[Election Night, Our House in the Woods in Western Washington]
Me: I know we got rid of cable, but we can still watch election coverage online. The major networks are all streaming their coverage live.
Kris, clearly dubious: Okay.
[Three hours later, after much lip-biting and reloading of slow pages and trying not to curse in front of our daughter…]
Me: Looks like it’s going to be a long night. Want to watch Jon Stewart’s live stream while the networks count votes?
[Fifteen minutes later…]
Kris: Can we check NBC during the commercials?
Me: Of course. [Switches over and gasps.] Wait, what? What?!
Kris: They already called it? Which state did he win?
Me: It must have been Ohio. Let’s check the map.
Kris: Ohio, and Minnesota, and Nevada, and… Obama won. He totally won!
Me: I don’t know. Remember Gore in 2000? Let’s check PBS… Ohmigod! Obama won!
[Much celebration and cheering, but restrained because (1) we know now to question the accuracy of projections derived from exit polls and 1% of tallied results, and (2) Alex is asleep just down the hall.]
Kris: Maybe we should check on the state measures now that we know Obama won.
Me: But where do we look?
Kris: A local TV station would be really handy about now.
Me: How about the Seattle newspapers?… There it is, at the top of the page. Oh, no.
Kris: What is it?
Me: The gay marriage law is losing, with only 46% for and 54% against.
Kris, all jubilation suddenly absent: It’s that big of a gap? Seriously?
Me, tears rising: I can’t believe that many of our neighbors would vote against us. 8%! I thought it would be closer.
Kris: So did I.
[Long, sorrowful look exchanged, full of unspoken understanding and disappointment.]
Me: Wait… It just reversed! Dude, it totally reversed!
Kris: What do you mean? How could it reverse?
Me: It says all counties haven’t reported yet. My guess is King County just reported in. Yay, Seattle!
Kris: So we’re winning?
Me: For now, yes, it looks like we’re winning.
Kris, with tears in her eyes: Awesome.
Me: It is awesome, isn’t it?
A week later, the votes are still being counted in Washington, a state that votes entirely by mail-in ballot. But the pro-gay marriage folks declared victory, and a day later, the anti-gay folks admitted to defeat, so it looks like Referendum 74 will be approved, marking the first time in history that the citizens of a state (make that three states, since Maine and Maryland had a similar outcome last week on similar state measures) voted in favor of legalizing same-sex civil marriage. Given that Minnesota defeated a measure that would have amended the state constitution to restrict marriage to between one man and one woman (as if the gays had demanded polygamy, instead of equality), we won every single gay marriage measure in the 2012 elections. Wowser!
In the course of one election cycle, 0 for 31 just edged up to 4 for 35. In our household, again, this news has been greeted with much celebration and cheering, tempered this time by confusion.
[This Morning, Our House in the Woods in Western Washington]
Me: Wait a minute. What does this mean to us, given we have a 2005 marriage from Massachusetts and a 2007 domestic partnership from Washington State?
Kris: I have no idea.
Me: Neither do I. Maybe I should call the Secretary of State.
[After a quick Google search, I dial the number and wait.]
Secretary of State operator, cheerily: Washington Secretary of State’s office. How may I direct your call?
Me: I’m calling to find out information on the new gay marriage law. My partner and I were married in Massachusetts in 2005 before moving to Washington State. But our marriage wasn’t recognized here, so we had to register for a domestic partnership. Now our marriage will be recognized, so we’ll end up with both a domestic partnership and a legal marriage on the books, which strikes us as not legal.
Secretary of State operator, less cheery: I asked around about this, and we’re telling people it’s probably best to speak with a legal advisor about your specific situation.
Me: You mean we should talk to a lawyer?
SoS operator: Yes, to your legal advisor. We’re not in the position to make legal recommendations.
Me: But we registered as domestic partners through the Secretary of State’s Corporations office, which is why I thought you might know what we should do. Anyway, we had to pay to register as domestic partners because our marriage wasn’t recognized, so the last thing we want to do is pay more money to resolve the situation.
