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Marriage Equality in Washington State Takes the Next Step
February 2, 2012 12:27 AM   Subscribe

The Washington State Senate has approved SB 6239, a bill granting marriage equality, in a 28-21 vote. It now moves on to the House, where its passage is all but assured, then to the desk of Governor Gregoire, who started the process earlier this year and has promised to sign it.

But, then what? As in 2009, when citizens voted 53-47 in favor of Referendum 71 to reject overturning the legislature's domestic partnership bill, the bill will likely be subject to a citizen referendum, rendering it temporarily inactive until approved by popular vote. A recent poll found that 55% of voters would approve that measure. If that holds true, same-sex marriages could begin in Washington State starting December 7th, 2012.
posted by 0xFCAF (70 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yay! My friends could get married!
posted by bigbigdog at 12:36 AM on February 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


Having a situation where the gays can get married in all the smart progressive states and not get married in the dumb conservative states (more or less) will be the exact sort of situation where the Supreme Court can step in and say gay marriages for everyone. Keep up the good work smart progressive states.
posted by andoatnp at 12:45 AM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


What about Iowa?

Also, WTF Oregon.
posted by sourbrew at 12:54 AM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought I read somewhere that, if passed by the House and then signed, current WA domestic partnerships would be invalidated. I wonder if there will be some legal limbo for couples, between the time the law is signed and the inevitable referendum that would be decided at election time?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:55 AM on February 2, 2012


Also, WTF Oregon.

Oregon is the New Hampshire of the Pacific Northwest.
posted by clarknova at 12:58 AM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


First... yay!

Second, I'm always curious, for those in the (increasing) minority on this issue: don't they ever have a sense of "Wow, I'm on the wrong side of history!", at all? Like, when everyone's disagreeing with you, don't most sane people start to ask themselves quietly "Am I way off base here?"

Heck, even of the people that voted for it tonight, a fair number said in their speeches some variation of "After praying for many months..." line. Which... really? Is it really that much of a question in their minds? Heck, even a few weeks ago when Gov. Gregoire had that emotional press conference, her comments all but implied "I just now realized I might be in the wrong here..."

I guess what I'm wondering is, don't conservatives ever say "We're the baddies"? Why don't they ever try to be on the other side of history's curve?
posted by hincandenza at 12:59 AM on February 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, WTF Oregon.

Oregon is the New Hampshire of the Pacific Northwest.


I'm not exactly sure what that means, but this link might prove informative...

http://www.basicrights.org/uncategorized/what-maine-and-washington-mean-for-marriage-equality-in-oregon/
posted by trackofalljades at 1:11 AM on February 2, 2012


Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo for Wa!
posted by klangklangston at 1:28 AM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't like the idea of a basic civil right being put up to a popular vote.
posted by mikehipp at 1:32 AM on February 2, 2012 [13 favorites]


Blazecock: what's going to happen, according to the news today, is that the domestic partnerships have two years to convert to 'marriage', or they will be changed for them by the records.

So there's still a two-year period where you can get domestic partnerships, then convert over (or, well, not if it fails to pass the referendum if that comes to pass).
posted by mephron at 1:32 AM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


(1) Marriage is a civil contract between a male and a female two persons who have each attained the age of eighteen years, and who are otherwise capable.

When people tell me "you can't redefine marriage" I explain how easy it is: You just apply a couple of HTML tags to the statute and voilà, it's done.
posted by three blind mice at 1:39 AM on February 2, 2012 [15 favorites]


I thought I read somewhere that, if passed by the House and then signed, current WA domestic partnerships would be invalidated

They have like 2 years to get married, or the state turns the domestic partnership into a marriage automatically. What you're worrying about won't be an issue.
posted by victory_laser at 1:58 AM on February 2, 2012


Yep, mephron discussed it up above.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:59 AM on February 2, 2012


Second, I'm always curious, for those in the (increasing) minority on this issue: don't they ever have a sense of "Wow, I'm on the wrong side of history!", at all? Like, when everyone's disagreeing with you, don't most sane people start to ask themselves quietly "Am I way off base here?"

Most of them only or mostly know people who agree with them, so it looks to them like they're in the majority, and pro-equality people are just as foreign to them as they are to you. And the margin of approval for marriage equality is still razor-thin nationwide, barely over 50%, and even that's within margins of error. It's still really easy for people to completely isolate themselves from those who disagree, and from those of us who are directly affected by this.

Multiple states are still discussing -- or have already passed -- laws that say it's perfectly ok to bully gay kids for being gay, as long as you can justify it with religion. These states are overwhelmingly homophobic, and many homophobes there would have to go out of their ways to find anyone who was in favor of marriage equality. Pro-queer rights people are an abstraction to them, much as antis are apparently an abstraction to you.

Still, the swing has been pretty steady (although it's slowing down again as we hit the people who just don't want to change their minds), so opinion is shifting. But there are a lot of people who have no motivation at all to shift, and plenty of motivation not to. Like many other civil rights issues, this is one that will have to be decided nationally, and public opinion will have to shift after the fact. Even then, there will be many people who never change their minds.
posted by MadGastronomer at 2:17 AM on February 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


When people tell me "you can't redefine marriage" I explain how easy it is: You just apply a couple of HTML tags to the statute and voilà, it's done.

