Friday, July 21, 2006

We Won't Get Gay Marriage Today, Why Lose Elections Over It

Practical Politics are Idealistic Politics

A lot more than should be is going to be made of the break up of the couple who won the gay marriage case in Massachusetts. Having seen and heard them, they seem like the kind of people you look at and wonder how they could divorce. But as the flagship of legalized gay marriage they are a face of the issue. Their relationship, for better or worse, has political implications.

I won't criticize them for their case which became a winning issue for Republicans in 2004 and the basis of the Republican hate campaign this year. They were simply asking for the exercise of rights which were, are and always will be theirs.

My critique isn't with the rights or working for them, it's with the futile insistence on pushing them through to completion now whatever the consequences. Look around the country today. State after state is adopting gay marriage bans, often by popular vote. This is a direct result of the case being won in Massachusetts. And don't believe that gay marriage is a certainly there. The same court that approved it just approved a ballot measure to ban it.

Relying on the courts to guarantee this issue in the same way past courts struck down legal segregation is unrealistic. Consider who sits on the Supreme Court now. It's probably already certain that we couldn't win in that court and after Bush gets another stealth fascist on the bench we are a sure bet to lose the little progress that has been made. They are constantly pushing back on a host of civil rights issues for other, less hated, minorities with more political clout.

In a rational world a critique of gay marriage that includes gay divorce would be grounds for equal attacks on straight and notably divorce prone straight marriage. But the politics of stereotyping and hate don't work out of reason. Black people, Latinos, Jews, the rest of those with us on the right's hate list; it's always different rules for us.

You can rail against this double standard and should but in the meantime there are elections that have to be won. Winning elections, getting the best possible government is more important than anything else in 2006. We are on the cusp of losing it all, everything. All of the victories of the past are in danger. We have no choice but to plan strategies for success that factor in the double standards.

Any leftist who cares more about even the most important secondary issues than they do about gaining political power automatically puts themselves on the margins of politics. The greater leftist movement has to defer what can't be won today for another time. Practical and realistic politics can deliver what impractical impatience can't. That fact makes it the only truly idealistic politics.

Langston Hughes' most famous poem was written in 1951 on the eve of the first real fruit of the long and continuing black civil rights movement. But even with the enormous struggle and progress a lot of that dream is still unfulfilled. But no matter what we do, the dream of gay marriage is going to be deferred. That is as clear as the newspaper in front of your face. No matter how much some people might pretend it is not going to be ours now. Other unfulfilled rights are more attainable today but not with a Republican government. Why should those be deferred for gay marriage?

Note: I wonder how many of the people who recite the line from Langston Hughes knows he was gay.

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