This week’s cover: #WhatsNext?
This year, the cake mix company Betty Crocker donated custom cakes for the first same-sex marriages in Minnesota. At DC Comics, Batwoman is engaged to marry her longtime girlfriend. Ellen DeGeneres—only 15 years ago jeered as “Ellen Degenerate” for coming out—is the queen of daytime television, where she regularly mentions her wife, Portia de Rossi. She’s also a Cover Girl model—the official public face of the Girl Next Door.
You know you’ve won when the companies that sell to the mass market of middle America are hurrying to show that they’re friendly to your cause. But there are many other signs of victory for lesbians and gay men. Only 17 years ago, in 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act was passed to protect the country against “promiscuity, perversion, hedonism, narcissism, depravity, and sin,” as then-congressman Gerry Studds summarized what he’d heard during the hearings. Today, any such language would sink the career of a national politician.
Meanwhile, we are speeding toward full marriage rights for same-sex couples throughout the country. This past June, the Supreme Court declared that the federal government must recognize all state-sanctioned marriages, including same-sex marriages, and in a procedural move, flung open marriage’s doors to California’s same-sex couples as well. Last fall, the citizens of three states passed laws making it possible for same-sex couples to marry, while another two rejected attempts to ban or undo marriage equality. The total number of marriage-equality states is now 13—or 14 if you include New Mexico, where the most populous counties are currently performing such marriages. Realistically, advocates believe they can win another 10 states by 2016.
Increasingly, people will get a chance to see how ordinarily boring we are, reducing the stigma attached to coming out as gay.
The marriage equality fight isn’t over, by any means. The rest of the states, including those most hostile to gay rights, have constitutional or statutory bans on recognizing same-sex pairs. But the momentum is clear to all. Roughly 55 percent of Americans now say they favor legal marriage rights for same-sex couples. Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry—the national group most involved in winning hearts, minds, legislation, and ballot measures (as opposed to court victories) on marriage equality—recently told me that he believes we will see full national marriage rights within a few years, “if we do the work,” as he always adds.
To understate the case, when we win full marriage rights nationwide, it will be a transformative moment, both practically and symbolically. Once our marriages are legally recognized everywhere in the country, lesbians, bisexuals, and gay men—and children just beginning to realize that they might be heading in our direction—will be socially legible as ordinary human beings with the same hopes and dreams as our neighbors. Increasingly, people will get a chance to see how ordinarily boring we are, reducing the stigma attached to coming out as gay. In short, winning marriage means that, more and more, we will have formal equality.
So then what? Should the coalition of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people—the LGBT movement, for short—declare victory and disband? Once we can marry the person whom we love, are we done agitating for political change under the rainbow flag?
In a word, no. For starters, there are still policy areas beyond marriage to take care of. Among the more urgent: passing ENDA—the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, currently being marked up in the Senate—which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of federally forbidden reasons for firing or refusing to hire or promote, a move supported by 80 percent of the nation; battling back against the problematic idea, promoted under the phrase “religious liberty,” that anyone with a religious reason for not wanting to treat LGBT folks as fully human should be excused from following anti-discrimination laws; warming up the cultural climate in American regions where attitudes toward us lag; and reaching out internationally to ask those still being disenfranchised and brutalized in other countries and cultures how we can best help.
But beyond these projects, there’s a much larger cultural question that deeply deserves our country’s attention. It has to do with gender: the way our culture, our politics, and our legal system treats femininity, masculinity, and everything in between.
Read more.Army National Guard Maj. Shannon McLaughlin, her wife Casey, and other service members will file a suit in Boston today that challenges the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act,reports The Washington Post. The suit also includes “five other troops and two career Army and Navy veterans,” and their lawyer tells The Post that it is intended to address federal code that doesn’t let gay spouses access basic benefits like “military identification cards, access to bases, recreational programs, spousal support groups and burial rights at national cemeteries.” The lawyer for the troops, Aubrey Sarvis, put it simply to the newspaper: “What Shannon and Casey are seeking is the same treatment that their straight counterparts, who are legally married, receive every day without question and take for granted.”
Today is the 13th anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old gay college student from Laramie, Wyo., who was brutally beaten into a coma and left to die, propped up on this fence.
Years before the It Gets Better Campaign, the Trevor Project, or anything remotely close to legalized gay marriage, Shepard’s death galvanized the LGBT community—and others—to demand hate-crimes legislation.
(Photo taken from Newsweek’s original story on the beating, in 1998.)
The first day of a new military reality: It’s easy, especially when major civil rights policy comes down to a big, dramatic vote, to check the “accomplished” box and move along. In the case of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, this would have been considerably premature, as it wasn’t until midnight this morning that the ban was finally lifted. Congratulations to all the people who’ve had the weight of a big injustice pulled off their shoulders by this. The above video was recorded hours after the ban was lifted, and is a pretty emotional scene to watch unfold; a soldier, finally able to state his sexuality without discrimination from the military, calls his father to come out to his family. Be warned, it might make you a bit misty-eyed. source
June 6, 1977
Newsweek’s first cover on gay rights, featuring a fiery Anita Bryant, documented how the Florida Citrus Commission spokeswoman (and former Miss Oklahoma) was mobilizing what was described as a “somewhat bizarre but deadly serious battle over gay rights.”
Bryant, of course, would later take a banana cream pie in the face. (“Well at least it’s a fruit pie,” she exclaimed.)
And thirty-four years to the month later, New York would become the sixth and largest state to legalize gay marriage.