Any legislative change which can be implemented using regular expressions can't be as complicated as all that.
posted by atrazine at 2:17 AM on February 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


If we ruin this by striking it down via referendum, I am going to be so embarrassed to live here...don't you dare do that to me, WA. We've been a mess at the whole "voting for reasonable things" recently, but this is a really good opportunity to prove that we actually deserve the ref system.
posted by zinful at 2:30 AM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm very proud to be a citizen of Washington right now. After yesterdays affirmation that my the work that I do at my job is meaningful, this sort of progression toward equality is meaningful. The state has no place affirming love and commitment. I don't mean to derail, but this seems directly pertinent our states feeling of it's citizens. I post this following link for everyone in Washington, and not just the 150,000 hospitality workers in our state. I'm the last male to speak.
Link
posted by ZaneJ. at 2:41 AM on February 2, 2012


I moved to Seattle from around Springfield, Massachusetts where I grew up. I dislike Massachusetts. There is only one reason that causes me to regret moving here. This election year could take that away, and I could finally be satisfied.

All of the above is the stupidest possible affirmative reason to support marriage equality. It doesn't matter where anyone is or came from. The only thing worse than not affirming a person's basic right and autonomy is having not affirmed that up to this point. It is well, well past time, but hopefully it will be this time and from now on. It's going to be "from then on" sometime anyway, let's just do it and refute the notion of second-class citizenry, shall we?
posted by Errant at 3:23 AM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oregon is the New Hampshire of the Pacific Northwest.

Gay marriage is legal in New Hampshire

LIVE FREE OR DIE
posted by Greg Nog at 5:11 AM on February 2, 2012


I guess what I'm wondering is, don't conservatives ever say "We're the baddies"?

Nope. They say "See! This proves that we're a persecuted minority, just like Jesus!"
posted by JoanArkham at 5:20 AM on February 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


I guess what I'm wondering is, don't conservatives ever say "We're the baddies yt "? Why don't they ever try to be on the other side of history's curve?

To be fair, they are conservative. If they change their minds or get ahead of the curve (except, perhaps, by accident), they kind of invalidate their entire philosophical stance.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:30 AM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


*taps foot, glares at California*

Congratulations, Washington!
posted by rtha at 5:46 AM on February 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Second, I'm always curious, for those in the (increasing) minority on this issue: don't they ever have a sense of "Wow, I'm on the wrong side of history!", at all? Like, when everyone's disagreeing with you, don't most sane people start to ask themselves quietly "Am I way off base here?"

I work with and am friends with a bunch of people who are either deeply conflicted about this issue, or fall slightly onto the anti side. They aren't raving homophobes like people here keep caricaturing the opposition, they are just people who maybe know one or two gay people slightly but certainly don't know anyone in the kind of long-term, loving gay relationship that would look like a heterosexual marriage. I mean, their mental picture of gayness looks more like the bar scenes in Cruising, rather than two middle aged gay dads paying their mortgage and arguing about who has to do the dishes tonight. And they aren't entirely on board with the idea that access to marriage is a basic human right, rather than an "extra" right that we are giving specially to the gays.

So yeah, "conservative" in the sense of uncomfortable with rapid change, but nothing that education and the right kinds of outreach won't help alleviate. I also know a couple people who are super religious and conservative, and they appear to be unmovable on this issue; my suspicion, though, is that as happened with religious opposition to interracial marriage, this will largely evaporate once gay marriage is legal and it is clear that it is not destroying churches or the institution of marriage. So down the road that will lessen, but I'm not sure there is a way to reach those people right now.

I guess my point here is that I wish we could have these discussions without calling people who are not currently supporters of gay marriage homophobes; even though some definitely are, others aren't, and calling them homophobes is a lot less productive than is thinking about how to do effective outreach and communication to help people find a way to become at least comfortable with the idea, if not a fervent supporter.
posted by Forktine at 6:03 AM on February 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Having a situation where the gays can get married in all the smart progressive states and not get married in the dumb conservative states (more or less) will be the exact sort of situation where the Supreme Court can step in and say gay marriages for everyone.

Careful there, having a situation where the Roberts Court has the opportunity to rule broadly on social issues is not at all likely to work out well for the progressive position.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:06 AM on February 2, 2012


I mean, their mental picture of gayness looks more like the bar scenes in Cruising, rather than two middle aged gay dads paying their mortgage and arguing about who has to do the dishes tonight. And they aren't entirely on board with the idea that access to marriage is a basic human right, rather than an "extra" right that we are giving specially to the gays.

How do people in this situation justify denying marriage to people even if they're the worst stereotype of gayness ever? I don't get that at all. Even if they really, really strongly disagree with the "gay lifestyle" in their heads, how does that, at all, translate into "ban their marriages"?

