Wednesday, December 28, 2005

2005: Was It Good For You, Baby?

(Link) With so many other countries opening the way for same-sex marrige,Detroit News' Deb Price likes to think of this past year as "The Year of Global Warming". Still feels chilly in here, though. Toss another fundie on the fire, will ya?

1 comment:

LNewsEditor said...


By Deb Price
Detroit News

Writing a headline to sum up what 2005 meant for the gay rights movement would be easy: "Global Warming."

Canada, one of the United States' closest trading partners, and Catholic Spain welcomed gay couples into marriage. South Africa, once one of the world's most racially repressive countries, has reacted positively to its top court's declaration that gay couples must be allowed to wed next year to "affirm the character of our society as one based on tolerance and mutual respect." Before 2005, only the Netherlands and Belgium had same-sex marriage nationwide.

While stopping short of full marriage, America's closest military ally, Great Britain, began offering civil unions to its gay couples. Among the first celebrants was Elton John, a singer known for extravagance who simply said his ceremony marked "the happiest day of my life."

Prime Minister Tony Blair praised the law as "another step towards the fairer, more tolerant country which this Labor government pledged to build."

Sadly, our own country, where the world's modern-day gay movement began in 1969, continues to give those of us who're gay the cold shoulder. U.S. gay couples, gay workers, gay soldiers and gay parents and their kids continue to suffer because basic protections available in pace-setting countries are missing or, at best, patchy here.

In 2005, Kansas and Texas brought to 18 the number of states that explicitly ban gay marriage in their constitutions.

But all the U.S. news wasn't grim: The legislature in Massachusetts, the only U.S. state where gay couples can wed, voted down an amendment to ban gay marriage. That vote, the U.S. milestone of the year, ensured gay marriages will continue, despite last-gaspers' efforts to the contrary.

Bay State lawmakers were in tune with their people: By 57 to 37 percent, the state's voters favor gay marriage, according to a Boston Globe poll in March, nearly a year after the first weddings there. Seeing the reality that plenty of good comes from opening marriage to same-sex couples had changed hearts from a year earlier, when 53 percent opposed gay marriage.

Another huge step forward was taken on the other side of the country. After anti-gays screeched that gay marriage shouldn't be decided by courts but instead by the people's elected representatives, the trend-setting California Legislature did just that, becoming the first U.S. legislature to embrace gay marriage. But the bill was vetoed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who, in a surreal moment, said the matter should be left to the courts.

The 2005 shakeup of the U.S. Supreme Court was also profoundly important. The change of two justices likely will move the court to the right on gay issues.

But we should honor 2005 as the year Maine voters overwhelmingly refused to repeal a law banning anti-gay discrimination and the year Illinois adopted such protections. Connecticut quietly followed Vermont's 2000 lead, becoming the second state with civil unions. In Congress, legislation to allow gays to serve openly in the military was finally introduced and gained 109 co-sponsors.

In the past two centuries, our planet has warmed up to the rights of women, people of all races and religious minorities. Gay people have been part of that warming trend for decades, but 2005 marks the moment when it really heated up.