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Don’t Do Them Any Favors

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Peter Beinart gets plenty of criticism for being wrong about the Iraq War, but in fairness he’s been wrong about other things too. For example, when the New York courts declined to rule that the state’s exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage rights was unconstitutional, Beinart asserted that the courts “actually did the gay marriage movement a favor.” Two years later, the staus quo in New York remains intact, and who knows when this will change. But, still, waiting until New York’s exceptionally top-down and unresponsive legislature acts is better then what happened in Massachusetts, where a judicial intervention created a massive backlash that made the prospects for same-sex marriage much worse. Right?

Nearly five years after the state’s Supreme Court ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, the vitriolic battle that brought international attention and apocalyptic fears to Massachusetts is all but dead. Since the first marriages on May 17, 2004, more than 11,000 couples have tied the knot. They’re busy mowing lawns and hauling kids to soccer practice, and the sky has not fallen.

Polls have shown consistent public support for gay couples. And with overwhelming support for gay marriage in the state legislature — the last effort to put it on the ballot failed 151-45 — the opposition has, for the most part, packed its bags and gone home.

“The biggest surprise about the whole thing is that there really has been no surprise,” Republican state Rep. Paul Loscocco said. “It’s been fairly much a nonevent.”

Whoops! One would think that what happened in Massachusetts may cause people to rethink conventional non-wisdom about how the public evaluates judicial opinions, but given the reaction to the decision in California earlier this year I doubt it.

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