The only way this makes sense is if they also secretly (or even openly) support the idea of banning marriages for other kinds of stereotypes they don't like; i.e., loud neighbors, fat people, ugly people, etc.,

Seriously, how does that even work? Why is it not possible to disconnect "I don't like these people" from "I don't want them to have legal rights." That does seem to be the ultimate crux of all of this. Some people want laws for morality, but of course it's their morality.
posted by odinsdream at 6:36 AM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The go-to excuse is "marriage is for procreation and building families," I suppose. But I would really, sincerely like to have a non-flamey conversation with one of these people and have them tell me if my marriage should be valid or not. After all, I went into it knowing we weren't going to have kids.
posted by JoanArkham at 6:44 AM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]



I guess my point here is that I wish we could have these discussions without calling people who are not currently supporters of gay marriage homophobes; even though some definitely are, others aren't, and calling them homophobes is a lot less productive than is thinking about how to do effective outreach and communication to help people find a way to become at least comfortable with the idea, if not a fervent supporter.


Well, but they are homophobes. I suppose you might prefer heterosexist, which is semantically a slightly nicer term, but seriously, they are against me and mine getting our rights. That's heterosexist, and homophobic. They don't have to want to tie us to a fence and leave us to die of exposure to be actively hurting us.

It doesn't matter how nice they are, or how well-intentioned, they're still hurting us. It doesn't matter that they don't know they're hurting us and don't mean to hurt us, they're still hurting us. Their good intentions get them nothing, and their ignorance excuses nothing; indeed their ignorance is at the heart of the problem. If they don't like being called homophobes, then maybe they should educate themselves, and work on stopping doing homophobic things.

And, by the way, we find time and time again that gentle words win us no more people than getting angry does, and we are quite rightfully angry and people who want to deny us our rights. The Tone Argument doesn't work.

And if these bigots and homophobes stop me from being able to get marries in my home state, I will call them any name I choose, because they will, every single one of them, have unilaterally decided that I shouldn't have my rights. And fuck that, and fuck them.

And even if we are able to legally wed here at home, we won't be able to visit our families in Florida and Texas, without the protection of legal marriage, Florida hospitals have been known to deny access to an incapacitated for her spouse, even though they held each other's medical powers of attorney. it's happened more than once. Plus there are absolutely no protections for trans people, not even basic public accommodation ones.

And it's nice, well-meaning, people, who don't know any better, who do this to us. So I will call them any names I like, thanks.
posted by MadGastronomer at 6:54 AM on February 2, 2012 [18 favorites]


So how many states does this make that have gay marriage now, with how many more to go?
posted by orange swan at 6:58 AM on February 2, 2012


On the referendum: Opponents will have roughly 5 months this time to gather signatures instead of the 2.5 months they had for R-71. And it does seem this time some of the heavy hitters on the Right are making noise about dumping money and campaigning.

OTOH, the Republicans that crossed the aisle last night are all from suburb/exurb communities, which is a bad sign for opponents because they'll need every vote they can get in the burbs to offset Seattle's 70+% vote in favor of gay marriage. And even with R-71 Spokane voted in favor.

And oh, it's a federal election year, and everyone's already colored Washington blue.

So it's not a slam dunk, but it does look good for gay couples to plan on December weddings.
posted by dw at 7:01 AM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


So how many states does this make that have gay marriage now, with how many more to go?

6 have it. Should this bill become law and survive the referendum challenge, Washington will be the 7th. 43 to go.
posted by dw at 7:02 AM on February 2, 2012


I wonder if the recent rulings about how signatures on petitions are indeed public record will have any effect on whether people sign to put it on the ballot or not.

(Yes, I know that the ironically named Protect Marriage Washington filed a suit which stopped the release of the names, but that doesn't mean the public records status of signatures won't apply to future petitions. I'm still not quite sure how the signatures for R-71 can be kept out of public record when the SCOTUS ruled they must be disclosed, but I'm not a lawyer.)
posted by hippybear at 7:14 AM on February 2, 2012


what's going to happen, according to the news today, is that the domestic partnerships have two years to convert to 'marriage', or they will be changed for them by the records.

Is this really part of the bill? That seems a bit short-sighted, given that part of the bill was written not for same-sex couples, but for older heterosexual couples who wanted to form domestic partnerships but not get married because of legacy benefits being received by one or the other, or medical expense entanglements, etc. Is everyone with a DP registered going to suddenly be married? That could fuck up a lot of things for some who have chosen that status deliberately.
posted by hippybear at 7:16 AM on February 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is everyone with a DP registered going to suddenly be married? That could fuck up a lot of things for some who have chosen that status deliberately.
posted by hippybear at 7:16 AM on February 2 [+] [!]


I guess my question is, does a registered domestic partnership still count if no action is taken? Is it still valid, or do I have to re-up to marriage?
posted by gc at 7:22 AM on February 2, 2012


I demand biblical marriage!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:43 AM on February 2, 2012


dw: "6 have it."

And DC!
posted by schmod at 7:46 AM on February 2, 2012


DP registered

You have to register for those now? That takes all the spontaneity out of a good DP, doesn't it? I mean...hold on.

What? I'm busy posting and--what? Domestic what? Oh. Oh. That's...that's quite different.

Never mind. Carry on.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:54 AM on February 2, 2012


The go-to excuse is "marriage is for procreation and building families," I suppose.

