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I want equal marriage. Heck I even want it bad.  But I have come to believe that having watched the referendums in Washington (civil union) and Maine (marriage) that this just isn't the time to fight for marriage, no matter how "back of the bus" it is.

I grew up Catholic but haven't called myself one in decades.  But I still remember the sacraments.  I don't know whether this is something practiced in other Christian faiths but to a Catholic, the sacraments are pretty much what keeps you out of hell.  Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and... Marriage.  As long as we're fighting for that word the Church is going to fight tooth and nail to stop us.  This is the same Catholic church that just opened its doors to Anglicans to come back to Father Church to get away from those icky homosexual lovers.  

They aren't going to back down (and I know we won't either) so it may be easier and more successful to pursue civil unions as an interim step towards getting marriage equality.  Looking at Maine and Washington and especially the predominately Catholic Franco-Americans that 2hughmaine spoke of it paints a picture of the Catholic Church stepping in to the fight in a big way when it's "marriage" on the line.  I think we should shoot for civil unions as a means to actually get some wins under our belt and let folks get used to the gay couples in their neighborhood and at work before we go for the gold ring and marriage.  Otherwise, we're going to have to fight one of the oldest, largest, and best funded organizations in the world every single step of the way.

Originally posted to AdamSchmidt on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 01:19 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The problem is the low turnout in off-year (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril

    Elections.  I think that Oregon, for example, along with most of New England, would probably approve gay marriage at the ballot box in a Presidential year because the electorate is younger and thus more supportive of GLBT rights.

    "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unknown

    by skywaker9 on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 01:27:38 PM PST

    •  I don't think it's a turnout thing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      Maybe I didn't make my point well.  It's about the word.  When I (and I suspect many here) hear the word "marriage", I think of two people in a committed relationship.  When Catholics think of the word "marriage", they think of a holy sacrament blessed by God between one man and one woman.  So for me to say that two men can marry, it doesn't involve any redefinition but for a Catholic it means redefining the word "marriage".  This is what's setting the Catholics off so much and why they're willing to throw so much money behind fighting us.

      •  Yet somehow American Catholics (0+ / 0-)

        seem to have adjusted to the idea that marriage can be divorced, their holy sacrament be damned.

        I think we just need to keep swinging at the untrue belief that marriage=religion.

        You're advocating surrendering the word. I advocate staking our claim to it. Even if it slows the fight in the short term.

        Theocracy: 31 Democracy: 0 Another day living under the American Taliban.

        by Scott Wooledge on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 01:56:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Look at your own tag line (0+ / 0-)

          Going by the tactic of winning civil unions first and then shooting for marriage, we've got five wins under our belt.  

          And no, the Catholic Church still takes a very dim view of divorce and several times in recent years has spoken out against political candidates because of their having been divorced.  But in one thing here you're right... American Catholics are slowly realizing that their beliefs don't match up with that of Father Church.  Given time their attitudes will change but we're talking decades here, not years.  My father still objects to the mass not being said in Latin... something that changed with Vatican II in 1965.

          •  You're talking out of grief (0+ / 0-)

            sure we lost CA, Sure we lost ME.

            But we've won in RI, won in CT, won in IA, won in MA, we've won in VT, we've won in NH, we're about to win in Washington DC, our nation's capital!

            I know we'll win in NY in the next 2 years.

            So who is this "WE?" you are advising?

            Who are you talking should settle for civil unions? The entire country? Maybe Federally, if it endows joint tax, immigration rights, etc... In fact, I'll go absolutely on that.

            TX? Yeah, that might be the smarter plan.

            ME? Guess so now.

            New York? No, I'm not onboard. CA? No, I think they can pull it off in 2010, 2012 the latest.

            Theocracy: 31 Democracy: 0 Another day living under the American Taliban.

            by Scott Wooledge on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 02:11:52 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not sure about "probably" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CMYK

      I still think it'll be a tough fight...but yeah presidential years are the key. There should be SSM initiatives all over the country in 2012. Even better would be a presidential candidate who spent some political capital in endorsing these efforts...as BHO could've done in California, a state he won by 25 points. (and if endorsing is a step too far...hell, at least put out a statement saying the other side shouldn't use your image implying you agree with them, as happened in Cali)

  •  You will have to fight them anyway, they'll (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    janinsanfran, Clarknt67, CMYK

    never give in.  They're all about power and control, especially control over sex and sexuality.

