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And now, reality.

In today’s Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer pens an interesting article in which he reiterates his decade-old prediction that polygamy will be the next big civil rights battle.

Forgetting the fact that he’s seemingly declared a premature victory for the proponents of same-sex marriage, Krauthammer’s article is academic. It’s hard to argue with his well-stated piece, although Andrew Sullivan did take a moment to respond. However, what he (and Sullivan) nearly leave out is anything but a minor mitigating factor: reality.

Krauthammer briefly bumps up against reality by noting:

“What is historically odd is that as gay marriage is gaining acceptance, the resistance to polygamy is much more powerful.”

It’s easy to argue – because it’s true – that being gay was once as unacceptable as polygamy is today; to argue that we’ll soon see polygamists join the battle for equality in any meaningful way, however, seems to strike a discordant melody. Why?

The civil rights battles of the 50s and 60s didn’t foster further animosity toward gays; those dots were far from connected – at least at the time. Arguably, it did start a steady – if somber – march toward a day when gay rights could be discussed as openly and productively as race-based civil rights.

Is that why there’s a gay recoil to this subject? Perhaps not.

Like it or not, Krauthammer might be right – but not because he’s a logical academic, or because he has his pulse on the nation. He might be right simply because disaffected groups will use the openings they’re presented with, and it’s very possible that polygamists will use gay marriage to move forward with their own agenda.

It’s also conceivable that gay rights activists are now viewing the polygamists on their coattails in much the same way that many African Americans view gays on theirs: they just don’t think it’s the same.

It’s still a safe bet that HRC shouldn’t worry yet that its upper-floor views might be blocked when the polygamists set up shop next door.

Security risks

Historically, being gay was considered a security risk because of an individual’s fear of being “found out.” Ostensibly, they might do anything – including give away state secrets – in order to keep mum the truth about their sexual orientation.

That was then, this is now. Until recently, sexual orientation wasn’t an obstacle to obtaining national security clearance; in today’s society, fear of being outed doesn’t mean what it might have in the past. The Bush Administration, continuing its efforts to drag our society back in time, has reinstated “being gay” as a possible factor in the denial of a national security clearance.

Perhaps it’s appropriate; this Administration is one of the few places left in America where the fear of being outed might be growing, rather than subsiding.

But where are we gonna put the memorial?

With the recent announcement that the African American Museum of History will be appropriately sited on the National Mall, it raises the question: where will we find space for the Rumsfeld Memorial?

Premature? Maybe not if you were in the Pentagon’s press briefing yesterday. In response to questions about a questionable political cartoon, Rumsfeld indicated that lots of great men have been lampooned by editorial cartoonists: Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt topped his list.

You see, the media hates great men. Like Don. (It’s a burden.)

The price of equality, finally quantified

In the first half of 2004, the Congressional Budget Office provided an estimate to a curious Congressman: how much would federal recognition of same-sex marriages cost? Their answer surprised us – it would actually net the feds right around $1 billion.

By all accounts, that’s a very rough estimate; it’s never easy to quantify how much equality will cost. Until today.

Meet Mark Jeason and Martin Murdick of Warren, Michigan, partners of nearly 18 years. Recently, they tried to join their local community center as a family and were denied. Apparently, the Warren Community Center only recognizes families who are recognized by the State of Michigan. Sounds like a valid basis for a mini-civil rights battle, eh?

Let’s look a little closer though, and keep in mind that Mark and Martin don’t have kids. Annual membership for a single adult in the center runs $230 a year, while family memberships run $500 a year. Certainly, a good deal for a family of three or more, but not necessarily for Mark & Martin – they’re actually fighting for the right to pay an additional $40 annually.

I’ll give them this: the fight for equality shouldn’t hinge on a good deal, but seriously, guys: shouldn’t you pick a battle that makes a little more sense?

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Congratulations, it’s a… net gain?

My [first?] 2006 Republican Rant

Republicans, as a group, aren’t a homogeneous population, nor are they controlled via mind control by the RNC. Basically, their message is bound to vary, depending on who is delivering it.

That said, they’re seemingly back on message when it comes to same-sex unions, after a minor slip-up last year in the Golden State.

The Washington Supreme Court is currently considering a challenge to the state’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a challenge that could result in one of three possible outcomes, according to the Advocate.

The options: first, the court could uphold the law, and nothing would change; second, the court could delcare the law unconstitutional and grant same-sex marriages on the spot (we’ll call that the “Massachusetts Plan”); third, they could declare the law unconstitutional and demand the legisltuare find a way to grant same-sex couples marriage-type rights (we’ll call that the “Vermont Plan.”)

What, you may ask, do Washington state Republicans have to say about this? They’re harping on the courts again, saying that marriage should be defined by the legislature, not those pesky activist judges.

That’s been the party line, but most recently, it required a little retooling by some folks down the coast. Which brings us back in time; while DA has been undeniably on hiatus for nearly a year, the one story that nearly brought it back to life was, not surprisingly, this one.

Anti-gay marriage Republicans, perhaps thinking short-sightedly, have always worked under the assumption that no legislature would ever have the chutzpah to legalize same-sex marriage. Under that assumption, their tirade on the court system always sounded good: the people (via the legislative branch) should decide this issue, not the courts. Then, along came California, and everything changed.

As everyone knows, this past September – facing the prospect of being the first Governor to sign a bill legalizing gay marriage – moderate Governor Arnold Swarzenegger balked.

