You might have heard. Friday night, here in New York State, our state legislature did a remarkable thing.
In less than a month, we’re going to become one of the very few states where everybody is free to marry the person they love.
Another way of saying this is that we are about to allow gay people to marry.
We’re going to do this because four Republican state senators did the right thing.
Jim Alesi, Roy McDonald, Stephen Saland, and Mark Grisanti. Mensches all.
The final vote was 33-29. The thing to remember about those 29 no votes is that this is New York, most of those people aren’t haters, they’re just old Catholics. In a few years they’re going to be sorry they didn’t vote yes. A few years after that, they’ll think they did.
Our governor, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, worked long and hard to make this happen and I’d be a little more proud that I voted for him if he wasn’t generally so smug and too easily self-satisfied and I didn’t know he’s going to spend the next week breaking his own arm patting himself on the back while, meanwhile, you know, he’s in effect raising my taxes so millionaires don’t have to scrimp and save anymore to afford gas for their Beemers.
This is going to be a great state to be a gay hedge fund manager.
Still, it’ll be a pretty good state for the rest of us too, and we’ll be helped out by all the gay people from other states who move here to be free. Give us your tired, your poor, your color-coordinated…
I’m being a wise-guy because this is really choking me up. I’m so proud to be from here.
And, yeah, it’s not fun that we’re going to have to pay more to send our kid to college just so those millionaires don’t have car pool, but at least here in New York, even though we have to make cuts, we’re not about to reduce our school spending to less than Mississippi’s.
They just did that down in North Carolina.
That’s the richer, more enlightened, less crazy Carolina.
And over in Wisconsin, where our Republicans, including most of the ones who voted no, would be blackballed from the Party as RINOS, their Republican governor has submitted a budget that devastates the state’s education system and throws countless poor people’s children to the wolves.
So, yeah, I’m not just proud to be a New Yorker, I’m relieved.
Which is why this column at the Nation rubbed me the wrong way.
Hurrah! New York has, at long last, decided to join the twenty-first century and recognize the right of same-sex couples to civil marriage.
You know the difference between liberal self-righteousness and Right Winger self-righteousness? Right Wingers are all, “You’re going to hell and I’m going to laugh” while liberals are “I’m going to heaven, why aren’t you?”
How many other states have done this?
New York isn’t late in following the pack. There is no pack. There are barely more than a handful of us. We’re all helping blaze a difficult trail. And it’s a trail an awful lot of other states have no intention of following any time soon.
And, anyway, there is no 21st century. Calendars aren’t maps. They are organizing devices that we use to sort what’s coming up from what’s past. But to the degree there is a 21st Century we are only eleven years into it. Eleven years into the 20th Century do you think people were saying, “You know, in the next 80 years we’re going to live through two horrific world wars, Germany will turn the murder of millions of people into an industry, totalitarian regimes will arise in China and Russia that will slaughter tens of millions of their own people, in large swaths of Africa ethnic wars and mass starvation will be the norm, and the United States and Russia will invent weapons with the potential to wipe out all life on the planet and then spend forty years pointing them at each other and barely avoid using them”?
I’m not predicting the 21st Century will be another ninety years of hell on earth, although, given the history of the human race, it’s a good bet.
But I am saying that the 21st Century isn’t some hip, happening cafe where all we cool kids are hanging out waiting for other people to get with it.
There is no 21st Century. There won’t be anything to describe as the 21st Century until the historians get to work on it a hundred years from now. Right now there is just…right now. And right now things in the United States are a mess.
And getting messier.
There are a whole lot of angry Right Wingers out there, and while they just lost one in New York, they are winning in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, Florida, and more than half the other states in the Union.
For every person who said after Friday night’s vote, “Hooray” or “Thank God” or “It’s about time”, there was at least one person screaming in rage.
Those four gutsy Republicans here could lose their seats for doing the right thing and it won’t be to liberal Democrats. It’s possible that come 2013 New York could have four Tea Party type state senators.
I don’t think that’s likely, but it’s a possibility. What is more likely is that come 2013 the United States Senate will be controlled by Republicans. Come 2017 we could have a Republican President, a Republican controlled House, and a Republican controlled Senate again. And what happens to the 21st Century then?
It gets repealed.
There are millions and millions of people in the United States who don’t want to live in the 21st Century, wherever or whatever that is. They weren’t all that happy living in the latter half of the 20th Century and if they could work their will---and they are furiously trying to work it---they would drag us all back to the last decade of the 19th Century.
Two tribes of Vandals have united to do this.
The first is the kleptomaniacal corporatists who are obsessed with the desire to own all of it. All of it. If you have any of it, they want it, and they’ll take it. I don’t blame the corporations. Corporations have no minds, no souls, no ambitions or desires. What they have is employees and a great many of these employees are narcissistic sociopaths. They don’t give a damn about the corporations they work for and would gladly run them into the ground---and routinely do---as long as when the last lawyer leaves the premises they themselves are left happily sailing off into the sunset with their piles of loot. These are people who if they wouldn’t chase a windblown dollar bill off a cliff it’s because they’re too busy chasing a fiver out into heavy traffic. These are people who went into business for the same reason Willie Sutton went into banks. The difference is that Sutton didn’t figure out how to pay off the bank managers so they’d open their vaults for him.
The other tribe is made up of mainly white, mainly middle-aged, mainly middle class, mainly but far from exclusively Southern and Middle Western political and cultural reactionaries who sincerely believe “their” country has been stolen from them. Of course, all that’s happened is that they’ve woken up to the fact that the world contains more than their hometowns and was not made exclusively for them, but they aren’t taking the news well.
They are determined to take it back. And if they can’t, they are willing to burn the place down around them so that THEY---who are we---can’t have it.
If the choice is between living in New York in the 21st Century and Mississippi in whatever part of the 20th Century they believe was ideal---usually that means the years of their childhoods---then they would rather live in Mississippi than share any part of New York with the likes of us.
They are wrecking their own states. They are trying to wreck all the others.
Just for the sake of keeping things focused, let’s leave aside what they want to do to the economy, to the environment, to education, to women’s reproductive rights, to their civil rights. The Republicans in the House want to bring back Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. They think it’s an impeachable offense that the President decided not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. They talk seriously about introducing a Constitutional Amendment that would define marriage as a purely heterosexual institution.
New York may seem to you to be late to your party. But to a great deal of the rest of the country, we’ve proved, again, that we aren’t part of America. Which would be bad enough, if they were willing to let us go. But their object is to re-colonize us.
The President doesn’t seem able to confront this or acknowledge it or even admit it, either because he doesn’t have the ability or the temperament or the will or the conviction.
The Media seems determined to pretend it isn’t happening, that this isn’t the goal. To them, Michele Bachmann is a cute story. Chris Christie is just what the doctor ordered. Paul Ryan’s a statesman. Wisconsin, they never heard of it. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, who needs ‘em?
If the 21st Century is like a place, it’s like an only recently discovered continent, so far unexplored, where Vermont and Iowa and New Hampshire and Massachusetts and New York have established precarious beachheads. And it’s a real possibility that when we hack our way farther inland we’ll find that the Right Wingers have gotten there first and made the place look an awful lot like Mississippi.
Updated Tuesday morning: Mark Grisanti, one of the four Republicans who voted yes, is already taking heat from the Republican Right. The interesting news is that if he’s challenged in 2012 from the Right, we’re not likely to wind up with a Tea Party type taking his seat. It’d probably go to a Democrat. Some guy named Mark Grisanti.