Within hours of the Vermont legislature's flip-off at the governor, the city council in our nation's capital (...Washington, D.C. ...) voted to "recognize" same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. And last, but not least, gay and lesbian families have been "invited" to the White House Easter Egg Hunt.
Wow, and it's not April Fool's Day. Let's backtrack a bit and review what has just happened.
Starting with Iowa, which for some strange reason usually gets to go first in most things political, Iowa Governor Chet Culver says he's "...reluctant to support amending the Iowa Constitution to add a provision that our Supreme Court has said is unlawful and discriminatory."
Additionally Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal released an extremely moving video saying why he wouldn't support legislative efforts to amend the Iowa state constitution.
In case you're wondering, it takes two consecutive legislative sessions, followed by a vote of the electorate, to change Iowa's State Constitution. IMHO, a prudent concept, considering the importance of any alteration to a state or federal constitution. Proposition 8 come to mind? More on that later...
If you think you know where I'm going, you are most likely wrong. But off we go, next northeastwards towards Vermont, the first state to put forth the idea of "civil unions" for gays and lesbians. On Monday, the Green Mountain state surprised us again by becoming the first state to legalize same-sex marriage without "prodding" from the judicial branch.
Before we leave Vermont, however, there's something very quirky about the Vermont Senate vote you should know. These guys knew the world was watching, the veto override was assured in the Senate and so they took a quick break before the all-important vote to conduct a Vermont maple syrup infomercial. Who knew Vermont maple syrup was fetching up to $60 a gallon?
Recapping, now four states "authorize" same-sex marriages. For those wondering, those states would be Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa. California - you are in legal limbo right now - so we're not counting you.
WOW! Homosexuals really exist after all! And everyone else thought it was just Hollywood, the Wizard of Oz and Judy Garland that just dreamed all of us up.
Four whole states, and a district (our nation's capital, to boot~!) desecrating the "sanctity of marriage." Jeez, we're all going to h&ll in a handbasket (whatever that means), and making serious headway on the same-sex marriage front.
Still think you know where I'm going? Probably not, so cool your jets.
To take a line from Eminem: "...Back to reality, oops there goes gravity, oops there goes gravity..."
Anyone that thinks two cute football players in Florida are going to be able to "tie the knot" in the next decade is delirious. While you're thinking about that, as fun as it may look in your mind, try counting the votes in Congress, or in nearly every statehouse in the country, on the issue of same-sex marriage. The votes don't add up - and will not for a very long time.
What about FEDERAL legislation regarding hate crimes, gays and lesbians serving in the United States military, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act? These are concrete, federal bills that will affect ALL Americans.
And don't even get me started with the "elephant" in the room - California's Proposition Hate. Been there, done that. This particular issue is sucking the air out of the room all across the nation, all the way to Annapolis, Maryland - where domestic partnership benefits legislation for state employees is about to crash and burn because lawmakers are afraid of the words "same-sex" and "marriage" in the same sentence.
As one friend said while giving me a "Reality Recognition" award, it is "extremely clear that America simply is not yet ready to start embracing same-sex marriage."
Who in the LGBTQ community had the nerve to hijack the gay and lesbian train and decide to take the "same-sex marriage" track to the Cleaver's or the Huxtable's house? Did "they" ask me? Did "they" ask you?
I've got many a friend and family - gay and straight - that don't want to have a thing to do with "marriage." Who is this magical "they" that decided same-sex marriage was more important than federal rights for our community all across America, not just in a few states and a 'district'? What about nearly every gay or lesbian servicemember that has to say goodbye to their partner before they leave their home because they can't be seen on base right before they board a plane to Iraq or Afghanistan to preserve our freedom? Did anyone ask them what should be on the front burner?
You can fool yourself into thinking the fight over same-sex marriage is more important, but you'd be wrong. This isn't about separate but equal, otherwise there would be "white marriage," "black marriage," "gay marriage," - and the list goes on. You cannot put an adjective in front of the word marriage. It doesn't make sense, so why try?
This single-minded focus on the words "same-sex marriage" is draining much-needed money away from non-profits doing important work, as well as draining brainpower that we could use to more quickly gain equality in other, more important arenas. Arenas that will then turn into a United States of America with equal rights - for EVERYONE.
It has been said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I have a different, but no less important expression: "Focus on the task at hand."
Right now, that task is national respect and recognition of the LGBTQ community. The task at hand is enacting a federal hate crimes bill for our community, repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell for the thousands of gay and lesbian servicemembers that have either been killed or injured in service to our nation, and enactment of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act - all on the federal level.
Yes, we have won several battles in the past week. But they are only battles. Let's aim to win the war for equality all across America, not just in a few convenient spots on the gay and lesbian map of equality.
IT IS TIME to stop playing with the lives of gay and lesbian Americans because of a single word. It is time to start playing offense, and teach this country what the meaning of "separation of church and state" really means. It is time to replace, symbolically as well as literally, the word "marriage" with something that works for all Americans.
So cool your jets, call your representatives and senators and fight for a few things that are achievable - for ALL of us.