Marriage Tour 2010: What It Means For LGBT Equality
2010 is shaping up to be a positive year for the LGBT community in the United States. Acceptance of same-sex relationships is rising, as is acceptance of marriage equality. The biggest news as of late, of course, is that Proposition 8 has been overturned and, starting next Wednesday, gay couples will be able to legally marry in California again. It’s hard for me to feel overly excited about this news, given that an appeal will almost certainly take place and the ruling may be reversed, but I am relieved and glad to see another step toward LGBT equality in the U.S., even if it may not be permanent.
What’s clear now is that opponents of marriage equality — and opponents of LGBT rights, in general — are losing ground. Though LGBT people are oppressed and marginalized, the movement is now mainstream, and prominent conservatives are coming out in support of marriage equality. Even Glenn Beck doesn’t feel threatened by the Prop 8 ruling! So it is not surprising that those who do feel threatened by marriage equality are coming up with new and innovative ways to mobilize their base and attract supporters.
Enter Marriage Tour 2010.
The National Organization for Marriage‘s bus tour, which began on July 14, is wrapping up this Sunday in Washington, DC. The bus (pictured above) features images of smiling men and women, meant to demonstrate the innate bliss found exclusively in heterosexual relationships. The goal of the tour is to strengthen support for NOM’s platform as the fight for marriage equality heats up at the state and federal levels.
“We’re excited to get on the road and meet people face-to-face, sharing with them the importance of marriage and how critical the future of marriage is to our country,” said Brian Brown, NOM’s president. “Marriage will be a key national issue once the California Prop 8 battle gets to the Supreme Court. We need Americans to rally behind marriage as the union of one man and one woman and tell the Courts and state legislatures that marriage matters.”
The results of the tour have been mixed, at best. Reports of small turn-outs, violent posters and counter-protests have dominated the news coverage of the tour. One thing is clear to me — NOM is not a serious threat to marriage equality. President Obama, sadly, is a threat to marriage equality, as are some state governments and politicians. But not NOM. If Marriage Tour 2010 was successful in attracting new supporters across the country, we may have had a reason to take them seriously, but it doesn’t appear that was the case. Instead, the entire tour has been perceived as a desperate, last-ditch effort to create a culture war in a country where citizens are growing increasingly more in favor of legalized marriage equality. As Michael Crawford wrote for the Huffington Post:
NOM’s typical ploy is to conjure up phony claims of harassment and infringement and complain when anyone speaks the truth about its record and agenda. In its increasingly cynical attempts to provoke responses from equality supporters, NOM’s “One Man, One Woman” tour has devolved from a media gimmick to a display of prejudice and incitement to violence.
…NOM’s mask has slipped, revealing what lies beneath their diversions, protestations, and veneer. NOM is funneling millions of dollars into political campaigns aimed at stripping away basic protections from gay people and their families while attempting to portray themselves as a being in the tradition of the black Civil Rights Movement.
LGBT civil rights are limited right now in the U.S., and those rights that do exist should not be taken for granted. I truly do not know how long marriage will remain legal in the state of California. But one thing is clear: the tides are beginning to turn in favor of equality. It is, and it will remain, a slow process, but U.S. citizens are increasingly growing comfortable with the idea of marriage equality. Personally, I think this is largely connected to the impact marriage has had on the states where it is legal; the residents of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa and Washington, DC have seen first-hand that marriage equality in no way harms straight relationships. The fight is far from over, but beliefs about the institution of marriage really are beginning to change throughout the U.S. So it’s no wonder that organizations who oppose LGBT rights are gearing up for battle, and it’s no surprise that their tactics have become so desperate. I hope that the reversal of Proposition 8 will show Californians what residents of other states have already learned — marriage is about love, not gender or sexual orientation.
For more information about Marriage Tour 2010 (and the counter-protests staged by LGBT activists), check out the Courage Campaign’s NOM Tour Tracker.