May 30, 2008

The Pendulum Swings Toward Same-Sex Marriage

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that poll numbers show a huge swing in California toward same-sex marriage--a critical trend with the likelihood of a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban it likely to be on the ballot in November.

In a dramatic reversal of decades of public opinion, California voters agree by a slim majority that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, according to a Field Poll released today.

By 51-42 percent, registered voters said they believed same-sex marriage should be legal in California. Only 28 percent favored gay marriage in 1977, when the Field Poll first asked that question, said Mark DiCamillo, the poll's director.

"This is a milestone in California," he said. "You can't downplay the importance of a change in an issue we've been tracking for 30 years."

"There's a certain validation when the state Supreme Court makes a ruling that you can't discriminate when it comes to marriage," he said. "That may have been enough to move some people who were on the fence about same-sex marriage."

The article also refers to another poll that shows 54% against same-sex marriage, but even that would represent a significant move of the needle in the direction of acceptance with over five months to move it far enough to defeat the ballot initiative.

I also ran across this blog post where another person has morphed in to a straight ally.

Anyway, here's the thing: once I got married, I discovered something that surprised me about myself: I really love married life! I'd always cherished the quotidian joys of spending every day with the person I love most in the world -- that didn't change. But what I love about marriage (or my marriage, anyway -- Maude knows your mileage may vary!) is the security of it. If my husband and I had agreed to live together and made a lifelong private commitment to each other, I think that eventually I would have felt insecure. I would have thought, why does my partner not want to make that ultimate level of commitment -- marriage? Even if we'd chosen not to marry for political reasons, I believe that those doubts would have gnawed at me.

So, yes, the personal sense of security I get from being married -- a security that I'm sure many other happily married folks also share -- is definitely one of marriage's benefits. As is the social status -- because, as uncomfortable as I may be with that kind of undeserved privilege, it certainly redounds to my advantage. Not to mention the legal rights and benefits that accrue from marriage -- all 1,049 of them (and counting).

All of which brings me to the change of heart I'd had about gay marriage. It now seems obvious to me that focusing on gay marriage was a stroke of genius on the part of the GLBT groups. It was daring, because it dramatically took issue with conventional wisdom (the same kind of conventional wisdom that has so sagely counseled us that, among other things, Democrats shouldn't oppose the Iraq War, or they'll look weak, and that Democrats shouldn't "go negative" against the President, because that will be unpopular. And on and on). But it was brilliant, because it gets people right where they live. It exposes the evil lie on the part of conservatives that being gay is about some debased, sinful lifestyle, and makes it crystal clear that what the whole gay rights debate is really about nothing more than the right to love, and to live in dignity.

I was in Cali last week, and one day after the gay marriage decision came down I met a gay man who told me that the previous day, his partner of 38 years had asked him to marry him. I was so touched I started to mist up.
So here's to you, D., and your future husband. I hope you two crazy kids are sure about what you're doing -- wouldn't want you to try anything rash! Many, many happy returns to both of you.

You can keep up with the latest at the Equality California website.

1 comment:

  1. These are interesting times. A Utah poll favored gay marriage as well. Marriage is a basic civil right that should be attainable by all Americans if they choose. For those who are uncomfortable with gay marriage check out our short produced to educate & defuse the controversy. It has a way of opening closed minds & provides some sanity on the issue: