Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
February 17, 2012
What Happens After Same-Sex Marriage Is The Law? Work For Acceptance and Respect
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
A few friends asked why we think that the fight for marriage equality is won when only seven states allow same-sex marriage, but 29 states constitutionally restrict marriage to one man and one woman and another 12 states have laws restricting marriage to one man and one woman. Also, the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act for the first time involved the federal government in defining marriage as the legal union between a man and a woman. The forces arrayed against equal marriage appear formidable.
Current Trends and History Assure Marriage Equality
We are fully aware of the energy and treasure already expended and to be expended still to establish a legal right for same-sex lovers to marry. We also know people for whom this fight is their sole focus. We do not diminish their work, indeed, we extol their efforts and lend a hand every time we are asked. But the tide is inexorably turning, slowly perhaps and with stops and starts and sometimes moving backwards, but it is turning. We read the results of polls and know that more and more Americans believe that the right to get married should extent to people in love regardless of their sexual orientation or identity. We especially read the statistic that among the younger generation the affirmation is overwhelming. In addition, we are aware of the history of other, similar struggles. Women’s rights, mixed race marriage, racial equality, those were struggles that all overturned laws against and resulted in laws in favor.
But They Do Not Assure Acceptance And Respect
It is absolutely vital that a legal right be established, because everything starts with that. But once established, the struggle for social and economic rights begins and with it the struggle for acceptance and respect. We know there is a gap between what people answer to pollsters and what they actually believe. We know that every time a law passes that allows equal marriage, a movement starts to repeal it; we read of the One Million Moms campaign to boycott JC Penney’s, because they appointed Ellen Degeneres as their spokesperson; we listened to Roland Martin’s homophobic remarks on CNN. When courts and the Justice Department found that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, New York’s archbishop (now cardinal) Timothy Dolan wrote that this would cause a conflict between church and state of enormous proportions.
We study those counter trends to discover what lies at their root so that we can begin to change minds, because we know that a legal right does not change long held beliefs nor alter encrusted traditions.
But It All Starts With The Law
Even though we will prevail because time is on our side, we know that the legal right for same sex marriage requires Herculean efforts. We don’t want anybody to lessen the pressure to establish that legal right. Other organizations are better suited to carry on that fight. We are better suited to help change minds.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org