE THIS?
Justice at Last -- Gay Equality in America
- Justice at Last -- Gay Equality in America
Gay Equality, the Right to Privacy, and Substantive Due Process: this essay discusses the US Supreme Court decisions that created and expanded the right to privacy, and discusses the cases of Bowers v. Hardwick (1986) and Lawrence v. Texas (2003)...
The Federal Courts, Gay Rights, and the People
- The Federal Courts, Gay Rights, and the People
This essay discusses the role of the federal judiciary in our system of government, and explains the concept of judicial review...
The Supreme Court, Gay Rights, and Lawrence v. Texas (2003)
- The Supreme Court, Gay Rights, and Lawrence v. Texas
This essay discusses the US Supreme Court and the damage it did to gay Americans in handing down Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), as well as the manner in which this Court overruled Bowers and apologized to gay Americans in Lawrence v. Texas (2003)...
Gay Americans and the Federal Hate Crimes Act
- Gay Americans and the Federal Hate Crimes Act
This essay discusses the truth behind the lies told about the proposed federal hate crimes act, and presents a truthful analysis of the real impact that this measure would have on religious bodies and individuals (it would have no impact)...
Gay Americans and the US Supreme Court
- Gay Americans and the US Supreme Court
This essay discusses the homophobia that informed the US Supreme Court decision Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), and how gay Americans turned to state supreme courts to strike down sodomy laws until the US Supreme Court handed down Lawrence v. Texas (2003)
Religion, Gay Americans, and the Law
- Religion, Gay Americans, and the Law
This essay discusses the impact of high court decisions upholding laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation on religious organizations that offer public services (and are thus bound by anti-discrimination statutes)...
Homophobia -- Fear and Loathing in Florida
- Homophobia -- Fear and Loathing in Florida
This essay discusses the behavior of school officials at Ponce de Leon High School, and the manner in which the school principal trampled the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of gay and gay-supportive students at this school...
Gay Equality, Homophobia, and Another Country
- Gay Equality, Homophobia, and Another Country
This essay discusses and compares social and legal attitudes towards homosexuality in the US and the UK, emphasizing the greater degree of acceptance of gay persons in the UK...
Gay Rights in America
- Gay Rights in America
This essay describes the manner in which gay sex between men is singled out for harsher treatment by many heterosexual men than is gay sex between women. This essay also discusses US Supreme Court decisions and the impact of gay marriage on religion
Mormons Meddle and Destroy Marriage
- Mormons Meddle and Destroy Marriage
This article discusses the manner in which members of the LDS participated in the campaign to pass Proposition 8 in California, thereby nullifying the effect of the California Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage in that state...
Loving the Sinner but Hating the Sin (But What is the Sin?)
- Loving the Sinner but Hating the Sin (But What is the Sin?)
This essay debunks the illusion that is is possible for a person to love gay people but not the actual expression of their sexual orientation; the one is inextricably intertwined with the other, just as a person's race is an indelible part of him...
I Feel, Therefore I Hate (Internalized Homophobia)
- I Feel Therefore I Hate
This essay discusses the evidence that homophobic men are often struggling with their own sexual orientation, and are often closeted homosexuals...
Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
- Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
This essay debunks the claims made by Paul Cameron and other right-wing commentators, who claim that gay men have shorter lifespans that straight men, that gay men suffer more diseases, etc.
Gay Marriage Gains Ground in America
- Gay Marriage Gains Ground in America
This essay discusses recent judicial and legislative victories in the fight for marriage equality, including recent developments that have changed the terms of the debate (including legislation in New England, passed without judicial prompting)...
More by this Author
Alina was tired, and cold, and sad. She had moved from her old apartment to the Orannyi Projects – a bleak pair of concrete and glass egg-crates on the other side of Moscow – four years ago, no longer able...
Recent Photo of the Author... THE IMPORTANCE OF WRITTEN CONSTITUTIONS TO GAY PEOPLE One of the greatest strengths of the American system of government lies in its reliance on a written Constitution, the...
Few people are aware of the existence of a massive, clandestine spy network (or signals intelligence collection system), shared by five western nations, that is capable of intercepting and inspecting the content of all...