I always assume I'm preaching to the choir here, but is that necessarily true? Is there anyone reading this who opposes same-sex marriage? Will you please post a comment (you may do so anonymously) to explain to me why you are against it? I will do my best, honestly, to respectfully discuss your viewpoint(s) in a subsequent post.
But in the meantime....
Fortunately for you and me, people like journalist Richard Just of The New Republic spent a good chunk of time reading the 85-page ruling by the Connecticut Supreme Court that grants same-sex couples the right to marry. Connecticut is now the third state in the nation, after Massachusetts and California, to legalize gay marriage.
Just's article, which aims to explain "what liberals could learn from the Connecticut Supreme Court's demolition of the anti-gay marriage position" is a bit too heady for me (I had to read the third paragraph twice to figure out what he was trying to say), but he does bring up some interesting points, the most compelling of which is as follows:
The court's reasoning here contains what I think is an important cautionary note for liberals. It's tempting to assume that, because history is headed in our direction on gay marriage, there is no need for the courts to get involved. But there's a difference between knowing that history is headed in your direction and knowing how quickly history is headed in your direction. In the case of women's rights, history turned out to be moving a bit slower in the direction of full equality than it appeared to be moving during the heady days of 1973. In the case of Connecticut and gay marriage, it's conceivable that it might have taken the legislature just a year to enact marriage equality. But it's also entirely conceivable that it could have taken decades. Which is why I'm unconvinced when gay rights advocates (like John Cloud this week in Time) argue that the same-sex-marriage battle needs to be fought in legislatures not courts. The Connecticut Supreme Court makes a good case that it needs to be fought in both.
Of course, there is always the risk of backlash when courts act aggressively. And the Connecticut decision obviously comes in the shadow of what is taking place in California, where the latest polls suggest that voters are turning against gay marriage, and may override last spring's Supreme Court decision legalizing it when they cast ballots on November 4. If this happens, many will blame the court for provoking a backlash. But, if the court is to blame, why did the polls show support for gay marriage in the months following the decision--and only now show voters trending against it? A recent advertising blitz by anti-gay forces--not a months-old decision by the California Supreme Court--probably accounts for the swing. In any event, there are still three weeks to go; gay marriage is not dead in California yet.
Final observation: With the election and the financial meltdown dominating headlines, the Connecticut ruling didn't really get that much attention over the weekend--certainly nothing like the attention showered on the Massachusetts and California decisions when they were handed down. In fact, the entire episode felt oddly unremarkable. Maybe that is its own form of progress.
Look! A lesbian!:
How does her marriage hurt you? How does it hurt anyone? Sometimes I just don't understand.