Home > Advocacy, Awareness, LGBT News > Equality Matters: Why Marriage Equality Matters

Equality Matters: Why Marriage Equality Matters

December 20, 2010

Richard Socarides

 

The key issue President Obama and other policymakers face now is gay marriage. In the civil rights community, it has become a litmus test of sorts on whether one supports full equality. As an Illinois state legislator, Mr. Obama favored marriage equality and a generally more expansive view of gay rights. But as he ran for higher office, his position became more cautious (he now favors civil unions), although he recently told blogger Joe Sudbay that “attitudes evolve, including mine.”

The key issue President Obama and other policymakers face now is gay marriage. In the civil rights community, it has become a litmus test of sorts on whether one supports full equality. As an Illinois state legislator, Mr. Obama favored marriage equality and a generally more expansive view of gay rights.  But as he ran for higher office, his position became more cautious (he now favors civil unions), although he recently told blogger Joe Sudbay that “attitudes evolve, including mine.”

While some policymakers still exist in both parties who think that support for marriage equality is too much to ask, positions on this issue are changing rapidly as the culture of the country progresses.  Former Vice President Dick Cheney, former first lady Laura Bush, former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olsen, former party chair Ken Mehlman, and Cindy and Meghan McCain all form the core of Republican supporters of marriage equality.

With New York Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo pushing for marriage equality legislation in the state early this spring and the federal court about to confer it (again) in California, it may not be long before it is the norm for many citizens across the country because of momentum created outside Washington, including in Iowa and the Northeastern states. In fact, in addition to New York, pro-marriage governors were also elected this year in California, Maryland, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.

Another important factor in the evolution of where we are today is the democratizing impact that “new media” and the Internet have had on the equality movement. Bloggers like John Aravosis, David Mixner, Pam Spaulding, Joe Sudbay and Andy Towle have been an invaluable resource, providing up-to-date, provocative information to the gay political community that it could not get elsewhere.

Partially as an outgrowth of all this information, new gay rights groups like Get Equal and Fight Back New York, formed just this year, were able to demonstrate that you could get results by being tough on friend and foe alike (a fact almost no one in Washington seems to get).

The struggle for marriage equality goes back to the late 1980s when groups like Lambda Legal and leaders like civil rights attorney Evan Wolfson (now head of the equality group Freedom to Marry), brought the original same-sex marriage case.  Many, even those who were gay rights supporters then, thought they were asking too much.  The truth is that they were visionaries.

Last year, following voter approval of the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 in California, another visionary, Chad Griffin, formed the American Foundation for Equal Rights.  He hired two of the best lawyers in America, one of them the most respected conservative legal figure in the country, former Republican Solicitor General Ted Olson and Democratic legal superstar David Boies.  Together, they have since won the most sweeping gay rights court ruling in history.

That ruling captured an historical imperative. Supporting full equal rights is no longer out of the political mainstream, nor should we let our elected officials fail to seize this moment in history to embrace the dignity of each and every human being. Anyone who misses the opportunity will undoubtedly find themselves on the wrong side of history.

And as the Democratic Party starts work on its new national party platform next year, it will have to face the issue head on, as will President Obama. 

via Equality Matters.

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  1. December 20, 2010 at 10:05 am

    I’d love to know what you’re smoking. American society supports equal rights for the LGBT community, but the republican dominated congress will absolutely never get rid of DOMA. Their conservative base – Palin and the Tea Partiers – won’t allow it. And Obama and the democrats would look foolish and weak if they tried and failed. I don’t like it, but those are the facts.

    • December 21, 2010 at 12:09 am

      Let the Courts do their job and the possibility is real… No different than the civil rights movement.

  1. January 6, 2011 at 2:01 pm
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