It’s cold comfort to gay couples in North Carolina and Minnesota today, but mainstream America accepts marriage equality
The constitutional amendment on the ballot in North Carolina Tuesday is so stridently framed you’d think there was a reason for it. “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state,” goes the proposal.
Here’s the thing: it’s not as though gays can get married in North Carolina to begin with. There’s a similar amendment on the ballot in my adopted home state of Minnesota – where gay marriage is also already unrecognized.
There are no pink processionals crowding the streets of Durham, and while my St Paul neighborhood sees a lot of pairs of women pushing one stroller down the street, I have yet to be invited to the big “WE ARE UNDERMINING THE FOUNDATIONS OF YOUR MORALITY” party, which social conservatives seem to imagine taking place just out of sight. The fact is, both of these initiatives are propelled less by the presence of an in-your-face homosexual “agenda” than by the gradual, inevitable, and growing normalization and acceptance of gays and lesbians as complete equals in our society. From the perspective of anti-equality activists, the flood waters – probably consisting of Evian – have already breached the dam. And these measures are life-rafts.
Tiny, splintered and spiteful life-rafts that will most likely sink once the Republicans in the legislatures in both states lose their majorities. As it is, the North Carolina Republicans are taking advantage of a once-in-a-hundred-year majority, while in Minnesota, Republicans down-ballot face the daunting prospect of a still-popular Obama and the even more popular Senator Amy Klobuchar at the top of the ticket. These politicians are making hate while the sun shines.
No matter what happens in North Carolina and Minnesota (the North Carolina law will likely pass; Minnesota‘s is less certain of a majority), polls show a continuing upswing in voters’ tolerance – and even proactive favor for – gay marriage. Right now, about 50% of Americans favor extending that most intimate of basic rights to all people.