Step By Step in Washington

A domestic partnership bill passes - with more rights and responsibilities for gay couples. There are several models unfolding across America. We have one state with real marriage rights (but no federal recognition). We have several other states with full civil or spousal unions that are identical to civil marriage in all but name. We have several more states where weaker civil unions and domestic partnerships exist. Then we have many where gay couples have no rights at all. And we have Virginia, which has constitutionally declared gay people in relationships as second-class citizens (that's where Mary Cheney and her wife and forthcoming child live). Within a few years, we'll begin to see what all this means, whether civil marriage collapses or declines in gay-inclusive states or recovers in states where stigmatizing gays has been deemed an incentive for straight couples to stay together. I have a feeling the impact on the general population will be minimal in most cases. The point of persecuting minorities is very often the persecution of minorities. It has no other effect. And it really isn't intended to.