Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Truth Will Out, Part II: gay marriage gains acceptance in California

Three years ago, I wrote an article on my old blog (reprinted below) predicting that America was on the path to acceptance of gay marriage.

A survey released today by the Field Poll reveals that 51 percent of California voters believe that same-sex marriage should be legal, while only 42 percent say it should not. This is the first time that a majority has favored same-sex marriage in the more than three decades that the poll has been tracking the issue. Support is sharply higher among younger voters, with 68 percent of those ages 18-29 approving and only 25 percent against.

The survey comes on the heels of a California Supreme Court decision that the state constitution guarantees the fundamental right or every person to marry the partner of his or her choice, regardless of that partner's gender. Most Californians are supporting the decision. As I predicted in 2005, it was only a matter of time.

The Truth Will Out: Why Gay Marriage Will Be Accepted in America
April 1, 2005
Throughout American history, those in the majority have, through both legal and institutional means, sought to keep minorities in check. They have done this most consistently by denying rights to minorities that the majority itself enjoys, based on the idea that minorities are inferior.Consider these examples, drawn from five hundred years of American history, of times when the majority has said to the minority: "We will enjoy certain rights. You, the minority, are not our equals. Therefore, you will not enjoy the same rights."
Religious freedom: The Puritans of the 17th century tolerated no dissent from dogma.
The Federalists: Many of our Founding Fathers believed only property holders should vote.
Race in America: Whites believed first in ownership of blacks, then in the watered-down slavery of segregation and denial of voting and economic rights.
Women: First they were property, then they were citizens who couldn't vote, then they were equal citizens but legally discriminated against in the workplace.
Rights of Native Americans: Are you kidding me?
Interracial marriage: No mongrelization of the races, please.

Ask the average American today how he or she feels about these prejudices of the past, and you might get the response, "Those people in olden times, you see, they didn't know any better."
Ask a more astute American, and (especially if he's me), he might say, "Wealthy, white, heterosexual men of Protestant religion and Northern European descent have always been the power elite in America. They have always passed laws that play on peoples' prejudices to ensure that the existing power structure is maintained."
Today, the majority of Americans are against gay marriage. Why? Some believe it is immoral (and even a form of mental illness). But they are a minority themselves. More common in America is the attitude expressed by Homer Simpson. When asked by his wife Marge what he has against gays, Homer replies, "You know! It's not…usual."Americans fear the societal change of gay rights because "it's not…usual."
Legal and societal acceptance of gay marriage is a very new idea. But the same thing will happen to the idea of gay marriage in this country as has happened will all previous minority rights issues:
1. Minorities and their advocates begin an active struggle for civil rights. The forces of reaction resist the change.
2. Over time, acceptance of these rights seems less radical as their advocacy is no longer a new idea and no longer represents a new, startling change.
3. People begin to realize that they have no rational reason for their prejudices, and thus they have no reason to deny the minority the rights of the majority.
To summarize, years from now, when every other developed nation in the world and a number of U.S. states have recognized the right to gay marriage, and Americans have had the chance to observe that it is not actually harmful to our societal institutions, their opposition to the idea will wither away.Gay marriage will become the law of the land. And nearly everyone will wonder why people were ever against it. It might not happen today, or even ten years from now. But anyone who thinks it's not going to happen doesn't know much about America.

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