So apparently same-sex marriage is legal in California now. Word. To the many thousands of Californians who have been hoping and fighting for this day, for the full recognition of their own or their fellow human beings' relationships: congratulations.
Word is, this will probably hold up, too. The California legislature has already passed resolutions that would have accomplished the same thing, but the Governator vetoed them on the logic that the issue should first be resolved by the courts. That having now taken place, California's homophobes are more or less checkmated. Sure, there will almost certainly be a ballot initiative to undo this decision, but from what I hear, that is similarly almost certain to fail.
The chattering class is already talking about this being bad for the Democrats in the fall elections, but let's be realistic -- same-sex marriage made a lot of noise, but hardly produced any measurable effect at the ballot box in 2004, and that was with one of the presidential candidates being from one of the states in question. In 2006 New Jersey was the issue, and almost nobody cared. Republicans may howl and get their hopes up (and really, given the drubbing they're in for I can understand that they'll grasp at anything), but I don't see where this makes the slightest difference in the fall, except maybe to increase turnout in California.
However, it's an important practical and symbolic victory. California has a little more than the population of Canada, encompassing about one in every ten Americans. Expect that in just a few years, virtually every community in the nation will have a couple that is married under California law; very inconveniently for certain demagogues, the world will fail to implode as a result. One of the most effective ways to combat homophobia, it turned out, was to get enough people out of the closet that most people realized that they already knew GLBTs, that they were otherwise basically like everyone else and not a freakish other. The same thing is going to happen with same-sex marriage, mark my words.
In fact, that's how we won most of the major battles of the culture wars. Which is why, much noise as they still make, the culture wars are basically over. Tolerance won, and now we're mostly in the phase of waiting for the (old, wealthy, influential) reactionary dinosaurs to die out.
Which brings me around to the local dinosaur carnival that we're going to be holding here in a few months. Sorry, paleontology nerds, I don't mean actual therapods -- we're talking the Republican National Convention, which will be down the road in St. Paul in August. The Twin Cities being one of the bluest urban areas not to have oceanfront property, I'm not really sure what the Republicans were thinking in coming here. There was talk of maybe keeping Minnesota a swing state for another cycle, or recruiting Gov. (numbskull, esq.) Pawlenty for Veep, but the first at least seems relatively unlikely. Pawlenty only kept the governorship in the first place because socially liberal libertarian-ish third parties run fairly strong here, but it's not like there's one of those seriously running for president.
Point being, the GOPers coming into town might make local restaurant owners happy, but they're otherwise not going to be especially popular. Large protests are planned, of course, which bubbled up into the news this week when the St. Paul police proposed a route and time that, in the organizers' views, didn't bring them into close enough proximity with the delegates or media. But I should point out that the restrictions are already a world apart from previous Republican conventions, where actively compliant authorities have seriously cracked down on freedom of speech and assembly in an effort to marginalize voices of protest. Here, they have already promised that there will be no barbed wire, no designated "free speech zones", and the proposed protest route runs less than a block from the convention center.
I expect there will be some fun guerilla actions, too. If I was planning one (which I'm not, since sadly I'll probably be in New Mexico testing my experiment then), I'd organize a bunch of people with stencils and spray paint to descend on the site the night before the fences go up. I'd like to see them try and sand-blast away, as the media and delegates are arriving, ten thousand labels declaring:
Third Term for McBush!
You know, just to remind the GOP faithful of what they're really fighting for.