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The Gathering Norm: Marriage Equality

Today's post is from Patricia A. Gozemba, co-author (with Karen Kahn) of Courting Equality: A Documentary History of America's First Legal Same-Sex Marriages. The Beacon Press book documents the first year of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and includes 110 photos by photographer Marilyn Humphries.

Book Cover for Courting Equality links to Beacon Press page for book The marriage equality victory in Iowa was greeted with heartfelt cheers on our side and an attempt to rain on our parade with a 60 second homophobic commercial, "The Gathering Storm," from a Mormon front group, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). They want all Americans to be afraid—like them. NOM claims to have spent $1.5 million to produce and air what looks like a bad high school production. I'm afraid they got taken.

On YouTube it's now more difficult to find "The Gathering Storm" than it is to find the responses to it and the wildly comic knock-offs.

In case you can't find the original, think of a cross breeding of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and The Weather Channel's "Severe Weather Watch." Frank Rich suggests that it reminds him of a cross between "The Village of the Damned" and "A Chorus Line."

As a member of Colbert Nation, I have a particular fondness for The Colbert Report ad. (Watch after the jump.)

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Colbert Coalition's Anti-Gay Marriage Ad
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorGay Marriage Commercial

Colbert devilishly probes at the idiocies of the storm and quips innocently: "if all 50 states approve gay marriage, straight marriage becomes illegal" and "when the gay community is granted personal freedoms, ours get taken away."

It's nice to be laughing for a change about the marriage equality movement, but think back to last November when we experienced real gathering storms in California, Florida, Arizona, and in Arkansas. What kept me encouraged were the smiling faces of the same-sex couples marrying in Connecticut beginning on November 12th and then the December 5, 2008 Newsweek poll that showed the rising approval rate of relationship recognition for same-sex couples, especially among 18-35 year olds. My age bracket, over 65, that's where the problem lies. But then again, we're a dying demographic.

James Dobson founder and as of February 27th Ex-Chairman of Focus on the Family, knows the importance of those demographics. He turns 73 this year and is not a rock star with the younger set. He draws 1.5 million listeners to his daily radio show and the typical listener, according to Dan Gilgoff, is 38 while the average age of 1.6 million folks on the Focus mailing list is 52.

In his exit speech to Focus staff, Dobson conceded that his foray into the culture wars has not gone well. "We tried to defend the unborn child, the dignity of the family, but it was a holding action. . . .We are awash in evil and the battle is still to be waged. We are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say we have lost all those battles but God is in control and we are not going to give up now. Right?" Pretty close to throwing in the towel. The speech was taken off the Focus website very quickly.

They may not be giving up but they are downsizing. Focus staffers have been cut to 950 from a high of 1,300 in 2004, and in fall of 2008 its budget was cut from $154 million to $138 million.

The gathering storm is hovering over Focus headquarters in Colorado Springs-- with sunny weather forecast in Iowa.

Blue skies and sunshine have also come to Vermont where the legislature overrode a veto of its Republican governor to pass "An Act to Protect Religious Freedom and recognize Equality in Civil Marriage." We're getting smarter about titles of bills.

Even Glenn Beck of Fox News gave us a compliment, "I want to celebrate what happened in Vermont yesterday . . .This is how laws should pass." Well, a sort of back-handed compliment: Beck was pleased it was the legislature not "activist" judges who granted marriage equality. I'll take it. Further evidence that there is a change in the weather, the erstwhile warrior of the Right Cal Thomas, declared that, "The battle over same-sex marriage is on the way to being lost."

Equality activists are working diligently to widen the circle of the "we" in "we the people." Nearly one-third of the US population is living in states in which same-sex relationships are recognized in some way. As unlikely as it seems, I'm beginning to agree with Dobson and Thomas. More states that honor same-sex relationship equality and the real equality of civil marriage are in the forecast. Equality is the gathering norm.