America in a state over flags, cake and gay rights

Click to follow

Today the character of America will change just a little as hundreds of laws passed by state legislatures come into effect. They range from watershed to piffling; Vermont allows gay "marriage" from this morning, while South Dakota gets a new state dessert.

Today the character of America will change just a little as hundreds of laws passed by state legislatures come into effect. They range from watershed to piffling; Vermont allows gay "marriage" from this morning, while South Dakota gets a new state dessert.

Not that we should sniff at the ascent of the kuchen, a German coffee-and-custard cake. It's designation as the pudding of choice for South Dakota came after months of debate, with hot competition from a Czech pastry called kolaches. It seems that lawmakers just felt more German than Czech.

History and heritage was the battleground when it came to the fate of the rebel flag that will finally come down from the South Carolina Statehouse. This is the fruit of a genuinely passionate argument. For some the flag was a symbol of Confederate pride; for others of oppression and slavery.

Morality and that amorphous notion of "family values", meanwhile, have been the forces behind a myriad of other changes, as numerous states enact laws passed over the past 12 months today. Some other states do it on 1 January, while a few put them into force simply upon their signature by the governor.

Vermont is perhaps taking the most significant step, becoming the first state in the union to allow "civil unions" for gay and lesbian couples.

Certificates of union, which will offer nearly the all the legal rights that a marriage licence confers, will be available from town clerks across the state this morning.

Yet at the same time, another state - South Dakota, again - will enact a law strengthening provisions, which specifically ban gay marriage.

Gay couples there, should consider moving east.

Comments