The national status quo when it came to gays was so ingrained for so long, it’s easy to forget how spectacularly successful American society has been in progressing towards equality. It’s possible, as a straight white guy, my perspective is skewed, but as yesterday’s vote in the Massachusetts legislature reminds us, we’ve come a long way.
Michael Kinsley explains in Time that the “whole spectrum of debate has moved left.”
The debate of 14 years ago about gays in the military seems almost quaint. Kids grow up today with gay friends, gay parents, gay parents of friends and gay friends of parents. If only blacks and whites were as thoroughly mixed together in society as gays and straights are.
Kids are also exposed constantly to an entertainment culture in which gays are not merely accepted but in some ways dominant. You rarely see a reality show without a gay cast member, while Rosie O’Donnell is a coveted free agent and Ellen DeGeneres is America’s sweetheart. The notion that gays must be segregated out of the military for the sake of our national security must strike Americans younger than, say, 40 as simply weird, just as we of the previous generation find the rules of racial segregation weird. (O.K., run that by me again: they needed separate drinking fountains because … why?)
Dems used to be terrified to support issues like civil unions and gays in the military, but the fear is gone. America has progressed, the Dems have kept up, and Republicans look foolish falling behind.