Friday, May 16, 2008

This is good -- and this is funny.

The California Supreme Court has said that a ban on gay marriage is not kosher. The state constitution guarantees equal protection under the law and this equality was denied by the ban. The court had been considered somewhat conservative so the ruling was not assured.

The ban was immediately denounced by Catholic bishops -- perhaps because age restrictions would still apply as they are equally enforced (even for altar boys). Governor Schwarzenegger said that he would oppose any attempts to overturn the ruling. Conservatives were foaming at the mouth of course. And they immediately started threatening to overturn the measure through a referendum.

But I think that would be a disaster for them. Let us recount a few facts from recent years. One is that when religion-addicts in Massachusetts tried to overturn the measure they had a major problem. After a few of years of gay couples marrying none of the apocalyptic results predicted by the Bible-beaters actually came to pass. Worse yet a lot of people got used to the idea. Even conservatives in the legislature started switching sides on the issue. By the time the signatures were collected to force the legislature to consider a referendum the tide had turned.

Supporters of the referendum had lost their seats in local elections, and with the numbers who had changed their minds, the anti-gay crusaders suddenly found they were in a decided minority. Then the Right-wing loonies tried to push a referendum in Arizona, the Goldwater state, to ban gay marriage. Voters rejected the ban.

Polls have shown that a majority of Californians are comfortable with the idea of same-sex marriage. If I were these sheet-wearing morons I'd squash the referendum idea immediately. A win would be hard going for them, very hard. And a lose in the most populous state of the union would be a major setback. They are better off pretending that the court is "attacking the will of the people" than proving that the people have moved on while the Christianists are still in the Dark Ages.

I'm almost tempted to sign a petition to put the damn thing on the ballot just because I think the it would lose, gay marriage would be affirmed, and a vote doing so in California would be a major blow to the Theopublicans. They simply can't afford to lose a popular vote on the issue and I think they will.

The Theopublicans knew the tide was turning against them. That is precisely why they tried to enshrine anti-gay bigotry in state constitution's. They wanted a dam which would prevent gay marriage. But those amendments are a temporary wall at best.

Even young Christians aren't lining up with the old farts in the pulpits anymore -- not on this issue. And the young in general are not sure why the presence of gay people sends some adults into a frenzy. (Freud might have some theories but I won't elaborate.)

As a sign of how much trouble gay marriage bans would have in California even the judge who wrote the dissent against the measure started her dissent stating that she wants California to legalize gay marriage herself.

Another problem for the opponents of gay marriage is that are a dying breed -- literally. It tends to be old people who get most hysterical about the issue not the young. And old voters tend to die more than young voters. And young voters who get older tend not to change their views that much as they age. So with each generation the numbers upset by the matter shrinks. It was the same when the Religious-Right predicted disasters if interracial marriage was allowed.

One sign of this shift can be found in that quintessential American television show -- the soaps. Every one of the soaps was losing viewers under the age of 34 -- every one but one. The one in question was As the World Turns. A year ago the soap added a gay plot line of the relationship between Luke and Noah. In one show they kissed and the fundamentalists had fits. The American Family Association wanted a boycott. Ratings went up. More and more young viewers started watching the show. At this point the network found they had another problem. Viewers were getting pissed off that the couple were at arms-length for episode after episode. They started webesites with countdowns of how long it had been since the two had kissed. For the record it was 211 days. Well the drought is over and young viewers have turned a show that was considered for the older crowd into a new young fad.

Now the fundies and farts might claim that Hollywood is cramming that down the throats of the viewers (a phrase they use often in such issues to the snickers of many). But Hollywood can "cram" all they want but they can't force people to watch. And the increase in popularity with the show indicates that a lot of people are no longer as mired in the 14th century as some Georgia tent revivalist.

So what is the funny aspect in this? Anti-gay Bob Barr jumped in and made a statement. Barr is pretending to be a libertarian in order to convince the Libertarian Party to nominate him president. He is the author of the odious Defense of Marriage Act. Barr now pretends "the primary reason for which I authored the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 was to ensure that each state remained free to determine for its citizens the basis on which marriage would be recognized within its borders..." Of course they were already free to do that. So his measure didn't change that at all. The only real change he pushed through was to impose a federal definition of marriage which explicitly denied rights to gay couples in any federal matter.

So even if a US citizen in California legally marries his or her foreign partner the Feds will still deport the partner. Under Barr's law there is no possibility of recognizing the marriage when it comes to immigration. Gee, Bob, what a sweetie you are!

I am not at all convinced that the individual states have the right to violate equal protection before the law. Apparently Mr. Barr would have been just peachy with Virginia cops when they broke into the bedroom of the Lovings, the incident that lead to the Supreme Court overturning bans on interracial marriages. So carting people off to jail for being legally married, as the Lovings were, would be a proper function of government in the world of Bob Barr.

Barr is in trouble when it comes to seeking the Libertarian Party nomination. Some in the party are happy to abandon all principles in order to attract more votes. They are even willing to run non-libertarians as the spokesman for what purports to be a libertarian party. But quite a few Libertarians are no feeling comfortable with the move. There is a backlash against the neo-con and theo-con Republicans who have infiltrated seeking to promote themselves at the expense of the party. Only time will tell what they will do.

Libertarians might want to take some advice from Mark Twain. Twain wrote to William Dean Howell, in 1884, "A man's first duty is to his own conscience & honor——the Party & the country come second to that, & never first... the only necessary thing to do, as I understand it, is that a man shall keep himself clean, (by withholding his vote for an improper man), even though the Party & the country go to destruction in consequence."

Photo: the famous kiss from As the World Turns. If you missed the story of Noah and Luke fans have all the clips at Youtube. So far the network is smart in not demanding they be pulled down. It is the Youtube clips that sent them all those young viewers that are boosting their ratings and advertising dollars.

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