If he had said that he just doesn’t believe in it, fine. That’s his prerogative.

If he had said that constituent calls into his office were overwhelmingly unsupportive of the bill, fine. It’s blatant followership, not leadership, but fine. There are plenty of leaders who value polls over their gut.

The Governator used neither of these justifications for his veto. Instead, he went where no Republican had gone before: he said that gay marriage in California was an issue that should be decided by the courts. Was the Governor grasping at straws to find a reason to oppose this bill? Was he following the GOP party line of “say no to happy gays?” I’m not sure.

Last night, however, the Governor went out on a political limb by making what is probably one of the most self-effacing State of the State speeches in California’s 155-year history. The Governor indicated he heard the voters’ message to “cut the warfare, cool the rhetoric,” and “find common ground.”

Maybe he’ll put down the RNC talking points and rediscover himself. Wait for it.

Where’s the beef?

Right-wing advocacy group One Million Moms has a reputation for alerting its members to corporate sponsorship of what it sees as questionable content on television, among other things. Today, however, they’ve chosen to jump on Kraft’s sponsorship of the Gay Games, but it’s not clear that they know why – other than simply, “it’s gay, it must be bad.”

The membership alert they issued today simply encourages members to contact the food manufacturer and tell them to stop sponsoring the games, noting:

“The gay games are supported and endorsed by dozens of homosexual activist groups and organizations, including homosexual magazines and television outlets.”

Most of their alerts, while no less anti-gay, are usually better defined. Why is Kraft’s sponsorship of an event that is attended by gays on private property, not televised on public airwaves or even paid attention to by national media is unclear.

As much as they argue the contrary, this isn’t pro-family, it’s simply anti-gay for anti-gay’s sake.

Leave the jokes to Will & Grace

In response to Governor Mitt Romney’s anti-same-sex-anything speech, Arline Isaacson of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus released the following statement, according to the Boston Herald:

“The governor’s kind of bi about this issue. In one venue he swings for civil unions and in another venue he says he has always been against them.”

The Governor’s flip-flop on this issue certainly provided more than adequate reason for a response from the Massachusetts GLPC, but the one they gave was childish and demeaning to the community they purport to defend. Ms. Isaacson may have thought her quips about the Governor being “bi” or “swinging” this way or that are cute, but if they were uttered by someone on the other side, she (and the folks over at GLAAD would likely find it offensive.

There’s enough mockery and offense directed toward the GLBT community from outside sources, it seems hardly necessary to propagate it from the inside on such a serious political issue.

Governor Romney, President Romney

It could be the sign of the longest Presidential campaign season in recent history. Just barely a month hence the Second Inaugural of George W., Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is making a few strategic stops as well as a few strategic speeches.

In South Carolina this past Monday, Romney gave a speech outlining his hard line stance against not only gay marriage but against all psuedoforms of it as well, including civil unions. Now, this wouldn’t be too odd, considering President Bush recently held the same position – at least until his announced support for state-based civil unions a week prior to the election. However, the position of Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney doesn’t seem to jibe with Governor Mitt Romney.

The Boston Herald reported this week on the Presidential hopeful’s speech to South Carolina conservatives and noted that while in his home state of much-more-liberal Massachusetts, the Governor has actually supported civil unions. So which one of them is running for President?

The Governor’s office is quick to note that the Governor’s support for civil unions was only a last-ditch effort to stop May 17th’s same-sex marriage fiesta from happening, and under less than Defcon 1 circumstances, he’s still opposed.

So, I guess it’s only when he’s against the fence that his staunch values can be subject to compromise. Very Presidential.

It’s a different world…

Just shy of five years ago, a new era of equality for gay Americans was ushered in as Vermonters trekked to their town clerk to get civilly unioned. The court-forced action was heralded as a triumph for gay rights; men and women flew in from all across the nation to marry… well, men and women (respectively).

Just last year, the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts handed down and edict to the Legislature: legalize gay marriage. The legislature did, but not before considering a constitutional amendment to ban it. The measure still requires further legislative action before it can move forward, but gay marriages have moved forward for nearly a year.

Flash forward to the present and once again to gay-friendly New England. In the legislature of the State of Connecticut, two bills were being considered. One would grant same-sex couples the right to marry; the other would grant them the right to a civil union. Only this time, no one said they had to. Voluntary legislative action, it’s a wonderful thing.

Or is it? Gay activists should be hailing this as a milestone. The argument (though I consider it to be disingenuous) from gay marriage opponents has been rooted in the fact that these “activist judges” must be stopped and that gay marriage should not be decided by unelected leaders. (If Connecticut’s leaders decide to allow it, that tune will change.) But for now, voila, here we go.

Of course, it wouldn’t be progress if there weren’t a few hurdles in the way. Hurdle number one to marriage and/or civil unions? Gay activists.

The Connecticut rights group Love Makes a Family decided that they would support marriage, as opposed to civil unions. Fine. That should be the ultimate goal of any gay rights group, right? They’ve taken their preference to the next level, however – and as the Connecticut Legislature’s Judiciary Committee voted out a civil unions bill on an impressive 25-13 vote, Love Makes a Family decried their actions as a “step backward for Connecticut,” according to LMAF President Anne Stanback. Huh?

I certainly see where they’re going – civil unions are separate but equal. But this is a state-level legislative body voting without a mandate to grant marriage rights to gay citizens – and the top gay rights group in the state responds as if it’s an insult.

What a difference five years makes.