Marriage Equality Debate Explodes Across Nation: A Round-Up


Lots of developments, opinions, and reports overnight on marriage equality and efforts to overturn it. With its misleading ad (above right), the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage has tossed a Molotov cocktail into the debate nationwide.

Here's info on NOM's new 2M4M initiative (note: takes you to their site) Sounds pretty gay, doesn't it? That stands for Two Million for Marriage.

More on that below.

First of all, the image above left comes from a rally that was held in Union Square last night in support of Vermont's marriage equality victory. World of Wonder has a nice slideshow of the demonstration, where state senator Tom Duane (left, with Anthony Brown) spoke to those gathered.

And now, a few updates from across the country:

D.C.: The AP looks at the recent decision in D.C. to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and the looming showdown in Congress over it: "After the legislation receives final approval from the council, which
is supposed to come next month, the bill is then subject to a 30-day
congressional review. That review could be the new Congress' first
opportunity to signal its appetite for re-examining the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allows states to do the same."

: Governor Chet Culver, who released a long statement on Tuesday saying that he would respect the Supreme Court's stand on same-sex marriage, and where the likelihood of legislative action to overturn the decision looks bleak, offered some hope to marriage equality foes.

Said Culver: “[Opponents] can talk to their legislators about amending the
constitution. They will have the option on the ballot in
2010 to call for a constitution convention. So the voters will have an
opportunity to weigh in on this.”

RALLY: Iowa has not quieted down a bit. There's an impromptu rally today at the Iowa state capitol today where marriage equality supporters and foes are going to face off.

NEW YORK: Governor David Paterson said Wednesday he wants the state Senate to vote on a same-sex marriage bill even if it doesn't have the votes to pass. Said Paterson: "We'll put a bill out and let the people decide one way or the other, which is actually the reform Albany really needs. Why can't people just defeat the bill, vote on it? If you have the votes later on to pass it, bring it back." He plans to re-introduce same-sex marriage legislation. The Empire State Pride Agenda expressed support for Paterson.

Here's a new video from ESPA on its upcoming Equality & Justice Day on April 28:

MOMENTUM: The NYT reports on marriage equality in New York and New Jersey.

CALIFORNIA: The recent decisions in Iowa and Vermont have inspired debate on how it will affect the Supreme Court's Proposition 8 ruling in that state:

"Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian
Rights, who led the challenge to Proposition 8 in oral arguments before
the California court last month, was jubilant Tuesday after Vermont
joined Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa as the fourth state to allow
gay marriage. While the other states went through lengthy legal
battles, Vermont's approval came when the Legislature overrode their
governor's veto. But Minter said it was Iowa's ruling that was important to California in two ways. First,
the Iowa court stresses 'that equal protection is such an essential
structural foundation of our system of government' that it can't be
left to the ballot initiative process, he said. Second, he said,
Iowa justices adopted the California Supreme Court's analysis of why
providing a separate status for same sex couples is inherently unequal. 'It
would be very ironic,' he said, 'if just at the time that other state
courts are following the California Supreme Court in holding that only
marriage can provide true equality, that California were to backpedal
away from that holding.'"

TIME magazine takes a look at how things are shaping up nationwide: "The sense that something big is happening has been felt by the other
side of the battle too. 'The momentum seems to be now on the side of
those pushing for the legalization of same-sex marriage,' the Rev.
Albert Mohler told TIME on Wednesday. 'The Vermont and Iowa
developments seem to signal the fact that, as many of us have sensed
for some time, the legalization of same-sex marriage is taking on a
sense of inevitability.' Mohler is president of the nation's flagship
Southern Baptist seminary in Louisville, Ky., and one of America's most
respected Evangelical thinkers."

And here's a very cool map based on Nate Silver of Five's data on when a gay marriage ban would be defeated by voters in a given state.

