On Tuesday, Washington, Maryland, and Maine voters upheld marriage equality. They join seven other states, including D.C., in guaranteeing the right. Eleven states operate with a separate-but-(in) equal system, through civil unions or domestic partnerships. These civil rights are thought of as Democratic or liberal ideals, but all Americans should embrace them: since when is equality exclusively a liberal vice?
We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Let’s assume—for the sake of argument and because literalism will only affirm that “men” means “landed white chromosomal-XY men”— that “men” refers to “humanity.” Not to be cliché or anything, but if there’s one way to prove that basic civil rights are not a partisan issue it is to invoke the raison d’être of our great nation. We are all equal. Civil rights are human rights. To deny civil rights is to deny human rights, to fly in the face of humanity, of morality, of right and good. We are ALL equal.
No one loves the Founding Fathers like the Republican Party does. The partisan line is slowly disintegrating in favor of ideologies of equality: “This year, young Republicans supported equality in record numbers. Major GOP donors like Paul Singer, party leaders like Ken Mehlman, and elected officials like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, advocated and donated to express their support as well.”
The Marriage Equality movement suggests recent success is due in part to messaging appealing to our emotions, invoking “love, commitment, [and] family” rather than the equally valid but apparently off-putting financial benefits. They won by speaking the language of the family-defending opposition, so to speak.
All told, this signals the beginning of a turning point in national socio-political ideology, but there is still much work to do. Only 21 states out of 50 boast a voting majority that believes in the founding principles of the country. So-called liberal states show disproportionate support for basic equality and civil rights, but these are issues that shouldn’t be partisan. Indeed, recent marriage equality victories show the Democrat-Republican divide over civil rights affirmation is slowly shrinking, but until social conservatism releases its stranglehold on the Republican Party, GOP strongholds will likely remain bastions of marriage inequality.
It is only a matter of time until this internal hypocrisy lemming itself off a cliff, and the Grand Old Party can demonstrate as much support for our basic American ideals as its cross-aisle opponent.