    "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

    by enhydra lutris on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 01:33:28 PM PST

    •  True but... (0+ / 0-)

      At least we'll be on the bus.  I hear a lot of folks say that we need to fight for marriage because separate but equal isn't.  That being seated in the back of the bus is unacceptable and I agree that in the long term it isn't.  But at least with civil unions we'll be on the @$#%ing bus!  Right now we're effectively standing on the side of the road and screaming for the bus to stop as it blazes by splashing water on us.  Why not try to get on the bus first before we start fighting over seating arrangements?

      •  It is a question of funding and organizing (0+ / 0-)

        two massive campaigns versus one.  I do see your point, however.  Heck, you'd maybe even get a peep from the bully pulpit with civil unions as a goal.

        "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

        by enhydra lutris on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 03:03:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  An alternative of sorts, is to make the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maryru, kyril, cermakRd

    civil union or d.p. the one and only one thing your state in fact licenses, with 'marriage' reserved for the religious, and make all legal rights hinge on the cu or dp  status. (WA chose dp, after a court decision that said 'marriage' was for the sole purpose of creating biological children, a juridical history most other states have been spared, so terminology was the trick), no matter how beautiful the M word may be to many. I have proposed this in the past in various places, as it is similar to many European systems where the license and the Registry Office is what gives the legal effect, and you can skip the church but not the registry office. That leaves church folk to fight it out. Contra, I realize that the Maine proposal had an opt out for religious and that saved the Mainers and those who care for them no pain whatever. But it is a useful thought, from someone grinning in WA.

  •  I Wonder If Maine Marriage Activists (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jethropalerobber

    will now pursue this type strategy.  Marriage was passed and signed but the voters denied it.  Gays and lesbians in Maine need legal protection now.  

    Maybe they get civil unions passed through the legislature and signed by the Governor next session.  That would allow for legal protections until they can build up the support they need to sustain a gay marriage bill in the future.

    I know this might sound like going backwards when they already were going to have marriage but the election results point to the need to convince more people.  So get legal status equality in short run in form of civil unions and then regroup for a fight for marriage down the road.  California gays and lesbians at least had domestic partnerships with full rights of marriage available to them once Prop 8 passed.

    •  Baldacci made some comments about (0+ / 0-)

      how civil unions weren't really equal, which is how he came around to gay marriage after dithering.

      Now he'll sign civil union legislation?

      Oh, I'm sure he would but jeez that's politically.... ackward!

      Theocracy: 31 Democracy: 0 Another day living under the American Taliban.

      by Scott Wooledge on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 01:49:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, rights are needed now (0+ / 0-)

      I'm not sure time is needed so much to change minds as to allow natural mortality to take its toll on the anti-gay marriage folks. Not that all older folks are anti-gay marriage, some are not, but the rates are higher amongst the older generations.

      •  But What About Getting Something Now (0+ / 0-)

        Civil Unions would sail through the Maine Legislature and be signed.  And the voters who almost upheld marriage would most certainly uphold a civil unions law since the real hang up was the word "marriage".

        Think long term to get the real goal....another marriage bill in a few years that withstands a likely referendum.

  •  You're just moving the playing field (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, PerfectStormer, CajunBoyLgb

    As Ref 71 shows. They'll fight us tooth and nail no matter what, suck up our time and suck up our resources.

    You may seem more short term victories, as you can contrast WA to ME.

    But at what price? Gays in the military was a big issue in the early 90s. Clinton's half-assed "compromise" reset the clock for 16 years.

    And functionally, we're still at the same place for gay service members. And still arguing about the issue.

    When the war is over, I'd rather have Equality rather than Separate but (not) Equal.

    Theocracy: 31 Democracy: 0 Another day living under the American Taliban.

    by Scott Wooledge on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 01:47:07 PM PST

    •  Moving the playing field to one we can win (0+ / 0-)

      Unless it's through the SCOTUS, there is no fast win for this fight.  And yes, I agree with you that the only actual win for the war is marriage equality.  What I'm suggesting is a tactic for winning that war... move the battles to ones we can win by minimizing the religious element.  Use that to give ourselves the benefits of marriage in the meantime while also giving ourselves the appearance of momentum.  

