Monday, March 24, 2014

The issue that won’t wither away

I know there are those people who want to view the whole debate concerning marriage between gay couples as over and done with.

CROSS: Will he move up to treasurer?
Heck, the Washington Post last week cited the elections in Illinois as evidence that people have become comfortable with the issue and that the hard-ball politicking is over.

WHAT WITH THE fact that state representatives Ed Sullivan, R-Mundelein, and Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, won their bids for re-nomination, even though they had seriously-funded opposition.

Then there was the fact that state Rep. Tom Cross of Oswego was successful in his bid to get the Republican nomination for state treasurer.

What Cross, Sandack and Sullivan all had in common was that they were the few Republicans who were willing to vote “aye” when the issue of gay marriage becoming legal came up for debate and a vote in the Illinois House of Representatives.

There were those who were convinced that the conservative voting bases in their legislative districts (all in the outer suburbs of the Chicago area, although Cross comes from an area where it is debatable whether he’s a suburban or rural legislator) would be so repulsed that they would easily lose.

THEIR VOTE IN favor of gay marriage being legitimate would haunt them. They would pay for it. Except that they didn’t.

Admittedly, Sandack had what was the closest campaign vote total of any in Illinois on Tuesday. But he won. Sullivan and Cross achieved victory by greater margins.

I have no doubt there are individuals who live (and vote) in those particular rural districts who are repulsed that they couldn’t defeat ANY of the three. Although I’m also inclined to believe that the real truth of the matter is that people are ready to move on.

SULLIVAN: Vote not an issue
They’re not interested in re-fighting this political battle over and over.

NOT HERE IN Illinois, or probably anywhere else in the nation.

Yet the same mentality of political people who are going to try to repeal federal healthcare reform initiatives so long as they live (because they don’t like just who it is who will get credit for its successes) also exist on this issue.

Take the situation in Michigan, where there are now more than 300 gay couples who got themselves a marriage license in recent days, only to be told on Saturday they can’t use it right away.

SANDACK: Oh, so close!
For those who rushed right away to get married, they now have to know that they may have wasted their time and don’t have any more legal legitimacy than they had all along.

IT WAS ON Friday that a federal judge in Detroit issued an order saying that Michigan’s law (passed in 2004 with 59 percent support of voters) that specified gay marriage was illegal IS in-and-of itself unconstitutional.

But Saturday afternoon, a federal Court of Appeals judge in Cincinnati put a stay on that order – on that will remain in effect at least through Wednesday. It was the state Attorney General’s office who asked for the stay.

Legal officials said they granted it so that the people who want to keep marriage for gay couples strictly verboten can have time to put together, “a more reasoned consideration” of the issue.

Except that so much of the reasoning on this issue is based on emotion and the need of some people to have the law uphold their own personal hang-ups. Adding four days, or making the wait indefinite, isn’t going to change anything about the debate.

SCHUETTE: Carrying on the fight
NOW I SORT of comprehend the difference between Illinois and Michigan. Our state had the Legislature and Gov. Pat Quinn impose the change in policy (and yes, back in the mid-1990s days of a Republican-dominated state government, Illinois passed its own law that specified gay marriage was NOT appropriate).

Whereas in Michigan, it was a court forcing the change in state policy. It would be nice if the legislative geeks who convene in Lansing, Mich., could reach a similar consensus. Perhaps they will, someday.

But I also suspect there are some places that are prepared to take a perverse level of pride in being able to say they were the last place to accept the concept of marriage for all. Or that they only did it under duress from a court.

Which means that court rulings similar to what came out of Michigan on Friday are going to be needed for this issue to truly become over and done with.


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