Wednesday, April 08, 2009

One step forward, one back.

Vermont became the first state to use its legislature to make gay marriage legal. Taken in a vacuum this is the desired method for changing laws in that it provides legitimacy in a way that judicial rulings do not.

That is all fine & good, but the Vermont case is not as clear-cut as one might expect. Back in 2000, Vermont became the first in the nation to legislate civil unions. The Vermont legislature was (and probably is still) far to the left of the population of Vermont. And so they would have liked to have instituted civil unions/gay marriage long ago and they finally got the chance to do so when the Vermont Supreme court handed -down a ruling requiring either/or. The legislature happily obliged and then-Governor Howard Dean quietly signed the bill.

Even as the bill made civil unions exactly the same as marriage, except for the name, the bill was sold to the public as a way to prevent court-mandated gay marriage. Left unspoken is that it had always been possible to thwart the will of the court. Now, they are finishing the job they started back in 2000, undoubtedly selling it as a change in name only since civil unions had only been different in that one way.

It kind of reminds me of boiling lobsters: Start with the water cold, the pot heats so slowly that by the time the lobsters realize it is getting hot they are already cooked.

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