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.

PHILIP CHANDLER

Comments 11 comments

braudboy profile image

braudboy 7 years ago from Long Beach, MS

You may be right that eventually the U.S. goes down the wrong road of approving "gay marriage". However, dont hold your breath that a majority of Americans give their blessing to this madness. It has come up for vote in 11 states and all 11 states have rejected the idea. Even California, the most liberal state in the union, denied the new definition of marriage. Homosexuality is clearly a sin and clearly wrong, and most sane people realize this. It is not discrimination to give marriage a definition ( a definition it has had for thousands of years) that is a union of one man and one woman. Also, most sane people understand that homosexuality is a behavior, and you can reject the behavior as being unacceptable for society. Homosexuals keep trying to identify themselves by their behavior and it is a trick that does not work anymore than those who call themselves "smokers" or "vegetarians". These people need a wake up call that their behavior is shameful and embarrassing.


philipcfromnyc profile image

philipcfromnyc 6 years ago from Queens, NY Author

You may wish to pay special attention to the following quote, taken from a groundbreaking US Supreme Court decision handed down just six years ago (and the US Supreme Court is hardly a bastion of liberal thinking, given its current composition):

"Had those who drew and ratified the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth Amendment or the Fourteenth Amendment known the components of liberty in its manifold possibilities, they might have been more specific. They did not presume to have this insight. They knew times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom." (Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003))

This quote is taken from the US Supreme Court opinion striking down all state sodomy statutes that were used to punish gay people merely for having sex in the privacy of their own homes.

The right to marry has been defined by the US Supreme Court to be a fundamental right (Zablocki v. Redhail, 434 U.S. 374 (1978), Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967)). Furthermore, the US Supreme Court has recognized that anti-gay bigotry has no place in American society (Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996))...

As relates to gay marriage -- a total of five states now recognize gay marriage (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Vermont). Another five states grant to their gay couples all of the rights, privileges, and benefits of marriage, but without the name (California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and New Jersey). Another four states grant to their gay couples a limited subset of the rights of marriage (Hawaii, Colorado, Maryland, and Wisconsin). Furthermore, Governor Patterson of New York stated, about two weeks ago, that he now has sufficient support in the state Senate to advance a bill that will legalize gay marriage in the State of New York (the state Assembly has already passed a companion measure). The State of New York and the District of Columbia both recognize gay marriages entered into in jurisdictions where such marriages are legal (for example, a gay couple who marry in Canada will have their marriage recognized by the State of New York should they move to that state).

Internationally, gay marriage is now recognized in Canada, The Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Spain, Norway, and Sweden. Gay couples living in other nations (e.g., Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, and several South American jurisdictions) enjoy legal recognition of their relationships, without the name "marriage".

Despite the setback that occurred in Maine yesterday, it is clear that gay marriage is advancing, both in the USA and internationally. Ten years ago, not one state in the USA recognized gay relationships at any level -- today, a total of 14 states recognize gay relationships (either as marriages, domestic partnerships, civil unions, or reciprocal beneficiaries).

The US political system is premised on a core principle -- that principle being the separation of church and state. The church may not meddle in affairs of state, and the state may not meddle in ecclesiastical matters. This principle has been reaffirmed by the US Supreme Court time after time (Lemon v. Kurtzman, 411 U.S. 192 (1973), Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992), Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947)). This is a core principle in our system of constitutional government. This principle allows religion to flourish, and also permits those people whose religion differs from the mainstream, or who are not religious, to live their lives without fear of majoritarian abuses of power perpetrated against them in the name of religion. The Founding Fathers were wise enough to recognize that religion can give rise to outright tyranny, for which reason they crafted the First Amendment to the US Constitution (which is made binding on the states through incorporation by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment).

You have every right to your opinion, but you certainly do NOT have the right to use your religious beliefs as a mace with which to craft law and public policy, wielding that religion like a blunt instrument to coerce others into thinking as you think...

If you really don't like living in a country in which the rights of gay people are upheld from attack by people motivated by nothing less than naked cruelty and spite, then feel free to join the Taliban.

