Considering the budget crunch facing Nevada, the commitment of both candidates for governor not to raise taxes to deal with it (yes!), and the court ruling in California last week striking down the ban on gay marriages, perhaps now is the time for Nevadans to embrace the age-old wisdom of “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”
Let me make a bold prediction; not bold in the sense that I have access to an infallible crystal ball, but bold in the sense that it will offend so many of you: Gay marriage will become a national reality.
The United States Supreme Court has already – rightly or wrongly – declared marriage a “right.” It happened in 1967 in the Loving v. Virginia case in which a state law banning inter-racial marriages was struck down. So the precedent is already set – and we all know what sticklers the Supremes are for precedent. The “right” simply hasn’t yet been extended to gay couples. Yet. But it will be. Here are two reasons:
1.) Because the government affords married couples significant benefits that you can’t get if you’re single and that is clearly a violation of the equal protection concept in our Constitution. And when the Supreme Court declares bans on gay marriages unconstitutional – and it will, eventually – that will invalidate all of those state bans on gay marriage, including our own here in Nevada.
The only way to get around this particular sticky wicket is for the government to stop extending special benefits to married couples. Fat chance.
2.) Because public opinion is shifting….quickly.
Gay marriages became a reality in some states years ago and the republic didn’t come crashing down as predicted my many of the more hysterical doom-and-gloomers.
And while many Americans hold traditional moral values, many of them equally embrace the libertarian notion of “just leave me alone.” As long as the two married gay guys across the street mow their lawn, take the trash out and don’t bother me….what’s the dif?
Secondly, and more importantly, our kids couldn’t care less about gay marriage. As more old fogeys who consider “I now pronounce you husband and husband” an abomination die off, younger Americans who don’t understand what the fuss is about are entering the regular voting population.
Gay marriage opposition probably peaked about five years ago. It has become steadily less potent as a campaign issue ever since. Sure, a majority voted for Prop 8 in the Golden State, but time is not on the “one man-one woman” side. Opposition to gay marriage in this country will continue to erode election cycle after election cycle.
I know, I know. Many of you hate reading this and will fight gay marriage ‘til your dying breath. But at the end of the day gay marriage will be validated as a “right” by SCOTUS and eventually achieve national acceptance – just like inter-racial marriages.
Which reminds me.
Back in June 2007, Mildred Loving – the white woman who sued for the right to marry her black husband in Virginia – issued a statement commemorating the 40th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision which bears her name. The final two paragraphs of her statement are instructive:
“Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.
“I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”
Kind of hard to argue with that. I know many of you will try, but it’s a losing battle. Which brings me full-circle back to Nevada’s budget crunch.
We need revenue to put our people back to work and reinvigorate our economy. And our economy, like it or not, is based on bringing tourists here to spend money. To that end, we have non-stop gambling, 24/7 drinking, and even legal prostitution (and no, I’m not talking about the Nevada Legislature!).
So maybe instead of being the “divorce capital” of the world, why not embrace both the future and the inevitable, legalize gay marriage and promote the heck out of it all over the world. I mean, what gay couple with oodles of disposable income wouldn’t want to tie the knot in Sin City?
It’s a perfect and natural fit. And we wouldn’t have to raise taxes one, thin dime. So let it be written; so let it be done.