Okay, I’ve kept my mouth shut long enough. I know that some of you must think something is wrong with me, but I haven’t said a word about the recent Supreme Court rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, both of which advanced marriage equality in this country.
Like all of you, I was happy that the rulings were a positive step forward, and I thought we should take time to celebrate. Well, that time is up. Now we must get back to work.
I’m going to say out loud what many activists in Middle America have been whispering: Those rulings may well have done more damage to marriage equality in most states than if they had gone against us. That’s right; the positive decisions may have postponed marriage equality for many same-gender loving couples in the 37 states that were essentially unaffected by the rulings.
Oh, good things came out of them, and there may be enough confusion created that cases may return to the Supreme Court sooner rather than later. However, again and again in the bi-coastal communities and the bi-coastal media, the celebration and reporting declared complete victory. So, where will the energy and money and passion come from to carry on the fight in Oklahoma, and Georgia, and Mississippi?
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their allies in those states have been working and fighting for marriage equality nationally, but now they (we) are in grave danger of being left to carry on the fight on our own while our bi-coastal sisters and brothers joyously plan their weddings.
Please don’t hear me begrudging the victory for my sisters and brothers who live on the coasts (or Minnesota and Iowa), but I want to sound the alarm that, if we are not careful, our movement will be killed by that time honored tactic of the majority: accommodation.
The Equal Rights Amendment was so demonized that we never did write gender equality into the constitution. Oh, don’t worry; congress passed laws for women. However, women are still 70 percent more likely to be paid less than men, and have you seen what conservative-controlled state legislatures are doing? Women were accommodated, and the passion, energy, and money largely went out of the women’s movement. African-Americans have made great advances, but the Voting Rights Act was gutted in the year that knew the greatest voter repression movement since Jim Crow laws. Today, because of accommodation, the hue-and-cry was muted and short-lived.
The recent Supreme Court decision accommodated LGBT people, and I’m afraid that history will mark it as the day the Marriage Equality movement died. No? Prove me wrong, and challenge your bi-coastal friends to do the same. Nothing would make me happier.
by Michael Piazza
The Center for Progressive Renewal