Too Dumb to Vote

From the LA Times article on Prop. 8 (as of 2:08am Wednesday morning):

Amy Mora, a 26-year-old teacher, came with her mother to a polling place in Lynwood on Tuesday morning. She said she believes gay people have the right to marry one another. But she said she voted in favor of Proposition 8 because she does not believe students should be taught that gay marriage is acceptable.

In a rational world, the only correct response to such a belief would be:

Congratulations, Amy Mora! You have forfeited your right to vote. Ever.

Gay Marriage and the History of Legalized Abortion

I was reading today about the state of Ohio’s newly passed law prohibiting gay marriage and partnership benefits and it suddenly occurred to me that in regard to the subject of gay marriage we may be in a period that corresponds to the time from 1965 to 1973 on the road to legalized abortion. In 1965, there was no legalized abortion in the US (though many European companies had already liberalized their laws), but by 1970, 16 states allowed it. That’s a big change in a very short period of time

In May, Massachussetts will have gay marriage, and several other states already have some form of civil unions (though Vermont’s is the strongest and most similar to full marriage rights). Over time, I forecast that more and more of the socially liberal states (probably the same ones that legalized abortion first) will gradually offer civil recognition of gay partnerships (either civil unions or full-fledged marriage), until there is a divide between states that have strong public policy against it and states that allow it, just as there was in 1973 when the Supreme Court took up the issue. When there are 16 or more states with gay marriage, there will start to be a problem, as we will be as a nation, once again, a house divided, with the rights of some people being significantly limited in some parts of the country, and equal in others. At some point, the issue will have to come before the courts and the US Congress. And, eventually, maybe by 2030, the issue will be settled in favor of gay marriage.

Now, I don’t mean to suggest that the issues are identical, for there are significant differences. For one, illegal abortions were quite widespread before the laws began to be liberalized. Marriage is not something that can be entered into “illegally,” as it is in essence a legal construct in the first place, not an act. So, there’s no flouting of existing laws for pragmatists to point to as the basis for making legal what people are going to do anyway. Second, the constituency for liberalized abortion laws was very large, for unwanted pregnancy was something that affected a large majority of the population. Gay marriage has no such built-in majority constituency.

Nonetheless, I still think there’s an important parallel: attitudes on the subject are widely divided in the country, and the states are beginning to institutionalize that difference in law, in both directions, just as happened in the decade before Roe vs. Wade, when the Supreme Court stepped in and completely revamped the whole issue by finding a right to privacy in the Constitution that severe restrictions and prohibitions on abortion impinged.

I honestly do not wish for the Supreme Court’s interference, at least not until several decades in the future when it’s become clear from experience that gay marriage does not in any way endanger any thread of the fabric of society (this should be clear already, but some people are slow on the uptake). But I do think the swing has already begun, and might very well occur very quickly (though surely not as quickly as happened with abortion). I would expect 10 years from now that gay marriage will be common in the socially liberal states and that in 20 years, it will seem perfectly ordinary in all but the most conservative parts of the country (say, Utah), and 30 years from now, will be legal nationwide. And I also expect that, along with that, full equal rights will by that time have been accorded gay citizens since I can’t imagine gay marriage being sanctioned without it.

And then we will finally be able to say “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, we’re free at last!”