Thursday, October 28

Reaping the Whirlwind - Ben, at least you don't have to vote on a[nother] anti-gay marriage amendment in California this Tuesday. But in the eleven states where voters are considering the issue, the WashTimes estimates they will all pass.

While eight of the 11 are securely in Bush's column, there will be initiatives in two "battleground states" -- Michigan and Oregon -- and a particularly harsh amendment will be on the ballot in the crucial swing-state of Ohio. Especially in this dead-heat election, pundits are predicting that the opportunity to support an amendment will attract more pro-Bush voters to the polls and may, ultimately, result in four more years for Dubya.

Since all but one of the initiatives would ban recognition of civil unions, and some do worse, this election will -- regardless of the presidential outcome -- probably mark a significant erosion of gay rights nationwide. That raises serious questions about the wisdom and judgment of the activists who launched the culture war in Massachusetts without the tactics and the vision to deal with their "catastrophic success." In short, George Bush isn't the only one who can be faulted for not having a plan to "win the peace."

I have yet to see a sufficient strategy to overcome the reactionary forces who have roamed the land in the wake of Goodridge. True, the FMA was fended off, barely. Hanging one's hopes on the election of John Kerry -- a 50-50 proposition at best -- does not answer the fundamentally local issue of same-sex marriage. In the states, activists appear to be relying on their trusty standby -- the courts -- to pull their fat out of the fire. In Louisiana, the strategy has worked, so far. A similar narrow attack based on legal technicalities shows promise in Georgia. But that's chipping around the edges.

Ultimately, I believe this kulturkampf will be resolved not in court showdowns by activist community leaders but in the day-to-day interactions of gay and straight people across the nation. It's the slow, hard work of erasing stigma and changing prejudices. Next Tuesday's election will bring setbacks. Let's resolve to make them as short-lived as possible.