SoS operator, apologetic now: I understand. Tell you what, I’m going to transfer you to our expert on domestic partnerships, and perhaps she can help.
[Transferred to the voice mail of Deann, domestic partnerships expert.]
Me, on Deann’s machine: I’m calling to find out information on the new gay marriage law. My partner and I were married in Massachusetts in 2005 before moving to Washington State, but our marriage wasn’t recognized here, so we had to register for a domestic partnership. Now our marriage will be recognized, so we’ll end up with both a domestic partnership and a legal marriage on the books, which strikes us as potentially illegal. Please give me a call back when you can. Thank you.
[One hour later, I receive a call back.]
Me: Blah, blah, marriage, domestic partnership, etc.
Deanna from Washington SoS, Corporations division: What we’re asking people to do is send us a copy of their certified marriage certificate (not the pretty one, but the official one), and include your current address and phone number. Once we receive the certificate, we will change your status from active to married. If you don’t send it, we don’t want to terminate your partnership, as you’re not getting divorced or separated. But as of June 30, 2014, we will by law automatically transfer the domestic partnership of anyone we haven’t heard from over to marriage—a legal Washington State marriage.
Me: And then we’d be married in two different states, which isn’t legal.
Deanna: Well, it just doesn’t make much sense.
Me: No, it certainly doesn’t.
What I didn’t add was that it doesn’t exactly make sense to be legally married according to a few states, in a recognized domestic partnership according to a handful of others, and a legal nonentity in the majority of states. But hey, that’s the way of it these days for same-sex marrieds. [Brief OT plug: Just get rid of DOMA already! Please!]
Times they are a-changing, no matter what the Religious Right tells you: In the wake of the LGBT elections night victories, Brian Brown, Catholic convert and president of the National Organization [against same-sex] Marriage, declared, “Americans remain strongly in favor of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
This is a blatant lie. Election results aside, national polls throughout 2012 clearly indicate the opposite:
- A June 6 CNN/ORC International poll showed that a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage being legalized at 54%, while 42% are opposed.
- A May 22 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed that 54% of Americans would favor a law in their state making same-sex marriage legal, with 40% opposed.
- A May 17–20 ABC News/Washington Post poll showed that 53% believe same-sex marriage should be legal, with only 39% opposed.
- The day before President Obama expressed support for gay marriage, a May 8 Gallup Poll showed 50% of Americans believe same-sex marriage should be legal, with 48% opposed.
- An April 4-15 Pew Research Center for the People & the Press showed that “47% favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, while 43% are opposed.”
Even a Fox News exit poll last week found its viewers in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, 49% to 46%. And so on and so forth. The point is, Brown chooses to disregard national polling and election results the same way he chooses to disrespect the legal and civil rights of American gay and lesbian citizens.
Brown went on to whine, “We could have won these fights with the right amount of money.”
So wait, what you’re saying is that with more money you could have run a better, farther-reaching fear and hate-based campaign of blatant lies like the one the Mormon church ran in California to get Prop 8 passed? Prop 8, which, incidentally, was declared unconstitutional by a federal court, a ruling that was upheld by the 9th Federal District Court of Appeals and is expected to be reviewed by the Supreme Court during the current judicial session.
By all means, let’s ignore voters and national polls and federal court rulings, and continue a faith-based campaign against the civil rights of a minority of American citizens. I mean, clearly that’s what the Bible proclaims to be the only acceptable course of action. And as we all know, the American people rely on the Bible to guide us.
Oh, wait, I’m sorry—we actually rely on the Constitution and the separation of powers to guide us, don’t we? Maybe someone could mention that to Brian Brown and the rest of his Christ-loving, gay-hating minions. Just saying.
Before I sign off, I have to point out that Kris and I were living in Massachusetts in 2004 when the State Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry, making Masachusetts the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. Now we live in the first state (via a 3-way tie) to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.
Hmm. Where should we move next?