Divorced on Election Day
Steve Clemons was married on August 18th and “divorced” on November 5th, thanks to the same California voters who overwhelmingly gave their 55 Electoral votes to Barack Obama narrowly passing Proposition 8 and overturning same-sex marriage in that state. He wonders,
[H]ow could people who helped deliver this man to the White House also spit on my decision to enter into marriage with someone I have been with for 17 years? Europe has embraced adjustments in marriage easily and in a socially healthy way, and yet we still stoke embers of nativism and fundamentalism in this country. Barack Obama’s voice was used on anti-gay marriage robocalls to African-American and Hispanic voters in California. To my knowledge, he didn’t ask for his voice not to be used.
I think intolerance is what undermines the glue of a nation, stirring up fear and violence at home and in wars abroad. We have a lot of intolerant Americans who helped elect George W. Bush twice to the White House, and now we have many other intolerant Americans who have come into their civic responsibilities as voters and have tainted the hope that people like my partner and I have for a better and more just nation that recognizes our relationship in the ways it should be recognized.
Political coalitions are built on complex motives and neither party has a monopoly on tolerance. The fact of the matter is that gay marriage doesn’t enjoy anything like majority support yet, in even more liberal states like California, and imposing it by judicial fiat almost certainly creates a backlash, transforming people who merely think gay marriage a bad idea into outraged activists.
The Steve Clemonses and Andrew Sullivans of the world, though, are why we’ll inevitably come to view same sex marriage in the same way as interracial marriage, where even most who are uneasy at the idea agree that it should be permitted. Both have been in longtime, committed relationships with the same partner while leading extraordinarily productive lives. It’s difficult to justify denying them the same rights and legitimacy as we extend to the likes of Britney Spears, Liz Taylor, and Michael Jackson.