When the history of marriage equality is finally written — sorry, Jo Becker — last week will be the one to point to in determining when marriage equality opponents finally lost. For the anti-marriage crowd, there is no recovering from last week. When the Supreme Court decision for marriage equality came down last June, opponents still had hope that they could stem the tide at the state level. That illusion died for good last week. Here are seven reasons why opponents of marriage are now officially losers.
Us: 19 court victories in row. Them: Zero. Right now, marriage equality is on an interrupted run of success. Oregon and Pennsylvania brought the total to 19 favorable court rulings, both federal and state. What do opponents have to show for their court time? A lot of lawyer bills (often at the taxpayers’ expense) and nothing else.
NOM is going down in flames faster than ever. The National Organization for Marriage’s downward trajectory went from a steep hill to a sharp cliff. The loss in Oregon was especially humiliating to NOM, which had tried to insert itself into the marriage case there only to have the (gay) federal judge give it the boot. Then came Pennsylvania, where NOM is laboring under the delusion that it can undo what can’t be undone. To add injury to injury, the organization is facing a record fine in Maine for hiding the sources of its 2000 campaign contributions. Any more weeks like that and NOM might as well start auctioning off its office furniture.
A new poll found a solid majority of Americans support marriage equality. The numbers don’t lie. Young people (otherwise known as the future) overwhelmingly support marriage equality. Even in the South, support is nearing the 50 percent mark. It will be impossible to reverse this trend.
The judge who struck down Pennsylvania’s marriage ban was endorsed by Rick Santorum. Federal Judge John E. Jones III wrote an eloquent opinion upholding the rights of same-sex couples (more on this in a moment). You’d never guess from his opinion that Jones has been a prominent figure in Republican politics whose nomination to the bench was endorsed by none other than Rick Santorum, the politician most associated with opposition to same-sex marriage.
The Pennsylvania decision quoted Ronald Reagan. “We are a better people than what those laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.” That’s Jones in his opinion. But as a staunch Republican, Jones would be familiar with one of Ronald Reagan’s most famous speeches, which his writing directly echoes. In an oft-quoted 1982 address, Reagan predicted that “freedom and democracy will leave Marxism and Leninism on the ash heap of history.” In alluding to Reagan, Jones clearly linked marriage equality to a conservative hero in a way that conservatives will immediately recognize (and many will hate).
PA Gov. Tom Corbett’s decision not to appeal. Tom Corbett is not a moderate Republican (even by the elastic definition that phrase has these days). He has compared marriage equality to incest and is a staunch opponent of anything LGBT. Yet, in a surprise to everyone, Corbett decided not to appeal the ruling striking down his state’s marriage ban. In the end, Corbett apparently concluded that there was no way to win the appeal. If someone with Corbett’s impeccably antigay credentials decides it’s a losing proposition, it’s a clear signal that the game is over.
Anti-marriage leaders are talking like losers. It’s not just Maggie Gallagher who is admitting the cause is hopeless. Other conservatives are sending the same message. In an article in the National Review, Ryan Anderson, co-author of a book called What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, concedes that his side is waging “an uphill battle” and calls upon the like-minded “to take the long view, and to be ready to bear witness to the truth even if law and culture grow increasingly hostile.” That’s the language of someone whistling past the graveyard, not someone taking a victory lap.
Photo credit: Drew Maust