Obviously I was quite glad to see the news out of New York this past weekend. Yesterday, I went to the Pride parade in SF for the first time. As you might expect, it was pretty fabulous, with its fair share of naked men, costumes, music, and glitter. But overall it was a much more stately affair than I expected.
I liked seeing many members of the SFPD walking down Market Street, hand-in-hand with their same sex partners. I liked the message that the very people who enforce our laws – laws that historically have been vehemently anti-gay – are themselves populated with gay people. They always have been, and so they will continue to be. I liked seeing a group of veterans marching. Gays have fought and died to protect their country, a country that has not always lived up to its ideals in protecting its citizens as equal under the law. I liked seeing almost every religious group you can imagine – from orthodox Jews to Lutherans and many more – marching in support of LGBT people. There are plenty of deeply religious people who still live up to central teachings of virtually every world religion to love one another.
When gays achieve political victories it makes me happy, and when they suffer defeats – as with California’s Prop 8 – it disappoints me. But neither event makes me that excessively happy or disappointed. Because I’ve seen this story before, and I know how it ends. From wealthy men to those who didn’t own land, from men to women, from whites to blacks, and now from straights to gays; the march towards the expansion of rights in the U.S. is unidirectional. Each day old people – who massively oppose gay marriage – are dying. And each day younger people, who overwhelmingly support gay marriage, are turning 18 and will vote in the next election for the very first time. And in the meantime, more and more people in between are changing their minds. As of April 2011, self-identified Democrats support gay marriage 64-35. Obama’s cynical and pandering opposition to gay marriage is a disappointing failure of leadership, but by 2016 the Democratic nominee for President will probably not be able to win the nomination without publicly supporting gay marriage any more than s/he would without supporting other key Democratic platforms like a woman’s ability to get an abortion. Or, as the Onion puts it:
DECATUR, IL, THE YEAR 2083—According to students in Mr. Bernard’s fourth-period U.S. history class, it’s “really pathetic” how long it took for early-21st-century Americans to finally legalize gay marriage. The classroom of 15-year-olds at MacArthur High School—all of whom were born in the late 2060s and grew up never questioning the obvious fact that homosexual couples deserve the right to get married—were reportedly “amazed” to learn in their Modern U.S. History: 2081 Edition textbooks that as late as the 2020s, gays and lesbians actually had to fight for the constitutional right to wed.
Here is a nice graphic of progress I was looking for. The elimination of the red corresponds to the Lawrence v. Texas decision. The spike and then dropoff of green is due to California’s legalization and subsequent removal of rights.