What’s up with us?
The news on the gay civil rights and marriage equality fronts has been nothing short of stupendous of late. Except for the attitudes and behavior of some LGBT people, including many community activists.
Inclination toward ideological hegemony and political retribution of the sort that would make Chairman Mao proud is substitute for an appropriate sense of communal celebration and circumspect congeniality. It seems we’ve become so accustomed to anxiety and alienation that gays don’t know how to be happy.
A broad-based significant majority of Americans now support the national legalization of same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court, having this week heard what is likely to be the historically definitive pleading on the issue, is expected to establish a right to marriage when announcing a ruling in June.
A result of the growing “evolution” on gay marriage, super-majorities also back equal treatment and civic protections on the basis of sexual orientation. The controversy and overwhelming opposition in recent days to attempts by several states to carve out an overly expansive “religious freedom” exception to equal protection provisions and exceeding existing federal standard proved political poison and were quashed.
Never before has support been stronger or transformation of the cultural landscape engaged every demographic group. Some skirmishes remain, but the war is over.
This lynchpin for full equality now includes supportive majorities in every region, among every ethnicity and all age groups under 65, with seniors evenly split. In fact, far fewer than half of all Republicans are strongly opposed, with younger party-affiliated voters fully in support. The leading GOP presidential contenders, however, are at that awkward tongue-twisting stage Democrats stumbled through not so long ago, burdened by voter participation rates of far less supportive Christian evangelicals in primaries and caucuses.
Politicians, as usual, aren’t leading indicators of public opinion or social change.
Businesses and corporate leaders continue their critical leading role in advancing LGBT rights, insisting on the legal uniformity necessary to attract talent and deploy personnel without concern for a byzantine patchwork of laws. Business makes the case that hampering employment benefits and tangling human resource administration in a labyrinth of variable and contradictory regulations is not only an obstacle to economic development but is something that commerce simply won’t countenance.
Instead of heralding these allies and achievements, some are obsessed with preserving a perpetual state of disproportionate collective angst. The worry, of course, is organizational money machines need to keep us crapping in our pants to keep the cash coming in.
Worse is the way we treat our own. Two instances in the past week are clear illustrations.
When generation-spanning Olympian and reality show star Bruce Jenner indicated he’s a conservative Republican, when discussing being transgender in a national television interview, the denunciations and condemnations were swift. Taunts that he’s “self-loathing” or a “traitor” and “despicable” for his political beliefs were emblematic of a lack of tolerance for divergence of thought.
The news that two prominent gay hoteliers, owners of multiple businesses and most of the gay venues on Fire Island, had invited Ted Cruz to a small meet-and-greet to primarily discuss non-gay issues sparked rapid-fire pillory. Lost in the outcry was the fundraising event they had recently hosted for 900 contributors to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Calls for a boycott of their enterprises ensued and they were reduced to issuing an “apology” to avoid continued harassment.
The irony is that it is our very diversity of person, place and politics that has accelerated our acceptance. Shared situations, entwined experiences and common concerns with others have allowed familiarity to engender support for fairness and freedom.
Attempting to outlaw political opinion is not only self-defeating, it’s doomed to failure in a gay-integrated world. Why do we remain tolerant of an abhorrent petty mob mentality demanding “groupthink” and pouncing on nonconformists?
For all the chatter about a need for “safe spaces” it’s time we create such for one another.