A Short (Sarcastic) History Of Marriage Equality In The United States

A Short History of Marriage Equality in the United States

With the Cheney family split on the question of gay marriage where does the nation stand? A short history of marriage equality in the United States.

If you’ve been following the news you know Thanksgiving will be tense at Dick Cheney’s house this year. In fact, his daughters are not speaking to each other. The point of contention? Marriage equality. More specifically, Liz Cheney wants to be elected the next U. S. Senator from deep red Wyoming so she’s “come out” against it. Mary Cheney, on the other hand, is a lesbian. She hopes to be treated as an equal so she’s for it.

Americans, too, remain divided on the issue. Would you be thankful this Thanksgiving if marriage equality were legal? Or would you choke on your giblets? In July, 52% of Americans said they would vote for marriage equality. Another 43% opposed. Not looking good for those opposed. Worse, young Americans support the right to marry. Almost seven in ten, ages 18-34, are for it. Sorry, Liz, the writing is on the wall and it’s faaaaaabulous!

So, as a nation, how did we get here? More importantly, where are we headed?

A short history of marriage equality in America.

In 1970 Jack Baker and Michael McConnell applied for a Minnesota marriage license. Their request was denied.  But, through a series of legal maneuvers, they acquired a license. A Methodist minister married them in 1971. Despite a lengthy court fight they remain together today.

Maryland lawmakers threw down the gauntlet in 1973. That state was first in the nation to ban marriage equality. Baker talked with an interviewer around the same time. He insisted that the treatment of gays, generally, boiled down to a civil rights issue.

March 23, 1974: Thinking traditional marriage is safe, the writer of this column marries.

March 1975: A county clerk in Colorado issues six same-sex marriage licenses. State authorities rule the licenses invalid. Meanwhile, U. S. divorce rates skyrocket. Almost half of all marriages now end in divorce. You can’t blame gays, though. They still can’t marry.

Also in 1975, Virginia takes action. This statute is enacted: “A marriage between persons of the same sex is prohibited.” State lawmakers are still smarting from a defeat eight years earlier. In Loving v. Virginia the U. S. Supreme Court overturned a similar ban on marriages between different races. (The interracial couple in the case was sentenced to 25 years in jail.)

But who can marry? Elizabeth Taylor! On October 10 of that year, she ties the knot for a sixth (yes, sixth!) time. The “lucky” man is Richard Burton. The couple has already married and divorced once. The second time is no better. Taylor will divorce again—again—and again. She racks up eight divorces before she finishes. But, remember, marriage was “safe” before gays started tying the knot.

August 1983: The writer’s first marriage collapses (but still lasted longer than Liz’s first three combined, so there’s that). He would blame gays if he could. In reality, he was too much of an asshole. Speaking of assholes, the following year Clarence Thomas, later U. S. Supreme Court justice, divorces his first wife.

August 1985: The author’s second marriage ends even more disastrously than the first. This time he takes only partial credit. Gays still don’t have marriage equality. So, in theory, “traditional marriage” is still “safe.”

1986: In Bowers v. Hardwick, the U. S. Supreme Court upholds a Georgia law criminalizing sex between people of the same gender. Sodomy statutes are at issue. This writer decides to try marriage a third time. He’s an optimistic fellow. Whether he broke any sodomy laws are none of your beeswax.

The first cracks in barriers to marriage equality begin to show.

1992: The District of Columbia allows same-sex couples to register as “domestic partners.” William Jefferson Clinton is elected president. He proves to be less than the perfect husband. No one blames the gays.

May 1993: The Hawaiian Supreme Court rules state statutes barring same-sex couples from marrying unconstitutional. In the absence of a “compelling state interest” judges can’t see how anyone is harmed by marriage equality. Liz Taylor is on her eighth, and final, marriage.

Philip Perry and Liz Cheney marry that same year. Together they eventually have five children. Gay citizens still plotting to ruin traditional marriage! Meanwhile, the State of Hawaii gets all tied up in legal knots over the marriage equality issue.

September 1996: President Clinton signs the Defense of Marriage Act. Hillary is lulled into a false sense of security since traditional marriage is now totally safe. For gays, the church aisle is barricaded.

October: Pennsylvania lawmakers act. They make it clear they will not recognize marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples by other states. Not that there are any! See: Defense of Marriage Act, above.

1998: Voters in Alaska aren’t taking any chances. They approve a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. With a population density of about 10 people per 5 igloos, it was of paramount importance that gay couples not be allowed marriage equality. Because, you know, nothing says “frontier spirit” like the government regulating other people’s lives.

July 2000: Vermont recognizes same-sex civil unions. Gays who love each other would still prefer to walk down the aisle. Right-wingers want them to walk back into the closet. Then right-wingers can slam the door. And set it on fire.

June 2003:  The U. S. Supreme Court overturns Bowers v. Hardwick. By a 6-3 vote, Justices strike down a Texas law that criminalizes consensual sex by partners of the same gender. Justice Anthony Kennedy rules that the two men in the case are “entitled to respect for their private lives.” A crazed conservative idea, surely. The majority also notices that nine states still make sodomy illegal for adults of the opposite sex. That’s right. Nine states still ban oral sex for heterosexuals. (Apparently, this opens the floodgates of “degeneracy!”)

