Legacies, or Some Day, They're Really Going to Feel Like Fools
Marriage equality: yet another arena in which the Democrats are missing a spine.
40 years ago yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in Loving vs. Virginia that anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional. The Loving decision invalidated the "Racial Integrity Act" that allowed Virginia cops to bust into the bedroom of Richard and Mildred Loving, arrest them for "illegal cohabitation" and sentence them to a year in jail.
Can you imagine the leading Democratic candidates getting up at a campaign stop today and hemming and hawing out the following nonsense?
I believe in full equality of benefits, nothing left out...From my perspective there is a greater likelihood of us getting to that point in interracial civil unions or domestic partnerships and that is my very considered assessment.or
It's a jump for me to get to interracial marriage. I haven't yet got across that bridge.or how about
I would not support the Defense of Racial Integrity Act today, if there were a vote today. But the part I agree with is the states should not be required to recognize interracial marriages from other states.
Those are all paraphrases of actual statements on gay marriage from Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. Obama has similar views. (found via Pam's House Blend, an excellent LGBT issues blog that regularly checks in on all the candidate's positions on marriage equality).
Some folks say the Democrats have no choice but to tone down their support of gay rights to appeal to religious voters or values voters. But is that the kind of visionary progressive leadership we want to promote?
Decades from now, the people who were too afraid to support full equality for gay Americans are going to look like spineless sheep, and rightly so. I can see the history books now "The Democrats bravely passed non-binding resolutions, courageously voted to fund an illicit war they claimed to oppose, did nothing of any note to remove an Attorney General with a serious torture fetish and tentatively supported domestic partnership benefits while opposing real marriage equality." Now that's a legacy we can all be proud of! As Susan Ryan-Vollmar wrote in her Bay Windows editorial last week (regarding a possible constitutional ban on gay marriage in Massachusetts):
Twenty years from now, when their time in office has long since ended, those lawmakers who back the anti-gay amendment June 14 will still be asked about their vote by their grandchildren, their neighbors and even reporters writing anniversary pieces. Trying to explain that they supported marriage equality but believed the civil marriage rights of same-sex couples should be decided by popular vote will sound even more disingenuous several decades from now than it does today.