      Yes, we're gaining in the fight about 1% a year based off of various state referendums on the issue.  But if we can win civil unions in a number of states it changes the fight to one it looks like we'll win which combined with changing demographics will make it easier to win the war.  And the more people get used to that "nice gay couple down the street", the less likely they're going to throw conniption fits over the idea of that gay couple being married.

      •  Civil unions have failed in NJ & VT (0+ / 0-)

        I don't personally endorse the idea of detouring toward failureon the way to success.

        You're entitled to your opinion, and certainly others share it.

        I'd encourage you to get involved in whatever movement is currently going on in your state. We don't have a national agenda for marriage equality. By choice and design that is.

        Here in my state of NY, it looks like a gay marriage bill may be on the floor of the State Senate soon, after passing the House. I certainly wouldn't say scrapping those plans in favor of Civil Unions is a superior plan.

        Theocracy: 31 Democracy: 0 Another day living under the American Taliban.

        by Scott Wooledge on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 02:03:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  More power to NY then (0+ / 0-)

          And if it can pass, I'll be in the streets celebrating the day it does.  And then I'll probably get blind drunk with sheer relief after 20 years of fighting this fight.

          But I don't live in New York.  I live in Georgia which passed a state constitutional amendment with 76% of the vote that not only bans same-sex marriage, it bans anything by any name that would grant the same rights and privileges as marriage to a same-sex couple.  And then it goes on to say that it specifically rejects any such contract that is performed in any other state or country.  When marriage equality comes to Georgia, it will be because DOMA's been overturned and the full faith and credit clause has been used in a court case, not because of the electorate.

          •  Well if that's the "We" you're talking about (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Liberalindependent28

            when you say

            the playing field to one we can win

            Then I agree that's probably a better strategy for your state, Georgia. I do believe it will be a big win to get separate but equal there.

            Theocracy: 31 Democracy: 0 Another day living under the American Taliban.

            by Scott Wooledge on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 02:14:23 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  are you saying they're no better than nothing? (0+ / 0-)

          "I don't think they're going to be any more successful in 2010" -Yes On 8 co-manager

          by jethropalerobber on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 02:16:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No the diarist was unclear (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Liberalindependent28

            who he was advising should just give up on the thought of fighting for marriage equality. I'm saying there's not a one-size-fits-all strategy for the entire American GLBT movement.

            And in some cases, YES, marriage is better than compromise, NY & CA can join MA, VT, CT, IA, RI & NH in four years tops. I personally think that's worth the fight over compromise, which could delay full marriage equality 5-10, 15 years.

            The diarist, being from GA, is probably right too, for his state. Marriage equality could be 10-20 years off. If they can achieve separate but equal, that would be huge for his people.

            This is all just my opinion.

            Theocracy: 31 Democracy: 0 Another day living under the American Taliban.

            by Scott Wooledge on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 02:21:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sorry, I'll explain my definition of "we" (0+ / 0-)

              When I say "we", I mean all of us in this fight across the United States.  Yes, there are a couple states that have possibilities for actual equal, front seat on the bus, marriage.  But we said that about Maine, we said that about California, and we said that about Massachusetts.  What I am recommending "we" do, is launch a broader campaign in more states going for civil unions as a way to get victories (and actual rights for actual people) as part of a broader effort to win the war.

              Remember, we won the fights in California and Maine only to lose it by referendums.  So just because the legislature votes it in doesn't mean it'll stick... even in New York.

              My honest opinion is that this war will be won in the courts.  That one or more states will enact that aforementioned "actual equal, front seat on the bus, marriage", DOMA will get challenged (if it hasn't been killed before then), and that will lead to a full faith and credit fight in the SCOTUS which we'll win unless the court is packed hard right since it really is a constitutional issue.  That'll lead to a series of fights regarding states that made it unconstitutional for their state and they'll lose those fights hard and fast.

              But wouldn't it be easier to get a state to go along with marriage equality if they can look at a number of states, maybe even neighboring states, and see that the world didn't come to the end when they got civil unions?  Cats didn't sleep with dogs, kids weren't force-fed gay porn, but that state's tourism dollars went up instead.  There are a lot of states where we aren't going to win a marriage equality fight right now but we can win a civil union fight... Maine was probably one of them.

