Gay Marriage, Again

Glenn Reynolds airs many of the important points and calmly keeps asking the right questions, it seems to me. His responses are among the sanest I have read on the topic. I agree with him that this issue emerged before many people were ready to deal with it. But, having watched this close up from the beginning, I know this was not a decision made by the leading gay groups. At the beginning and throughout the 1990s, the gay establishment fought marriage rights passionately and treated marriage advocates as cranks. HRC did all it could to prevent this issue from dominating the discourse. They did the polling, like all principled Democrats, and wanted to play to their strengths. No gay group agreed to take the first real marriage suit in Hawaii. It took a straight guy from the ACLU to handle it. The Human Rights Campaign's leadership refused to speak of the matter for years, and only included the m-word in their literature in the last few years. Major Democratic donors also refused - and Bill Clinton talked them out of it, when necessary.

The trouble was: gay spouses found themselves barred from each others' hospital rooms in the 1980s and 1990s during the AIDS crisis, lesbian mothers had their children taken away from them, long-standing de facto marriages had family members rescind their inheritance rights, and gay consciousness evolved to the point where such scond class status rankled deeper and deeper. It was ordinary people, ordinary couples who pioneered this movement. This push emerged organically as society changed. Such pushes are always "before their time" - all social change is premature at some point. The key is to stay rational, engage the debate, see what the courts, legislatures and governors do, and let federalism do its work. I'm grateful - and so are many gay people and their families - to sane straight guys like Reynolds for standing up for this.