Thursday, February 07, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #94 - Part 1

Good news 1: Same-sex marriage advances in France the the UK

Starting with some good news, as I always like to do, and it comes from an area which, I keep telling you, is perhaps the only area where it seems that good changes are clearly happening: the area of same-sex marriage. Herewith, two bits from the international front.

Number one: On February 2, the French parliament adopted the main clause of a reform bill that would allow same-sex marriage and grant gay couples the right to adopt children. The vote was 249-97.

There is still a lot of debate to be had; there are more than 5,000 proposed amendments and debate is expected to last two weeks.

There have been large-scale protests against the proposed law, but according to polls, public support for the change has continued to rise in spite of them. In late January support stood at 63% of the public.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the Chunnel, comes number two: On February 5 the British House of Commons voted 400 to 175 to approve a draft law allowing same-sex couples to marry in England and Wales. (Scotland has its own devolved Parliament, which has authority over areas such as marriage.) What's really significant is that while the bill had overwhelming support among the members of the Labour Party, it also had the backing of Prime Minister David Cameron of the Conservative Party along with, as it turned out, about half of his party's members in the chamber. The bill may well have passed without Conservative support, so the level of support is significant because whether they voted for it out of conviction or, knowing it would pass anyway and they couldn't stop it, out of a political fear of being seen as being on the wrong side of history, it doesn't matter: Both options tell the same story, one of change.

Meanwhile, here at home, there is a developing movement to press for same-sex rights across the South, an area that had been written off as unwinnable. Called the "We Do Campaign," it's organized by the Campaign for Southern Equality and its first action has been for same-sex couples in seven Southern states to apply for marriage licenses. They knew they'd be turned down, but it was the opening step, a way to raise the issue, in what promises to be a long effort: Opposition to same-sex marriage is higher in the South than in any other region of the country. According to the Pew Research Center, 56% of people in the central Southern states oppose same-sex marriage, as opposed to, for example, merely 29% here in New England.

However, note this and note it well: Opposition to same-sex marriage in the South is about what is was for the country as a whole just 10 years ago.

The time is coming. We just have to survive global warming and economic dismemberment long enough for it to get here.


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