Friday, June 24, 2011

Top Nevada Conservative: Gay Marriage Is Inevitable, Just Do It

As the New York State Legislature works into the night on a track to become the largest state to grant marriage equality to same-sex couples, the effort to make this happen in Nevada may have hit a turning point today as well.

Chuck Muth, the outspoken conservative activist whose wrath is feared by most Republican elected officials in Nevada, wrote this in his daily email blast that goes to GOPers and journalists:

Many, if not most of you won't like this but gay marriage is coming. Nationwide. It's inevitable. It's only a matter of time. It can and will be delayed, but not stopped. And eventually, it will be as acceptable as black/white marriages. The problem isn't letting gays into marriage, but having already let the government into marriage.

As an economy based almost solely on tourism and entertainment, Nevada -- and especially Las Vegas -- should accept reality, embrace the inevitable, repeal the state's ban on gay marriage, and scarf up on the tourism bonanza that would result rather than suck hind teat behind the likes of Hawaii and New York.

I suspect that Muth has uttered similar views before, but it's especially notable because this missive will be read more closely than most as it also announces that the GOP presidential debate he was helping organize has been postponed from July. And I know that Muth has never been all that interested in the Sharron Angle-Richard Ziser wing of the Nevada Republican universe because he doesn't think the guvmint belongs in personal lives any more than in anything else they're in.

But if GLBT activists are wise, they'll ring up Muth and see if they can team up with him on getting the marriage amendment undone in the state constitution. Maybe they can sit down together with Mayor-Elect Carolyn Goodman, who is misinformed about what her own religion says now on this very topic, too.

I will say this, however: As much as I love tempting the right wing with promises of economic bonanzas, my sense is that Nevada has actually missed that boat now -- for good. There was a time back around 2003 when legal marriage for gays was a novelty and there were county clerks all over the country suddenly deciding to issue marriage licenses. Gays were flocking to remote parts of New Mexico and Oregon and certainly San Francisco to get married because it was exciting and felt politically important.

Today, there are five states where it is legal and, by tomorrow, perhaps six. There are major court challenges that are working their way to the Supreme Court which, if it reads the Constitution the way true conservatives like Muth do, will only be able to conclude that marriage bans violate the full faith and credit clause, among other niggling details.

But gay couples today are well aware that the legal marriages they entered into in Massachusetts or Iowa mean nothing in Nevada or Arkansas or Florida. This is something Goodman didn't understand when she suggested that gay couples go to other states to get married and then come back; gays aren't just doing it for the legally insignificant thrill anymore.

So even if Nevada undid its marriage amendment and legalized it -- a process that would take years -- gay couples from other states will not stampede here en masse anymore. Gays, like most minorities, reward the early adapters, not opportunistic stragglers. And in order for out-of-state gays to be able to bring their Nevada marriage licenses home and have it mean anything, marriage equality would have to be federally recognized, most likely via Supreme Court fiat.

All that said, the fact that Muth is being so direct and vocal about this is meaningful and this doesn't mean it's not an effort worth doing. I'd love to see Nevada permit same-sex marriages willingly and affirmatively rather than because what will inevitably be called "activist judges" foist it upon us. I doubt it's a tourism panacea in any measurable way, but it certainly would be nice to know that Nevada still operates on the small government, live-and-let-live credo it claimed but surrendered by approving Question 2 in 2000 and 2002.


Anonymous said...

Question 2 was approved in 2000 and 2002. Richard Ziser ran for U.S. Senate against Harry Reid in 2004, but lost.


Ahh...I thought I had that off. Thanks for the correction.

howdydostu said...

Sorry, Nevada...congrats New York! It should be noted that it was a Republican majority senate in New York that made this historic moment possible. Although our Nevada Domestic Partner law is a wonderful step foward it is symbolic in its nature and cements a second class citizenship to the gay community that live here. Gay Americans who are lawfully married in other jurisdictions should spend their honeymoon $ where the law treats their marriage with dignity and respect...Canada, and even Mexico is years ahead of Nevada!