              •  No, you're wrong here: (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Liberalindependent28

                legislature votes it in doesn't mean it'll stick... even in New York.

                NY has no referendum process for veto, and neither does another cusp state NJ (if they can squeak it out in Corzine's final months, Christie will clearly veto it, but he'll veto civil unions too, so... woe to gays in GOP controlled states.)

                So if NY and/or NJ move, it's done. It's law of the land, they'll have to mount a legislative repeal, which will be unlikely. (NY's SC is not an open avenue to overturn it either.)

                As they say all politics is local. So if you care, I'd suggest involving yourself in the movement in GA, where you can affect a decision to pursue domestic partnership vs. marriage strategy.

                Myself, I'll continue to push our state senate to move on full marriage. New York has been a beacon of progression in US history and we should continue to lead the nation by example.

                Theocracy: 31 Democracy: 0 Another day living under the American Taliban.

                by Scott Wooledge on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 02:47:10 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thanks for your work, Clarknt67. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Clarknt67

                  It's good to know they wouldn't be able to take our rights away in those two states when we attain Marriage Equality there.

                  My hope in the United States to be the land of the free was destroyed again in Maine.

                  by Liberalindependent28 on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 03:09:09 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I feel strongly about it too because (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Liberalindependent28

                    the fundies' favorite rallying cry is, "The world will end if the gays can marry."

                    We have 6 5 states that demonstrate daily that their view of the world is clearly unhinged. The more states we put in that column, the nuttier they look.

                    Theocracy: 31 Democracy: 0 Another day living under the American Taliban.

                    by Scott Wooledge on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 03:13:52 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Exactly. Doesn't the state of MA have the (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Clarknt67

                      lowest divorce and STD rates in the nation? That certainly doesn't fit in with their doomsday hypothesis that the world will end for a state that has Marriage Equality.

                      I'm keeping the faith that Corzine will do good by his LGBT supporters and get a Marriage bill signed. Is Bloomberg still trying to **** block the New York Marriage bill? I heard rumors that he was...

                      My hope in the United States to be the land of the free was destroyed again in Maine.

                      by Liberalindependent28 on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 03:20:49 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I haven't heard those rumors (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Liberalindependent28

                        and would have a hard time believing them. In public, he's one of our loudest advocates. Do you have a link?

                        Theocracy: 31 Democracy: 0 Another day living under the American Taliban.

                        by Scott Wooledge on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 03:42:24 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  It was a short article in the Advocate a few (0+ / 0-)

                          months ago. It was something about how he has financed the campaigns of many NYS Republican Senators, and that if he really wanted Marriage Equality he could sway them to cover for the Jesus-y Democrats who wouldn't vote for it. I'll try to find it.

                          My hope in the United States to be the land of the free was destroyed again in Maine.

                          by Liberalindependent28 on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 03:48:54 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  My thoughts (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Liberalindependent28

                            Bloomberg had been very outspoken, in front of cameras, in encouraging gay folks to lobby the Senate because he does seem to truly be on page with us that the right to marry should be ours.

                            One criticism he gets consistently is he's not great at playing nice with others, especially folks up in Albany. The interplay of city and state budgets means the mayor of NYC, no matter what party, must frequently must travel to Albany with his hat in hand. For education, fireman, cops, health services, you get it... So in terms of the Advocate, perched in West Hollywood, presuming when Mike should call in his chits, I'm skeptical of their perspective.

                            He's lost more than a few battles with Albany, on issues he truly staked his pride and political capitol on. The mayor of NYC has never held the power and respect he, at least IMO, should. See: "Ford to City: Drop Dead!"

                            Theocracy: 31 Democracy: 0 Another day living under the American Taliban.

                            by Scott Wooledge on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 08:02:01 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Ok. Well, I hope for you Noo Yawkas (0+ / 0-)

                            sakes that Bloomberg himself calls for the NYS Senate to extend Marriage Equality. :-)

                            You know much better then I do being in New York. Please keep us updated.

                            My hope in the United States to be the land of the free was destroyed again in Maine.

                            by Liberalindependent28 on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 08:12:34 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                •  That strategy won't work here (0+ / 0-)

                  As I said before, Georgia amended their constitution to make BOTH same-sex marriage and civil unions unconstitutional.