Yesterday I posted the hateful, fear-mongering, and untruthful "Gathering Storm" ad from the National Organization for marriage. Response to the ad has been fast and furious, discussed on news programs last night and rebutted by both national organizations and individual activists (BELOW).

Here it is again if you missed it yesterday (though I don't know how you could have):

Here also are the pathetic audition tapes for the ad uncovered by HRC which I posted about yesterday:

The ad, which is running nationally, has inspired a swift reaction. The Human Rights Campaign quickly posted it to their End the Lies website where its falsehoods are debunked. GLAAD has come out strongly against the ad, which has begun running in Iowa, where foes of marriage equality are grasping at straws to find a way they can possibly overturn the sweeping unanimous decision in favor of marriage equality recently handed down by the  Iowa Supreme Court. GLAAD is backing One Iowa, which is urging voters to sign a petition expressing opposition to NOM using out-of-state funds to hammer away at the marriage decision.

The ad was also discussed on news programs last night. Anderson Cooper discussed the ad and the marriage equality momentum being felt around the country on AC360 with Brian Brown of NOM, Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry, and legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

On Hardball, Mike Barnicle had a discussion with Maggie Gallagher, President of NOM, and Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Campaign.

Sean Chapin and Jeremy Hooper at Good as You both posted video responses to the NOM ad.

More as it develops…


  1. says

    All these opponents of gay marriage need to be outted as theocrats. They want a democracy when it works for them, and a theocracy when dealing with gays. They continuously use the “Bible” as their defense. This country has a constitution, not a dogma.

    They use the argument that marriage between a man and a women has been around for centuries. So was slavery. It doesn’t make it right.

  2. MT says

    Joe Solmonese made a very important point: if religious organizations expect to get federal or state funding they should expect to be held to the same laws and standards as everyone else. What religion you are is a personal choice and what you believe is strictly your opinion and it should have the same position in the public domain as everyone else’s opinions and one should not be more important than another and when your opinion makes the leap over the line to where it directly effects another person’s life it becomes something else entirely.

    This is an important moment in the argument for the separation of church and state. Someone needs to remind these people that this country was literally founded on the fact that religious beliefs have no place in civil rights. We are a republic not a theocracy. The irony is these are the same right wing idiots are the same people who would have Iran blown off the face of the earth simply because their laws are based on religion – a religion that in their opinion is wrong.

    As for the catholic charities that can’t help those babies. It’s not unprecedented. England has exactly the same laws in place. Would anyone say they have devolved into barbarism and left their children to rot?

  3. Pender says

    Have to say, Maggie Gallagher is a very effective advocate for bigotry — she really dominated the conversation and drove home her most powerful points.

  4. RB says

    Maggie Gallagher may be a “liar” but you are correct Pender, she is an effective one! People will listen to her. She is not a ranting Phelps clan fire from hell preachy type. She is calm and collected and will serve her side well.

    We all knew we were in for a fight this week when Iowa and Vermont passed marriage equality and they are bringing it! We know she is not being truthful. We know that she is spreading fear but those in the 55% of America that oppose marriage equality are the ones that are listening to her. They do not think she is spreading lies and she is real threat to us and not a perceived one!

  5. says

    If you go to NOM’s website they have a very succinct set of talking points they want their members to hammer home and another set of points/words/phrases to avoid.

    I think the response should focus on what a bogus argument it is to say that these people have a right to define marriage for other people and it steals their freedom to say otherwise.

    In the 70’s some people would say with a stright face – that the homosexuals had stolen and ruined the word “gay” for everybody. This feels exactly that trivial.

  6. BC says

    Why does the sign say “Jesus said Love, Bitches”? First off it is historically inaccurate. Secondly, it is childish name calling. I 100% am offended by the ad as well and am disheartened that it will be airing across the country. But, I am not going to stoop down and call my opponents “Bitches.” It just adds fuel to their fire. Lets use our brains and make intellectual, insightful and accurate arguments for our cause. Not childish tactics.

