The Marriage-Industrial Complex

While California’s State Government is on the brink of going the way of Bear Stearns, the so-called leaders of the Golden State’s gay and lesbian community spent Tuesday in Sacramento lobbying legislators. Their goal? Passage of two non-binding resolutions asking the state to overturn Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment approved last fall eliminating the right for same-sex couples to marry.

There was apparently no other legislative priority for this group, a fine demonstration of the recently minted marriage-industrial complex – which sustains these organizations’ fundraising and supports the livelihoods of their employees.

Equality California, the group that brought you the passage of Proposition 8 despite its best deliberate efforts to the contrary, needs marriage rights for same-sex couples to remain in doubt, otherwise there would be little reason for the organization to exist. The same goes for opponents of marriage equality as well.

A lobby day like the one hosted by Equality California can always be subject to the risks of outside events but the group’s agenda this week showed a tin ear, not just for the dire financial situation that California currently faces, but to the needs of the community they claim to represent.

There is never a good reason to delay equal rights for any Americans but the California Legislature has a lot on its hands these days–a $40 billion budget deficit, sinking credit ratings, furloughs and layoffs and a partisan stalemate, to name a few.

Meaning that unless something generates revenue or reduces costs, the state’s legislators don’t want to hear about it. And although Proposition 8 will cost California governments tens of millions of dollars in revenue if not overturned by the courts, nothing the legislature can do about that will help reduce an immediate budget gap nearing the tens of billions of dollars.

And regardless of what the legislature does, the gay marriage issue is in the courts. The California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the validity of Proposition 8 on March 5 and render a decision within 90 days. Whatever happens next, Sacramento won’t have much to say about it.

If the Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of Proposition 8, supporters of marriage equality will have to marshal their forces to qualify, and pass a new initiative to overturn it. Should the justices decide that Proposition 8 is invalid, there are threats of recall from the proponents of the measure.

Rather than lobbying legislators, who seem beholden to their own parties’ special interests to begin with, it would seem that the resources of both sides of the marriage-industrial complex would be best spent talking to regular Californians, the voters who – depending on how the court rules – will decide to either overturn the courts’ decision or throw the justices out.

Either way, groups like Equality California have declared with their agenda that marriage equality is the Armageddon of gay rights battles in California. But after that battle is won, will the state really need a multi-million dollar organization to lobby Sacramento to create a Harvey Milk Day?

With More than $80 million spent to persuade California voters on how to vote on Proposition 8, the question of marriage equality is very lucrative, which is why no decision by the Supreme Court will be definitive. The need to sustain a marriage-industrial complex of political consultants, their vendors and non-profit activist groups will keep the “leaders” on both sides of this issue employed for years to come, if only to find a justification for their six-figure paychecks.

Copyright (c) 2007, SteelWill, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Spot On is a trademark of SteelWill, Inc.


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