It’s About Time

weboy here, back in Beantown after spending a week or so in NYC.

Among the historic changes this week, I shouldn’t pass by the ones here in Massachusetts, where Deval Patrick took his oath of office as Governor. Patrick’s commitment to progressive ideas is pretty much unquestined, and so in line with Mass Deval speakspolitics generally (so in synch that even Red and I were both a little surprised at the strength of his victory), that he’s bound to make some significant progress on some issues.

Patrick’s success and the clear repudiation of the Massachusetts GOP probably also spells doom for Mitt Romney’s presidential aspirations, since it calls into question his ability to carry his “home state.” I could also throw in the percolating problem around Romney’s Mormonism, something Evangelicals may well have more problems with than anyone expected. But I think Romney will fall on other, more basic questions (as well as general Republican disarray going into 2008).

(And we should also note the long term impact of the Clinton Administration in this – Deval Patrick is a Clinton era official in the Justice Department; a reminder, as if it was needed, of the importance of having a Democrat as President.)

Before floating away on a cloud of progressive hopefulness, though, the week’s other development is a good reminder not to get the cart too far ahead of the horse: the vote of the State Legislature to allow a ballot initiative that would roll back gay marriage in Massachusetts.

This little bit of mischief has been making it’s way through legal challenges almost since the Massachusetts SJC delivered their landmark decision. First there was a petition process which was assailed as deceptive, then a challenge to signature validity, then a required vote by the legistlature to put it on the ballot got tabled earlier this fall, leading to another trip to the SJC and a ruling that the legislature was constitutionally obligated to vote (though the Court said it couldn’t force them into it). And finally last week, the vote happened (only 25% of votes in favor are needed to put it on the ballot).

My own feelings on this are mixed – I think gay marriage in inevitable, which isn’t the same as being rabidly in favor of it. My thinking has evolved from where I started, which was dismissing Andrew Sullivan’s early arguments for gay marriage as the moralizing of uptight gay conservatives. But then 2 good friends got married on Martha’s Vineyard (I took pictures), and their invitation summed it up best: “After 25 years, Robert and Dick are getting married.” Still, I am not thrilled with the way gay activists are throwing up every conceivable procedural hurdle to a vote. We would be better served, I think, in allowing a process, even a flawed one, to go forward to show our respect for the law.
Ultimately the arguments against gay marriage come down to arguments that sound suspiciously like those against miscegenation (imterracial marriage), struck down in 1969 by The Supreme Court in Loving vs. Virginia. I have a personal stake in Loving, because the laws against interracial marriage kept my parents from traveling to Virginia together after I was born; I met my Grandmother in the arms of my Father alone.

It takes time for real change to occur; life has taught me to take the long view on big social changes. It would not have been possible, even 20 years ago, to envision a black Governor in Massachusetts. It may take a while longer to get the general public to accept gay marriage – but I have to believe that a ballot initiative to roll back gay marriage will eventually fail (there’s a second legislative vote prior to it going on the ballot, which itself may fail). It’s about time. And time, ultimately, is on our side.


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