Thursday, November 5, 2009

More about gay marriage

During coffee this morning with dear friend Mark D, I asked him what he thought about the outcome of the vote in Maine, and he reminded me that, if we want to win through popular referenda or legislative action, our biggest challenge will be overcoming the migration factors in the LGBT community that draw us towards big city urban centers and away from places like upstate New York or rural Maine or suburban/rural California, where these election contests are often decided. Like most minorities, we have chosen to live amongst ourselves and escape from suburban and rural areas of the country where we feel unwelcome.

In California, it was argued--and I think correctly---that the LGBT community had a challenge with conservative church-going blacks, Latinos, and Asians. But the Maine challenge was different and is likely to be an issue wherever popular votes are sought to legalize gay marriage. If "they" don't know who we are, isn't it easier to just say no to something that looks and sounds unfamiliar, threatening, and vaguely weird, especially when popular sentiment is whipped up by false, hysterical advertising campaigns. As I understand it, the argument for the electoral and legislative solution is based on the notion that familiarity will NOT breed contempt----that the more exposure straight married couples have to LGBT's in committed partnerships, the better will be the outcome of this struggle. But if we are largely invisible in the precincts north and west of Manhattan (or north, south, and east of San Francisco, etc etc), how is this familiarity going to come about?

Demographic factors are working in favor of gay marriage, given that polling numbers consistently show a huge age-divide on this issue between the over-40 and under-40 population. Can the gay marriage leadership become more effective in turning out the younger vote, or do we simply wait 10-20 years as younger less frequent voters become older more frequent participants on Election Day?

As much as I would prefer to see marriage for all achieved through legislation, I am now doubtful that any medium-term solution other than protest, civil disobedience, and lawsuits will win acknowledgment of our rights to the pursuit of happiness.

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