Today is our eighth wedding anniversary.
That’s not so important, really, to anyone except us. But because we got married just as soon as we could, with the first wave of legal same-sex marriages in the United States, this day and this week ring with history.
The hammer that rings this matrimonial bell is, in some ways, a chime of triumph: Since Massachusetts led the way eight years ago, a number of other states have followed suit.
But that same hammer is also a cudgel of anti-gay reaction and homophobic hysteria. Thirty states have amended their constitutions in a way that singles out and punishes our families-most recently North Carolina, where voters passed an restriction not only on marriage, but on civil unions and domestic partnerships, a restriction so vicious and unnecessary that even David Blankenhorn, a prominent backer of the most notorious of all anti-gay ballot initiatives, California’s Proposition 8, came out against it, together with Elizabeth Marquardt of the Institute for American Values, in an April 11 editorial.
"For one thing, it means that North Carolina could not, now or ever, take any step or devise any policy to extend legal recognition and protection to same-sex couples. No domestic partnership laws. No civil unions. Nothing," Blankenhorn and Marquardt wrote. "That’s mighty cold. If you disdain gay and lesbian persons, and don’t care whether they and their families remain permanently outside of the protection of our laws, such a policy might be your cup of tea. But it’s not our view..."
It was, evidently, the view of 62% of North Carolina voters.
There’s good news out there, too, such as Washington State’s lawmakers having approved marriage equality for all families there, and Maine marriage advocates putting a pro-marriage initiative on the ballot for this fall. But the good news feels thin and provisional: It’s a shame and a disappointment that we’re now going along with the idea of voting on people’s rights, and even if we win in Maine it feels like a betrayal of a deeply important core value. As for Washington State, as you might expect, anti-gay forces there are working to put the new law up for repeal at the hands of the voters, as happened at the Maine ballot box in 2009 and California in 2008.