>Rikki du Heaume updates us with the latest progress in the US surrounding same sex marriage
In my first article for the WesternEye I urged readers to pay attention to what was happening across the pond in the Republican primaries; perhaps the longest drawn out political process in the world. A contest in which friend became foe and a candidate’s true colours mattered. Back in October, Texan Governor Rick Perry and Minnesotan Congress woman Michele Bachmann were the bookies favourites. But now after a series of ‘faux pas’ moments during televised debates, we have a new front runner. A true Conservative and a former lawyer from Virginia, he has won two caucuses (meetings of supporters and members of the party) and a primary election. Currently, the favourite above Mitt Romney is Rick Santorum, a man who has achieved this position while not giving any leeway on his anti-gay rights platform.
Before I continue it must be pointed out that promoting anti-gay beliefs doesn’t make someone homophobic, as popular belief may lead people to believe. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the opposer has a fear of homosexuals, seen in the case of Rick Santorum, who states he has gay friends. His opposition is rooted in what he believes is a preservation of social, moral and religious foundations. No doubt you’re asking yourself what this has to do with me living in the UK? I’ll be honest, probably not a lot. However this does mean a great deal for gay rights globally.
Firstly, the state of California has just passed ‘Proposition 8′ – a law which eliminates the right of same sex couples to marry. This holds a great deal of significance to the Santorum campaign, primarily because California is a state which he can now win. If Santorum wins the primaries, and eventually becomes president, his platform and legislation similar to ‘Proposition 8’ could be made national law. Although this is a matter for Congress to decide on, we must remember that the House chamber is currently held by a very Conservative Republican majority. This could lead to America’s gay community looking for a nation wide leader, similar to that of the late Harvey Milk.
Although this at present is only a theoretical scenario, it is fast becoming a reality and as stated before, the passing of ‘Proposition 8’ has forced the issue out to the public eye. Currently the proposition has been deemed unconstitutional by the Federal court of appeal. However, do not be so naïve to believe that this will stop it gaining any sort of momentum. The next trick, in both the US and Western anti-gay rights bag, is the church. With a rise in numbers, in the already oppressive Roman Catholic Church in the US, I doubt it will be long until the Vatican joins in. Here in Britain we may not have a strong anti-gay rights movement, but we do have the most powerful reformed churches to stop homosexuals ever having a legal and recognised marriage.
Whilst it has been established that through the rise in Santorum’s popularity and increasing pressure from the churches, the USA could see an anti-gay rights platform rolled across the nation. This could probably act as a foundation for a global position being similar, due to USA’s standing. It is here in Britain where this debate is really finding grounds.
The 2012 General Synod, which is the Church of England’s Parliament, met this February in London to discuss women becoming Bishops and homosexuals being able to marry into the Anglican faith. The Synod has always upheld the position, that whilst the Anglican Church does not oppose civil partnership and homosexual relations it can not marry such persons because the KJV Bible clearly states that marriage is between one man and one woman. This point I feel is a valid one because the bible is at the centre of what the church’s foundations are built on and they are only upholding their belief. However, it is not all Anglican priests who feel like this, and 100 have handed a signed petition to the Synod demanding the right to marry same sex couples in their parishes. Although at present civil partnerships are recognised by law as a union between two people, they are not marriages, and the outcome of the Synod will either help or hinder this.
So whilst many will ignore my urges again to keep an eye on such things. I do strongly urge the homosexual community to pay very close attention because what happens across the Atlantic will have an affect on you. And we must remember Harvey Milks death was felt across the water and no doubt a Santorum win and legislation similar to ‘Proposition 8’ will too.
Rikki Du Heaume