I just got off the phone with a morning show here in town. I called into the host to make sure he knew about this morning’s Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. Essentially the court said it would not rule on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. The ruling doesn’t nationalize it. And it doesn’t signal it will be up to each state to decide what it wants. What it does is allow same-sex couples to marry in states with appeals pending in front of the Supreme Court. And, according to Anthony Rothert of the ACLU-MO, “it means the decision is binding for for all states within those circuits, so marriage should come very soon to North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming.” Rothert also says the ruling may lead to a decrease in states appealing directly to the Supreme Court because they can see the tide of rulings towards same-sex marriage.
Just Friday, the courts here in Missouri ruled in favor of recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples who were legally wed in other states, where gay marriage is legal.
Today’s Supreme Court ruling was like a stone skipping in water. Its tone was quiet but its effect is anything but. Within minutes, the number of states where same-sex marriage will be allowed has jumped from 17 to 30.
The question is, “What’s next?” Will we see an amendment to overturn the State’s ban on gay marriage? And if so, how will it affect the elections overall? Here in Missouri, our Attorney General (who is running for Governor) is charged with defending the law on the books. It is his job. To his credit, he has said he is in favor of same-sex unions personally. And today, the ACLU announced that Attorney General Chris Koster has indicated to them he won’t challenge SCOTUS’ ruling.
The Republican players have taken a different tack. By not talking about same-sex marriage, some may be hoping to usher in a new day in politics, where voters can agree to disagree on social issues.
Asked about a ballot initiative or amendment, Rothert says, “The better course would be to get the anti-gay amendment off the books. Gay men and lesbians do not want gay marriage – they just want marriage, the same marriage that straight couples enjoy.”
This was the crux of my conversation on the radio this morning. Will Missouri step up to reverse course on a decision it made ten years ago to declare marriage for straight men and women only? “Somebody’s going to do it,” I said. McGraw said, “Maybe you?” I said, “Well, no one has asked me.”
The most likely advocate, Democrat Jolie Justus, the only openly gay State Senator just retired because of term limits.
Why would someone ask someone like me if I am going to get involved? I’m a heterosexual single Mom with two teenagers, two dogs and a cat and a house that is always just beyond the reach of being well maintained. I had to ask myself, “Should I get involved?” A lot of people will be doing the same thing when the issue comes up, as I have no doubt it will. A core question is why is this important to the mainstream Missourian? For me, the answers are clear.
The truth is same sex couples will find each other, live together and raise families whether there is a ban on gay marriage or not. Can Missouri continue to be a state that allows shame to remain on its books? Do we want to be a state that dials down diversity? Can we recognize that stabilizing relationships creates stable neighborhoods and communities?
I have been blogging for years about the fact that the Republican Party needed to ease up on social issues. I am in favor of gay marriage and the Non-Discrimination Employment Act. To me it shouldn’t be hard to reconcile those views with being pro-business. Being tolerant is good business.
I can’t remember who I said it to but when I first got involved in politics, I remember saying a lot of people in my generation would like to vote Republican but feel pushed out of the tent over same-sex marriage. Shortly later, I applauded when George Bush’s daughter told the New York Times, “I am Barbara Bush, and I am a New Yorker for marriage equality. New York is about fairness and equality. And everyone should have the right to marry the person that they love.”
My response today? “Same.” Same thoughts on same-sex, that is. What a compliment to be asked whether I would stand up for an issue that is sweeping this country because of what it says about our values as a tolerant society.