Tuesday, March 6, 2012

One More Step

Last Thursday, our state government made Maryland the 8th state to allow same-sex marriage.  Not that anyone should get their hopes up or anything… No one can actually have a same-sex marriage until January of 2013… maybe.

The bill’s passage is only a stepping-stone to full marital freedom for gay couples.  One of the reasons the bill passed this year, after failing last year, is the cover provided by the referendum process.  Legislators that were on the fence were able to take the position that “The People” should be able to decide.  (Much like NJ Governor Chris Christie did when vetoing the gay marriage bill passed by the NJ legislature.)

This will truly be an incremental process.  Once the referendum has been fought, recounted and decided, then it will be the Courts’ turn.  No way that either side is going quit without seeking the Court to either overturn the law or determine the legality of the referendum.  In other words, people seeking a same-sex marriage in Maryland should probably wait a while before booking the hall.

When I wrote about the issue last year, (and again), the bill had passed the state Senate and was being sent to the House of Delegates.  It landed there with a bang as people crawled out of the woodwork to testify against it.  The bill never made it out of Committee because the House leaders couldn’t confirm enough votes for passage.

This year, Governor Martin O’Malley spearheaded the effort.  Last year, he made no such effort, saying only that he would sign the bill if it reached his desk.  This time, he wielded his considerable influence to shake out some votes and generally promote the issue.

Key in this was securing a couple of church leaders to come out in favor of the bill.  It wasn’t that their churches were going to be conducting any gay-marriage services, but they felt that was their right and others had their own rights to pursue the issue.  (Another difference between last year’s bill and this year’s bill was a strengthening of protections for churches so they wouldn’t be sued or forced to conduct services that they regarded as sinful.  I believe the wording was made similar to the bill that passed in New York.)

Unfortunately, these few churches are in the minority; the rest seem to be massing for a full-on assault to overturn the law in the referendum.  The black and Catholic churches are spearheading the movement. 

This is where it gets ugly.  The advertising blitz here is going to be off the charts.  With this being a presidential election coming up, and with our black President running for re-election, turnout is expected to be large in the metro-Baltimore area.  While that’s good for the President’s odds of carrying Maryland, it’s bad news for the gay marriage.  Historically, the black, church-going voters will vote against any gay marriage law.  I’m just hopeful that some more reasonable pastors and church leaders will step forward and accept the idea that others who don’t ascribe to those particular churches, should be allowed to pursue their own happiness.

As I’ve often said here in the past, I don’t see how gay people getting married “over there” has any impact on what happens “over here.”  The churches are permitted to continue discriminating against gay couples and the gay couples are permitted to attend other churches that accept them.  Win/win, so what’s the problem?

The problem is with the people that aren’t happy unless everyone else looks, acts and thinks just like they do.  Is it really that hard to just mind your own damn business?  There are gay people living and loving together no matter what happens.  Is their “title” really going to affect other people’s lives?

I further maintain that human rights should never be put to public vote.  If that were necessary in the 1960’s, we would never have gotten the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in effect across the country.  Human civil rights surpass mob rule.

In the United States of America, it is freedom for all, not freedom for some.  Opponents continue to bring up ridiculous red herrings, selective biblical references and ludicrous slippery slope arguments but none pass the smell test.  All one has to do is look at the states that already have same-sex marriage.  Are they falling apart?  Is there panic in the streets?  Are “The Children” being given lessons on how to have gay sex?

Nope.  Nothing’s happening, except that now there are a few more people with strong, legal bonds and the rights that go with them.


Mary Ann said...

PRAISE THE LORD. For Behold, all acts of Love and Pleasure are my rituals. Blessed BE.

Mrs. Bachelor Girl said...

Dude, I don't know what it is about Catholics in Maryland. Or maybe Catholics in the South, particularly Louisiana, are just more chilled out than they are everywhere else. Again, in all 34 of my years, I have never heard anyone say anything about gay people, gay rights, gay marriage or anything else explicitly gay in church. I mean, we certainly talk about social justice issues, but it's not like there are all these fire-and-brimstone speeches about the sinful acts everybody else is committing. We just...you know...have other stuff to think about.

