I posted earlier about the trend towards acceptance of same-sex marriage. Via the Democratic Daily I came across an interesting column by Cokie and Steve Roberts that underscores that trend. As the Democratic Daily notes, Cokie Roberts has taken a drubbing or two from the progressive blogosphere, perhaps for cleaving to closely to perceived conservative leanings. And it may be the case that she does trend more conservatively than some in her field.
So, it’s particularly worth noting when Cokie and Steve Roberts use their column to come out in support of same-sex marriage; prompted by an invitation to a wedding celebration for two couples, one of which was a gay male couple. Interestingly enough, they cite their experience during 40 years of marriage as strengthening their support for marriage equality.
As we approach our own 40th anniversary, we believe in marriage more than ever. It might not be right for all people all of the time, but it’s right for most people most of the time, whatever their sexual orientation, and friends like Kevin and Grant have convinced us to alter our views and support gay marriage.
We’ve always supported civil unions, which give same-sex couples certain legal rights. But we shared the concerns of our good friend, Rep. Barney Frank, an outspoken gay leader, who worried that America was not ready for gay marriage.
His fears are still justified in many parts of the country. And we don’t think religious institutions should be forced to perform or recognize same-sex ceremonies.
But the trend line is clear. According to the Gallup poll, 39 percent of Americans now approve of gay marriage, an increase of 12 points over the last decade. Despite all the over-heated rhetoric about gays “undermining” marriage, real-world experience tells a very different story.
Same-sex unions have been legal in parts of Canada for three years and that country has hardly collapsed into social anarchy. Even the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has adapted, assigning gay couples near each other. Jason Tree, a Mountie who is marrying his partner this summer, told the Washington Post: “Just look at the last 10 years to see how far we have come in Canada. I’m hoping some day soon this will all die down.”
So are we. Virtually every American has gay friends (sometimes without knowing it). Vice President Cheney has a gay daughter, who says the Republican Party should “wake up” and recognize the growing tolerance for same-sex relationships. Like Kevin and Grant, she deserves to marry her own partner and create her own family. And be boring.
Here’s that poll that Cokie and Steve cited in their column, which also shows that opposition to same-sex marriage has dropped from 64% to 51% since February of 2004. That’s pretty much during the same period in which the president and his supporters have tried to convince the country that we’re some kind of orgiastic cabal hell-bent on destroying civilization during whatever spare time we have between orgasms. (And according to what I’m reading these days, that’s a paranoia that goes back to the Dark Ages and beyond, when the church was the state.) So if you think about it, they’ve thrown almost everything they have at the issue, and still opposition to same-sex marriage has gone down and support for marriage equality has gone up.
Pair that with my previous post concerning Deb Price’s column about younger people (younger voters, we hope) becoming more gay-friendly with each generation and more supportive of same-sex marriage and/or civil unions. Then imagine where public opinion will probably be ten years from now. While you’re imagining that, know that the other side has already imagined. They’ve seen the writing on the wall and that’s why they’re considering more desperate measures like a constitutional convention. They know it’s now or never for them on this issue. They know that the next generations will probably be the one’s to make same-sex marriage a reality, and to overturn most of the anti-gay marriage laws in the states once those laws are inevitably challenged.
And how did this happen? As noted in their column, it’s because people like Steve and Cokie Roberts have gay and lesbian friends their care about, because couples like Kevin and Grant came out to them and shared their lives with them. It happens because people like Steve and Cokie will live next door to gay couples, go to the same churches, and send their kids to the same schools as kids with gay parents. It happens because those same kids will have gay classmates who come out to them and/or they’ll see realistic portrayals of gay people in the media, to the point where it becomes no big deal to them; like the people who didn’t feel it necessary to even mention that one of the couples celebrated at the party would be a gay couple.
It happens because we — gay & lesbian people, and our families — continue to “do our job” of just living our lives openly and honestly. You see us go about our every day lives month after month, year after year, all while noticing that your own marriage hasn’t crumbled as a result (the oceans haven’t boiled, the mountains haven’t disintegrated, the earth hasn’t spun off its axis and into the sun, etc.) and we just don’t seem that interesting anymore. In ten years, we’ll be even less interesting.
Which brings me back to a point I’ve made before. There is an opportunity here, a political opportunity, to take a leadership position on this issue that will likely appeal to voters who are going to wield a lot more influence in the next decade or so. There’s an opportunity to lead by example, and be confident that a growing number of Americans are ready to follow. (And those Americans may soon outnumber people like Dick Cheney, who has a gay daughter but fundraises for candidates who want to ban same-sex marriage).
Gay & lesbian Americans are already leading the trend on this issue. But we can’t do it all alone. Or rather, we can but we shouldn’t have to if political leaders only had the courage of their alleged convictions. It basically comes down to what Pam said.
We can’t shift cultural numbers to stop the bleeding without help from heavy hitting allies willing to call out the discrimination and campaign for fairness with a better frame. We can affect change on a personal basis, but not when we’re up against an organized effort to spread fear and hate and disinformation.
We need leadership from the party, not a bunch of scared, self-serving political assclowns. But I guess we better get back to work on “our job” of shifting public opinions since we’re on our own, right?
Right. And if progressive leaders can’t see that, can’t see the degree of movement that has happened as a result of us affecting change on a personal basis, and can’t find or summon the courage to stand, to get in front of the growing wave of support for the principles those leaders (quietly and in coded language) claim to support …
Well, we should remember just who stood up and who ran scared, leaving us on our own. We should keep a list of names, check it when elections roll around, and deliver or withhold our support accordingly.