More On Maine & Marriage

Proponents of same-sex marriage were licking their chops last night at the prospect of their first ballot-box victory. (The shock and awe of disappointed Tweeters today is something to behold.) As the final counts come in, the size of the victory achieved by the marriage defenders is incredible.
  • They were outspent and out-advertized by a wide margin
  • The state is liberal
  • In politics, it is notoriously more difficult to repeal a law than to pass one
  • The vote was very close even in Maine's liberal urban centers.
Same-sex marriage took a big hit in NJ last night, too, where the expulsion of John Corzine throws a wrench in the works of a gay marriage bill working through the legislature that he would have signed but the new governor certainly won't.

The consolation prize for same-sex marriage supporters is supposed to be Washington State's Referendum 71, nicknamed "Everything But Marriage." Here's an indicative essay from Newsweek.
While gay-rights activists mourn their loss in Maine, they should not discount the projected victory of Referendum 71 in Washington state. If the measure passes, the Evergreen State will be the first to approve gay equality by direct will of the people, rather than the court or legislature.
Well, ok. Here's the thing. Or are the things, rather.

1) As of this writing, the count is so close victory hasn't been declared, even though the Referendum is expected to carry. That it should come down to the wire in uber-liberal Washington State is suggestive.

2) As I understand it (it's hard to find anyone serious paying this much attention, so I promulgate this argument with some caution), Referendum 71 ratifies a domestic partnership law that includes same-sex relationships, but isn't limited to them. In fact (or at least according to Wiki, which is sometimes more truthy than right), the law
  • explicitly defines marriage as only between a man and a woman and
  • includes any partnership including a person over the age of 62
So clearly (presuming my info's correct), even though homosexual partners are included in the measure, it is garnering support also from non-sexual parent-child or aging sibling partners who want to facilitate health coverage and end of life decisions and shack-up partners about whose children the law needs some stability. The referendum is arguably as much about health care as anything else, therefore.

The Newsweek essayist notices the right thing but draws the wrong conclusion:
if current projections are accurate, and Referendum 71 passes, it does mean something for the gay-rights movement. Namely, that voters are increasingly willing to support gay rights at the polls.
To which my response is, Yes, Silly, and that is exactly what we have been trying to tell you all along. Americans --including religious Americans-- are not only fair-minded, but deep believers in minding our own business. They are willing to seek practical accommodations for a changing culture under the true definition of tolerance: forbearance towards an evil because eradicating it would cause a worse evil.

It is when you try to create special rights that apply only to homosexuals or try to redefine marriage that you will find -- as you have in 31 of 31 states where it has been tried, including the most liberal ones on both coasts-- the voters shoot you down. You can blame Mormons. You can blame black people. You can blame Catholics. (And you have.) But none of those people are the problem, nor are they bigots.

Even in Washington State, voters aren't willing to redefine marriage, and you can only get your "Everything But" bill by expanding its reach beyond the homosexual community.

Update: a deeper and more intelligent treatment of this question from Julie Ponzi, here.
Universal human equality in our natural rights is a fact--whether it is recognized and put into force or not. When it is simultaneously publicly pronounced and practically denied, we have the proverbial "House Divided Against Itself." The denial of human equality in American chattel slavery was at odds with this central and animating principal of our republic in that it denied it by making slaves of men. The homosexual lobby in America--like Progressivism more broadly considered--denies the principle by seeking to grow it. But it wants to appear as if it is trying to protect it or live up to it. It seeks to argue that we have a "House Divided" with respect to equality for homosexuals. It sees no necessary limit to the good that can come of an expansion of the meaning of equality and it appeals to our generosity of spirit. But in seeking to expand the meaning of equality, the truth is that we actually deny it. We cannot make equality, however much we may wish it, to include things not encompassed within the natural meaning of equality.