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New York marriage
New York marriage
by Jennifer Vanasco - SGN Contributing Writer

Some think that the one-two punch of California legalizing Gay marriage and New York recognizing them will mean a resurgence of the Gay culture wars.

Not that they've ever fully gone away. Gays and Lesbians are still at the center of a debate about whether it's "moral" to give us full equal rights.

But in the last few years, the ferocity has toned down. Our "degeneracy" is no longer the centerpiece of evangelical action or conservative campaigns, due to a combination of a dismal war, the tanking economy and rising gas prices have put the focus on other issues. Even the most evangelical of evangelicals were starting to make noises that they should move on to other things.

And then a California judge decided that Gays and Lesbians were full citizens and deserve to be treated equally. And a governor by chance directed his state to honor marriages performed elsewhere, giving them full faith and credit, as the Constitution directs.

Immediately, commentators on the left and right swooned.

They remembered what happened after Massachusetts legalized marriage in 2003. The backlash was fast and fierce.

There was a flurry of hysteria, as states started passing laws and amendments limiting marriage to a man and a woman, banning recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states. Some theorize that these referendums drove conservatives to the polls and tipped the 2004 presidential election in favor of George W. Bush over John Kerry.

The momentum didn't stop until 2006, when Arizona residents voted down a ban on equal marriage there. (John McCain supported that failed state ban, though he says he's against a national Constitutional amendment.)

Many on both the left and the right think that the California decision and the NY recognition of it (California doesn't have a residency requirement like Massachusetts does) will lead to a similar resurgence.

It's a presidential year. Will this decision sweep conservatives into Congress and McCain into the White House? Will it lead to a further tide of anti-Gay laws and amendments across the country?

The far right thinks so - they're already trying to use this to raise money. A ban in California is on the ballot for November.

Many on the left think so, too, and are actively warning liberals against the possibility. Prepare to fight, we're told.

But I don't think that's what's going to happen this time. I think the California decision will stand in November. And I think New York is heading toward legalizing full equality. More, I think that the turn of our two populous states to marriage heralds the slow, steady march of full marriage equality across the entire United States.

Thirty-nine years ago this month, Gays, Lesbians and Transgenders in a New York bar ignited a revolution that had been fueled by injustice for years. Stonewall showed us that we could fight and win.

We have been fighting. And now we're winning. The country has had five years to see that equal marriage hasn't destroyed Massachusetts. We've seen more famous figures come out. We've seen a rising belief that a faltering military needs its Gay and Lesbian soldiers to strengthen it from the inside.

Young people are more comfortable with Gays and Lesbians than they've ever been; and just like they prodded their parents to vote for Obama, they prodded them to be more accepting of us as well.

Also, and importantly, despite all the blather about "activist judges" in California, a Gay marriage bill passed the California legislature - twice. It's just that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wouldn't sign it. But even he has declared a constitutional state ban silly.

If California doesn't put a stay on weddings until the vote in November, then the country will start seeing more high-profile Gay marriages starting in two weeks. They will get to see a press flurry around Ellen and Portia. And all of this further normalizes our marriages, reminding straight America that in every way, they are just like us; we are just like them.

The world is changing. No - it has changed. What was sparked by Stonewall is now a conflagration of civil rights.

California has marriage. New York has marriage (as long as you go somewhere else to perform the ceremony).

This was not a blow to Gay and Lesbian rights - this was a knockout punch to homophobia everywhere.

Jennifer Vanasco is an award-winning, syndicated columnist. She edits the Gay political blog VisibleVote08.com. E-mail her at jennifer.vanasco@gmail.com.

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