My latest Moonlighting column in MidWeek.
The marriage equality train rolls on – and at a pace both exhilarating and astonishing.
A day after same-sex marriage was legalized in Oregon, a federal judge struck down the same-sex marriage ban in Pennsylvania as unconstitutional.
The very next day, Pennsylvania’s Republican governor announced he would not appeal the ruling.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states, including our own, and the District of Columbia.
In 11 other states, judges have issued rulings in favor of marriage equality, but those rulings are stayed as the cases move to appellate courts.
Marriage quality will be the law of the land. It’s unstoppable.
If you doubt it at all, just take a look at the accompanying graph from the Pew Research Center on the growing support for same-sex marriage across generations. Note the upward direction of every demographic.
And most important, note the huge level of support – 68 percent – from the youngest generation, the Millennials.
There is no going back. I’ve said it before in this column, and I’ll say it again: The young people are our brightest hope for a future of equality for all.
I only can be grateful that we in Hawaii finally have taken our place on the right side of history. By now you’ve probably heard that marriage equality is a resounding success here. Same-sex marriages became legal in Hawaii Dec. 2 of last year, and since then 15 percent of all marriages in Hawaii have been between same-sex couples. That’s according to Equality Hawaii Foundation, which received its figures from the state Department of Health.
“Nothing about the historic legislation and court rulings we have witnessed has changed marriage in any way, shape or form,” says Don Bentz, executive director of Equality Hawaii. “It is still a testament between two loving, committed people professing a vow to cherish and provide for each other. No loving, committed couple should be denied the right to marry that person whom they love.”
The swiftness of change cannot be dismissed as the result of partisan politics or the whim of a few activists. The two federal judges who made the decisions in Oregon and Pennsylvania come from opposite sides of the political spectrum.
The judge in the Oregon case, Michael McShane, is an openly gay Obama appointee. The judge in the Pennsylvania case, John Jones III, is a conservative who was appointed by President George W. Bush at the request of Rick Santorum.
The eloquence of Judge Jones in his ruling took my breath away.
“The issue we resolve today,”he wrote, “is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional.
“Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of ‘separate but equal …’ In the sixty years since Brown was decided, ‘separate’ has thankfully faded into history, and only ‘equal’ remains. Similarly, in future generations, the label ‘same-sex marriage’ will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by ‘marriage.’
“We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”
Amen to that, Your Honor. Out with prejudice and good riddance to intolerance.
That ash heap is only getting bigger.