I never argue law with Tmess, because he knows law like I know politics, but I have a different view.
Let’s go back to 2001. Goodridge v. Department of Public Health was filed: it was the case that would, in 2004, lead to Massachusetts being the first American state to legalize gay marriage. At the time, I was editor of the local Mensa newsletter, and I wanted to find two people who would write dueling editorials: one pro and one anti. The rule was that all articles and editorials in the newsletter were signed, and while I could find many people who opposed gay marriage, I could not find one person willing to sign his/her name. They would say things like “I know it’s wrong, but I really like my neighbors and they’re gay” or “I’m a good Christian, so I know gay marriage is against natural law but I don’t want anyone to think I’m a bigot.” (Yes, I still have the email for that last one — hard to imagine but true.)
That reticence on the part of semi-knuckle-draggers gave me hope that things would change. I would chat with my gay friends: the consensus was that we, as a country, weren’t there yet, but give it 20, 25 years and m-a-y-b-e.
I never understood why gay people couldn’t get married. I never saw a difference between my gay friends and me. We all went to work, paid our taxes, dealt with lawn weeds and difficult neighbors, served in volunteer capacities, loved our kids and our dogs….it wasn’t my business who anyone slept with, who anyone loved. But somehow, too much of the world didn’t see things my way.
As of last Friday, in most of America, most gay people couldn’t do what “the man I’m not dating” and I could…swallow our fear of commitment (him in the form of wine, me in the form of Xanax), walk into the courthouse, sign for a license and just get married. And yet, more and more of my gay friends were running off to the limited number of states where they could be married, pulling the trigger, and coming home to deal with the insanity of paying taxes as a gay couple in one state, and unmarried adults in another. A few years ago, with great joy, I got to buy my first “Congrats Tim and Victor” cake after they ran off to Vermont to get married after an engagement that had lasted 18 years.
As of this morning, we’re at 24 states and the District of Columbia. In a few weeks, that number will grow to 30. It’s almost coda: the wave it unstoppable. I know that because the Supremes refused to take the case. They may say they’re waiting for a split decision (the man I’m not dating has his money on the case coming out of the 6th circuit) but I think one knuckle-dragger actually slightly lifted his hands. Here’s the deal.
To win a case with the Supremes, five votes are needed. To decline to take a case, only 4 votes are needed. Thus, at most three justices said “NO” to taking the five cases yesterday. Thus, at least one of Roberts, Scalia, Alito or Thomas declined to take the case. If I were making book, I’d put the longest odds on Thomas since he’d never do anything that Scalia didn’t do first, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was Scalia because he may well know the jig is up. Even if they take a split decision later, they’ll NEVER invalidate the marriages of what will surely be hundreds of thousands of gay married couples. Yay!
Just like watching a giant wave form, and waiting for it to reach the shore, gay marriage is close to being the law of the land. While Tim and I are in no danger of heading to the courthouse, we can. Any day we want, and pretty soon all of our gay friends can, too. There is a huge difference between not wanting to get married, and not being allowed to get married. Having the option is what matters.
Soon this will be laid to rest, gay married people as ubiquitous as straight married people, and then we can move on to the other huge issues: making sure no kid goes to bed hungry, solving immigration, equal rights in all arenas for all people independent of gender, sexual orientation, race, disability…the list of what we have to do dwarfs what we have already done. But it’s doable. And moving forward, as always, it starts with you. VOTE on November 4th, bring a friend. Get your friends to bring friends…let’s oust the remaining knuckle-draggers so we can ALL live happily ever after.