Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Not Much of a Fight

Opponents of marriage equality in New York can’t seem to muster their troops.

As the Legislature considers whether to make New York the next state to legalize same-sex marriage, social conservatives have been largely missing from the debate in Albany.

The interest groups working to legalize marriage for gay couples have been laying the groundwork for more than four years, lobbying lawmakers and funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to their campaigns. And last week they began running television commercials in three of the state’s largest media markets promoting same-sex marriage as an equal rights issue.

Their opponents, who are just beginning to organize, say they feel outgunned and underfinanced.

The difficulties in New York echo those that conservatives have faced throughout the Northeast. Over the last six weeks, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire have all moved to allow gay couples to wed.

The region has been challenging for opponents of same-sex marriage, in part, because the measures are being decided by state legislatures — not voter referendums where the opponents’ ability to motivate large numbers of voters, rather than influence institutional players, has been an advantage.

“It is the lack of a proposition or referendum,” the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said. “There is a disconnect within the constituencies. Many of them really have no idea how to present their grievances.”

Ironic, isn’t it, that the opponents, who always said that if same-sex marriage was to be truly enacted, it would have to be done through the legislative process. That was the only way for the people to speak on the issue; not through some “activist” judge and a court ruling. So that’s how it’s happening, the same way it did in Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire, and they’re caught flat-footed.

Or maybe it’s just because nobody outside their narrow little Babbitt-y world thinks that the world will come to a screeching halt and that Rick Santorum’s wet dream about man-dog sex will finally come true if two people of the same gender exercise the same right that millions of straight couples already do in New York.