Both the mainstream media (including some folks who favor same-sex marriage) and SSM opponents tend to speak as if last week’s elections have changed anything in the fight for SSM. For instance, in the comments to this post on Family Scholars blog, SSM opponent “Marty” asks us, “would you like some condescension with my gloating?”
“No,” says her father “but you MIGHT get a new bike if you’re good.”
Which of course causes the little girl to become even more obsessed, demanding the pony she was supposedly promised, ridiculing the whole idea of riding a bicycle, and insulting her father as well.
Well today is the day after christmas, and there’s no pony, and no bicycle either. Instead of sucking up and grudgingly saying “ok ok, i’ll settle for the bicycle” perhaps she should apologize to her father and retrospect on her own behavior for another year or so.
Marty, dude: Maybe you should reflect on the fact that “retrospect” is not a verb. That aside, what Marty doesn’t seem to understand is that almost no one in the pro-SSM movement expected the pony this year. In statement after statement before the election, SSM activists admitted that 10 of the ballot measures were a lost cause for us, and the 11th was far from a shoe-in.
So, we ended up losing 11 of 11, rather than the 10 of 11 that was our best-case scenario. Since that was pretty much the result we expected, I don’t see any reason to change our views or our long-term strategy. No matter what, we knew that in this year’s ballot measures, our asses were going to be kicked. It’s called “backlash,” and it’s the inevitable result of progress. (Besides, the states were mostly “low hanging fruit” for the anti-SSM movement – 10 of the 11 had “defense of marriage” laws on the books even before this election).
The Times has an article suggesting that SSM activists, after the election, are backing down on lawsuits, but I think the reporter is spinning (or perhaps being spun). Activists quoted in the article say that they’re not going to be pursuing Federal lawsuits, which is good – winning in Federal courts at this time, even if we could do it, would only help our opponents by making it possible for them to pass a Federal (anti) Marriage Amendment. But that’s nothing new.
But no one in the article is talking about backing down from state-level lawsuits in places like New Jersey and Washington. As far as I can tell, the overall strategy hasn’t changed – nor should it have. It’s true that we have to win over hearts and minds, not just courtrooms; but our strongest tool for winning over hearts and minds will be the normalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts (and hopefully a couple of other states as well).
Meanwhile, as a result of the controversy over marriage equality, Connecticut is going to enact a civil union law, to provide relief for some of the extreme and concrete inequalities (hospital visitation, etc). I think we’ll see more of this sort of thing happening over the next decade. A similar thing happened during the fight for the ERA; because of the ERA controversy, public attention was brought to many legal inequalities, causing many of those inequalities to be addressed by Congress. Giving up on the ERA and aiming lower wouldn’t have been nearly as effective.