    Oh, and Andy, I agree with the above that your committment in keeping us up to date with the constant changing information on this issues has been top notch!

  7. Leland Frances says

    BRAVO Andy!

    ROWAN: you can NOT get “married” in the UK—you can only get “civil partnered.” On a national scale, that is light years better than what the US allows, but it is NOT “marriage” if it is not called “marriage” regardless of granting the same rights.

    TOOBIN on 360 is 99% WRONG! Vermont was NOT the first state where “the people’s representatives” [i.e., its legislative body] legalized marriage equality. That was California FOUR YEARS ago…but the governor vetoed it and they were unable to override it. Repeated again in 2007.

    EMPIRE PRIDE needs to pull their heads out of their gay ghetto asses. Only that segment of society that ALREADY supports marriage equality would not be alienated by the opening and closing images of THEIR “scary” video. The pierced face of a Pillsbury Doughboy and the ever more freaky visage of yet another moldy drag queen are NOT the way to open the hearts and minds of the generation that must be persuaded in order to support marriage equality.

    SAAD hasn’t done ANYTHING “strongly” in over a decade. There’s another petition circulating? Oooh! Ooooh! I bet the bigots are quaking in their jack boots now!

    CONGRESS: They will do NOTHING positive about DOMA until OBAMA keeps his PROMISE to support its repeal and gets off his ass and into the bully pulpit [as he has about the economy and stem cells and Iraq and Guantanamo and nuclear weapons and and and and and] to persuade them. Ditto DADT repeal and the passage of ENDA and hate crimes enhancement. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  8. Robert says

    Wow, Leland. You nailed it on every issue, as far as I am concerned. I applaud and thank Andy for being my number one resource for this kind of information. I also am extremely garteful for everyone who has worked hard to achieve the many victories that have come, including these historical firsts. However, I also think the worst is yet to come. The battle is often ugliest before the end, and I think we are only at the beginning of what the right wing bigots have in store for us as their last stand. While we can all easily disparage the “wingnuts” on the right whose argumenst are relatively easily dismissed to fair-minded intelligent people, deep down we all know that a very healthy percentage of the population is prejudiced against gays whether they admit it or not. They may think we deserve equal rights, but they also think “marriage” is a man and a woman, kids belong with mom and dad, and tow men or two women (although to a lesser extent) together in a romantic relationship is gross, and not to be formally equated with opposite sex marriages. The wingnuts are putting together slick polished advertising hitting home to these fears subliminally if not directly, and they have a number of well spoken reasonable sounding advocates. General often unspoken gay prejudices are easily played upon by these people, especially when the victims don’t fight back very hard. Unfortunately, I believe we will continue to have general ineptitude among the leaders of the gay movement, full of well-meaning, smart and morally right individuals, who have not been so personally demeaned or victimized as to fully and wholeheartedly take on their mission as a life-saving one. Look at the salaries and perq’s of those who “lead” our movement to failure in California at Prop 8! I am to blame too though. I attend political dinners and rallys and give money and vote for the people who say they will vote in our favor, and I talk to my friends andf family and encourage them to do the same, but when it comes right down to it, I let my narrow minded acquaintences, coworkers, and neighbors get away with having their prejudices because I am so used to being second-class and afraid because of my sexuality, that the general level of acceptance we are now experiencing, although far from truly safe or fair as made clear by the often dreadful news Andy gathers for us every day, is so much better than I used to fear or had come to expect, that its just ok enough not to get out there and do evrything I can to make the people who discriminate in their hearts and minds (and at the voting booth) feel uncomfortable and ashamed every minute of every day, which I think is what it would take from all of us to really change things in any major way immediately. The reality is that none of us want it bad enough to demand it in a way that really works. However, we can all take comfort in the fact that the generational attitude shift that is happening is so overwhelming that this will happen eventually, no mattter how selfishly and poorly we run the “change” program for ourselves. Peace.

