How To Spot a Turning Tide

I grew up reasonably close to the North Atlantic, and have spent a great deal of time at the tidal littoral. The first time you show up at the shore, you want to know where the tide is and which way it is going, as this information will influence your schedule for the next several days, assuming you might be planning to fish, to poke around in tidal pools, to go dig up clams whatever.

So you stand there and you look at the ocean and you look for evidence of where the high tide line is, compare that to where the waves are lapping on the shore, and you estimate if the tide is going in or out. On a dry day in the afternoon, you can tell if the tide is going out or coming in by how wet the upper littoral is, but if it’s been raining or if it early morning, this is an unreliable technique. So maybe you stand there for ten minutes … which is about one fortieth of the length of time between tide shifts … just to see if you can tell if the ocean in this part of the world is on its way up or down. Then you make a guess. And you’ve got a pretty good chance … about fifty-fifty … of being right!

But what about political trends? Is the last election a true change in the direction of the tide or just a funny wave that gets your feet unexpectedly wet? How would you tell from a few weeks of news what the future news is going to look like?

Who knows? But this is interesting …. over the last few days there have been a number of waves, lapping at the shore and suggesting a possible movement in the direction of things ponderous. A bill just passed by the state Senate in Washington State would give same-sex domestic partners all of the rights and benefits that Washington offers married couples. Over on the other side of the country, today marks the beginning of two days of hearings on a bill that would allow gay couples to marry in Maryland. And, in Kentucky, Legislation that would bar unmarried couples in that state from adopting or fostering children was declared officially dead Wednesday after the state Senate’s GOP leadership declined to schedule a vote.

But wait, there’s more. Legislation was introduced in the Delaware legislature Wednesday that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment and housing. And, it isn’t only happening in the US. In Israel, the Tel Aviv family court for the first time has approved an adoption by a gay couple.

Let’s stand here a while longer and see what happens….


  1. #1 Optimus Primate
    March 11, 2009

    And here in Alabama, we have a bill coming up for a vote before the Senate tomorrow that will, if it passes, allow us to buy real beer!

    The times they are a-changin’.

  2. #2 Tom Coward
    March 11, 2009

    The Maine Legislature is considering a bill to allow same-sex couples to marry.

  3. #3 chezjake
    March 11, 2009

    Yes, I think the tide is turning, but there are some places where there’s a strong undertow.

  4. #4 Joshua Zelinsky
    March 11, 2009

    Given the very convoluted nature of the Israeli court system I’m not sure that the Tel Aviv ruling matters much. There have been a handful of prior Israeli Supreme Court rulings giving gays rights in various circumstances. Moreover, given that the religious courts have jurisdiction for many family issues, it remains to be seen how broad reaching the impact of these decisions actually ends up.