25 October 2006

We Won! And I hope that's only ever a good thing.

The New Jersey Supreme Court just handed down a 4-3 decision that holds "Denying committed same-sex couples the financial and social benefits and privileges given to their married hetersexual counterparts bears no substantial relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose." It notes that New Jersey's Domestic Partnership Act "has failed to bridge the inequality gap between committeed same-sex couples and married opposite-sex couples. Significantly, the economic and financial inequities that are borne by same-sex domestic partners are also boren by their children." The majority leaves it to "a democratic process" to decide whether marriage or civil unions should be the result of the decision; the dissenting opinions make the case that marriage itself should be open to same-sex couples. I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes.

I don't live in New Jersey, so this won't immediately affect me, although I know that this decision is one in a series that will eventually end with marriage rights for all of us. I'm not convinced Politica and I will ever enjoy those marriage rights (unless we move to Massachusetts or New Jersey), but I know that someday, those rights will be more fully available.

I'm thrilled. But I'm also scared. The New Jersey decision comes down shortly before the general elections, and it will probably reverberate in our elections here. My state is in the midst of its slow (mandated 3 year long) process to amend its constitution to "protect" marriage from the likes of Politica and me. The state Republican party has been leading the charge on the marriage amendment (not trusting the mini-DOMA which has defined marriage as between a man and a woman for lo! these many years here already), and the language of the amendment is quite restrictive. Like Ohio's amendment, it could possibly threaten any legal agreements between un-legally-married partners. The state Democratic party did put up a fight against the amendment, but in the meantime, lost control of the statehouse. They have since demonstrated their eagerness to move rightward in an attempt to regain seats, and in so doing are clearly willing to campaign against gay rights interests in order to woo conservative voters. They make me sick. I am what Politica tells me the political science literature calls a "voting enthusiast." I love to vote. I vote for everything. But I am sorely tempted to stay home and not vote for these lousy Democrats, who are so scared of being in the position of possibly being seen as even thinking about support for gay families.

The fact of the matter is--and I'm preaching to the choir here in with my group of much-appreciated readerse--that it is really not in Curious Girl's interests to have un-legally-married parents. She would be much better off to have her parents securely married to each other. And it makes me sick to listen to the politicians around here who are doubtless already dusting off ads that reflect their commitment to straight-only-family values, politicians who cannot see that my beautiful girl has rights and needs, too.

I hope the success in New Jersey doesn't create a backlash here.

And I'm hoping that Politica and I can have another wedding reception one of these days, a wedding reception with a state-issued marriage license present.

13 comments:

Round is Funny said...

I hope that for you too, Susan!

After the round of post-Mass decision DOMAs, a PFLAG parent said this, which I love: I know, ultimately, this will come around right but the lives that will be hurt in the interim tear my guts apart. Unfortunately, that is the way in the struggle for human dignity.

Phantom Scribbler said...

I'm so sorry. But I must selfishly admit that -- as much as I would like to see you enjoy marriage rights in your home state -- I wouldn't at all mind if you came to Massachusetts, where the last primary tossed out some of the most prominent Democrats against gay marriage.

susan said...

We'd love to move to Massachusetts, Phantom. But it's just not where the jobs are for us, at least not now.

M., that comment from a PFLAG member is spot-on: it is gut-wrenching to listen to the drivel that passes for "balanced" coverage of these issues.

And our state republicans have already trotted out a new ad that criticizes Nancy Pelosi for her "radical plan to advance the homosexual agenda" and links her to Barney Frank.

If we only had half the power some of these right-wing politicos claim we have.....

Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

I'm happy to read that about NJ. I hadn't heard that before today. Unfortunately, my home state is moving steadily in the opposite direction. I can only be slightly consoled by the fact that most of my neighbors (we in the northern part of the Commonwealth) are likely to vote solidly against Virginia's same-sex marriage ban.

Arwen said...

Celebrate-YAY!!!

But yes; I worry about backlash up here, too. Two steps forward, one back, all the time.

I remember an exhibit from my childhood called "Still Sane", in which a Canadian lesbian woman told her story of being committed (and tortured in the name of psychology) for being gay. I hope that even the most fundamentalist bigots have moved past the place of excusing that sort of abuse. So I have some hope that this too will become dark history.

turtlebella said...

I was happy to hear about the NJ Supreme Court case outcome too.

But yes, the stuff that gets said from the "other" side ranges from the annoying to the downright horrifying. The other day I was listening to NPR in the midst of the Foley scandal and some religious right preacher said something like, 'we all know that homosexuals are very promiscuous, etc etc" and I got so mad I almost broke all the dishes. The arc of history is long but it does arc toward justice (to badly paraphrase ML King, Jr). I know we'll get to the place where society will be more fully accepting and respectful of lbgtq folks. But it's painful sometimes, and even the small victories have their downsides.

Meanwhile, I'll raise a toast to you and Politica, Susan and your wonderful relationship, your lovely daughter, and your lives together.

trillwing said...

Yay for NJ! I hope there's no backlash and that couples like you two get the recognition you deserve. I tend to be pessimistic about this stuff, but I'm feeling we'll turn (we have to turn) a corner soon.

mc said...

Can I tell you how happy I am to see my home state in the news for something so positive? I kept refreshing the NYT homepage today, waiting for this news, and the anticipation was well worth it. Now if only we could eliminate the backlash...

liz said...

I'm glad about NJ's decision, but I wish it had come 14 days later. I'm terrified that it will have a backlash in VA, not only passing that horrid amendment, but maybe getting out enough rabid right-wing religious conservatives to vote for it that will probably also vote for Allen and Wolf etal.

Just two weeks, they couldn't have waited two weeks?

susan said...

Politica says they couldn't have waited two weeks, as the chief justice's 70th birthday (and mandatory retirement) is tomorrow.

I am just so thrilled that you all are still here and reading--commenting!--thanks for putting up with my bloggy silences.

Piece of Work said...

Hear, hear.

Suzanne said...

For once my state does something to be reasonably pleased with! As opposed to the usual wallowing in corruption that we're so famous for...

This issue is close to my heart; my sister and her partner of 20 years live in Massachusetts. Although they haven't made any move toward marriage, just knowing that they could is pretty empowering.

Mommygoth said...

We all want that for you and Politica. And for everyone else. The world will be a better place when it sees that love isn't one size fits all.