The state of the SSM debate, 10 or 20 years from now

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:

A key legislative backer of the proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriage and establish civil unions yesterday all but declared defeat, saying that Finneran’s exit from Beacon Hill was the final straw in an effort that already was in trouble because the state has legalized same-sex marriage with little of the uproar predicted by opponents.

“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?

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10 Responses to The state of the SSM debate, 10 or 20 years from now

  1. 1
    Soul says:

    They’ll highlight some percieved social ill and pretend it was caused by gay marriage. That’s what these people do. Remember how the high crime rate was all the fault of welfare and abortion?

  2. 2
    Ampersand says:

    I’m sure they’ll try that, but it’ll be hard if SSM (unlike welfare and abortion) is confined to only a few states. After all, what social ill exists in Massachusetts but doesn’t exist in Connecticutt or New York or New Hampshire or New Jersey?

  3. 3
    karpad says:

    more likely, they’ll simply say that Massachusetts doesn’t count, because it’s culture is too different.
    they’ll then make up excuses as to HOW it’s different. they’ll claim the Bostonian accent is in fact, a seperate language. they’ll say that Massachusetts has an unusually high rate of something innocuous, that they watch more CBS than the rest of the country, or something. this will be proof PROOF! that it’s like a seperate country and that just becuase gay marriage doesn’t cause any problems there doesn’t mean that among honest, hardworking ‘Mercan folks in tennessee and missouri and whereever else it wouldn’t cause problems.

    you know, the same arguements they’ve used against gay marriage, marijuana legalization, health care and all the other “Scandinavian social politics.”
    so Massachusetts will effectly be annexed to Norway.

  4. 4
    lucia says:

    so Massachusetts will effectly be annexed to Norway. Or Canada. Or soon, Spain!

    Well, who knows? Maybe SSM will cause the Mass. non-marital birth rate to approach the level in the Bible Belt! That would be something.

  5. 5
    Varro says:

    Soul – I have seen in a few places people posit that the low crime rates of the mid-to-late 1990s were because the criminals would have been born in the mid-to-late 1970s, and were aborted after Roe v. Wade. :)

  6. 6
    Gary says:

    I hope this all happens sooner than 10 or 20 years! My partner and our family deserve FEDERAL protection right now!

    I was born an American and it is my birth right to be given “equal protection under the law.”

    End of discussion. This issue makes me so screaming angry!

  7. 7
    karpad says:

    well, get married in Massechusetts, move somewhere else, and sue under federal law that any state constitution banning SSM is a violation of full faith and credit.
    it’ll take a while, but SOMEONE has to be the test case

  8. 8
    Jake Squid says:

    I believe that the debate in 20 years will be at the same place that the debate about miscegenation is. Anti marriage equality folks will be seen as bigots who were clearly in the wrong. But, once again, I may have too much faith in people.

  9. 9
    NancyP says:

    “so Massachusetts will effectly be annexed to Norway.” – does that mean that MAans will have to eat nasty lye or salt preserved fish (lutefisk is what the Swedes call the lye variety)?

    Most Americans (as opposed to ‘Murkans) are pretty sensible (or apathetic), and when the sky fails to fall from SSM, they will move on to other topics.

  10. 10
    Decnavda says:

    Jake Squid -
    No, I don’t think you have too much faith in people, I think you are exactly right. Well, maybe off by about 10 years, but basically right. Now, if you were to claim that conservatives will have learned any lessons from their recognition that they were wrong about gay marriage that they will apply to whatever civil rights cause is being debated 30 years from now, THEN you would be putting too much faith in people.