This too shall pass
Back in May of this year I was all aglow because the state legislature and governor of Maine opened marriage to same-sex couples. Maine would have been the sixth state to allow same-sex marriage in the United States. But, like in California and 30 other states, same-sex marriage in Maine was defeated by popular vote.
Those on the side against same-sex marriage, like Maggie Gallagher, head of the National Organization for Marriage, love to boast that the “victory in Maine interrupts the cultural narrative that was being manufactured, that somehow American opinion is shifting on the gay marriage issue.”
On the contrary, Maggie; allow me to introduce you to Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune who points out that like organic yogurt, bans on same-sex marriage have an expiration date and they’re already beginning to smell:
Traditionalists take heart that same-sex marriage has lost every time it’s been on the ballot, and that a decisive majority of the public rejects it. The latest poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press finds 53 percent of Americans are against, with 39 percent in favor.
But anyone who denies that “American opinion is shifting” inhabits a fool’s paradise, whose walls are sagging noticeably. Opposition to gay marriage is shrinking. In 1996, 65 percent took a negative view. Since then, support has fallen by about one percentage point a year. Put another way, one out of every eight Americans has gone from opposing the concept to endorsing it.
Time is on the side of gay marriage. The heaviest opposition comes from people over 65. Among those under 30, by contrast, supporters predominate — and by a hefty 58-to-37 percent margin. Ask any actuary where this disparity will lead.
History repeats itself
The same-sex marriage struggle consistently draws so many parallels to interracial marriage. Recently a Louisiana justice refused to grant a license to an interracial couple, which sparked outrage across the country and prompted his resignation. Nowadays, we consider interracial marriage to be unobjectionable. But obviously that wasn’t always the case.
According to Gallup research, as recently as 1994 less than half of Americans approved of interracial marriage and just fifty years ago less than 5% of Americans approved of interracial marriage.
And let’s not forget that at least three constitutional amendments have been proposed to ban interracial marriage. How…eerie.
In 1871, Rep. Andrew King of Missouri was the first politician in Congress to propose a constitutional amendment to make interracial marriage illegal nation-wide. In 1912 Rep. Seaborn Roddenbery of Georgia introduced a proposal to create a nation-wide ban on interracial marriage through constitutional amendment. Spurred on by Roddenbery’s introduction of the amendment, politicians in many of the 19 states lacking anti-interracial marriage laws proposed their enactment.
In 1928, Rep. Coleman Blease of South Carolina proposed an amendment that went beyond the previous ones, requiring that Congress set a punishment for interracial couples attempting to get married and for people officiating an interracial marriage.
Obviously, none of these amendments were passed. In the 1940s and 1950s states repealed anti-miscegenation laws one by one on the grounds that it was unconstituional, but it wasn’t until Loving vs. Virginia in 1967 that interracial marriage was finally made legal throughout the United States.
In the past 80 years we’ve gone from supporting constitutional amendments that would ban interracial marriages to firing racist court justices who have the audacity to deny a marriage license to an interracial couple.
Like bans on interracial marriage before them, bans on same-sex marriage will be repealed one by one until, finally, the bans are deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
To those of us who live in states where same-sex marriage is illegal, remember: “This too shall pass.”