Which is stupid all on its own without even getting into the discussion of gay marriage. It flies in the face of reality so clearly that it shouldn't be considered a valid argument.
posted by odinsdream at 7:54 AM on February 2, 2012


I really need to sign up for some CBT before I know if I'm ready for a DP.

Oh, hi. I'm in seventh grade.
posted by jph at 8:02 AM on February 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


If they don't like being called homophobes, then maybe they should educate themselves, and work on stopping doing homophobic things.

You don't think it's wrongheaded and hypocritical to try to shame people into accepting your viewpoint? Isn't this attitude of yours more about expressing your own frustration irrespective of pragmatism — which is the definition of childishness?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 8:49 AM on February 2, 2012


Is everyone with a DP registered going to suddenly be married?

Domestic partnerships would remain for senior couples where at least one partner is 62 years old or older. That provision was included to help seniors who don't remarry out of fear they could lose certain pension or Social Security benefits.
posted by JackFlash at 8:52 AM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


You don't think it's wrongheaded and hypocritical to try to shame people into accepting your viewpoint?

There is no valid argument against gay marriage except for homophobia. If they're ashamed of that position it's their own fault, not the fault of people supporting full human rights.
posted by odinsdream at 8:56 AM on February 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


What I think a lot of the "prayer" and "consideration" has to do with is that people are finally, FINALLY coming around to the realization that there can very easily be a difference between what you personally believe is morally right, and what is objectively just. To use a personal example: I believe, right now, that OJ Simpson murdered Nicole Brown Simpson. I believe that morally, he is guilty of that murder. But I also believe that acquitting him was the only just outcome, because the State did not prove its case and muddied the waters with planted evidence.

I think a lot of the more conservative Democrats (and the 4 Republicans! You go, guys!) who voted for the bill are realizing that even though they and their church believe that the matrimonial bond between a man and a woman is a special and holy thing, it is not just for the state to deny the civil rights of marriage on that basis. And personally, I think that's a much more important fight than the "gays aren't icky" fight -- because if we just realize "Oh, shit, gay people ARE totally OK and not icky, I guess we'd better grant them civil rights" then we still have the problem of denying rights on the grounds of ickiness. But if people open their eyes and make the decision that human beings have rights whether they're icky or not? Then that is a real and lasting change.

As for being on the wrong side of history? People do realize. My father realized his error literally overnight, after a colleague came out of the closet. My mother was a firm opponent of gay marriage and gay adoptions when I was in high school, and now she lives in Iowa and considers her state a shining example of how you do this, because voting on civil rights is pathetic and beneath us as Americans. My grandmother slowly and grudgingly came around to realizing that even if she didn't personally consider two men or two women to be married, there was tremendous justice in having the state consider them to be married. Even my neighbor, a conservative and passionate Catholic, declined to vote on R-71 (which would have repealed our state's domestic partnership statutes), because she could not bring herself to take civil protections away from people who loved. (Mind you, she didn't vote against it, either. But she didn't vote for it.) I monitor some crazy right-wing extremist type blogs and sites, and even there, the language and framing is changing, albeit slowly.

The Stranger, our alternative weekly, called out one young Republican senator on this issue, asking "Has Fain really not thought much about this issue? Is he really comfortable with the possibility of going down in history as the youngest Washington State Senator to vote against gay marriage the year it passed? Can he really imagine a "no" vote potentially following him for decades of future public service? Or does he really think that society is moving toward less acceptance of gay couples, and therefore future decades will bear out his current against-the-grain foresight?" I'm sure those thoughts were part of his decision to vote in favor of the bill.
posted by KathrynT at 9:43 AM on February 2, 2012 [6 favorites]



You don't think it's wrongheaded and hypocritical to try to shame people into accepting your viewpoint?


Go ask the people who've been doing that to LGBT's for centuries. Then come back and give your report.
posted by Twang at 9:43 AM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


You don't think it's wrongheaded and hypocritical to try to shame people into accepting your viewpoint?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 8:49 AM on February 2


I think the definition of childishness is trying to stop someone from doing something that doesn't harm you, on the grounds that the Mahabharata or the Qu'ran or your spooky book of mysterious magicks done by a dead ghost prohibits it. If you make decisions based on a book of wisdom that is super gung-ho and positive about literally asking someone to rape your daughters, you will get made fun of when you assert that same book prohibits dudes kissing each other.

I'll sorry they'll have to get over the awful humiliation of being made fun of. I'm sure it's much worse than being denied visitation to your dying partner in the hospital, or, say, being burned alive by a mob of fundamentalists.
posted by a_girl_irl at 9:46 AM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


YAY Washington!

(Oregon still has better wine, though.)
posted by Danf at 9:55 AM on February 2, 2012


You don't think it's wrongheaded and hypocritical to try to shame people into accepting your viewpoint?

It can be wrongheaded if done incorrectly (and it often is, since people have a tendency to hole up in the fortresses of their beliefs, preventing anything new from getting in), but speaking for myself, I certainly don't see any hypocrisy in trying to induce shame. Shame is among the best tools we have for enforcing social guidelines! If someone is actually made to feel ashamed for denying legal rights to people just because of who they love, then that's just wonderful!
posted by Greg Nog at 10:20 AM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


"You don't think it's wrongheaded and hypocritical to try to shame people into accepting your viewpoint? Isn't this attitude of yours more about expressing your own frustration irrespective of pragmatism — which is the definition of childishness?"

