Everyone reading this surely already knows that the New York legislature passed a bill authorizing same-sex marriages, but I can’t let the occasion go by without taking notice of it.
First, congratulations to all the happy couples who will soon be achieving their long-deferred dream of marriage. My best wishes for you all.
Second, I am delighted that this was a legislative, rather than judicial action. I have approved of those judicial actions that have brought about equality, but it is even better when the people’s elected representatives do the right thing, instead of being judicially prevented from doing the wrong thing. Also, with several states now having legislatively passed same-sex marriage bills, the “it’s never been done democratically” argument is deader than Elvis. He can still be heard on any given day, but this bad argument is silenced forever (although I will still rejoice the day a public referendum in support of same-sex marriage passes).
Third, while not letting it dampen our celebrations, we should take note that future process may be slow. Rather than momentum building, it may be the case that the low-hanging fruit has been, or is still being, picked. This is a great case study in both the upside and the downside of federalism. One the one hand, federalism allows some
backwards, uhm more conservative…oh, hell, backwards states to resist doing the right thing long past the point they should, contra Canada, the Netherlands, etc., where it was done as national policy (although Canada is also a federal country). On the other hand, I think it’s indisputable that if SSM proponents were forced to act only on the national level, we’d be far less advanced than we are now. Whatever national momentum we have is almost purely a process of state-level actions. And while in the absence of state-level policy arenas proponents would have poured far more resources into a national effort they would have had far less potential for making real advances there.
Fourth, endless kudos to Dispatches commenter Owen, for the definitive visual representation of this historic moment.