Editors Note: I don’t normally give much thought to being from Connecticut. We have a nice, mild climate, and there aren’t many tornadoes, hurricanes or crime sprees to worry about. However, politically, I’m sometimes struck by what sensible centrists Connecticut residents are as a whole. Collectively, we seldom do things that makes me think, “Christ, that’s embarrassing,” as I might if I lived in some other states, especially those way down south in Dixie.


Proud to Be a Connecticut Yankee

At a Barack Obama victory party in Greenwich, Conn., guests both black and white repeated over and over, “I never thought I’d live long enough to see a black president.” At this same celebration, the head of the Democratic Town Committee announced that Obama had carried Greenwich. I never thought I’d live long enough to see that.

For decades, Greenwich natives have had to hear their hometown, deservedly or undeservedly, referred to as a bigoted and racist place. Yet this time around, Greenwich — like Connecticut overall, which experienced an Obama landslide — has reason to be proud.

Nationwide, the fly in the November 4th ointment for some liberals (and a feather in the cap for right-wing Christians and other assorted bigots) was the passage of several anti-gay-rights referenda, including California’s Proposition 8, which, by 52% to 48%, banned gay marriage. In much of the country, the legalization of same-sex marriage is probably overreaching on the part of gay rights activists; however, for those who take civil rights seriously, Prop 8 is an example of the tyranny of the majority against the rights of an unpopular minority, which our Constitution was written to prevent.

Of course, no such referenda were floated in Connecticut, which recently moved from civil unions to legalized gay marriage. This might seem somewhat surprising in the Nutmeg State, which isn’t usually mentioned in the same breath with such Sodoms and Gomorrahs as California and New York. Nevertheless, supposedly stodgy New England is now home to the only two states that permit same-sex marriage, so we Yankees have another reason to be proud.

Recently, the Stamford Advocate announced the marriage of a gay couple, who were also celebrating 50 years together. Despite this routine publication of what televangelist Pat Robertson once referred to as “sticking their fingers in God’s eye,” the sky hasn’t fallen, Jehovah hasn’t rained down fire and brimstone on Washington Boulevard, large numbers of teenagers haven’t “chosen” to become homosexuals, and heterosexual spouses haven’t abandoned their marriages or their children in droves as a result of Connecticut’s failure to defend the family from gay weddings.

Not that long ago, miscegenation was also deemed contrary to God’s will, but mixed marriages were eventually legitimized. No one has come up with a single good reason why interracial marriage, civil union or gay marriage threatens conventional matrimony. Eventually, most Americans are likely to realize that civil unions are just civil rights, and applying the term “marriage” to them is just a semantic distinction without a difference.

Someday, the rest of the country is likely to follow Connecticut’s lead. Okay, maybe hard-core bigots in the deeply red, former slave states such as Alabama and Mississippi will need a few more centuries, but the trend among younger voters is a live-and-let-live attitude toward harmless sexual orientations. Tolerating other people’s proclivities isn’t libertine: It’s inherently libertarian — getting government out of our bedrooms.

The 2008 election has solidified New England’s moderately center-left leanings. Of the region’s 12 senators, the only remaining Republicans are centrists Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine. And New England’s last conservative House member, Connecticut’s Christopher Shays (a Republican who habitually pretended to be a Democrat around election time), was also unseated this year.

In Connecticut, the only fly in the ointment for Democrats continues to be Senator Joe Lieberman, who’s evolved into another Republican pretending to be a Democrat. After endorsing John McCain, Lieberman deceitfully vowed not to attack Obama during his address to the Republican convention. He then scathingly assailed Obama in St. Paul and then campaigned so relentlessly (and negatively) for the GOP that he looked like a grinning parrot on McCain’s shoulder in dozens of photo ops.

Lieberman’s devotion to the disastrous “Bush doctrine” of preemptive war and the perpetuation of an endless occupation of Iraq has trumped his more-liberal tendencies in other areas. His willingness to support a conservative Republican pledged to appoint hard-right justices to the Supreme Court nullifies his previous support for liberal policies — pro-choice, environmentalism, gay rights, etc. — that would be eradicated by a court dominated by a Roberts/Scalia majority. And Lieberman’s presidential pick also favored continuing the disastrous feed-the-rich tendencies of the now spectacularly failed Bush economic policies.

In the spirit of reconciliation, bipartisanship and achieving a filibuster-proof Senate majority, the Democratic caucus elected to keep Lieberman in the fold, with Obama’s approval. This was probably a good move politically, especially after eight years of divisive Bush partisanship and us-versus-them fanaticism.

However, in 2012, Connecticut’s Democratic majority can express their disapproval (already demonstrated by Lieberman’s dismal poll numbers) for the state’s only right-wing representative by electing someone who better reflects the state’s political outlook. Then, Connecticut will have one more reason to be proud of itself.


Click here to return to the Mark Drought home page.