The furor over California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s promised veto of the same-sex marriage bill that passed the state’s legislature has set off a firestorm of outrage among gay rights activists and the nation’s liberal commentators. Imbedded within this outrage is another perspective altogether — the confidence that time is undoubtedly on their side.
Before the Governor’s office indicated that he would indeed veto the bill, Assemblyman Mark Leno, the openly-gay legislator who sponsored the bill and pushed it (barely) through the Assembly, expresssed hope that Gov. Schwarzenegger would sign the bill [see article in The Los Angeles Times].
“I believe this is a governor who at his core is a libertarian on issues of social matters,” Leno said, “and that he is very fair-minded. I think he also takes the longer, rather than shorter, view of history.” Those last words are the more important part of his argument. When Mr. Leno calls upon the Governor to take “the longer, rather than the shorter, view of history,” he is threatening the Governor with the weapon of anticipated history.
Politicians in high office always have at least one eye on the history books of the future. Mr. Leno is warning the Governor that history will certainly see the affirmation of same-sex marriage as an inevitable expansion of human rights and sexual liberties — as well as the unfolding evolution of marriage as an institution.
A similar point is made by columnist Ryan H. Sager at Tech Central Station. TCS is a rather libertarian outfit, but Sager’s column still may come as a surprise to many readers. His argument:
Yet it’s crystal clear where public opinion is headed, both in California and nationwide. The younger the demographic polled, the more support is found for gay marriage and civil unions.
Really, what gay marriage opponents are looking to do is write anti-gay provisions into as many state constitutions as possible — and maybe even into the federal Constitution — before the people invested in the so-called “defense of marriage” all die off.
And, well, while we may not have a Living Constitution, constitutions govern the living. A last gasp of anti-gay animus threatens to rule us from the grave, but its time is running out.
Time is running out on defenders of traditional marriage, Sager insists. He may be right. Then again, if the defenders of marriage simply surrender, he will surely be right. Those who would stand for marriage as the union of a man and a woman — and only the union of a man and a woman — have much work cut out for us. We can be lulled into complacency by the success of constitutional amendment votes in several states.
The fact is that the Federal Marriage Amendment has made little progress over the past year. Meanwhile, we are losing ground in defending marriage among the young. In California, Gov. Schwarzenegger’s promised veto rides on a technicallity, not on a defense of traditional marriage.
This is no time to rest. After all, Ryan Sager thinks it won’t be long “before the people invested in the so-called ‘defense of marriage’ all die off.” Well, we’re not dead yet.