2016. That’s when marriage equality for gays and lesbian should be the law of the land, according to Adam Liptak.
Writing recently in the New York Times, Liptak calculates the date based on how long after Loving v. Virginia in 1967 that anti-miscegenation laws were struck down, allowing interracial marriage. That was 13 years after Brown v. Board of Education ended racial segregation in schools. Liptak compares Brown with Lawrence v. Texas, the watershed gay rights ruling that saw the Supreme Court strike down sodomy laws across the nation in 2003, making gay sex legal. Add 13 years and 2016 is when gays and lesbians across the land can celebrate their nuptials legally in all 50 states.
Liptak is not alone in his prediction that it’s not if, but when, gays and lesbians will be able to legally walk down the aisle as they please. Minnesota State Representative Steve Simon, arguing against a ballot measure that would add an anti-marriage equality amendment to the state’s constitution, also predicted that that those who vote for the amendment now (which passed the House committee 10-7 on a party-line vote), will face shame later.
”I truly believe that in a generation, maybe not even a generation from now, if we pass this, if we put this on the ballot, if this becomes part of our constitution, history will judge us all very, very harshly. I think the people who vote for this today, and in the future… will on this issue, not be so proud and there may be some justifiable shame there as well.”
The attempt to shame marriage equality opponents in the present is a sore point for people like Maggie Gallagher at the National Organization for Marriage who complained they are being painted as a “bigot who is opposed to interracial marriage.”
The fact that Gallagher is making the complaint reveals that, perhaps, Liptak’s timeline may be a bit on the lengthy side. To win civil rights, one of the last steps is to make it shameful to be against the rights of the group fighting for recognition. It became shameful to support slavery, shameful to support Jim Crow laws, and shameful to openly discriminate against women (though pay disparities persist).
Even young Republicans piled on against the amendment. 24-year-old Madeline Koch, who identified herself as a straight Republican, told the committee that the lives of gays and lesbians should not be “the focus of efforts to achieve political gain or debate.” Instead, she pointed out that public opinion on the matter is swinging toward equality and politicians should heed that.
”Never before has our constitution sought to treat people unequally. This constitutional amendment will not only set our fight for equality back in time, it will set an agenda that will distract us from the investments in Minnesota that truly matter,” Koch said.
Gallagher and her ilk, of course, will continue to disregard growing public acceptance of gay and lesbian unions and keep braying over the injustice they are suffering by being called bigots. Republican Sen. Paul Gazelka told conservative radio host Bradlee Dean that those against marriage equality are becoming afraid to speak up because of those labels.
”But they are concerned about being labeled a homophobe and a bigot,” he said. “The Christian perspective should be about truth and love. It’s not being a bigot or a homophobe, but saying that marriage has limits.”
Dean’s sidekick, Jake McMillian, counseled listeners to embrace the name-calling to prove they are being persecuted for their Christian beliefs about marriage. “They did it to Jesus Christ. Are they not going to do that to you?” he concluded.
However, the argument from religion was finally unpersuasive for Rep. Simon who said: “We have to be careful about trying to enshrine our beliefs, however religiously valid you may believe them to be, in the Minnesota Constitution. What I’m hearing today and what I heard on Friday was largely a religious justification for change in the Minnesota Constitution. I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think that’s fair.”
”I want to take a page from what I heard last Friday in the Senate testimony. There was a member of the clergy… and he said, ‘You know what? Sexuality and sexual orientation are a gift from God.’ And I think that’s true. I think the scientific evidence shows more and more every day that sexuality and sexual orientation are innate and something people are born with.”
”If that’s true,” Simon told ban supporters, “what does that mean to the moral force of your argument?”
Then, he delivered the final blow to the religious argument: “How many gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether the living of their lives the way they wish, as long as they don’t harm others, is a godly, holy, happy and glorious thing?”
Perhaps 2016 is a really conservative estimate.