“Two Steps Forward, One Step Back” for Marriage Equality

May 9, 2009 marked a joyous day when the governor of Maine officially signed same-sex marriage into law.

“I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage,” Maine Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat, said in a statement released as he signed the bill.

“This law is simply about making sure that loving, committed couples, and their families, receive equal rights and responsibilities. This is a step that will strengthen Maine families,” Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said in a written statement.

6 months later, voters appear to have a change of heart as the state of Maine today joins the 30 other states that reject same-sex marriage.

Again, this is a moment where the GLBTQ community are given rights just to have them ripped away. In my personal opinion, marriage equality will continue to be a back-n-forth game until this important issue progresses beyond the States and is firmly planted on  Federal ground.

I have never before heard of this type of yo-yo law making until this particular issue was uprooted and put on the political platform. I do not hear of state’s granting abortions, then taking that right away. That is because the issue of abortion made its way into the federal courts, surpassing the mere state legislation. We take “two steps forward, one step back” when we deal with decision makers that rank under the “big dogs” that reside in our nation’s capital.

As I “spouted out” in my previous post, how can we expect to have equal marriage when our military still remains in the closet? They can defend our country and die, yet cannot be gay, lesbian or transgender. President Obama only in recent weeks signed the Hate Crimes Bill into law. These are the “baby steps” we need in order to climb steadfastly up the equality ladder. Abolishing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is our next baby step.

Since the word “marriage” seems to enrage people of a closed mind, have we thought of pushing for “civil unions” / “domestic partnership” first? Baby steps.

Sure, I agree we are discriminated against, but we cannot “change” the minds and opinions of these people no matter how many letters we write or protests we march as activists in. Those are great to show we have a voice and are not going away, but in order for us to truly progress, I am a firm believer in “baby steps”. To us, we are asking for nothing more than equal rights. To them, we are asking for something HUGE. So, why not start asking for smaller things to help pave the way to larger things? Just my thoughts.

Next in the political arena today we have elected an openly  homophobic politician to share power in Virginia. Ken Cuccinelli’s win as attorney general is another step back for the GLBTQ community.

Ken Cuccinelli

Cuccinelli was quoted recently in the Virginian-Pilot to state, “homosexual acts are wrong. They’re intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law based country it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that.”

The fight turns now to New Jersey where Democrat and marriage equality supporter Jon Corzine was unseated by Republican and marriage equality opposer Christopher Christie. Two months remain for legislature to pass a marriage bill with Corzine finishing his final days of his term. Even still, the Garden State must wait a minimum of four years to gain full marriage rights.

In my opinion, Washington is the state that is taking the correct “baby steps” as voters accept and pass a Domestic Partnership (DP) law (tagged “everything but marriage”), while the voters reject the law for “marriage” time and time again.

Most people are not startled by the term “domestic partner” and might be open to grant recognition for our relationships; however, the term “married” still stirs havoc in the minds that can only acknowledge “one man, one woman” and cannot see past that. Of course, I should make the point that it is “one BIO man, one BIO woman” that they can handle. God forbid we try to open their minds further to the transgender community just yet.

“Never let your head hang down. NEVER GIVE UP AND SIT DOWN AND GRIEVE. Find another way.” – Satchel Paige

In the face of adversity is when you must fight the hardest. When you have a hard time standing back up, that is the time to grab your neighbor by the hand and trudge forward together. In the chaos and the screaming, stay calm in your heart, but raise your voice and be heard. When they come against you, do not lower yourself and come back against them. Believe in the great and wonderful person you are and keep standing, keep moving forward and never give up fighting for a brighter tomorrow.

“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better. Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. ” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I find it important to note that the consensus reveals that many anti-marriage equality voters are African American. This is why I chose a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. — a man who died to bring equality to a minority. I only pray that the ones who choose to now HATE a minority (as they once were) will open their eyes and one day see the light of never restraining freedom from another human being. This time it’s not about the color of skin, but about whom they choose to love. We must remember it’s not about skin color, sexual orientation…but, by the “content of one’s character” we define a man.

Years ago, one great man had a dream. Today, I have a dream. I have a dream that one day those who once had thoughts of killing a gay man will invite him over for dinner. I have a dream that one day the preacher that once condemned the lesbian to hell will marry her and her wife. I have a dream that one day the person who beat transgenders will drop to his knees and beg for forgiveness. I have a dream that the bully who drives gay teens to suicide will instead come to their rescue and be their support. Yes, I too have a dream. This is only a small piece of it. A piece of a large puzzle that I hope one day will all be put together.

Baby steps, my family…baby steps.

Written by Tristan


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3 Comments

Filed under Legal, News, Politics, Spout Out

3 responses to ““Two Steps Forward, One Step Back” for Marriage Equality

  1. Jesse

    That last paragraph brought a tear to my eye. Great post and I agree that we need to take baby steps. We must learn from history and the Civil Rights show us that not all rights will be granted at once. We must fight for them, one at a time.

  2. Randolfe (Randy) Wicker

    The vote in Maine should not be taken too seriously. I vividly remember reading studies that showed the Bill of Rights would be rejected in a public referendum.

    This vote probably doesn’t really reflect the majority opinion about gay marriage in Maine. Every born-again opponent surely went out of their way to make sure they voted against gay marriage. The large number of people who feel “the gay marriage debate” really doesn’t affect them but believe everyone should be treated equally did not vote in equal numbers. Passionate minorities always have an exaggerated impact in elections.

    Studies show a great majority of younger (under 30 years) people overwhelmingly support marriage equality. Older voters who oppose it reflect outdated opinions. Fortunately, they are quickly dying off.

    At the age of seventy-one, I really dislike the idea that everyone (including me) will die. However, when I see the prejudice & ignorance so firmly rooted in older people, I realize death is necessary for all kinds of soci9al progress & change.

    • I had the same realization yesterday about new generations replacing older ones and how the votes will change with each passing year. Yes, it is true that many people under 30 currently favor marriage equality. I believe it still might take time for it to pass into federal law, but I know one day it WILL happen.

      Of course, we will always have HATE since that will never die — but, justice will (finally) one day prevail.

      Thank you for your comment! 🙂

      -Tristan

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