On Friday, June 24, 2011, New York joined five other U.S. states by legalizing same-sex marriage. The bill passed in both the Assembly and Senate and was immediately signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Equality won in New York. However, gay couples in 44 other states are still treated as second-class citizens.
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Washington D.C. and now New York are the only areas of the country where gay couples are seen as equal in the eyes of the law. Civil unions (rights nearly identical – but not equal to – marriage) are legal in five U.S. states, including New Jersey, Illinois, Hawaii, Delaware and Rhode Island. Domestic Partnerships (rights very similar to – but definitely not equal to – marriage) are legal in eight U.S. states, including California (where they are essentially civil unions), Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. A total of 30 states have discrimination etched into their constitutions…despite the 14th Amendment.
Times are changing. For the first time in U.S. history, a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage, according to a Gallup poll released earlier this year. Gallup found that 53 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, including a whopping 70 percent of young people (18-34).
Here in California, Prop 8 is most likely on its deathbed. The Ninth Circuit Court is continuing to review Judge Walker’s monumental 2010 decision that overturned Prop 8. I predict his decision will be upheld (thanks to his brilliant review) and that same-sex marriage will once again be legal in The Golden State before 2012. If not, gay activists and supporters have vowed to push for a ballot initiative in the 2012 election that would overturn Prop 8 and legalize same-sex marriage (what a sad statement on the justice system in this country if it comes to that…). If public opinion and changing attitudes are any indication, it would have no trouble passing.
When will the federal government of the United States treat all of its citizens equally? It is the 21st century and our knowledge of what it means to be human has progressed and evolved. Love transcends gender. Most people see their gay friends and family as deserving of all the rights they receive. 10 nations around the world have passed marriage equality. Isn’t the United States supposed to be a beacon of liberty and an example for the rest of the world to follow? One can only hope that the United States legal system doesn’t continue to drag its feet, trampling over the rights of an entire group of people.