PHILIP CHANDLER


braudboy profile image

braudboy 6 years ago from Long Beach, MS

Gay marriage is ridiculous! Marriage has a definition and it is the union of one man and one woman. Words have meaning.


Philip Chandler 6 years ago

braudboy -- If you have something substantive to write about, then by all means go ahead and write about it. Simply asserting that gay marriage is "ridiculous" does not constitute reasoned debate or analysis; it is no different from a child stamping his foot on the floor and saying "It is so!”

Back before 1967, the "definition" of marriage in several states (including the Commonwealth of Virginia) was "a union of one man and one woman, both of the same race." The US Supreme Court overturned all such "miscegenation" statutes in Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), declaring that such statutes violated both the Equal Protection and the Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The meaning of marriage has changed, with changing times and changing norms. Other nations that recognize full gay marriage include Canada, Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, and Portugal. And a slew of other nations recognize gay relationships as marriages in all but name (e.g. the UK, France, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Germany).

It is only a matter of time before gay marriage becomes legal throughout the US…

PHILIP


braudboy profile image

braudboy 6 years ago from Long Beach, MS

The definition of marriage has always been man and woman. How is that for substance. It is the plain and simple truth. It is long standing and very important to a society's structure. It is the basis for family. Don't tell me about other nations. America has always been the leader and the example for the world. If you will pay attention to every vote of the people, you will notice that the people want and deserve the traditional marriage upheld as the standard. Gay activity is a behavior, and a bad behavior at that. SOciety will do well to reject this as an accepted model for family structure.


Philip Chandler 6 years ago

This is getting tiresome. Basically, your argument boils down to "marriage is between a man and a woman, which is why marriage is between a man and a woman."

This is not analysis -- it is a bumper sticker slogan characterized by circular reasoning.

You are converting the complaint into its own disposition -- something that the law does not permit. If you had any knowledge of equal protection theory, you would understand that a classification of persons cannot be undertaken for its own sake (which is what you are doing in asserting that marriage is only between a man and a woman because that is just the way things are). In Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996), the US Supreme Court struck down a Colorado state constitutional amendment which prohibited gay persons from seeking protection from discrimination, holding that "it is a classification of persons undertaken for its own sake, something the Equal Protection Clause does not permit."

The status of marriage in other nations is instructive, in that it demonstrates the trends that are forming in Western society. It is arrogant and presumptuous to insist that the status of marriage in other nations is irrelevant, on the grounds that "America has always been the leader and the example for the world."

America is not the only Western nation in the world.

You are absolutely entitled to your personal opinions and religious prejudices. However, you are not entitled to inscribe those prejudices into the civil laws under which all of us must live -- our Bill of Rights contains provisions which prevent overreaching by majorities at the expense of minorities. Our Constitution also contains guarantees of the equal protection of the law...

Please come up with an original complaint, instead of a tired talking point repeated ad nauseum.

PHILIP


braudboy profile image

braudboy 6 years ago from Long Beach, MS

You are ridiculous in saying that a definition does not have meaning and is not an argument for a stance on this debate. It goes to the core of the argument. Marriage is between a man and a woman. By your absurd reasoning, we could not enforce separate bathrooms, because a man and a woman have equal rights. Why not men using the womens room whenever he feels the urge. Why even have separate bathrooms?? THis probably wont happen either. THe plain and simple truth is that a man's anatomy and a woman's anatomy are designed to be compatible. It is insanity to think otherwise. Society recognized the importance of the man-woman relationship and has promoted this as the norm for obvious reasons. If you have no definition of marriage, then you only encourage a total lack of respect for what is right and wrong. Like it or not, there is right and wrong in our society, and we must have laws and morals in place to keep order. Decent people recognize gay behavior for what it is....a deplorable act that deserves no special place in the public square.


Philip Chandler 6 years ago

braudboy writes: "Marriage is between a man and a woman."

*********

Response:

*********

There you go again!

Your argument boils down to "Marriage is between a man and a woman, because marriage is between a man and a woman."

This is known as tautological (or circular) reasoning.

I have already pointed out that, before 1967, marriage was defined in some states as being a union of one man and one woman, both of the same race. The US Supreme Court struck down the prohibition of interracial marriages in Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967).

