A Great Day for Equality

If you had told me this two or three years ago, I would have believed it to be fiction. But today, Vermont joined three other states in granting full equality in marriage to gays and lesbians. Vermont joins Massachusetts (so proud to live here), Connecticut, and Iowa (IOWA!!!) in allowing individuals to marry the person whom he or she loves. More importantly, the measure was approved by the Vermont legislature, representing the first instance of legislated equality on this issue (in MA, CT, and IA, state Supreme Courts struck down statutes limiting marriage to the union between a man and a woman). More importantly, the Vermont legislature mustered two-thirds majorities in both houses to override Gov. Jim Douglas’s veto; the winning coalitions involved Democrats, Republicans, and Progressives.

This a huge moment for a number of reasons. One, the fact that both Iowa and Vermont recognized same-sex marriage within a week of each other gives some momentum to the equality movement — as residents of these two states discover, as Massachusetts and Connecticut residents have, that LGBT people pose neither a threat to the institution of marriage nor to civilization, attitudes toward LGBT people will improve, and the “hot-button issue” of gay marriage will lose saliency as a political wedge tactic.

Moreover, the fact that Vermont legalized gay marriage entirely through the legislative process deprives the right-wing fearmongers and bigots of one of their primary talking points and faux justifications of maintaining inequality — that “liberal activist” judges were responsible for overturning the will of the people. The fine senators and representatives of the Vermont state legislature represent the will of the people. You can almost hear the sound of exploding heads in the RedState/FreeRepublic crowd as they flail about for some justification to perpetuate discrimination that doesn’t amount to their true reason: bigotry, ignorance, and selective readings of religious texts.

Finally, Iowa and Vermont show that hatred and discrimination against the LGBT community will die out year by year, as support for LGBT equality soars in the under 45 age bracket (I saw another poll elsewhere that had broader crosstabs, which really show strong support for gay marriage in the under 30 crowd, but despite about half an hour of searching, I couldn’t find it, so we’ll stick with the CBS poll). To my generation, this isn’t an issue, and with each passing year, more of my generation votes and determines the course of the nation. To sum up what Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal said to a Republican lawmaker seeking to start the process of amending the state consitution to reverse the court’s ruling, “You’ve already lost.”

~ by Benji on April 8, 2009.

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