If Dale Carpenter had not specified in the text of his thorough (and thoughtful) piece on the Washington State gay marriage decision that in calling July the “cruelest month” he meant that it was particularly cruel for “gay-marriage litigants,” I might disagree with him. While gay marriage advocates experienced many setbacks in state and federal courts in the past few weeks, it was not entirely a dismal month for gay marriage. For in these judicial defeats, there seems to be a new resolve among gay activists to press this issue in more appropriate fora — state legislatures.
I am delighted to note that, in the immediate aftermath of the state Supreme Court’s decision, Ed Murray (D-Seattle), “the state’s only openly gay legislator announced he will introduce a bill to legalize same-sex nuptials.” And he’s not alone. Even Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solomonese vows to push for gay marriage in the state legislature.
While I commend Solomonese for recognizing that importance of moving the debate to a more appropriate body, I wonder at his understanding of America. In his release on the Washington State marriage decision, he said, “America is built on the values of fairness and equality.” Perhaps were he more familiar with our founding documents, Solomonese would realize that our nation is built on a number of ideals, primarily, freedom (or liberty).
While The Declaration of Independence notes that “all men are created equal,” it makes clear that our “unalienable Rights” include “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Similarly, the Constitution indicates that it was ordained and established in order to, among other things “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
It’s unfortunate that Log Cabin’s release borrowed heavily from the rhetoric of the national gay groups in commenting on the decision. That said, there were two things which pleased me about the release. First, like the other gay groups, Log Cabin recognizes the importance of turning to legislatures.
I particularly liked this line from Ken Nielsen, President of Log Cabin’s Washington State chapter (the only person quoted in the release), “Sharing our stories and explaining why all families deserve basic protections and responsibilities will help move more citizens and lawmakers to our side.” With these words, he provides a succinct statement of what needs to be done.
The second thing which pleased me about the release was that Log Cabin chose to quote a local official on this issue. While I have often faulted Patrick Guerriero’s leadership of the organization, in one arena, he has done a remarkable job. Back when I was a club president, the national office ignored the clubs. They would quote only national officials in their releases and statements, even for state issues. Since Patrick has taken over, Log Cabin has frequently quoted local leaders.
That Patrick has recognized the importance of the chapters indicates that he understands where the strength of the gay Republican movement lies. And that he has encouraged local leaders to speak provides one sign of hope for the future of organization. If the organization is to endure, it might have a strong grassroots.
Gay Republicans speak with a multitude of voices. Kudos to Patrick for inviting a variety of voices from across the country to speak for his organization.
As with the New York’s gay marriage decision, I am not as upset by the Washington State decision as other gay leaders and writers. A state court decision mandating gay marriage would have strengthened the hand of gay marriage opponents. The backlash might have set the case for gay marriage further back by spurring more state referenda.
With this latest court defeat, however, gay activists are beginning to recognize what, I have long believed, should be the strategy on gay marriage — to make their case not to judges, but directly to the American people and their elected representatives.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com