As I'll bet any casual reader of this blog will guess, I'm not likely to move to Massachusetts soon. Nonetheless I, like every single other gay blogger in the country, am pleased that the state legislature voted against an amendment to the state constitution to limit marriage to people of the opposite sex. The vote was more than 3 to 1 against the amendment. (The picture to the right comes from the link--I happen to like it).
Again, it's nice. It's a good thing. But was it necessary?
I FULLY support equal civil rights, and any constitutional amendments, plain Jane every day laws, or even regulations, state or federal, that limits certain civil benefits to couple of the opposite sex and denies them to couple of the same sex are anathema to me. ANATHEMA (I like that word and can't believe I haven't used it yet). But I never jumped onto the "civil unions aren't enough" bandwagon.
However, the fight for gay marriage seems to be as much about language as rights. But even without equal civil benefits, many committed gay couples call their partnership a marriage, refer to each other husbands (or wives) and so forth (I personally prefer "partner," maybe because I work in a law firm). So once you have equal civil benefits in the form of a civil union or domestic partnership, how does the quality of your life change once the state starts officially calling it a marriage, even though you have been doing so for years?
Sure it's a victory, and sometimes even symbolic ones are important. But were substantive rights really in danger in Massachusetts? If not, maybe we should focus our energy on other states, like Virginia, where they are.