Help marriage equality by supporting HRC
I remember when Massachusetts became the first state in the union to allow same-sex marriage. My initial reaction was twofold: “Wow! That’s great,” quickly followed by, “Big deal. What does it really mean for me in Utah? Nothing.”
I don’t feel the same way anymore. With so much happening so fast in other places with regard to marriage equality, I am no longer hopeless about its prospects here. The increasing frequency and magnitude of marriage equality in other states have implications for those of us even in “QUtah,” which, if things continue, we will eventually realize. We are beginning to see a glimmer of possibility.
In just a few short weeks, things have transpired which make me feel we might be reaching a turning point — a critical mass of progress — that could initiate a snowball effect leading to fair treatment, marriage equality, etc., everywhere.
The legislatures of three states — Washington, Maryland and New Jersey — all passed marriage equality legislation. In Washington, the governor signed it into law. In Maryland, where even former Vice President Dick Cheney came out strongly in favor of it, the governor has promised to sign it (and might have done so by the time this is published).
Though New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the bill, marriage equality gained 10 supporters in that state’s Senate in just one year — 24, compared to 14 last year. At that rate, a veto override could happen in the nearly two years allowed for such an action by New Jersey law. Also, the fact that New Jersey lawmakers approved the law could provide added justification for judges to rule in favor of marriage equality in a current federal lawsuit over the constitutionality of New Jersey’s civil-unions law.
Only about three weeks ago, California’s Proposition 8 was declared unconstitutional by a federal appeals court in a ruling which reiterated the idea that opponents of same-sex marriage lack valid arguments from a legal perspective. (Their arguments, ultimately, stem from purely moral or religious objections — not exactly firm ground in courts of law and evidence). The ruling continues to propel the issue toward the U.S. Supreme Court, whose recent rulings on other matters give me a bit of optimism about how the case will fare when it gets there.
And just last week, a federal court in San Francisco ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional in a case against the federal government by a federal employee whose spouse was denied health and other benefits. The ruling echoes findings in two other cases in federal court in Massachusetts. Those cases now go to federal appeals court where, if you remember, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the government will no longer defend DOMA.
Whew. Take a breath. There’s a lot happening that’s encouraging.
Of course, there are, and will be, the usual roadblocks.
Washington Governor Chris Gregoire’s signature on his state’s marriage-equality law was hardly dry before opponents began the effort to erase it through referendum. The same will likely happen in Maryland. And in Minnesota, a ballot measure in November will ask the state’s voters to make marriage equality unconstitutional. Ignorance and bigotry continue to fuel such efforts.
Of particular disappointment to me is that such things are supported, encouraged and, to some degree, financed by my Utah neighbors through the efforts of the LDS Church and its suspected front group, the National Organization for Marriage.
Because Utah is so important to anti-equality efforts, it should be central to pro-equality efforts, not just locally, but nationwide.
So allow me here to put a plug in for the Human Rights Campaign, an organization that Utah’s LGBTs can join and donate to in order to influence, like our neighbors do, the level of equality in other states, which has an impact on our own. I for one would love to see our LGBT community in Utah offset – even neutralize – the anti-equality efforts that originate from and emanate out of our own state.
The HRC is a vehicle to do that.
For convenience, here’s the website: hrc.org, and click on “support hrc.”
By helping LGBT communities elsewhere achieve the goal of marriage equality, we’ll spread it to ourselves in the long run. Given the socio-political dynamics of our state, that might be the only way it will ever happen here. But if we rally to help those in other states, it will happen here quicker. Let’s help to continue picking up the pace.
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