BY ARI EZRA WALDMAN
On Tuesday night, I had the honor of speaking at the LGBT Community Center NYC. Along with a number of lions of gay advocacy -- Ryan Davis (second from left), Executive Director of Social Media Innovation at Blue State Digital and co-founder of TheFour2012.com; Lynn Faria (center), Interim Executive Director of the Empire State Pride Agenda; Nicole Bronzan (second from right), Communications Director of Freedom to Marry; and Brian Silva (far right), Executive Director of Marriage Equality USA -- I talked briefly about the status of the two major federal marriage cases and the practical intersection of politics and law.
That's a conversation worth having because the reason politics, society, and law matter to each other paves the path ahead for ultimate success in our quest for civil rights. Consider the following case study: If I believe that the courtroom has the inherent advantage of being divorced from politics, where lies, deceit, and a bright white smile can gloss over unrepentant evil, why did I support bringing the ballot initiative in Maine?
Mainers are among the residents of four states who will vote on the freedom to marry this November. In Maryland and Washington, they are voting on whether to retain the civil marriage laws passed by their respective state legislatures, defensive actions to uphold vanguard victories. In Minnesota, they are voting on whether to enshrine marriage discrimination into that state's constitution, a rearguard action. In Maine, voters are being asked to vote again on marriage at the ballot, where marriage equality was previously shot down.
The Maine initiative makes sense because politics can move law. Law, after all, is not some ethereal concept that exists above and outside and prior to our existence; it is written, interpreted, and enforced by men and women, real people with real prejudices, real brains, real fears, and real places in the world. A ballot initiative in Maine in 2012 was the right thing to do at the right time because a favorable trend could give our incomparably hard work the extra boost it needs to win our first state-wide ballot measure. Once that happens, not only is our losing streak over as a practical matter, but our victories can encourage judges to make the right decisions. That means that every call you make, every dollar you donate, and every hour you spend volunteering to help win in at the ballot is also helping us win in the courtroom.
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