October 10, 2014

Who knew? Three thoughts on WV and marriage equality

1. Let yesterday's WV marriage equality reversal be a lesson to everyone, including me, that things that are impossible are impossible until they aren't. It's another reminder that we live in an open universe where all kinds of wild and unexpected stuff that we didn't see coming can and will happen.

2. Deja vu. Yesterday, I spoke on the phone with a friend about WV Governor Tomblin's statement on the issue, which I thought was short, to the point, and hit just the right notes. We both agreed that it reminded us of a statement of another WV governor, one of our heroes, at a similar moment, i.e. when the US Supreme court ruled on school desegregation in the 1954.

While many southern politicians used the decision as an opportunity to demonstrate their bigotry, Gov. William C. Marland basically said that we would comply with the law of the land. At a press conference that included the state superintendent of schools and representatives of WV's African American community, he pledged that the state would do "whatever is right and proper under the Supreme Court's decree," adding that "I rather think the people of West Virginia will accept the decision and carry on the best they can."

(Marland, by the way, had some reversals in his time. He tried to get the coal industry to...horrors!...pay its fair share in severance taxes and was hounded for it. After his controversial term and struggles with alcoholism, he was discovered to be working as a taxi driver in Chicago. His fortunes later improved, although he died prematurely of cancer in 1965.)

3. It's only fair to recognize another state leader, WV Senate President Jeff Kessler, who for years has been a true leader in advocating for equality and an end to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Kessler issued this statement yesterday.

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