Today I learned more about California’s Proposition 8, a ballot proposal to limit marriages there to heterosexual couples only. The more I think about this the more I wonder, is this the sort of issue you put in front of voters? What if we did that with civil rights back in the 50′s and 60′s? Would Barack Obama be where he is today? Or would we still have different water fountains for whites and non-whites? Would interracial marriage also be illegal? Would we have a uniform application of legal rights and restrictions or a crazy-quilt of state-by-state rulings?
In the 1967 Loving v. Virginia case the courts struck down the various state laws that made interracial marriage illegal. In 1996 the DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) was passed, one of many efforts in Congress to “protect” marriage. Importantly, if you are gay and get married in a state that allows it, no other state need recognize that marriage. Sound familiar?
I support the right of straight and gay couples to marry with all the rights and responsibilities that entails, and I believe that that right should be nation-wide, not state-by-state. Separate but equal didn’t work when it came to civil rights for minorities and it won’t work now. Allowing the tyranny of the majority to parcel out rights to minorities this way is not helpful. Unfortunately neither candidate is supportive of gay marriage, and I particularly call out Obama on this, who should know better than anyone that separate but equal is wrongheaded; I can only hope that he’s saying what’s politically expedient rather than what’s in his heart (given that he’d turn off some voters if he declared his support of it).