Time to Move On

The Garden State has become the latest state to legalize marriage equality, bringing the total number of U.S. states where equality is the law of the land up to 14, plus Washington D.C. While it is not surprising that the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex couples – given the recent court and legislative victories for equality – it is quite surprising that Governor Chris Christie has decided to drop his appeal of the court’s decision.

Had he gone through with his appeal, same-sex couples would still have been allowed to wed up until early next year, at which point they would possibly have their rights revoked. But, as one of Gov. Christie’s aids told the New York Times, the appeal was a “fool’s errand,” especially since the court’s decision was unanimous and included a justice he considered an ally. Even though he disagreed with the ruling, the governor realized that the tide of history and public opinion was against him. Continuing his irrelevant fight was pointless.

Kudos to the Christie Administration!

Nationally, conservatives could learn an important lesson from Christie’s decision to drop his appeal. Once a legal issue has been resolved either through a court decision or legislative action (or both), that’s the end of the story. It’s done. When one factors public opinion into the equation, it becomes even clearer; you may not like the outcome but it’s here to stay. Time to move on.

We recently went through an unnecessary, sixteen-day government shutdown and near-default on the nation’s credit because House Republicans refused to accept the fact that the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) was law. The signature achievement of the president’s first term passed both houses of Congress in 2010 and was upheld by the Supreme Court last year, not to mention the fact that the president won a second term with both the popular vote and a large majority of the electoral college. Despite the technical glitches on the federal website (as a result of high traffic), “Obamacare” is not only working but it’s becoming popular.

Apparently, all of that didn’t matter. The GOP, hijacked by the fringe Tea Party, ignored the constitution and democracy itself by bringing the country to its knees because they didn’t like that the ACA was law. They repeatedly refused to meet with Democrats to iron out a budget deal (until the polls started to sour against them) and voted over 40 times to overturn the ACA. Speaker Boehner’s caucus waged a one-house war on the nation and paid the price with a shattered public image and probably the 2014 midterm election.

Christie’s acceptance of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision should remind the far-right that it is pointless to drag out an issue that has already been resolved. Instead of acting like spoiled children – throwing national tantrums, putting hundreds of thousands of federal workers on furlough, dragging down the economy and international markets, trashing the nation’s international credibility – the GOP should take the advice it gave itself after the 2012 election and re-think its strategy. My advice – relegate the extremists back to the fringe and far away from party control. Grow up.

marriage equality - the law of the land in New Jersey

 

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My Two Cents On New York’s Legalization Of Marriage Equality

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.

A Manhattan crowd reacts to the passage of marriage equality in New York. Photo credit: Associated Press 2011