I have these discussions every day with people who are against a law we passed here in California that teaches the history of the gay rights movement in social studies classes. The effects, from the two year pilot program we monitored here and in Massachusetts, is that schools that include this into the curriculum see a 60 percent lower sexuality-based bullying rate, and they see a 50 percent lower LGBT teen suicide rate.

I always strive to remain respectful and polite, but the blunt fact is that homophobic viewpoints deny people equal rights and end up causing kids to kill themselves. It's fine if you want to hold those beliefs at home, but when you act on them through law, you're contributing to the deaths of innocent people, and that's wrong, whether out of ignorance or out of bias. (Luckily, ignorance is correctable.)

You're confused here because you think that religious shame is equal to the shame felt by someone who realizes that their beliefs are conflicting with their values, and someone who is having to confront the consequences of their actions. In fact, if you thought it through, you'd see the easy distinction: Should someone be ashamed of being LGBT? No. That shame has terrible consequences both for their life and for society. Should someone be ashamed of being homophobic (or racist or sexist)? Yes, because that homophobia — rather than the shame — is what is causing harm.

You're essentially asking, "Isn't it wrong to make shoplifters feel ashamed of stealing?" The answer is no, because that shame is justified.

As to whether it's effective, well, yeah, it is on the whole. Realizing that homophobic views aren't welcome — that they are shameful to express — is a good first step to stopping them from being transmitted to people who don't know any better. And that's often a first step toward workign to remedy that shame with positive action for equality.
posted by klangklangston at 10:21 AM on February 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


we find time and time again that gentle words win us no more people than getting angry does.

MadGastronomer, can you defend this assertion?

I'd like to hear more about the relative effectiveness of confrontation and conciliation in the evolution of American attitudes about same-sex marriage.
posted by Sauce Trough at 10:43 AM on February 2, 2012


Go ask the people who've been doing that to LGBT's for centuries. Then come back and give your report.

i did, they said it works p well

i asked some LGBTs what they thought and they said the whole thing made them uncomfortable because when certain kinds of shit happen to you, seeing it happen again brings back bad memories and a sick, tense feeling in the chest/heart

i explained that in a couple of the contexts we use it in today, it's justified and evolution has equipped us with this to maintain the integrity of the social unit like in hunter gathers times, and it's okay because it's justified, like how we need police to enforce laws

they gave me a weird look and it was like they were about to say something but then they didnt and they just left, i dunno what that was about
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:44 AM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Second, I'm always curious, for those in the (increasing) minority on this issue: don't they ever have a sense of "Wow, I'm on the wrong side of history!", at all? Like, when everyone's disagreeing with you, don't most sane people start to ask themselves quietly "Am I way off base here?"

As someone who was vehemently in favor of gay rights back in the day when that position was one held by a small minority, I'm not entirely sure of the force of this argument.

In any case, though, the process you're describing is exactly what is, in fact, happening--and all that talk about "I prayed on this for weeks before deciding..." is exactly what such a process looks like. If you're in your fifties or sixties you grew up in a world in which the idea of gay marriage simply didn't exist--unless you happened to move in a very far-out radical set. It was a world in which "sodomy" was still illegal in many states and where the simple fight to ban overt discrimination against gays was something only embraced by a fairly small fringe of the liberal left. Even as these people became adults, got married, had children, went into politics, shaped their political personae etc. etc. they all knew that a solid majority of their constituents were firmly and decidedly opposed to gay marriage. The emergence of (slim) majorities in favor of gay marriage in the electorate as a whole is a very recent phenomenon--and it's powerfully skewed demographically: young people are overwhelmingly in favor of gay marriage. People of the age group into which most politicians fall are still, for the most part, opposed.

It's not surprising, then, that we're seeing politicians change their opinions in line with the emerging electoral attitudes--but it's also not surprising that it's a slow and halting process.
posted by yoink at 11:09 AM on February 2, 2012


I'd like to hear more about the relative effectiveness of confrontation and conciliation in the evolution of American attitudes about same-sex marriage.

These photos are of protestors advocating gay rights, not same-sex marriage in particular, and were taken in the mid-1960s. Please note the signs, and the way the protesters are dressed. Please note what happened in the gay rights movement in, say, the following decade; consider the history of the mid/late 1970s - Anita Bryant, the Briggs Initiative, the assassinations of Moscone and Milk. And then: AIDS, the the years-long non-response by the Powers That Be, brought us ACT UP. If all of that seems like too long ago, you might also want to read up on the AB 101 Veto riot, noted as the largest gay riot in history. It happened in 1991.

Conciliation and gentleness are not always the wrong approach, and they are certainly not always ineffective. But they are also not the only tool in the box, and should not be treated as such. Generally speaking, confrontation and conciliation are often used simultaneously, but different people in the same broad movement.
posted by rtha at 11:24 AM on February 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


but different people in the same broad movement.

s/b by different people...

stupid lack of proofreading superpowers. Also, there's an extra "the" in that comment.
posted by rtha at 11:33 AM on February 2, 2012


I think the definition of childishness is trying to stop someone from doing something that doesn't harm you, on the grounds that the Mahabharata or the Qu'ran or your spooky book of mysterious magicks done by a dead ghost prohibits it.

