Waldlaw Blog

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

What a Difference A Decade Makes!

I will always remember the 2004 presidential election.  That was the year that voters chose to send George W. Bush back to the White House instead of electing John Kerry.  As part of that same election, 13 states voted to amend their constitutions to clarify that same-sex couples could not marry -- a gratuitous act of meanness, from my perspective, given that same-sex couples already were not allowed to marry in any of those states.  The issue of marriage equality was seen as a pivotal campaign issue, which galvanized conservative voters to turn out to vote, and helped Bush win a second term.  Lesbian and gay couples who had fought for the right to marry were held somewhat responsible for Kerry's defeat.

For the past 8 years, every election cycle issues surrounding the rights of lesbian and gay couples and families have been hauled out, dusted off, and used for political purposes by one party or the other -- and often by both.  Should same-sex couples be allowed to marry?  Should same-sex couples be allowed to provide foster homes for, or adopt, children?  These issues have been used as political fodder far too many times, in far too many elections, and for all the wrong reasons.

I woke up this morning to find that the voters of two -- and maybe three -- states (Maryland, Maine, and maybe Washington) had passed ballot initiatives in favor of full marriage equality for their lesbian and gay citizens.  Another state -- Minnesota -- defeated a constitutional amendment that would have prevented marriage rights from being extended to same-sex couples.  And a President who has openly stated his belief that same-sex couples should be allowed to wed was reelected by a considerable margin.

It is a complicated moment in our country's history.  There are very serious challenges ahead -- economically, politically, environmentally.  It wouldn't have been easy for Romney to preside over the next four years, and it certainly won't be easy for Obama.  But here is my hope, coming out of the 2012 election: that politicians around the country have just learned that demonizing lesbians and gay men, and our families, no longer helps win elections.  If we have evolved to that point, that, in and of itself, is cause for celebration.