It had been a relatively quiet summer for gay marriage supporters and their opponents, and people hit the beach or flew out of town without any real cares other than the high cost of gasoline...and some people may have forgotten about Proposition 8 altogether. But now things are most definitely changing, and it comes in the form of a societal phenomenon that gays and lesbians know all too well: public backlash against important court victories.
In yesterday's LA Times, two stories stuck out that show the defeat of Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage ballot measure, is anything but a done deal...no matter what the polls are predicting.
First, the California Supreme Court ruled that doctors could not cite their religious beliefs as a way to get out of treating queer folk. Then another story detailed how local school boards throughout the state are bringing up votes to either oppose or support Prop. 8. In both articles, certain Californians believed that recent legal victories for the gays were putting their religious ways of life in immediate danger, and they needed to strike back...some way, somehow.
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The supreme court ruling made some religious people nervous because they see it as one part of a government-sanctioned domino effect that will force churches to marry gays. The Times doesn't explain it that far, but fundamentalist Christians have always worried about this scenario, although there has never been any evidence, to my knowledge anyway, that judges anywhere in this country are cooking up a plan to start telling religions what they can or cannot believe.
Local school boards, according to the Times, are also concerned that their school districts will be forced to teach about the wonders of gay marriage if it remains legal in California. So now socially conservative members at some public school systems are bringing up votes to officially support Proposition 8, which would ban same-sex marriage.
In the end, all of these reactions are based on fear, particularly fear of the unknown, which anti-gay marriage leaders will certainly stoke this fall. The summer may have been quiet, but the first cold winds of a dark, nasty storm in the distance are now whipping through the political landscape. The fury will soon be upon us.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.