Monday, September 12, 2005

Gay marriage is here to stay in Massachusetts

A survey by the Associated Press reveals that at least 104 (out of 200) state lawmakers in Massachusetts plan to vote against the proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage but create civil unions. This amendment was passed in the legislature last year, but it needed to be passed in two separate legislative sessions before it could be sent to the voters for a referendum. So it now looks like the amendment will fail in legislature on its second vote on Wednesday.

This was basically the last chance for gay marriage opponents in Massachusetts. Public opinion in Massachusetts has swung within only one year from 53% opposition to gay marriage to 56% support. The next chance for a ban on gay marriage will be another amendment that could go on the ballot in 2008 that would ban gay marriage and not create civil unions. But public support for gay marriage will only increase in the next three years, as more and more people get used to the idea. The amendment won't even give all the couples who will have married over 4 years the consolation prize of civil union - their hard-won rights would stripped away entirely. With 56% approval of gay marriage and more, the 2008 amendment will be defeated. Time is on the side of the angels here.

4 Comments:

Blogger driftwood said...

Hope you are right on this one. Maybe the anti-marriage crowd has sensed as much and that is why they have been so hysterical and urgent. They felt they had to get their bans in quick before the population at large discovered that gay marriage is as prosaic as the other kind and certainly not the end of civilization or whatever else they claim.

Will (or when will) the existing bans be removed? With a mobile population like the US has, it is hard to see a system stay in place for long that says you are married while you are over here, but not while over there.

9/13/2005 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

"Maybe the anti-marriage crowd has sensed as much and that is why they have been so hysterical and urgent. They felt they had to get their bans in quick before the population at large discovered that gay marriage is as prosaic as the other kind and certainly not the end of civilization or whatever else they claim."

But that's just what I don't understand - they must understand that public opinion is trending toward support for gay marriage, so it seems very strange to me that they would withdraw support from an amendment that has some chance of passing in 2006 in order to support an amendment that has much less passing in 2008. If they were desperate and hysterical, you'd think they'd opt for the "least-bad" option. Which suggests two options: 1) they really are crazy or 2) there is some secret way in which this strategy actually benefits them which I don't get. Despite my low opinion of the religious right, I have a sneaky suspicion it's the latter.

One possibility: the existence of gay marriage in Massachusetts could paradoxically weaken its prospects in "the heartland" - opponents could be banking on the demonization of "liberal Taxachusetts" or something. Or more broadly, it could serve to further whip up socially conservative voters nationally, feeding on the politics of ressentiment, and continue to mobilize them and sustain the national Republican electoral machine. (Certainly, this was one theory immediately after the 2004 election though many have drawn cogent critiques of it.)

9/13/2005 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger driftwood said...

I read Thomas Frank’s book on the changing politics of Kansas as the religious right has displaced the old style Republicans. I found it very interesting in showing good detail of what happened, but I don’t think he really accounts for why it happened or why it persists so long. Kansas, and elsewhere, would seem due for a backlash against religious politics that haven’t, and won’t, made life any better.

The religious right does seem to get the most mileage out of whipping up anger, so while they might not plan it this way in advance, they could certainly deploy an attack against the “evil bits” of the country that all “real Americans” would be called on to join. To some extent they already do. The “red/blue” nonsense plays to that.

9/13/2005 10:03:00 PM  
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