The Freedom of Religion and Equality in Marriage Act was rejected today by the New Jersey State Senate by a vote of 20 to 14. In response to the defeat, The Lambda Legal Fund and Garden State Equality vowed to take the issue through the court system, threatening a lawsuit against the state of New Jersey. And another bulwark of Gay, Inc., the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force, made this odd statement in reference to the defeat:
The tide is turning nationwide in favor of marriage equality, and we are confident that New Jersey will join the growing number of states that already extend marriage equality to same-sex couples.
The tide is turning? Really? Have the folks at the Gay and Lesbian Task Force been asleep these past few months? If there’s a tide that’s a-turnin it ain’t a-turnin in favor of gay marriage, that’s for darn sure. This bizarre comment coming from a representative of an established lesbian/gay organization, shows up the pressing need for new leadership and new strategies for the lesbian/gay civil rights movement. Lawsuits against the state of New Jersey may help Gay, Inc. feel busy and productive and also help to justify their jobs and status within the community, but ultimately these tactics only create a much stronger backlash from opponents. And I think that’s what we’ve been seeing over the past several years: a building backlash in response to an ever more noisy and nasty Gay Marriage Crusade-a-thon.
This single-issue approach to our civil rights, this gay marriage mindset that has become the strategic obsession of our leadership, takes focus, resources, and money away from the myriad issues and challenges facing lesbians and gays in America today.
Perhaps the gay/lesbian leadership should take a little glimpse over their shoulder at the political history of the Equal Rights Amendment. First introduced into Congress in 1923, the ERA remained buried in committees for decades. But in 1970, when fervor and support for the amendment became the battle cry of the National Organization for Women and the feminist movement, the ERA was front and center in the equal rights struggle for women. But fast-forward to 2010, and lo and behold, the ERA is still a fait un-accompli. All the political machinations–the lawsuits, the demonstrations, the pep rallies, the roller coaster ride of popular support, and all the money, all the resources, and all that angst–squandered on what many believed was the one and only road to paradise.
The ERA may have served as a ‘rally round the flag’ call-to-battle for the women’s movement but the victories for equality were won beyond the blare of the ERA bullhorn. The Gay Marriage Maniacs should take note.