  9. An says

    Leland Frances > Hello, I was wondering if maybe you would clarify something for me regarding what you wrote on California legalizing marriage equality (I’m not American). I thought that the governor legalized bills that are passed by signing them, so if the governor of California vetoed it, and the legislative body was unable to override the veto, I thought then it wouldn’t be legalized (by the governor nor the legislative body)? Is that wrong? Does it become legalized before the governor decides on it? TIA.

  10. occono says

    Divorce. Divorce. Seriously, the counter-ads should just talk about Divorce. You know, the thing happening 56% of the time that’s breaking up the traditional family unit. This is all so depressing a waste of time.

    Also, so sick of hearing Religious anger over the Supreme Court ruling. Shall the Federal Supreme Court re-hear Loving on grounds that God put the Races on separate continents because he didn’t intend mixing?

  11. Leland Frances says

    A fair question, AN.

    While I tried to qualify my challenge to Toobin’s error by saying he was only 99% correct, I wasn’t clear enough, and should have written “voted to legalize” rather than “legalized.”

    Yes, in California, a bill does not become law until the governor signs it—or by default if he fails to veto it within 12 days.

    Toobins exact word choices were also wrong: “It’s the first time the people’s representatives voted for gay marriage.” As indicated, “the people’s representatives” in California “voted for gay marriage” twice before.

    Toobin could have easily avoided this error [and communicated the second signficance of their success] by saying, “It’s the first time the people’s representatives voted TO LEGALIZE gay marriage AND DEFEATED THEIR GOVERNOR’S VETO.”

    Finally, without taking away anything from there wonderful achievement, it’s important to note that contributing to Vermont’s success was how small they are, how many fewer people they have to convince to, effectively, back their original vote and veto override.

    The entire population of Vermont is less than the population of the city of San Francisco. The population of California is roughly FIFTY-NINE times the population of Vermont.

  12. nic says

    i read it as, “jesus said, ‘love’, bitches”. the importance lies on ‘love’, not ‘bitches’. i’m assuming that ‘love’ is a modal, auxiliary verb, and the phrase comes as a suggestion (a point of faith) not a dictum.


    thanks for the all-around coverage of the issue. good job.

  13. TikiHead says

    @ Leland Frances:

    Leland, I have read your posts on here and Queerty, and I really do believe you care passionately about the cause for gay rights. But some of your remarks are, I think, unwise, and even authoritarian (ur-fascist, even?), a venue we should leave to our enemies: you said “The pierced face of a Pillsbury Doughboy and the ever more freaky visage of yet another moldy drag queen are NOT the way to open the hearts and minds of the generation that must be persuaded in order to support marriage equality.”

    We have no good, honorable reason to put on a false face to woo anyone to our side — we GLBTQ exist in many forms, and all are deserving of respect, tolerance and participation in American life. The ESSENCE of our difference, what makes us transgress the status quo, is gender non-conformity.

    Leland, you may like to refer to yourself as a REAL MAN, and NOT like those swishers, face piercers, drag queens, or transgenders — but the mere fact of you loving your own sex — that makes you JUST LIKE the rest of us, at least in the straight world’s view — you are breaking the prescribed gender mold of man on woman love: regardless of how you blend in otherwise. Anyways, just a thought: this was not meant as a personal attack, just as an observation from an older gay man.

  14. says

    Andy: That NYS equal rights video was not produced or commissioned by the Pride Agenda. It was an independent initiative by three guys who wanted to raise awareness about the Pride Agenda’s annual state capital lobby day. They set up this site as well:

    I wrote about it here:

    @Leland: Although part of the Pride Agenda’s focus is marriage equality, the video is aimed at getting more LGBT individuals (and allies) to participate in the lobby day. So your comments are not only unfortunate but misguided (“The pierced face of a Pillsbury Doughboy!?” WTF? I hope people in your life respect you a bit more than you seem to respect others).

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