W h e r e O u r Marriage Rights Are Heading in 2011 by Marianne Puechl senior editor & RWN co-founder
n some ways, our journey to equal marriage rights seems dotted with a random assortment of triumphs and defeats… but in keeping a broader perspective throughout the past decade it’s easy to discern a positive momentum. There is clearly reason to remain hopeful, despite the setback with Proposition 8 in California and the new debate this year in New Hampshire. And as always, the more cohesive our minority becomes, the stronger our position in attaining equal access to all the rights and responsibilities marriage has to offer. Eleven years ago… my partner & I exhibited at booths at Pride in Atlanta, Tampa and elsewhere, and we’d chat with people about our ideas for launching an online resource dedicated to gay & lesbian weddings. So many within the community would laugh, saying, “Do you really think we’re ready for this??” -Meaning the concept of marriage for samegender couples. Other dykes & queens would get angry with us: “How dare you suggest we homogenize the LGBT minority to fit into the traditional straight lifestyle!” It was an eyeopener, to say the least. But we continued with our plans for RainbowWeddingNetwork.com, the site was launched in September 2000 and within 6 months attracted over a million hits. Obviously, despite the mixed messages, there was some interest. Since that time, we’ve witnessed the prevailing of civil unions in Vermont and the enactment of full marriage rights in Massachusetts. We’ve seen thousands of couples married in San Francisco (2004) and in Oregon (2004) only to watch those marriages rescinded by later rulings. We’ve transitioned from laughter, chuckles and rage from the gay & lesbian public now to marches through the Castro District after the 2008 elections, when the
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general population in California voted in Prop 8. It’s been a volatile time. But such volatility indicates remarkable growth. The anti-gay movement these past ten years, in becoming so poised against marriage for the LGBT minority, has helped many gays & lesbians realize just how important equal rights really are. Sure, not every same-sex couple needs to marry nor wants to, but it should be our choice – not a legal mandate that limits our options in a way that’s different than the opportunities available to our heterosexual brothers & sisters. So what lies ahead? The recent elections in 2010 seemed to signal another refresh of conservatism… but is this really the case? Perhaps the outcome at the ballot boxes last November was simply another shake-up as we move through a time of uncertainty to once again find a happy equilibrium. Such dynamics are a natural progression. Think of a wild wave in the lake, as a speedboat races past. Then, the consequent backwash. Then a smaller wave, and another backwash. Eventually the water calms a bit once again. And the good news is that such tumultuous political dynamics encourage us to continue engaging in the conversation about how much equal marriage rights do matter to our minority and our society as a whole. In Pennsylvania, 2010 brought a surprise conservative Republican sweep of the Generaly Assembly. State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler County) says he will introduce a marriage protection bill (one man/one woman) later this year. Yet Pennsylvania does offer extremely liberal access to adoption laws for gay & lesbian couples. The dichotomy won’t stand… and ultimately, of course, equality will win out.
An expanded issue of the nation's first Gay and Lesbian Wedding Magazine. This issue features the latest tips and trends for 2011 along wit...