Is the fiery battle over gay marriage coming to an end?
It’s looking more likely by the day that the Supreme Court will have to definitively rule on this controversial issue. Well, it’s more accurate to say that it was controversial. Outside of the angry zealots on the Religious Right, I’m not sure it is anymore. The majority of people are in favor of marriage equality. Even mainstream conservatives acknowledge that there are no rational or reasonable arguments against it.
In 2004, Republicans placed gay marriage referendums on the ballots in several swing states to drive conservative turnout. Back then, it was enough to motivate the base to vote – and help George W. Bush in the process. It wouldn’t work today – conservatives are avoiding this issue like the plague because they don’t want to look backwards and offend young voters.
Just last week, 32 states asked the Supreme Court to settle the gay marriage issue. There was also a huge victory in the 7th Circuit for marriage equality with Republican appointed judge Richard Posner savaging the opposition for offering no rational basis for their opposition. This win in the 7th Circuit was the 39th pro-marriage ruling with just two losses since the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 against the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal benefits to same-sex couples who were married in states that allowed such unions. Indeed, since the fall of DOMA there have been 21 consecutive federal court decisions that found bans on gay marriage were unconstitutional.
What the Supreme Court sidestepped in 2013 was a ruling on the constitutionality of same-sex marriages. Clearly, states should not decide this issue any more than interracial marriage, which was banned before the landmark 1967 Loving v. Virginia case.
There was one small, rare defeat for gay marriage last week. It came from a federal judge in New Orleans, Martin Feldman. The illogical excuses this judge offered in his odious ruling were beyond preposterous.
The Judge wrote “Must the states permit or recognize a marriage between an aunt and niece? Aunt and nephew? Brother and brother? Father and child?”
This is smokescreen and an attempt to change the subject – because there are no coherent reasons to ban same-sex marriage. If a father wants to marry his child, he can try his case in the court of public opinion or file a lawsuit and take it to court – just like everyone else. He will probably lose. If the child is underage he will go to jail. But, this bizarre scenario isn’t an argument to deny loving, adult, gay couples from tying the knot.
Another outlandish argument is that we can’t allow same-sex marriages because of tradition. Just because something has gone on for a while doesn’t make it moral or just. There is huge difference between traditional values and valueless traditions – such as homophobia, Anti-Semitism, misogyny, and racism. All these ancient hatreds are traditional too. It doesn’t make them right or mean we should continue down that road – just because it’s “the way it is.” As human beings, we learn and evolve. At least most of us do.
One more specious argument is that we don’t know the consequences of same sex marriage.
That argument may have been effective 15 years ago. But today it doesn’t apply. Gay marriage is no longer a novelty. We have 19 states and the District of Columbia where such unions are legal – and nothing has changed in these places. Indeed, Massachusetts was the first state to approve gay marriage – and they have the lowest divorce rate in the United States. Meanwhile, the Bible Belt states that are so opposed to same-sex marriage consistently have the highest divorce rates. If you want to talk pro-family, it’s Massachusetts, not the land of fulminating anti-gay preachers with twangy accents.
The evidence that same-sex marriage has no effect on heterosexual unions isn’t just in the United States. According to the organization Freedom to Marry, seventeen countries have approved gay marriage nationwide (The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, France, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand, Britain, and Luxembourg), while Mexico and the United States have regional or court-directed or voter enabled provisions allowing same-sex couples to marry.
The evidence is robust, clear, and indisputable – same-sex marriage helps gay couples, while it has no negative impact on society. This basic fact is why the culture war is winding down, with LGBT people on the winning side.
Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”