                  Just keep this in mind while you're advocating "swinging for the fences" in every state.  I've sat by my husband's hospital bedside as the nurse told me I had to leave because I wasn't a family member and visiting hours were over.  I have insurance but can't cover my husband because my employer has decided not to include unmarried partner benefits so if he gets seriously ill, we're going bankrupt.  And I guarantee that if I die before I can be legally wed to my husband that my parents will challenge my will.  

                  And I'm not alone.  Right now there's someone in Maine with absolutely no legal protections being told that visiting hours are over.  Right now there's someone who is losing their child because the state doesn't recognize them as a family and says that the child has only one parent and they're not it.  Right now someone is going bankrupt because they can't cover their loved one with their health insurance.  I'll hope and pray and contribute all the money I can towards victory in New York but in the meantime people are suffering because we're swinging for the fences instead of taking the victories we can win.

                  For me, I'm stuck here in a state where 3 out of every 4 people think it's a good thing that I can't stay by my husband's bedside if he gets sick.  My husband's mother lives near us and isn't in great health so we don't have any choice but to stay here until such time as she passes on.  And should she live on for years (as I sincerely hope she will), our only hope is that some state whether it be New York or somewhere else legalizes full marriage equality so that it can go to the federal courts and eventually gain full federal backing to overturn state laws and amendments.  Until then, real families (no matter what the right calls them) continue to suffer and tonight those families in Maine haven't got a thing to protect them... not even a separate but equal civil union.

                  •  WTF!? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Liberalindependent28

                    Just keep this in mind while you're advocating "swinging for the fences" in every state

                    I didn't say anything of the kind!

                    I said:

                    I'm saying there's not a one-size-fits-all strategy for the entire American GLBT movement.

                    ....

                    The diarist, being from GA, is probably right too, for his state. Marriage equality could be 10-20 years off. If they can achieve separate but equal, that would be huge for his people.

                    Theocracy: 31 Democracy: 0 Another day living under the American Taliban.

                    by Scott Wooledge on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 05:07:07 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

  •  It seems you're more concerned with... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clarknt67

    avoiding ever losing, than with the end result - which historically takes several cranks of the wheel to get to.

    Swing for the fences every time, I say. Take the wins you get, swing for more.

    Even in the losses, there's value in forcing bigots to out themselves - even if it's not immediately apparent.

  •  Deliberately confusing sacraments and contracts (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maryru, Clarknt67

    is the core tactic of the right.

    The marriage sacrament cannot be touched by any legislation thanks to the separation of church and state. But if it were, would anyone want the state to define sacraments?

    The marriage contract is, like all other contracts, defined by each state. Contracts are just written agreements enforceable by state law, and have nothing to do with state law.

    It's essential to clarify the distinction between the marriage sacrament and the marriage contract. Failure to do so allows the right to continue with this tactic indefinitely.

    I don't see why these plebiscites don't specifically state that "contracts, including the marriage contract, may involve members of either gender".

    But until a majority understands this distinction, no progress will be made. I prefer educating the confused to pandering to the religiose.

    A nation is a mutual undertaking. - Roger Ebert

    by Bob Love on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 01:59:21 PM PST

    •  You expect people to understand that? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love, maryru

      The Bangor daily news had one commenter ranting about people asking for "special rights".

      Someone of that ilk would have a hard time making the distinction between a perch and a parrot, much less a sacrament and a contract.

    •  Maine law had an exemption for churches (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberalindependent28

      so they could hang onto their own definition of "marriage" and refuse to marry whomever they wanted.

      That element never got played up in the campaign and I wondered if it might have taken some of the wind out of the fundies' sails.

  •  civil rights should not be decided... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clarknt67

    by majority vote.  period.  we can try to fight this battle, but it's playing into their game.  don't get me wrong, i'm glad we in WA won this thing but... the more we do this the more we justify the idea that it's appropriate to vote on someone else's rights.

    of course right now the courts are probably not friendlier turf even if it's the right avenue to explore this infringement on our rights.

  •  It's not about the word (0+ / 0-)

    If it were, DPs would be easy to pass.  But Look at Washington.  THere, it's not about marriage and it's agonizingly close.

    What it is about is, any recognition of us as human beings.  As  Pam quotes the bad guys, over at  the Blend:The Dying Hog of Homophobia, they don't care whether it's marriage or DPs, they hate US.

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