Here’s some good news: The Massachusetts Speaker of the House, Thomas Finneran, who is strongly opposed to SSM, has stepped down. His replacement, Salvatore DiMasi, is pro-SSM. From the Boston Globe:
“It is pretty much over,” said Senate minority leader Brian P. Lees, a Springfield Republican who cosponsored the amendment with Finneran and Senate President Robert E. Travaglini. The House and Senate, sitting in a constitutional convention, must vote a second time in the next session before it could go to the voters on the 2006 ballot.
“In fact, there will be a question as to whether the issue will come up at all,” Lees said. He said the issue has faded to the “back burners of Massachusetts politics,” because few problems have surfaced with the implementation of the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage.
Of course, it isn’t over – but the odds are now strongly in favor of equality, at least in Massachusetts.
And, in the long run, if we win marriage equality anywhere we’ve won it everywhere. Not because courts will force Alabama to recognize Massachusetts marriages – the fact is, there’d be more than enough votes to put something like the Defense of Marriage Act into the Constitution, if a court ruling made it necessary. (The Federal Marriage Act, which didn’t get enough votes, is nothing like DOMA, because it doesn’t just protect Alabama from Massachusetts marriages – it would also force Massachusetts to adopt Alabama’s standards).
No, the problem for anti-marriage-equality folks is that if Massachusetts is permitted to have same-sex marriage, then sooner or later majorities in other states will realize that there’s nothing to fear. Massachusetts is not going to experience a huge rise in its divorce rate, or its unwed motherhood rate, or its child molestation rate. Marriage will not become a thing of the past. Teachers will not be censored from saying that mothers and fathers are important. Bibles will not be banned. Brothers will not be marrying their sisters. In short, civilization in Massachusetts will not collapse.
The anti-equality movement doesn’t have a logical, coherent argument against same sex marriage. So instead, they’ve relied on fearmongering. The Bible will be banned! Children will be hurt! But it’s easy to spread fear of something that’s strange and unknown (especially when that fear is in line with a popular bigotry). What happens ten or twenty years from now, when a married gay person is elected to the Senate, or when it becomes common for TV programs set in Massachusetts to show ordinary families headed by married, same-sex couples?
What happens when fear of the scarey unknown is replaced by familiarity with the humdrum known?
If same-sex marriage is permitted in just one state – Massachusetts, Oregon, whichever – then it may take ten years, it may take twenty, but the anti-SSM fearmongering will inevitably be unmasked as the ridiculous fiction it is.
Ten or twenty years from now, when none of the predicted disasters attributed to SSM have emerged in Massachusetts, then what new story will SSM opponents come up with?