As I’m writing this, news of the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling the ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional makes me think two things:
1. Good for them.
2. If Massachusetts ultimately allows gays and lesbians to marry, Democrats have about as much chance of winning ’04 as I do.
What’s interesting is that the Mass. Court didn’t say that gay men and women could marry as of this moment; it’s just punted it back to the Legislature to do something about it. Now, naturally, I’m not a lawyer, but I think this is a pretty savvy legal move on the court’s part. If it had come straight out (heh) and said that gays and lesbians must be allowed to marry, it would have opened itself up to the conservative accusation that its members were legislating from the bench. Not that conservatives really have a problem with judges legislating from the bench when the legislating goes their way, mind you, but they surely get riled up when it doesn’t. But the court sidesteps the problem by saying to the state legislature, this is your job. Fix it. Smart.
I would imagine that Massachusetts will try to dodge the bullet and allow for a Vermont-like “civil union” rather than a traditional marriage, although the lawyer for the plaintiffs in this case seems to think that won’t be sufficient to achieve what the court has ruled. I don’t have enough of a legal background, especially regarding Massachusetts law, to comment on that. But if the legislature did allow for actual, honest-to-God marriages, boy, the shit would really hit the fan. In short order the ridiculous federal Defense of Marriage Act would be constitutionally challenged, a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman would start its rounds among the states, the South would threaten to secede and religious conservatives would riot with joy because they believe they’re mobilized to sweep into every conceivable office on the back of fear of homos while those mamby-pamby liberals are still wandering around in a daze. If you thought you were living in a theocracy now, liberals, well, just you wait.
For the record, I would expect the DOMA to be upheld (for now), the constitutional amendment to fail, barely (not on its merits, but because the only other time a constitutional amendment restricted people’s rights, it was a miserable failure), the south to remain in the US, and the theocrats (and those who know how to manipulate the reactionary religious) to win big in ’04 but to be whacked back in ’06 and ’08 when people remember that while God is great and God is good, many of His self-appointed representatives here in the United States are annoying prigs who won’t be happy until everyone’s doing the missionary position once a month, tops.
In other words: Interesting times, no matter what. Welcome! What, you didn’t want the 21st Century to be boring, did you? Silly people!
Here’s a link to the ruling.