User-agent: * Allow: / Legal news, political opinion, Satire, and lawyer thinking by Tim Paynter, Attorney at Law: Gay marriage in DC not guaranteed - division likely

Why Not Twitter This?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gay marriage in DC not guaranteed - division likely

There are two sides to every coin. Tuesday's vote to approve gay marriages in Washington D.C. marks a long awaited change in attitudes towards the equal rights and protection of gay, lesbian and transgender people. US thinking opposing civil rights and marriage between same sex couples has been viewed as archaic by modern thinkers throughout the world. Certainly, discrimination is not a position to be expected from the leader of the free world.

Good news is not always great news. First, even though the Washington D.C. city council has passed the gay marriage proposal, celebration is far too early. There is a huge hurdle to be jumped before the measure can become law. More on that below.

Here is the second part of the not so great news. The controversial decision could cause a division in the Democratic legislature that President Obama is depending upon for reform. Some Democrats in the know were privately unhappy with wildly unrealistic expectations the Obama administration could quickly dispatch years of bungling by George Bush and his cronies. Lasting solutions to serious problems requires well reasoned and time consuming thought.

Republican and Democrats are mindful the honeymoon is over for Obama. As Americans face the worst economic conditions in generations, the U.S. populous is quick to blame the Democratic congress that can't bring about a quick fix. This is an opportune time for Republican strategists to divide the house they oppose.

What the press reports have hidden in the mumble jumble between the lines is, the Gay Marriage law does not go into effect until the US Congress says it goes into effect. That is an imense hurdle if Republicans want it to be. In the past, when forward thinking city councils in various states passed similar laws the US Congress mostly stayed out of the fray. Those who despised the scattered laws allowing marriage between men were left with three options: Attack through the state court legislature, throw themselves upon the mercy of a conservative court, or pout. Sadly, Conservatives love to pout.

Unfortunately, Washington D.C. is not a state. The governing body with final authority over laws in our nation's capitol is the U.S. Congress. Even though the measure passed with only one dissenting vote, the US legislature must tip its hat or gay people stay single.

Enter the dividing issue. Republicans have been looking for cracks in Democratic unity for some time. Not all Democrats have the blessing of their constituency on the topic of freedom for homosexuals. This is a Republican strategists dream. Today's united Democratic party may watch their ranks scatter as if struck by a lightening bolt. Perhaps some run to the fight, others run from it and the rest just plain duck.

The battle to let consenting people choose the form of family unity that works best for themselves has always been bloody. For some reason it is hard to gather a majority that remains a majority when it comes to sexual orientation.

Good things come from bad. With support for the Obama administration slacking, Millions of oppressed people, including undocumented workers as well as gays and lesbians, have been watching their chances for fair legislation slip away. You can't win the battle until the nation's law makers put it to a vote, and the line at the back of the bus is long.

The unintended consequence of a brave D.C. city counsel is to bring the waiting for the gay, lesbian and transgender community to a halt. No one likes a fight, but so long as the Republican party allows itself to be hijacked by a conservative minority, a fight is what must pass. That being the case, it is better to pick the battle when one's odds of losing are the least. I say, bring it on!

Tim Paynter is a Denver attorney and advocate of civil rights for all who suffer oppression in the US, including undocumented workers, the gay, lesbian and transgender community, and the poor.

No comments:

Post a Comment