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Gay marriage amendments and activism

  1. Nov 4, 2004 #1
    Amendments, defining marriage as between a man and a woman only, passed "overwhelmingly" in all 11 states that considered the issue on Tuesday. *(In fact, having the gay marriage issue on the ballot in Ohio may have elected Bush - but that’s another issue)*

    The issue here is this - should gay people accept the gains they have made in the last twenty or so years in this country and, as a consequence, accept the election results amending 11 state constitutions - for now? Or should they become more vocal, much more radical like the Blacks during the early periods of the civil rights movement? Before you respond (if anyone does) - recall that gays have been experiencing many gains in BOTH the law and in mainstream culture. But it's an evolution and one moving at an evolutionary pace. Part of this evolution was the Texas anti-sodomy laws which were struck down by the Supreme Court last year -- guaranteeing that 'right to privacy' between consenting adults. Note also that there are quite a few instances of openly gay characters and real people on TV and in other media - substantially depicting gays with respect. Might pushing this issue 'too hard,' at the present, and being 'too vocal,' at this time create a greater backlash than just witnessed at the polls on Tuesday. A greater backlash than a mere 11 states amending their constitutions? OR, in the alternative, will activism, making yourself be seen, and making the issues stand out for consideration make people question themselves and their values - much like Mahatma Gandhi did using his non-violent resistance?
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  3. Nov 4, 2004 #2


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    One lawyer, I can't recall his name, who I read about in an article yesterday (sorry, no source, I don't remember which place I read it), is representing a number of gay couples on this issue. His advice is actually not to have everyone run straight to the courts, but to be very selective about taking cases to the courts. The reason is that a few poorly grounded cases can set back progress even more by adding to the legal precedence for losing such cases. Instead, he recommends only taking cases to court if they have the strongest likelihood of winning so the legal precedence will favor gay rights.

    On last night's news, they were discussing the implications of Ohio's amendment not only for gay marriage but for domestic abuse protection. Apparently, the wording makes it possible to weaken domestic abuse laws for unmarried couples living together, regardless of sexual orientation, because those laws are extensions of rights initially granted to married couples. The wording of Ohio's amendment apparently says something about not granting marriage-like benefits to unmarried couples (in other words, it's also going to block domestic partner benefits and civil unions). I need to look further into this since I hadn't studied the wording too carefully. I was already opposed to the amendment on the general principle, so didn't need to pick through details to decide if it would also hurt other people aside from gay couples.
  4. Nov 4, 2004 #3
    Thanks for the thoughtful response --- I'll just add on the lawyer's advice 'to wait,' which you mentioned --- while waiting for the "right" set of circumstances is certainly advisable, I wonder if it is also advisable to balance that desire 'to wait' against the probable composition of the Supreme Court as time moves- (i.e. becoming increasingly more 'non-activist' on this issue and others). Since this will be a FEDERAL constitutional issue it will take time to find its way up to the US Supreme Court. Bush will undoubtedly appoint Supreme Court justices during this next four years. As time passes the chances increase the number of possible appointments.
  5. Nov 4, 2004 #4
    And to avoid drifting too far from the issue --- The question is still out there -- should gays / lesbians wait and hope OR will it serve their purpose better to become more active, more vocal on this issue? More like some of the non-violent acvtivism during the 1960s?
  6. Nov 4, 2004 #5


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    America is a conservative country and will not take too happily to extreme activism.But, for this same reason (especially with a conservative government holding power), waiting and hoping can't really help very much. Denying civil unions or legal rights IS going in the wrong direction.

    I second the aforementioned lawyer's advise : "Pick your battles wisely. America is more conservative than you thought."
  7. Nov 4, 2004 #6
    I may have been a little quick to frame this as a political issue -- that is, an across the board liberal / conservative issue. For example, Blacks, who tend to vote democrat and liberal on social issues -- are, on the whole, against gay marriage. Myself -- I'm moderately conservative yet favor gay marriage. So, maybe this is more of a religious issue? Note than even Oregon passed the man-woman marriage amendment.

    Just to throw the idea out there --- note that we have the Federal Marriage Amendment waiting in the wings. Could activism create the state votes, the backlash, needed to amend the federal constitution. With less "activist" Supreme Court judges (i.e. strict constitutionalists) that will surely populate the court in the next four years - is this the best tack? Who knows?

    Of course, forcing people to question this issue may help - but I wonder. Is the 'gay marriage' issue one that is mostly framed as a religious question for those who oppose? If so, than reason plays much less of a role and unyielding religious dogma (or slow yielding dogma) may carry the day --
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2004
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