Hi. Actually the Mahabharata contains numerous positive descriptions of gay, transgender, and genderqueer characters, including a couple primary protagonists, as well as a guy named Iravan who becomes the patron deity of transgender and "third-sex" devotees. Far from prohibiting anything of the sort, it explicitly encourages Hindus to accept people as they are, a lesson which is admittedly practiced far less often than it should be. One book of spooky magicks done by dead ghosts is not interchangeable with another one. Thanks.
posted by Errant at 11:45 AM on February 2, 2012 [10 favorites]


andoatnp: Having a situation where the gays can get married in all the smart progressive states and not get married in the dumb conservative states (more or less) will be the exact sort of situation where the Supreme Court can step in and say gay marriages for everyone.

With this Supreme Court as currently constituted?

Are you kidding?

esprit de l'escalier: Isn't this attitude of yours more about expressing your own frustration irrespective of pragmatism — which is the definition of childishness?

And what's the problem with expressing frustration, other than some misplaced notion that it's somehow "childish"? How is it wrong for me to vent frustration that the civil rights of me and my partner of 12 years depend almost exclusively on the whims of a group of crazy-assed, bigoted state legislators who are more childish in general than any average group of citizens on the street, or if they can't get away with that, then it depends on the caprices of a freaking referendum vote? What possible pragmatism is there in maintaining that because I'm gay I deserve to live in a permanent state of second-class citizenship? I defy you to come up with a single possible pragmatic motive in such a system that isn't tainted by religious intolerance, prejudice, and/or bigotry.
posted by blucevalo at 11:54 AM on February 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm always curious, for those in the (increasing) minority on this issue: don't they ever have a sense of "Wow, I'm on the wrong side of history!", at all? Like, when everyone's disagreeing with you, don't most sane people start to ask themselves quietly "Am I way off base here?"
Let's find out! Setting the Wayback Machine for the mid-2000s… when it seemed like everyone was in favor of torture, extralegal imprisonment, wars of choice and aggression, press suppression, travel checkpoints, and universal wiretapping… did I feel like I was on the “wrong side of history”? When some new, bizarre TSA requirement was announced, did I think to myself “Am I way off base here?” Answer: No, no I did not.

If your yardstick for whether people should hold a belief is whether that belief is currently winning the popularity contest, then you're implicitly asserting that there isn't a moral difference between torture and gay marriage. That's wrong. People may not have very good reasons for opposing gay marriage— I certainly haven't heard anyone articulate one— but they have reasons nonetheless. Maybe just because their TV said so. Maybe because the idea of gay sex gives them a funny tingle in their loins they don't want to acknowledge. Maybe because they've spent forty years figuring out how to live in the adult world of sexuality and they're terrified that a change, any change, will send them back to the uncertainty and isolation of adolescence. I don't know. But promoting the idea that people are expected to vote for what appears to be fashionable rather than what they think is right is sad.
posted by hattifattener at 12:01 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


With this Supreme Court as currently constituted?

Are you kidding?


5-4 striking down prop 8 and any related same-sex marriage amendments and legislation. Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer and Kennedy in the majority. Mark my words.

Why will Kennedy do it?

a) Because he did it before in Romer and Lawrence
b) Because he has a soul and a halfway functioning conscience unlike Scalia, Thomas or Roberts.
c) Because he wants something to be his legacy other than "he fucked this country with concurrence on Citizens United"
posted by Talez at 12:12 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


@errant

come on, "Mahabharata" is a funny word with all those plosives and vowels, sure its not technically correct and maybe a little bigoted but surely you can take the kind-of-joke for what it is
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:24 PM on February 2, 2012


esprit de l'escalier: Isn't this attitude of yours more about expressing your own frustration irrespective of pragmatism — which is the definition of childishness?

And what's the problem with expressing frustration, other than some misplaced notion that it's somehow "childish"? How is it wrong for me to vent frustration…


“Expressing frustration irrespective of pragmatism” means not thinking about whether your approach might work. It means just “venting” the way children throw tantrums in malls, cry at bus drivers, etc. Does shame really change minds? Did shaming gay people change their minds? Why should it work on homophobic people? Doesn't the whole approach have more to do with a vindictive desire to make others pay for injustice (despite doing nothing to prevent future injustice.)
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 12:35 PM on February 2, 2012


Did shaming gay people change their minds?

in some cases it made them act like their minds had been changed i guess?
Doesn't the whole approach have more to do with a vindictive desire to make others pay for injustice (despite doing nothing to prevent future injustice.)

nah, that doesnt sound right
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:41 PM on February 2, 2012


“Expressing frustration irrespective of pragmatism” means not thinking about whether your approach might work.

If I am in a face-to-face meeting at City Hall or something, will I be polite and use my Inside Voice? Yes. If I am venting on facebook or twitter or right here on mefi, I reserve the right to not act like the Perfect Light Of Reason And Generosity Forever n Ever Amen.

If you - anyone here - asks a sincere and non-shouty question about whether or not same-sex marriage is a good idea, I will, again, do my best to answer in the tone and spirit in which I am asked.

