December 14, 2006

As Israel and South Africa Go, So Goes the U.S. (Eventually)

E.J. Graff’s betting on the future of same-sex marriage in the United States — with wedding bells ringing from coast to coast within 20 years — and I’m betting she’s right. Graff’s stats on the global state of same-sex marriage are pretty heartwarming:

While you were enjoying November’s tilt away from the far right, there’s some more good news you may have missed: The world is steadily warming toward same-sex couples. Just two days ago, the U.K. celebrated the one-year anniversary of its civil partnership law, which legally recognizes same-sex couples. And in November, both Israel and South Africa (a very odd couple indeed) joined the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada and Spain in recognizing marriages between two women or two men. That brings to total number of nations that have done so to six, in as many years, with the Scandinavian countries now jockeying to see which will be next.

And back at home, by any number of measures, it’s clear a seismic shift is underway. “Americans, like others all over the world, are slowly but steadily getting comfortable with their LGBT sisters, uncles, neighbors and coworkers — and becoming more and more willing to have the state recognize their bonds,” writes Graff, ticking off states that either have recently or are on the brink of passing civil union-style laws. Graff’s research also covers gains in opinion polls and the fading support for anti-gay constitutional amendments and statutes, as demonstrated in November.

Of course, it may take some folks a bit longer than others to come around. Paul Cameron, chairman of the Family Research Institute, clearly has some work to do. Cameron not only says very mean things about the vice president’s daughter Mary Cheney, who is gay and pregnant with her first child — “Cheney is cruel to children,” blasts Cameron — but he apparently likes to make up facts to suit his bigotry. How very un-Christian-like!

In the fact-based world, the truth of the matter is that Cheney and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, face a rough road if they choose to raise their child in their home state of Virginia, which isn’t exactly Massachusetts when it comes to supporting the rights of same-sex parents, as the Advocate reminds us:

Unless they move to a handful of less restrictive states, Heather will never be able to have a legal relationship with her child. If something were to happen to Mary and Heather needed to advocate for their child in an emergency room, at school, in the courts, the state of Virginia would not recognize Heather as a parent to their child. If Mary some day chose to deny Heather access to their children in terms of custody or visitation, Heather would have no legal standing to challenge her actions. If Heather chose to walk away from her life with Mary and their family, Mary would have no recourse to pursue child support to help her care for and raise the children that together she and Heather brought into the world.

Now that’s cruel. But thinking back to E.J. Graff’s assessment, I have to believe Virginia will have more in common with progressive states in 20 years than with Paul Cameron’s dark, ugly world.


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