Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Election Day is the right day to pass marriage equality

Fittingly, same-sex marriage passed not on Valentine's Day, but on Election Day, where the people in Virginia and New York City and Boston decided who would run their governments. The triumph in Illinois, unthinkable only a decade ago, is ultimately because the people in Illinois changed their minds and voted for leaders to change the law. These leaders are overwhelmingly Democratic. 95% of the legislators who voted for marriage equality are Democratic. The triumph today is also a triumph for the people of the Democratic Party.

One of the 61 representatives to vote yes is a Democrat who barely won his election in a Republican area. Without that unexpected victory, and several more like his to select a Democratic Speaker of the House, there would no triumph this week. If Pat Quinn, the Democratic candidate for governor, had not won his election a few years ago by the narrowest of margins, the marriage equality bill would have been vetoed by the Republican governor and thus the vote would not have taken place at all.

There were a few Republican legislators (3 of 61 in the House and 1 of 34 in the Senate) who voted for the bill and there were several Democrats who did not vote for the bill. But against the backdrop of the election in Virginia for Attorney General that will be decided by a few hundred votes out of two million cast, it's important to remember that social progress and joy-inducing improvements in government ultimately derive from partisan elections. And these days, that means electing Democrats.