Pragmatism isn't some god that needs worshipping, and it isn't always the best or only frame for a discussion or for advocating change. It also isn't something that works only in [this one particular way]; it can mean different things in different contexts, and to different audiences. People getting pissed off and venting on the internet doesn't mean that klang's door-to-door work is suddenly upended and useless.
posted by rtha at 1:00 PM on February 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Talez: 5-4 striking down prop 8 and any related same-sex marriage amendments and legislation. Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer and Kennedy in the majority. Mark my words.

I'll mark your words when I see his name on the majority opinion or in a concurrence that rules in the manner you describe. Until then, I'm not holding my breath. Hanging hopes on a single supposed swing justice like Anthony Kennedy is like praying for rain in a drought, and if we get Romney in the White House and any of the four other justices retire (a good-to-strong likelihood in both cases), all bets are off.

esprit de l'escalier: “Expressing frustration irrespective of pragmatism” means not thinking about whether your approach might work. It means just “venting” the way children throw tantrums in malls, cry at bus drivers, etc.

And you have no actual response to my actual questions, other than to double down on your claim that expressing frustration is the functional equivalent of a child throwing a tantrum, which is entirely unsurprising. Your admirable inability to be impressed by tantrums is duly noted.
posted by blucevalo at 1:14 PM on February 2, 2012


As to whether it's effective, well, yeah, it is on the whole. Realizing that homophobic views aren't welcome — that they are shameful to express — is a good first step to stopping them from being transmitted to people who don't know any better. And that's often a first step toward workign to remedy that shame with positive action for equality.

I think it's misguided to vilify the expression of one's ignorant beliefs. Do you really think that bad ideas catch on like wildfire and corrupt innocent minds? So, you imagine a war of “media shame”: if “your side” can just shame them more than they shame you…?

What ends up happening is that the shamed beliefs are sublimated — so that people hang on to homophobia, racism, sexism without expressing them. And then there really is no hope of transformation because the person isn't confronting her emotional reality; it's buried by the feeling of being judged.

I agree with you that that homophobic views are harmful. I agree, from my limited experience, that someone who knows the full reality of those views and hangs on to them out of stubborn nastiness should feel ashamed. But, I don't think people should be ashamed of those views if they are the genuine result of their experience. People change when confronted by reality, and the only way for that to happen is if there is an environment where they can fearlessly share their worldview and listen to your experience. A world obsessed with shame is a silent world incapable of profound change.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 1:17 PM on February 2, 2012


And you have no actual response to my actual questions, other than to double down on your claim that expressing frustration is the functional equivalent of a child throwing a tantrum, which is entirely unsurprising.

You asked “what's the problem with expressing frustration?” Nothing's wrong with expressing frustration except when it's not pragmatic, in which case it really is childish. (I repeated myself because it seemed like you skipped over the word pragmatic to make your point.) Pragmatism is the God of action; it is razor on which useless behaviours are pruned and new ones are remembered. Children throw tantrums because they don't have the experience to know what works. Sometimes, what they end up doing to express their frustration (swearing at their parents, punching a window, etc.) is counterproductive. I think that using words like bigot as emotional bludgeons is counterproductive.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 1:32 PM on February 2, 2012


So how many states does this make that have gay marriage now, with how many more to go?

6 have it. Should this bill become law and survive the referendum challenge, Washington will be the 7th. 43 to go.


Another way to look at it is population and political power. Currently those six states comprise some 11% of the population and 12.5% of the electoral votes. Add Washington, and that rises to 13% and 14.5%. Using this as a barometer, I figure that RI, Hawaii, and even New Jersey (Christie agrees!) are cinches in the next year or so, and even California is likely to eventually unfuck its political gridlock on the issue. Some of those are small states, but throw in New Jersey, and you hit 17.5% and 19.5%. Add California, and you're up to 29.5% and 30%. Nearly one-third of the country and Congress and the electoral votes needed for the Presidency. And this is the within grasp, after merely some maneuvering, states. Not that any of this is really easy.

But sheesh. If same-sex marriage can survive in Iowa, and there are strong indicators it will, then there's little reason it can't eventually make it in about a dozen other states, among them Florida, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. It's also, to some extent, a waiting game: the deepest opposition to gay marriage is among senior citizens, while young people increasingly shrug their shoulders.
posted by dhartung at 1:34 PM on February 2, 2012


Do you really think that bad ideas catch on like wildfire and corrupt innocent minds?

Yes? Did you sleep through the whole Tea Party thing during the last election cycle? Have you missed a couple hundred years' worth of racist lies being propagated and adopted by people who don't know any better, and don't care that they don't know any better, they just want power?

What ends up happening is that the shamed beliefs are sublimated — so that people hang on to homophobia, racism, sexism without expressing them.


I wish. Decades of trying to make expressing racist beliefs doesn't seem to have worked on at least a few presidential candidates.

