Another reason Obama’s evolution matters
May 10th, 2012
Ten years ago, objection to same-sex marriage was – for most people – genuine. It may have generated from nothing other than unfamiliarity, mild prejudice, or just confusion, but for the most part it was not contrived or cynical or pandering.
Change is difficult and humans seem to have a blind instinct to defend “how things are supposed to be”. Considering that friends can have red-in-the-face, top of your lungs “discussions” about whether landing on “Free Parking” is supposed to pay out the money collected from “Chance” cards in Monopoly, it should be no surprise that decent people objected to changing what marriage “is supposed to be”.
But that was ten years ago. And despite the blustering of the professionally indignant defenders of (their own) religious freedom, the horizon is clear and the future is no mystery. Equality is coming, not on little cats feet like the fog, but galloping at breakneck speed. And there’s a good reason why.
Gay marriage was new. And odd. And a contradiction to what the terms were understood to be. It was like chocolate cereal or raw fish or women wearing slacks or smart phones. It just took getting used to.
But once the “new” wares off, real objections have to be considered. I won’t eat coco-puffs, but sushi isn’t so bad and after years of dragging my feet, I finally discovered that I can’t live without an iPhone.
And, as we all know, there aren’t many valid objections to same-sex marriage. Either you believe that the instinctive fears about drastically changing society have merit (that we just haven’t yet discovered) or you don’t. And as more people came to know gay folks, these concerns seem less likely.
Which brings me to my point: Mitt Romney doesn’t believe that letting gay people marry will harm society – or certainly not more than other things he puts up with. And he is fully aware that his views harm gay people and are unfair, unconstitutional, and a violation of the American ideal. He knows that. Other than a few truly insane people (Hello, Lew), they all do. They just don’t think that hedonistic sinners who defy God and social convention should have any claim on fairness, constitutionality, and the American ideal.
And furthermore, they know that the American public has little tolerance right now for blatant homophobia (other than, perhaps, in North Carolina). While ten years ago it might have been acceptable to laugh at the homos playing house, now that doesn’t fly. And the truth probably is that a huge chunk of politicians who vote against the American principles of equality couldn’t care less if gay people marry. They are just selling a product and pandering to a (rapidly shrinking) base.
But until yesterday, those who oppose equality had the perfect out. They didn’t have to look bad. They didn’t have to seem unreasonable. They didn’t have to appear to be motivated by less-than-admirable prejudices.
They could just say (and I know you all are as sick of hearing it as I am), “I don’t think people should be stopped from visiting loved ones in the hospital, but I don’t support gay marriage. My position is the same as President Obama’s.”
Not any more, it isn’t, Bubba. Not any more.