What your rant fails to take into consideration is that, while the law may certainly draw classifications if it is to function at all, a classification must promote a legitimate state interest (at minimum) and must be rationally related to the promotion of such interest (at minimum). In some cases (cases involving infringement of “fundamental” rights, or cases involving infringement of the rights of a “suspect class”), the state must demonstrate that the classification in question promotes a “compelling” state interest, and is “narrowly tailored” so as to promote that interest in the “least restrictive” means possible; it must sweep no more broadly than is absolutely necessary to promote that interest and must be necessary for the promotion of that interest.

You can rant until you turn purple, but the fact remains that five states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire) now permit gay persons to marry, in both name and substance. Another five states (California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and New Jersey) now permit gay persons to marry in all but name (calling these relationships “domestic partnerships” or “civil unions”). And another five states (Maryland, Colorado, Maine, Wisconsin, and Hawaii) grant to gay couples a limited subset of the right of marriage. In the space of less than a decade, the number of states recognizing gay relationships to some degree (up to and including marriage) has gone from zero to 15.

The trend is clear.

As Associate Justice Anthony wrote in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), “Had those who drew and ratified the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth Amendment or the Fourteenth Amendment known the components of liberty in its manifold possibilities, they might have been more specific. They did not presume to have this insight. They knew times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.”

You may wish to reflect on those words before spattering this thread with more of your circular statements…

PHILIP CHANDLER


philipcfromnyc profile image

philipcfromnyc 6 years ago from Queens, NY Author

braudboy writes: "Decent people recognize gay behavior for what it is....a deplorable act that deserves no special place in the public square."

*********

Response:

*********

Actually, decent people now believe that discrimination against gay persons is wrong and immoral. To give you a few examples of what "decent people" think about gay persons, consider the following:

Whereas 63% of Americans opposed gay marriage in February 2004, only 51% of Americans opposed gay marriage in March 2006.

Whereas 52% of Americans were in favour of permitting gay persons to serve in the armed forces in February 2004, more than 60% of Americans were in favour of permitting gay persons to serve in the armed forces in March 2006. Today, that number approaches 80%.

In 1980, only one state (Wisconsin) had on its books a state statute which prohibited sexual orientation discrimination in employment, housing, and access to places of public accommodation (hotels, restaurants, etc.). Today, at least 23 states have such state statutes on their books.

Conservatives are now offering ME civil unions as a compromise to marriage!

Get the picture?

You remind me of a scene from the movie “Searching for Bobby Fischer”, in which the protagonist (a child prodigy named Joshua Waitzkin) was playing against another child prodigy. Deep into the game, the other child made a blunder that only a grandmaster could see would end the game many moves ahead. Waitzkin graciously offered his opponent a draw, stating “You’ve lost. You just don’t know it yet.”

The other child refused the draw – and was defeated, many moves ahead.

Look around you. Look at the manner in which American society has changed, to permit gay marriage in five states, to permit civil unions in another five states, and to permit more limited recognition of gay relationships in yet another five states. Look at the growing acceptance of gay persons and gay issues – at the changes in attitudes since the 1980s, when I first entered this debate and became aware of these issues.

It is over. You just don’t know it yet.

PHILIP CHANDLER


braudboy profile image

braudboy 6 years ago from Long Beach, MS

I dont doubt that gays will gain ground in our society. It is inevitable that society slowly decays and slowly gets eaten away by the poor actions of man. HOwever, when it comes to the definition of marriage, It will always remain the union of a man and woman. Liberals would like to re-write definitions and, for that matter, history, but it is not possible. The bottom line is this. It is not discrimination to call out one's bad behavior. Gays are trying to claim some 3rd gender and cry foul for discrimination. It is merely a man or a woman engaging in poor behavior and most decent people understand this depravity and reject it.


philipcfromnyc profile image

philipcfromnyc 5 years ago from Queens, NY Author

braudboy -- As I have pointed out repeatedly, you are welcome to your opinion, and it is clear that I will never be able to sway you. However, that is all it is -- your opinion, not fact, and most certainly not the basis for the crafting of law and public policy.

Stop repeating yourself. It is getting most tiresome.....

PHILIP CHANDLER

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