An historic change to U.S. marriage laws in some states has Kamloops gay-rights advocates pleased for the future of their southern counterparts.
Maine and Maryland became the first states to approve same-sex marriage, a historic change considering the same ballot question has failed in 32 other states since 1996.
In Washington State, meanwhile, same-sex partners and equal rights advocates were awaiting confirmation on Wednesday of a victory for Referendum 74, allowing same-sex couples to wed.
Gays and lesbians in Kamloops applauded the change, as well as moves in other states to legalize marijuana use.
“They are both related to minority rights,” said Matt Griffiths, co-president of TRU Pride, a campus club for gay and lesbian students. He believes the marijuana and marriage decisions are indications of social progress in the U.S.
“In general, things for minorities are getting better. Other blue states, I think, will be following suit.”
Patricia Love, vice-president of the Kamloops Gay and Lesbian Association, also applauded both moves, though she doesn’t advocate pot use.
As for approving same-sex marriage, “It’s just absolutely fabulous.”
Canada may have helped blaze a path toward equality by making same-sex marriage legal in 2005, a change that brought couples from the U.S. here to make their vows.
“I think that we, as a nation, have come to accept the fact that there are all types of families, all types of relations, and that we don’t have to feel threatened by each other. Live and let live.”
Molly-Beth Wilson fought to win that same right for years. She refused to marry her partner when it became legal to do so in B.C. in 2003, believing the right should be granted to all Canadians. When it was two years later, they tied the knot.
“The fabric of society in Canada hasn’t fallen apart.”
Wilson still encounters resistance from some corners, although the couple has experienced only one case of outright bigotry since moving to Kamloops.
“It’s still there,” she said. “There are a lot of people who will give you grief.”
Rev. Wendy McNiven, who performs marriages for same-sex couples, sees a trend of equality spreading around the world.
“In general, I think it’s great because it’s moving in a direction of equal acknowledgement that people love each other regardless of where they started or what they look like,” McNiven said. “In North America, we kind of reinforce each other with those kind of values.”