Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A long-overdue equal sign

No matter what the Supreme Court decides on Prop 8, gay marriage is happening. At this point, the worst the Court can do is uphold the legislation for a few more years. That worst-case scenario doesn't have a chance of stemming the social tide on gay marriage — not that I think the Court will rule that way. This is a done deal. The future. Gay marriage will be seen by babies already born as something they won't believe was ever a fight.

Just a few years ago, the debate on gay marriage was defined by the ick factor. A comedian whose name escapes me once encapsulated the sentiment perfectly. He said (I'm paraphrasing here) that the debate weighed heavily in favor of marriage because all the other side could say was, "They're FRIGGIN' QUEERS!" That's only partially true — opponents also had the Orwellian "special rights" argument (also used to justify racism) and Rick Santorum's telling "man-on-dog" slippery slope. Oh, and that hetero marriage would be demeaned or something. These and other heart-hardening, head-scratching "arguments" were enough to turn the tide of the 2004 election.

Nine years later, even Bill O'Reilly admits that the anti-gay contingent has nothing substantial on their side. Sure, he could just be pandering; but even that fact, if true, reflects the scope of the social shift. Who thought in 2004 that pundits and politicians would side with gay marriage to gain broad appeal? Between then and now, it went from being political poison to being obvious. In less than a decade. Astonishing.

One could argue that advocates successfully sold the arguments that I've long advanced — that a civil contract between two consenting adults should be recognized by a secular government and that gay people deserve the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts. 

But I think it's more than that. One of the redeeming traits of the American people is our capacity to evolve. That evolution, even in the face of lingering ignorance, is toward acceptance and enlightenment. Always. We've gone from being a nation of slaveholders to one that is on the cusp of finally granting gays full civil rights. What drives that evolution? Empathy. Education. Love. 

In a country where freedom is so often defined as the right to hoard money and to discriminate, it's heartening to see a true example of freedom burst forth. I'm excited for what legal gay marriage will mean for all of us — ever so gradually, a more perfect union. 

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