The arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice, as 1850s abolitionist, Theodore Parker said but it takes arduous work. Today's NY Times editorial, Equality's Arduous Path, reiterates this need:
Amid the soaring oratory about the presidential election, it was Barack Obama who put it best late Tuesday night. “That’s the genius of America, that America can change,” he said. “Our union can be perfected.”
But as Mr. Obama’s victory showed, the path to change is arduous. Even as the nation shattered one barrier of intolerance, we were disappointed that voters in four states chose to reinforce another. Ballot measures were approved in Arkansas, Arizona, Florida and California that discriminate against couples of the same sex.
We do not view these results as reason for despair. Struggles over civil rights never follow a straight trajectory, and the ugly outcome of these ballot fights should not obscure the building momentum for full equality for gay people, including acceptance of marriage between gay men and women. But the votes remind us of how much remains to be done before this bigotry is finally erased.
We wish that Tuesday’s vote of 52 percent to 48 percent had gone the other way. But when those numbers are compared with the 61 percent to 39 percent result in 2000, when Californians approved the law that was overturned by their Supreme Court, it is evident that voters have grown more comfortable with marriage equality.
Progress is evident, too, in the fact that since 2000, the California Legislature has twice passed a measure to let gay couples marry — only to be vetoed by the Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. To his credit, he opposed Proposition 8. We suspect that if California holds another referendum on the issue down the road, it will yield a different result.
Not all the results for same-sex marriage were negative. In Connecticut, voters rejected a proposed constitutional convention through which opponents of same-sex marriage wanted to overturn a recent decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court, on sound equal protection grounds, allowing same-sex couples to marry.
Far from showing that California’s Supreme Court was wrong to extend the right of marriage to gay people, the passage of Proposition 8 is a reminder of the crucial role that the courts play in protecting vulnerable groups from unfair treatment.
Apart from creating legal uncertainty about the thousands of same-sex marriages that have been performed in California and giving rise to lawsuits challenging whether the rules governing ballot measures were properly followed, the immediate impact of Tuesday’s rights-shredding exercise is to underscore the danger of allowing the ballot box to be used to take away people’s fundamental rights.
Read it here
NPR has several stories on the status of same sex marriage, plans for continuing the struggle and how many blacks do not see the parallels between their civil rights struggle and those of gays and lesbians.
The LA Times also comments about why the Proposition passed but offers this observation:
One thing is clear: That shift is on the side of gay and lesbian equality. More and more gay and lesbian couples are openly committing to each other, having weddings, and even calling it marriage. The word is important. Princesses don't dream about someday "domestically partnering with" the person they love. They dream about marrying him -- or, in a minority of cases, her.
To that minority, a bare majority of California voters sent a discriminatory message: You are not good enough for marriage. Your relationships -- no matter how loving, how committed, how exemplary -- are not "real" marriage.
But "real" marriage transcends state recognition of it. And that's another reason why this debate will continue. Because it's not just about what California should or should not legally recognize. It's also about what sort of relationships are morally valuable, and why. And that's a debate that, slowly but surely, gay-rights advocates are winning.
The path to inclusion is not always direct and the pace of change almost never steady. This setback is by no means a final verdict. In the coming years, gay and lesbian citizens will continue to tell our stories. We will demonstrate that, like everyone else, we are worthy of having someone to have and to hold, for better or for worse. More Americans will realize that such relationships are a good thing -- not just for us but for the community at large.
When the smoke from this battle clears, Americans will realize that gays are not interested in confusing children or in forcing princesses on little girls who don't want them. But they also will realize that, when girls grow up to love princesses, they deserve to live happily ever after too.
Read it here.