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Monday, December 20, 2010

Military Equality Achieved. Now on to Marriage Equality

Image of 2 wounded soldiers; caption - '1 of them is gay. Does it matter who?'After yesterday's victory in the Senate, a bill repealing the discriminatory "don't ask, don't tell" military policy is being sent to the president's desk. It's a step in the right direction toward the equality of gays and lesbians, but of course it's not the final one. Most states don't enjoy marriage equality and many states are arguing whether gays and lesbians should even be allowed to adopt. It's a long road, but we just passed a mile marker.

One thing that's striking here is the lack of influence the religious right now has in Washington. Predictably, the lunatic God Squad is going into a full-blown Holy rage right now, but no one seems to care. With the rise of the Tea Party -- who mostly agree with the religious right, strangely enough -- an archaic religious fundamentalism has been pushed to the background. On the other hand, a monument to an archaic economic fundamentalism has been erected in its place, so no real win there. And reliably pro-'bagger voices have been reliably insane -- while others have been quietly sanguine -- on this issue as well. Fighting the advance of the Homosexual Menace is still an issue with the right, but it's been prioritized down a notch or two. Priority number one is an economic policy designed to help only the wealthy, while destroying the middle class, because that's LIBERTY! At least, that's what middle class chumps in the Tea Party have been conned into believing, anyway.

In other words, despite being on the verge of having a bigot-controlled House of Representatives, gays and lesbians see a window of opportunity here. And they're taking advantage of it.

New York Times:

As gay people around the country reveled on Sunday in the historic Senate vote to repeal "don't ask, don't tell," a liberal media watchdog group said it planned to announce on Monday that it was setting up a "communications war room for gay equality" in an effort to win the movement's next and biggest battle: for a right to same-sex marriage.

The new group, Equality Matters, grew out of Media Matters, an organization backed by wealthy liberal donors -- including prominent gay philanthropists -- that has staked its claim in Washington punditry with aggressive attacks on Fox News and conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

It will be run by Richard Socarides, a former domestic policy adviser to President Bill Clinton who has been deeply critical of President Obama's record on gay rights. A well-known gay journalist, Kerry Eleveld, the Washington correspondent for The Advocate, will leave that magazine in January to edit the new group's Web site,, which is to go online Monday morning.

It's important to take advantage of momentum while you have it. And that momentum is still building. An October poll by Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found support for marriage equality rising. Where only 27% supported the idea in 1996, 42% do now, with 48% opposing. And the decline in opposition has been striking in recent years -- last year, 54% opposed. In '04, opposition was at 60%. There's been some fluctuation -- most likely due to propaganda campaigns against state moves to either allow or ban same-sex marriage, but the trend is most definitely downward. It's Republicans who are holding the anti-equality numbers numbers up; only 24% support same-sex marriage, while independents score 44% and Democrats score 53%. These are nowhere near the numbers that repealing DADT enjoyed, but that's the direction they're heading.

"[Repealing DADT] not only means that gays and lesbians will be allowed to serve with the dignity they deserve, but that America is beginning to recognize that our struggle is for civil rights," writes Socarides at the newly launched Equality Matters. "America is beginning to understand that gay rights are human rights."

It sure looks that way.


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