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Tim Myers: An older person's journey

Posted: April 6, 2013 12:47 p.m.
Updated: April 6, 2013 12:47 p.m.

Nate Silver, the sage oracle hero of all number-crunchers like myself, recently posted several fascinating blog entries about polled attitudes on same-sex marriage and the changes in those attitudes since 1996, when Congress enacted and President Bill Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act.

That law which seemed to stand on the proverbial chopping block recently before the Supreme Court of the United States.

I need not bore readers with the specific numbers that wonks like me love to gobble up, but one can report that the Defense of Marriage Act looked extremely popular in 1996 with clear super-majorities against same-sex marriage.

This seemed an immutable fact of U.S. political life in 2004 with President George W. Bush actually making a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage a component of his reelection campaign.

“Protectors” of marriage also crowed about their continuous electoral victories, with dozens of states enacting constitutional amendments or laws confirming the prohibition.

This crowing continued until 2012, when the states of Maine, Washington, and Maryland adopted same-sex marriage through ballot initiatives and the voters in Minnesota defeated a constitutional amendment of prohibition.

Polls in California indicate that Proposition 8, which passed with 52 percent of the vote in 2008, would now fall to defeat by a margin of 61 percent to 30 percent, a most shocking turn in a mere four years.
Silver’s numerical work confirmed that one can find generational shifts at work in the numbers. Young people record marriage equality approval rates so high that one wonders if those stating opposition misunderstood the question.

However, Silver also found an inexorable shift in opinion among older folks (like me) that is really turning the tide. This column constitutes the story of one sucha oldster, myself, who did, in fact, change his opinion during this period.

In 1996 I felt strongly that gay folks should not marry and that civil unions or domestic partnerships provided enough legal protections.

What started to change my mind? The campaign for Proposition 22 in the year 2000, wherein California voters approved a legal (not constitutional) ban on same-sex marriage by a stunning 61 percent of the vote.

During the course of that campaign I penned a column that received more than 50 letters to the editor, mostly from gay activists.

The column presented my honest religious struggles concerning gay marriage and a fervent wish that our two sons would NOT find themselves in this quandary. (For some unknown reason, it never occurred to me that any of our three daughters could be gay.)

But the column concluded that I would vote AGAINST Proposition 22 because of the genuine meanness of the “pro” campaign.

In one of those amazing turns, ALL letters to the editor found favor with the column. Pro-Prop 22 people stated that it made them think of the matter in a different way, and anti-Prop 22 folks stated that I was nearly there and should just take the leap for marriage equality.

Well, folks, I am completely there and proud to state so.

I don’t think I can pin this change to one particular event, but to an emerging realization that occurred over the years, primarily due to the (stated) arguments of anti-marriage-equality folks sounding like the ravings of a babbling fool and getting more and more ridiculous, masking their true reasons for opposition; a dark-hearted bigotry against folks with a homosexual orientation, believing it some kind of perverted “choice.”

I saw the change in others, too. In 2009 at the “Discover CI” admission event, where student organizations and academic disciplines at California State University-Channel Islands (“CSUCI”) tout themselves, the most mobbed organizational table was for Spectrum, the organization of LGBT individuals and their “allies,” primarily due to the exuberance and charisma of the young gay folks sitting there.

This came full circle recently when on that same campus the Republican, Democratic, AND Libertarian organizations held a JOINT rally all stating their support for marriage equality, not only in California but nationwide.

Add to that the fact I now know many gay couples involved in committed relationships, some with children. One would need to possess a heart of granite to deny these folks equal rights under the law. I can no longer do so or countenance the arguments of those who do.

So for those who viewed the excellent film “Lincoln” and will understand this reference, when it comes to marriage equality, this former opponent “says Aye, Mr. McPherson. AYEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!”

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident. “Myers’ Musings” runs Saturdays in The Signal.


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