Personally, I don't give a rat's ass who marries whom, and while I absolutely respect churches' rights not to perform marriages that go against their doctrine, I really can't see what's wrong with giving a binding legal contract to any consenting adult who wants one.

bluzdude said...

I don't personally know what they're saying in the churches, but the Bishops and Cardinals and stuff out here are all in the papers and on the news saying how they're going to mobilize to prevent this immoral same-sex marriage.

I'm sure it is very different here. Change is in the works. Not to be flip, but are there any southern states where they're considering a law to permit gay marriage? I'd bet that when that happens, you'll see a different side come out.

I hope, for our country's sake, that your churches are filled with people like you, so that the entire country is free for people to love and marry whomever they choose.

Jessica R. said...

This kills me. Kills me. Separation of church and state is all good when the state keeps their nose out of the church's business, but now the church needs to learn to keep their noses out of the state's business. I'm 100% with you on this one Bluz. Please let gay people marry. It doesn't have to be in your church if you don't like it, but don't butt in their lives where you're not wanted. Remember that whole love your neighbor thing? Yea, it's time to embrace that.

bluzdude said...

That's the thing, Jess... it doesn't affect anyone that's not directly involved in the marriage. All other concerns are merely prejudicial. All religious arguments are irrelevant under these circumstances because no church or religion are forced to do anything against their wishes. Insisting for dominance here is to insist that non-believers have to adhere to a religion to which they do not subscribe.

The only oppositions to this bill are based on fear and prejudice... and neither are sufficient basis for state law.

red pen mama said...

We lay Catholics in general are, actually, pretty chill. We listen good, and pray hard, but we pretty much also mind our own beeswax. The Bishops and such have to walk in step with the Big Guy in Rome. But many of us sincerely feel as long as governments don't impose on churches, then churches should return the favor.

Marriage as a legal entity should be the purview of the state. And everyone should have the right to the benefits the state accords to married couples. Plenty of couples get hitched without the benefit of a priest.

bluzdude said...

Yeah, it's the upper reaches that are driving these efforts, and they are generally the ones with whom I take issue. I don't see where they get off trying to put the kibosh on what non-Catholics, or people not seeking sanction of their church, are doing.

But it's funny because I don't think that the Catholics are going to be nearly the problem. There are way too many people like you and MBG that believe that people should be free to marry the person of their choosing. I'm more worried about the black Baptist churches. Acceptance of same-sex marriage among African-Americans is far lower than among the rest of the population.

We'll see what happens as the election season unfolds.

injaynesworld said...

Did you watch the live streaming of the reading of the play "8" on YouTube? If not, here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlUG8F9uVgM

It's an adaptation of the actual courtroom testimony from the Prop 8 lawsuit here in California over same sex marriage, and it's amazing. The cast is filled with top stars like Clooney, Bacon, Jane Lynch, Pitt, Christine Lahti and it's just a stage reading. It's about 45 minutes long. You will love it. I promise.

bluzdude said...

I saw some headlines about Clooney and the rest doing a "play," but I didn't know what it was all about. I'll check it out. Thanks!

sherry stanfa-stanley said...

Here's the thing: Most of the really fanatic anti-gays I know are manic bible-thumpers, who rely on the line in the bible about a man shalt not lie with another man.

Have we not learned anything in the hundreds of years since that book was written? What about genetics, which science has proven plays a part in the gay arena? What about changes in social awareness, not just about the rights of gays but also about the rights of women, which are clearly not also embraced in the bible?

Even the dictionary is updated, to reflect current knowledge, from time to time. But I suppose it's too much to ask for a revised edition of the Holy Bible.

bluzdude said...

The problem with the bible bigots is that they totally cherry pick. In addition to the Leviticus bit about men laying with men, you'll also find prohibitions on eating shrimp, wearing clothes from multiple threads, touching pig products, working on Sunday and charging interest from loans.

Unless the guy is a non-shrimp eating, football hating, cotton shirt-wearing guy that paid cash for his house and car, he's a fucking hypocrite that's using the Bible to cover for his existing prejudices.

Mary Ann said...

YAY BLUZ! Let's hear it for LEVITICUS!!