April 9, 2009


I always laugh when I hear people crying about "activist judges." This belly-aching usually comes from dolts who do not understand that, in the United States of America, we have three branches of government, that the judicial branch is specially designed to tip the balance toward justice and protect minorities from the many tyrannies of majorities.

So the progress on gay marriage in Iowa has been heartwarming. Iowa: that hot-bed of feisty liberalism! Iowa: that bastion of lefty conspiracies! Iowa: that Massachusetts, that Berkeley of the Midwest! ... Iowa?

Yes, the Iowa courts have joined judicial brethren in Massachusetts and Connecticut to make a strong statement for equality, specifically, gay equality. And, in Iowa, the statement has been voiced by a powerful unanimous decision of the state's Supreme Court. Days later, the progress in Vermont was even more heartwarming: an overwhelming vote (and votes) by state lawmakers -- actual elected representatives, accountable to their constituents -- voiced the same opinion.

Welcome to the 21st Century. As we near the end of the first decade, all I can say is, "At last," indeed.

The argument for gay marriage is simple: this is about making good on the great American promise of equal opportunity and ensuring every American's Constitutional right of equal protection. Some very smart friends argue that "marriage" is just a word and "we should give them the word" and turn our resources instead only toward fighting for civil unions. I disagree. Words matter. The Obama fever sweeping the nation (sweeping the world) demonstrates, if nothing else, that words matter. And the word "marriage" matters in at least two ways, as a tactic and as a principle.

As a tactic, arguing "marriage" sets an outer boundary that makes compromise on civil unions far more expedient in the political process. In other words, to count to five you have to count to four and once you reach four you're almost there. As a principle, we're talking about "equality of meaning and intent" as much as we're talking about "equal opportunity" and "equal protection" so marriage is the goal.

A final thought: Those who say there is no parallel between the Civil Rights Movement and the Gay Equality Movement are wrong. Simple as that. Their opposition -- perhaps partly rooted in their own fears, perhaps partly rooted in their own shame, perhaps partly rooted in their understandable (but incorrect) desire to "own" their own part of The Struggle -- is harmful, damaging and even deadly. There is only one movement. There is only one struggle. And it is called the perfection of the United States of America -- a more perfect Union.

"At last," indeed -- and the song "At Last," to which Mr. and Mrs. Obama danced so gracefully and lovingly at the President's Inaugural, should become the anthem for our shared march toward our perfection, together, as one nation.


Post a Comment

<< Home