Personally, I could give a shit if people feel shame about their beliefs. I just want them to stop lying about blacks, immigrants, women, lgbt people etc. and on and on for political or financial gain. I'm pretty sure Newt Gingrich is incapable of feeling shame, but it would be awesome if he stopped saying shit about how all blacks should be asking for jobs instead of foodstamps. For instance.
posted by rtha at 1:50 PM on February 2, 2012


To be clear, I'm talking about U.S. political history in my comment.
posted by rtha at 1:57 PM on February 2, 2012


come on, "Mahabharata" is a funny word with all those plosives and vowels, sure its not technically correct and maybe a little bigoted but surely you can take the kind-of-joke for what it is

One of the oldest civilizations in the world thought that gender is fluid and not binary, that homosexuality and transgenderism were as much a part of nature as heterosexuality and cisgenderism, and that the more that people accepted others for who they were, the more enlightened those people would be. Then they had the good sense to write that down, somewhere between 2500 to 3000 years ago. Tolerance is not new. Acceptance is not new. Joy in diversity is not new. Appeals to antiquity and tradition by the religious zealot and the conservative homophobe are bullshit, and I can prove it. If you feel like getting that wrong for the sake of a maybe-bigoted joke about sky wizards, that's your call to make, but you should probably know how wrong you're getting it first.
posted by Errant at 3:33 PM on February 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


You don't think it's wrongheaded and hypocritical to try to shame people into accepting your viewpoint? Isn't this attitude of yours more about expressing your own frustration irrespective of pragmatism — which is the definition of childishness?

I don't care about their viewpoint, I care that they are attempting to deny me my rights, and that they are probably hurting people they know personally.

Plus, once again, people involved in various civil rights movements have seen, time and time again, that using nice language doesn't work. Dr. King himself remarked on it many times, including in the Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Go read it. And stop telling me to be nice to people who are doing me harm.

MadGastronomer, can you defend this assertion?

I'd like to hear more about the relative effectiveness of confrontation and conciliation in the evolution of American attitudes about same-sex marriage.


Go talk to activists in any civil rights movement. Our experiences should be enough. We are always told that it will work by people who say, "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" (a literally untrue statement, btw; vinegar with dish soap and water makes an excellent fruit fly trap), but in reality, it encourages people to continue to be nasty to us, because they know they will not be called on what they're actually doing: being bigots. When they receive no disincentive to behave badly, why should they change?

Can you defend the assertion that being polite actually makes progress?

“Expressing frustration irrespective of pragmatism” means not thinking about whether your approach might work. It means just “venting” the way children throw tantrums in malls, cry at bus drivers, etc. Does shame really change minds? Did shaming gay people change their minds? Why should it work on homophobic people? Doesn't the whole approach have more to do with a vindictive desire to make others pay for injustice (despite doing nothing to prevent future injustice.)

Only I'm not doing it without pragmatism. My experience has shown me that it works better than trying to appease the bigots. People who are genuinely polite to me, and ask sensible questions, to them I will be polite. People who are rude to me, and ask questions that are rude (no matter what their wording is), well, being rude to them seems to work pretty well for me.

I agree with you that that homophobic views are harmful. I agree, from my limited experience, that someone who knows the full reality of those views and hangs on to them out of stubborn nastiness should feel ashamed. But, I don't think people should be ashamed of those views if they are the genuine result of their experience. People change when confronted by reality, and the only way for that to happen is if there is an environment where they can fearlessly share their worldview and listen to your experience. A world obsessed with shame is a silent world incapable of profound change.

Your cowardly attitude is causing actual harm. Allowing these expressions of open homophobia to continue to be spoken is killing young people. You are personally enabling bigotry and suicide.
posted by MadGastronomer at 5:20 PM on February 2, 2012


They have like 2 years to get married, or the state turns the domestic partnership into a marriage automatically.

So, if somebody is currently in a domestic partnership, the state will automatically force them to gay marry?

That means the state is forcing people into gay marriage!

WE KNEW IT! WAKE UP SHEEPLE!

Of course I'm joking. This is wonderful news, and the state adoption of gay marriage appears to be accelerating. It's been great reading the SLOG coverage and credit has to be given to Governor Gregoire for helping accelerate this in WA. I'm looking forward to the happy pictures and videos of gay couples who have been waiting celebrating their new marriages.

Although, as somebody who is currently in a heterosexual domestic partnership, I should really start investigating whether I am going to be "automatically gay married" to my partner.

From a local tech viewpoint, one surprising fact is that Amazon belatedly came out in support of gay marriage. Amazon was always notably absent in previous efforts in WA to support gay marriage, even as other large local tech companies like Google, Microsoft, and Starbucks. They've received criticism for this in the past. I'm assuming the pressure from recruiting talent and appealing to generally liberal tech workers overcame the possible loss of sales. This is really encouraging.

"You don't think it's wrongheaded and hypocritical to try to shame people into accepting your viewpoint?"

Shame works. It may be wrong, and it may not be as effective as positive reinforcement, but it works. And the fight over R-71 shows, both sides in this issue recognize that fact.

Normally I'm very pro-privacy, but in this case shame has been used as a tool of repression for centuries to remove basic rights from homosexuals. I don't mind if people get a little shamed for attempting to take away people's rights.
posted by formless at 5:43 PM on February 2, 2012


It just passed the House.

It's done.
posted by mephron at 11:30 PM on February 8, 2012


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