Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Loss" My Ass!

OK, first of all: we did not lose anything yesterday. We failed to gain something. There's a sodding great difference, isn't there?

New York State has never allowed same-sex marriage. Yesterday the New York State Senate voted on a bill intended to change that aspect of the law. The bill did not pass, so the law did not change.

Everyone focuses on the supposedly devastating 38-24 vote. The New York Times, just minutes after the results came through, published an article saying that "the vote... destroys the optimism of gay rights advocates". BULLSHIT! My optimism was not destroyed. Those numbers simply prompted me to grab a calculator and quickly figure out that 39% of New York State Senators voted for the bill. 39%! Forget for a moment that, in the current political environment, we were guaranteed an upper ceiling of 51%, the percentage of Democratic senators. Even without taking that into consideration, the enormity of those numbers is staggering. Just ten or twenty years ago the very notion of same-sex marriage was unthinkable. Yesterday 39% of New York State senators voted for it. My god, people, if that's not progress then I'm... one of those hyperbolic animals.

How the hell can progressives see that kind of progress and not wake up with a smile on their faces, feeling invigorated and ready to push that 39% to 40% and to keep pushing until we get the progress that we want? I'll tell you how. It's easy if you have an overweening sense of entitlement.

People have worked and bled and died for the progress of the last few decades. Unfortunately that progress seems to have given this generation a pathological teleology. The world should be the way we want it to be, so if the requisite changes don't happen it… breaks us. We can't accept that the world hasn't already conspired to be the way we think it should be.

Yesterday I "listened" to people on Twitter and Facebook begin the predictable chorus of "Fuck New York". Even more disheartening were the self-satisfied microscreeds against all the "stupid hicks" who live "north of the Bronx". Never mind that, of the eight Democrats who voted "No" on the bill, only two were from upstate. That's right. Of those Democrats who had the temerity not to give us what we wanted, only 25% were dumb hicks.

Twenty years ago, few would have dared dream we'd make it this far. But here we are, and we're celebrating by... treating this as a loss? Having made massive progress, can it be that all progressives can think of to do is throw a hissy fit because we didn't get everything we wanted right now?

Progress takes time and effort. A 38-24 loss is not a defeat. It is the blowing of a horn. All who hear it should take heart, and throw themselves into the battle with renewed vigor. Else we don't deserve to call ourselves progressives.

Say it with me: "We did not lose anything. We failed to gain something."


But what about tomorrow?


  1. Excellent post! It reminds of the line in the book "To Kill a Mockingbird" Atticus observes that the fact the jury took as long as they did to render a verdict was a bit of a victory. (I can't remember the line exactly)

    Thanks for reminding us that this was a victory, too.

    Bill, in Dallas

  2. Hugh, terrific post. Using the victim card is a futile effort, as you point out. The horn is calling, I'm hoping our people will heard it. We need all of them.

  3. hello, proverbial primate!

    your ability to keep the big picture in mind is very refreshing, especially on a blog...and, wow! bonus! you said 'teleology' ;-)


  4. Bill: That's it, I need to read that book.

    Kyle: There are few things that rile me like a victim mentality.

    Dan: I believe that my erudition is itself a teleological endpoint. ;)

    All of you: Thanks so much for reading, and for your kind words.

  5. I would only hope that NY would approve same-sex marriage, but I am not waiting for a government entity to 'seal the deal' on our relationship. We are 'married', and I won' wait until it's 'officially' sanctioned.

    My partner and I are 'married'. Although we don't share the benefits of legal 'paperwork' by saying "I do", we do have the benefit of legal counsel.

    Until such a time as we can just walk into a courthouse or a house of worship and say 'I do', we, as a community have the responsibility of taking care of our own legal issues first.

    If you wait until the 'Government' says it's 'okay', then you are waiting far too long for someone else's permission.

  6. Corey, thanks for reading, and for taking the time to comment. Your sense of taking responsibility and taking charge is arresting in a very fresh and positive way.

    I am almost wholly ignorant of the law. What do you mean by "legal counsel"? Can you have a prenuptial agreement without a marriage, or am I misunderstanding you?

  7. Hugh, 'legal counsel' meaning wills, trusts, etc. If the State won't sanction our marriage, then we use already established laws to secure our spousal rights in other ways.