A very gay dream
I had a dream, while I was staying in Beijing, that I was married to another man. But the passion was gone and I was cheating on him. By sleeping with Sushu. I felt all guilty and conflicted but being with Sushu felt too good to stop.
I think maybe this dream was my subconscious feeling guilty for the unfairness of the fact that me and Sushu get to enjoy our Opposite Marriage while gay people still can't get married in most states.
2010 or 2012?
At some point we're going to have another proposition on the California ballot to overturn Prop 8. and make same-sex marriage legal again.
(I mean seriously, people, we're California. We're not going to let Iowa get away with being more gay-friendly than California, are we?)
The question, for marriage equality supporters, is: do we do it in 2010 or wait for 2012? Are the chances better when there is a presidential election going on at the same time, or when there isn't? Should we keep trying every two years until we get it, or do failed attempts hurt our overall chances for later, in which case we should put everything into one attempt when it's most likely to work?
A few weeks ago I found an interesting, if depressing, article advocating 2012 over 2010. It predicts that we would lose in 2010 by a greater margin than the margin that passed Prop 8. last year. One reason is that in presidential election years "...turnout is higher and when more mainstream, less ideologically committed, voters dominate". It also makes the argument that failed attempts burn donor money and that the longer we wait the more likely we are to win.
Today I got an email from Equality California (EQCA), an organization whose mailing list I seem to have gotten onto after donating money to "No on 8" last year. The email, contents duplicated in this blog post, described how they've been listening to the community make its arguments for and against 2010 or 2012, and has finally made the decision to throw its weight into 2012, for basically the same reasons as the first article. (The blog post attracted comments illustrating the whole range of positions and arguments. Some of them are pretty nasty.)
However, another organization, the Courage Campaign, has decided to go with 2010. So most likely there will be something happening in 2010, and then if that fails, again in 2012. (That would be the Harvey Milk method: keep running over and over again until you finally win.)
I want to do something to help, but with limited time to volunteer for causes, I want to do something when it's most likely to make a difference. What should I do?
I guess the answer is "work to change people's minds", since that will have an affect no matter what year the vote is in. The facts are that same-sex marriage is no threat to my marriage; it has zero effect on any straight person's marriage. It costs nothing. Given that, there's no logical or ethical reason to deny people the right to marry who they want. Live and let live: seems like a common-sense principle to me. But how do we get people in Orange County and the Central Valley to see it that way?
Separation of Church and State
In talking to people about marriage equality, it's helpful to refer to the facts about Catholicism and divorce. Specifically, Catholicism holds that marriage is forever and cannot be dissolved in any way (except by annulment, which requires proving that the marriage was invalid in the first place).
But American Catholics live in a legal system that recognizes and grants divorce. They are able to hold their own religious views even in a wider society that is more permissive. Just because divorce is against the beliefs of one particular religion doesn't mean it needs to be illegal for everyone; just because divorce is legal doesn't mean that Catholics are forced to do it.
Catholics are free to not get divorced, to not recognize divorce, and to believe that marriages are forever. Meanwhile the rest of us are free to get legally divorced. That's how we all manage to live together in a pluralistic society. This is instructive as a model for how same-sex marriage ought to work: the law of the land should make the legal benefits of marriage open to everyone, without discriminating based on sexual orientation; meanwhile religious groups can choose to follow their own moral standard for defining marriage, which may be more restrictive than what the law allows.
This is why, when it comes time to draft the California constitutional amendment to overturn prop. 8, I think that we ought to include language in it that says something like...
"No religious organization shall be required to perform or recognize same-sex marriages if doing so would go against their beliefs."
It's good politics, and it's the right thing to do. (A rare combination.) It's good politics because, by reassuring people that the government is not about to start forcing their church to marry same-sex couples, we may get a couple more percentage points of "yes" votes from people who were on the fence about it. It's the right thing to do because we really don't want the government to force anybody's church to do anything against their beliefs! Not that I think that would happen in any case, but it can't hurt to be explicit about it.
Separation of church and state is a wall that protects both sides. It protects civil society from being legally controlled by the beliefs of a particular religious group, and it also protects particular religious groups from having the beliefs of civil society forced upon them.
They're voting on gay marriage in Maine right now
...And I'm super nervous about it. I didn't expect it to have this effect on me, since it's a vote that doesn't affect my life in any way. I only care about it as a matter of principle. Nevertheless, I've got a serious case of the jitters as I wait to hear how it turns out.
Maine currently allows same-sex marriage. It was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, like in Vermont; it was not "imposed" by "activist judges" like in Iowa. Question 1 on the Maine ballot would overturn this law, if the "Yes" side gets more than 50% of the vote. It's California's proposition 8 all over again!
It seriously bothers me that a bare 50% majority can pass a ballot initiative that takes equal rights, already legally granted, away from a minority. You sometimes hear of "the tyranny of the majority" as one of the biggest problems with democracy; well, here it is in action.
The polling in Maine makes it too close to call. It all depends on turnout. FiveThirtyEight gives a slight advantage to the NO side (i.e. the pro-gay side).
This blog is covering the "No on 1" get-out-the-vote operation from the inside. It's pretty interesting, full of photos of the entirely unglamorous reality of political canvassing, long hours with phones and clipboards, etc. Quote:
The next generation will remember "Yes on 1" voters the way we remember people who believed black folks should drink from separate water fountains. I absolutely guarantee you that.
ME Q1 = CA Prop8 <:-(
Update: our side lost. Results here.
Looks like the margin of defeat was almost the same as Prop 8 in California, despite the very different population density, demographics, etc. of Maine. Maine is so white that hopefully nobody will try to pin the blame on black people this time, as some did last year.
Also interesting that Maine legalized medical marijuana (by such a large margin), which I approve wholeheartedly, but that's a whole nother blog rant.
FiveThirtyEight has analysis of all last night's races, and ponders why they got Maine so wrong.
Meanwhile, Washington passed a domestic partnership law which gives same-sex couples the same legal rights as opposite-sex married couples. So, that's good. In Washington they'll have marriage in all but name. An acceptable compromise, if you think the legal rights are more important than the symbolic victory, as I tend to do.
On the other hand, Andrew Sullivan thinks the symbolism is important too, because:
"The truth about civil marriage - why it is the essential criterion for gay equality - is that it alone explodes this core marginalization and invisibility of gay people."
He is heart-broken, but points out that:
"A decade ago, the marriage issue was toxic. Now it divides evenly. Soon, it will win everywhere."