When Obama announced his (legally unbinding) support for gay marriage, he cited gay people he knows – members of his staff, friends, families, neighbors, soldiers. When Joe Biden pre-announced his personal opinion, he cited Will And Grace. I’d say Modern Family. Both TV shows, humanizing gay families and bringing them into American homes. Which is how it happens. Exposure, basically. I think that’s how reconciliation and social justice ultimately happen.
LGBT people should be able to get married, that’s a civil right. They should be able to marry in Sri Lanka, or India, or anywhere in the world. My favorite writer is Andrew Sullivan, whose blog I read every day. He’s gay (and married) and it’s an issue that he’s led and supported for years. And, frankly, I think it’s an issue that anyone should be concerned with. He recently covered it in a Newsweek cover story, which he discusses here:
I cannot speak for all gay people; but I can speak to my own experience and suggest common themes. And if my own experience were completely an outlier, marriage equality would have remained a quixotic intellectual game for a few gay conservatives.
But there is, of course, an aspect to this that is timeless, and that is the fact the vast majority of gay kids grow up in straight families.
And they understand marriage long before they understand sex. And that breach between their identity and their parental models of authority is deeply wounding. The possibility of civil marriage – of being equal with your own parents and siblings – targets this wound, and does more than anything else to salve it. (The First Gay President?)
Marriage is a stage of life which all of us kinda hope to get to someday, or at least have a choice to. It’s something that gay people are mostly shut out of, and it’s not fair. I mean, the idea that you can’t grow up and have the same adult life of everyone else (that chooses to), it’s just mean. The fact that unmarried people can’t inherit property, get hospital visitation or myriad legal rights, that’s just cruel. Banning gay marriage is just patently not fair and it needs to change.
So, to return to my subpoint, the way it changes is that you meet gay people. I know tons of gay people, many in long term relationships, and I would not advocate discrimination against them because I would feel like an asshole. If you don’t know gay people you can somehow be an asshole without feeling like one, simply cause you don’t get feedback. And as I’ve been arguing, politics is a feedback mechanism. Politicians don’t drive public opinions as much as ride it, though they can take small inflection points and really change things in one direction or another, through either political courage or cowardice.
Hence what happened in the US was slow but it ends in more and more justice. First gay people had to come out, then they had to get network TV shows… well, that’s a joke, but also kinda true. First they had to come out, to be proud, then people could connect an abstract (albeit ethical) issue to people they know and be like, yeah, OK, I may think gay sex is weird but my cousin is cool and his boyfriend is cool too.
And that’s how change happens. First the change just happens, then politicians get feedback, then slowly laws and institutions change.