Gay in the Heartland
If you are gay and want to get married, then look no further than the northeast bloc of gay-friendly states – Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, soon to be New York and New Jersey, and uh…Nebraska.
Well, not quite Nebraska, but a Federal Judge did strike down Nebraska’s voter approved gay marriage ban yesterday. But I want to know, who actually benefits from this decisions?
In 2000, Nebraska voters approved the amendment to their state constitution by over 70%. With such high numbers opposing gay unions of any kind, this judges decision only hurts the gay rights movement. Tight-pants conservative lawmakers in the state and national government have already cried bloody murder over this “activist judge” who overturned the “will of the people.” It doesn’t seem to matter to them that the reason he said he overturned it was because it went far beyond the legal definition of marriage, even potentially interfering with related individuals who live together, couples who want to adopt or even foster parents.
In short, the amendment was struck down not because he was trying to give a helping hand to Nebraska’s swelling gay population, but because the language of the amendment affected relationships that are normally protected.
But this won’t matter to the Theocrats and it won’t matter to President Bush. He will renew his call for a constitutional marriage amendment to protect states from “activist” judges – despite the fact that Connecticut democratically passed civil union legislation without any judicial intervention, and the Republican governor even signed it into law.
So the judge’s decision will not help things on the national scene. But to be honest, I cannot imagine what good it will do in Nebraska either. Sure, the amendment allegedly interfered with these other kinds of relationships, although I have not heard of any reported cases. The real winners from the law, in theory, are Nebraska’s gay and lesbian population.
But forgive me for saying this, but Nebraska is not exactly a “gay Mecca” It’s not as though Lincoln is a big ticket stop on the circuit party route, or as though Omaha rivals P-town or Fire Island. Indeed, in the 2000 census, Nebraska recorded only 2,332 same sex couples (compared with, 46,500 in New York).
Nebraska is not New York or New Jersey – it is smack dab in the middle of the country, consisting mostly of rural farm land. And while gay and lesbian couples everywhere have a right not to be ghettoized by the heteronormative will of the majority, such a judicial decision will only seem as liberal encroachment upon “the heartland” while bringing little in the way of substantial reward.
[X-posted at Freiheit und Wissen]