Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How Far Have We Come on Gay Rights?

Kentucky AG Jack Conway
Pretty damned far. Here's the Attorney General of Kentucky, Jack Conway:
Conway, who opposed same-sex marriage during his failed run for the U.S. Senate in 2010, wouldn't pinpoint when he changed his mind to support full marriage equality. He said he came around "over the last few years" after conversations with friends in the gay community, and after thinking about how his two daughters would come to view his decision.
"I thought long and hard. I thought about the arc of history," he said. "I thought about the fact that at one time in this country we discriminated against women. At one time we discriminated against African-Americans and people of color. At one time we discriminated against those with disabilities. This is the last minority group in this country that a significant portion of our population thinks it's OK to still discriminate against in any way. And I didn't think that was right."
Conway's reading of the arc of history is revealing. It's the key to why even Republican-appointed judges are deciding against gay discrimination. Why? Because it's discrimination, and that's no longer easy to justify.

The way things work in America -- and much of the rest of the world -- is that you're free to believe what you want to believe, like what you like, and dislike what you dislike. Nobody says you have to hang out with Jews. I like to, but that not the point.

It was against the law the whole time...
The point is that we're not allowed to discriminate in the public sphere. You don't have to invite me to dinner, but you can't tell me I can't eat at your restaurant. You can if I'm a drunken jerk with no shoes, but not because I belong to a certain identifiable group.

These values have been embedded in our national mores since the beginnings of the Revolution, were reenforced by the Constitution and subsequently the 14th Amendment. Jack Conway delineates our progress in actually adhering to what were already established laws and values.

This has been an American journey, and we've all taken part. I was raised back in the days when women were generally thought of as housewives and mothers, though my mother worked since the 1950s and in some ways surpassed my father's career. Funny how I grew up in such an environment and still thought it was a man's world.

Through much of my life, racism was thoroughly institutionalized -- admittedly, it still is -- interracial marriage was rare, gays were off the radar, and they didn't live in your neighborhood, regardless of who they were. They didn't go to your schools, shop in your stores, attend your churches, or go to your movie theaters.

Wrong side of history, dude.
A lot of that has broken down, while remnants of the old boundaries remain. What we're witnessing a lot of these days is the death rattle of the old way of life. That's why we see red states trying to pass laws discriminating against gays, even though they're blatantly unconstitutional and don't stand a chance of passing judicial scrutiny. Obama Derangement Syndrome is driven in great part because he's black. Denying it is ludicrous.

The Millennials are ushering in a new world order, and the baby boomers are giving way. Lindsey Graham, whose politics and ethics I abhor, did put it right when he said, "The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” Boy, he said a mouthful.

When the attorney general of Kentucky, though a Democrat, says that he can't in good conscience discriminate anymore, regardless of group, the battle is nearing its conclusion. The arc of history is indeed long, but it has markedly bent toward justice in our time, and we've all been bending with it.

This kind of nonsense leads to...presidents.

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