That is, the first decade of the 21st century, not the last of the 19th.
In 2004, Ohio and 10 other states declared a legal marriage as existing only between a man and a woman. By 2008, 30 states had passed laws banning gay marriage, including – and perhaps most notoriously – California.
Today, April 19,2009, those of us who attended the North Central Chapter of the ACLU of Ohio’s 2009 annual meeting featuring Harry Hirsch, professor, Oberlin College, had a wonderful experience. He described the roller coaster ride that has been the fight for gay marriage in California and how the events in this state have influenced the movement towards equality across the country – most recently in Iowa and Vermont. He discussed the Iowa decision, in which a unanimous result was reached by a Republican court, due primarily to how it was argued, by the strength of their state Constitution, and by the long history of civil liberties in the state – which has been 50 to 150 years ahead of the nation on many issues.
Professor Hirsh covered in detail some of the results of the Prop. 8 vote, and said the two major factors were a poor campaign run by the cons, and a strong one by the pros. (N.B.: pro/con meaning for/against, not professionals or prisioners. ) He feels that in time gay marriage will arrive, because the younger generations have little issue with it, and that it will have an impact on the institution of marriage. He does not see civil unions as an equal alternative to marriage.
Dr. Hirsh observed that in 2008/10, Republicans who take moderate positions will face primary challenges from conservatives.
The questions were good, the answers were even better, and all who attended should have left more enlightened than when they arrived. N.B.: The issue came up on the Governor of New York submitting a bill to the legislature: my intrepretation is that New Yorkers were no happier in being upstaged on this issue by Iowa than they were in having the Cleveland Indians spoil the debut of their new stadium…
An ACLU activist and professor of politics at Oberlin College, Harry Hirsch specializes in constitutional law, gender and sexuality, and modern political theory. He has published several books and numerous articles on constitutional theory and practice, gay rights and politics, and the First Amendment, and his academic credentials include a PhD from Princeton and a faculty position at Harvard.
N.B.: Some of the material above was from the ACLU of Ohio Web Site
In attempting to keep up with those of us in Ohio, Frank Rich, in the 19 April NY Times, wrote in his op-ed column today: ““Gathering Storm”: a 60-second ad presenting homosexuality as a national THREAT second only to terrorism…easy to mock as “Gathering Storm” may be, it nonetheless bookmarks a HISTORIC turning point in the DEMISE of America’s anti-gay movement.
What gives the ad its symbolic significance is not just that it’s idiotic but that its release was the ONLY LOUD protest anywhere in America to the news that same-sex marriage had been legalized in Iowa and Vermont. If it advances any message, it’s mainly that homophobic activism is EVER MORE depopulated and ISOLATED as well as BRAIN-DEAD…On the right, the restrained response was striking. Fox barely mentioned the subject…More startling still was the abrupt about-face of the Rev. Rick Warren…As the polls attest, the majority of Americans who support civil unions for gay couples has been steadily growing. YOUNGER voters are fine with marriage. Generational changeover will seal the deal. Crunching all the numbers, the poll maven Nate Silver sees same-sex marriage achieving majority support “at some point in the 2010s.”
Iowa and Vermont were the tipping point because they STRUCT DOWN the right’s two major arguments against marriage equality. The unanimous ruling of the seven-member Iowa Supreme Court proved that the issue is not merely a bicoastal fad. The decision, written by Mark Cady, a Republican appointee, was particularly articulate in explaining that a state’s legalization of same-sex marriage has no effect on marriage as practiced by religions. “The only difference,” the judge wrote, is that “CIVIL marriage will now take on a new meaning that reflects a more COMPLETE understanding of EQUAL protection of the law…. Some opponents grumbled anyway, reviving their perennial complaint, dating back to Brown v. Board of Education, about ACTIVIST judges. But the judiciary has long played a leading role in sticking up for the civil rights of minorities so they’re NOT held hostage to a MAJORITY vote. Even if the judiciary-overreach argument had merit, it was still MOOT in Vermont, where the State Legislature, not a court, voted to make same-sex marriage legal and then voted to override the Republican governor’s veto…As the CASE against equal rights for gay families gets harder and harder to argue on any nonreligious or legal grounds, no wonder so many conservatives are DROPPING the cause. And if Fox News and Rick Warren won’t lead the charge on same-sex marriage, WHO on the national stage will take their place? The only enthusiastic contenders seem to be Republicans contemplating presidential runs in 2012. As Rich Tafel, the former president of the gay Log Cabin Republicans, pointed out to me last week, what Iowa giveth to the Democrats, Iowa taketh away from his own party. As the first stop in the primary process, the Iowa caucuses provided a crucial boost to Barack Obama’s victorious and inclusive Democratic campaign in 2008. But on the G.O.P. side, the caucuses tilt toward the exclusionary hard right…One G.O.P. politician who understands this is the McCain-Palin 2008 campaign strategist, Steve Schmidt, who on Friday urged his party to join him in endorsing same-sex marriage. Another is Jon Huntsman Jr., the governor of Utah…He believes that social issues should not be a priority for Republicans in any case during an economic crisis. He also is an outspoken foe of the “nativist language” that has marked the G.O.P. of late. Huntsman doesn’t SHARE “the view of some” that “the party was created in 1980.” He yearns for it to reclaim Lincoln’s faith in “individual dignity.”
As marital equality haltingly but inexorably SPREADSstate by state for gay Americans in the years to come, Utah will hardly be in the lead to follow Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont. But the fact that it too is taking its first steps down that road is extraordinary. It is justice, not a storm, that is gathering. Only those who have SPREAD the poisons of bigotry and fear have any reason to be AFRAID. “