Today is Valentine’s Day. My partner Lynn and I can tell each all day long how much we mean to each other, that we love each other, that we’re committed to each other for the long haul. But, the two words we can’t say in any legally binding way are “I do.”
I turn fifty next week and I’d really like to be able to get married to the person I love before we’re both too old to enjoy all the rights and responsibilities that come with legal marriage.
With the Presidential race dominating our collective consciousness, we need to watch out for stealth campaigns to make marriage equality a wedge issue in various states. Now, these may be states that will go to the Republican candidate anyway—like Arizona which is quite likely to vote for its favorite son, John McCain.
Lawmakers there want to put a constitutional ban on marriage equality on the ballot even after a similar measure was defeated by the voters in November of 2006. The new bill, however, isn’t an exact copy of the old. Arizona’s marriage equality opponents learned a thing or two from their earlier defeat. The proposal they’re floating for approval won’t ban the recognition of civil unions or domestic partnerships. Arizona voters in 2006 felt banning all three—marriage equality, civil unions and domestic partnerships—was just a bit to punitive. We’ll see if those same voters want to codify marriage as being purely in the heterosexual realm.
The same can’t be said about the straight only marriage advocates in Florida. After four years of collecting signatures, Florida4Marriage managed to get 649,346 signatures to put their Marriage Protection Amendment on November’s ballot. This is a bill that would not only ban lesbians and gay men from marrying but would also deny us domestic partnerships and civil unions. Basically—we’re worthless in the eyes of Florida’s Radical Christian Right.
However, if there was ever a state where marriage equality could become a wedge issue for the Presidential race it’s Florida. And as we all know, winning Florida is key to winning the White House.
But this being Valentine’s Day and all—why don’t we focus on the love.
In Maryland, marriage equality activists have been lobbying their state legislature furiously and now think they’re close to have the necessary votes to pass a bill. The first hearing on the legislation legalizing same-sex marriage is being held today, Valentine’s Day. I think that’s fitting.
Then there’s Marla Spivak a student at Choate Rosemary Hall, a private prep school in Connecticut. Karl Rove was there. Spivak and Rove had an animated dialogue which ended with the student invoking the Constitution saying its reference to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” supported marriage equality. Rove just blathered on about polygamy. Go Marla.
To make sure we really feel the love, my favorite non-presidential candidate, Al Gore, recently posted a video blog on his Current TV website. In just a few seconds, Gore made it clear he wasn’t going to get into the race—he came out in favor of marriage equality.
He said “I think that gay men and women ought to have the same rights as heterosexual men and women, to make contracts, to have hospital visiting rights, to join together in marriage, and I don’t understand why it is considered by some people to be a threat to heterosexual marriage to allow it by gays and lesbians.”
Gore went on to talk about the importance of promoting faithfulness and loyalty regardless of sexual orientation otherwise one is simply promoting promiscuity. He ended by saying “All the loyalty and love that two people feel for one another when they fall in love ought to be celebrated and encouraged, and shouldn’t be prevented by any form of discrimination in the law.”
Finally, a straight national political leader who is respected in the international arena has the courage to stop dancing around this issue. Unlike his plans for Social Security during the 2000 race, he doesn’t want to put us and our relationships in a lock box. Instead, he wants all of us to show our love and affection for our partners just the way he and Tipper showed all of us what they mean to each other on national TV when he accepted the Democratic nomination for President eight years ago.
With any luck, Al Gore might be able to do for marriage equality what he’s done for global warming.