June 13, 2013

COMMENTARY: Equality in the Land of Lincoln

Opportunities come and go. Ours just went.

Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington – plus Washington DC and three Native American tribes (Coquille, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and Suquamish) – are in the vanguard of embracing marriage equality. But not Illinois.

With our state’s long, pathetic history of political leadership that is either incompetent or corrupt (and, often, both), this failure should come as no surprise. Yet, with a “supermajority” of Democrats holding elected office, overwhelming support in public opinion polls, and elected representatives spouting more Abraham Lincoln quotes than Doris Kearns Goodwin, many of us felt our time had come.

In fact, our time had come. But Democratic leaders in the Illinois House allowed the poisonous power of silent bigotry to win the day May 31 when they chose not to even call the marriage equality bill for a vote. In short: opportunity knocked and Democrats failed to answer the call.

The few Illinois Republicans who stuck their necks out for marriage equality must feel like they have been left twisting in the wind. And they have. I suppose many young voters, too, now feel more turned off by politics than ever. The same holds true for voters of any age who cannot believe that equality even requires debate in a civil society in the second decade of the 21st Century.

I know Illinois, one day, will have marriage equality – but it won’t be due to anything any Illinois politician does. The time for them to be effective, to demonstrate true “leadership,” has now just passed. To have been among the first states would have been historic and worthy of quoting Lincoln. To be among the dribble of other states that eventually, someday, in time, embrace equality merely adds another embarrassing chapter to our state’s history rich with political embarrassments.

Marriage equality will eventually come to the Land of Lincoln as it will even to states like Mississippi and Arkansas, riding the tide of this great social change sweeping America and the world. Maybe it will happen this November. Or November next year. Or some distant November years from now.

It will happen – and Illinois political leadership will have nothing to do with it.


Blogger Jeffrey Osman said...

Yet another reason I'm no longer a Democrat, which is a synonym for a spineless creature who cowers before Republicans and other drool cases, and have become a Green.


June 14, 2013  

Post a Comment

<< Home