In a 2010 survey, 69% of American men and 59% of women, ages 30-39 admit having engaged in oral sex in the last year.) And the rest are lying.

Justice Antonin Scalia throws a hissy fit over this decision. He insists the court has “largely signed onto the so-called homosexual agenda.” Justice Clarence Thomas agrees. Thomas, a black man, thereby cements his place in history as the most hypocritical justice of all time. Why? Because he knows, for a fact, that having sex with his second wife, a white woman, would have been illegal twenty years earlier if he crossed the Potomac River for the exact same reasons he currently objects to same sex, well, sex!. Meanwhile, conservatives wax nostalgic over a time when whites only married other white people. (See:  Loring v. Virginia.)

Massachusetts legalizes marriage equality in 2004.

2004:  Massachusetts is first to allow marriage equality. Five years later the state has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country (42nd). Wyoming still bans same-sex marriages. The state has the third highest divorce rate that year. Clearly, the gays are to blame for both outcomes.

2006:  Mary Cheney finds out she is pregnant. She has the first of two children with her partner in 2007.

2008: The Connecticut Supreme Court upholds the right of two citizens of the same sex to marry. Somehow, the wedding cake industry does not collapse. Fuchsia bridesmaid dresses are still in demand. Marriage equality doesn’t seem to have any negative effects aside from lowering morale among right wing bigots.

April 3, 2009: In a unanimous decision, the Iowa Supreme Court upholds marriage equality. Three justices are quickly ousted in a special election.

On December 30, noted gas bag Rush Limbaugh goes to the altar for the fourth time. Oddly enough, Limbaugh has no children but still supports the laughable position that marriage is for the propagation of children. See:  Dr. Carson, below.

In 2011 Oklahoma captures the lead in divorce rates. Ironically, the ten states at the top of the list all ban marriage equality. By constitutional amendment! The Gay Agenda To Ruin Marriage is insidious! Also, completely invisible for some reason.

December 27:  This writer and his wife celebrate their twenty-fifth anniversary. Everyone who knows the writer thinks his wife must be a saint. Will marriage equality ruin their marriage? According to Fox News, yes, marriage equality will destroy their marriage and all of society as we know it. It’s not entirely clear how.

May 2012:  President Obama tells a reporter his thinking over the years has changed. He now favors marriage equality. By year’s end all six New England States allow marriage equality. So do Washington and New York. New York and the New England states were also first to abolish slavery in the 1780s.

On March 26, 2013, Dr. Ben Carson appears on Fox News. Traditional marriage, he says, is just great! It benefits the “family structure and the propagation of humankind.” God knew what he was doing when he told Adam and Eve they needed a license. The author would also like to point out that one of Adam and Eve’s first two children killed the other. Clearly, the “traditional” family structure is not guaranteed to produce happy and mentally stable children

By contrast, marriage equality is always bad! Carson argues that it will lead to acceptance of pedophilia and bestiality. It’s the start of “a slippery slope with a disastrous ending, as witnessed in the dramatic fall of the Roman Empire.” (Dr. Carson seems to be forgetting the Goths and the Vandals.)

On March 28 Rush Limbaugh warns listeners marriage equality is inevitable. Their side lost when they allowed the left to “bastardize” the word “marriage.” The left added modifiers like “hetero” and “same-sex.” They reduced a pillar of society to a phrase! No one asks the gas bag what he thinks about “serial” marriage.

June 26, 2013:  The U. S. Supreme Court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act. Marriage equality can now be recognized by the federal government.

Summer 2013:  The Attorney General of New Mexico announces plans to end enforcement of a ban on marriage equality. A state judge rules that the state constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual-orientation.

October:  Governor Chris Christie gives up the fight to “save” traditional marriage. New Jersey passes a same-sex bill without his signature. Fourteen states now allow gays to wed.

So? What happens? Governor Christie stays married. Dr. Carson stays married. Reverend Pat Robertson, who blames hurricanes on gay people, stays married. Rick Santorum, who says gay marriage is like man on dog sex, stays married.

November:  Hawaii completes the last steps and approves marriage equality. Ceremonies begin December 2. (If Reverend Robertson is right, Hawaiian volcanoes will probably start erupting the next day.)

Fifteen states now have marriage equality. Most Americans don’t really care.

What else happens? Most Americans don’t even notice. The stock market continues to rise. Gas prices go down. Unemployment remains high but the picture is slowly improving. Here in Cincinnati there is excitement over the Bengals. And the writer is still married! Indeed. Liz Cheney is still married! So is Mary Cheney. (She wed in the 2012, legally, in the District of Columbia.)  Finally, Dick and Lynne Cheney are still married. Next year they celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

Regardless of how this year’s Thanksgiving goes, it’s just a matter of time until everyone in the Cheney family is eating turkey except for Liz. Liz will be eating crow when marriage equality becomes the law of the land. As usual, conservatives are on the wrong side of history.

Maybe Liz should sit at the kiddie table until she grows up and joins the rest of us in the 21st century?