But, as the L.A. Times notes today, gay rights are moving surprisingly fast, especially when it comes to public polling.
The Times puts it well: “If, as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, the arc of the moral universe is long but bends toward justice, then it’s arguably moving faster and bending quicker in the direction of gay rights than any civil rights movement before.”
For instance, in 1958, 94% of Americans were opposed to interracial marriage. In 1967, when the landmark Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia declared interracial marriage legal, 73% still opposed. It took until the late 80’s to turn the tides from more in opposition to more in support on that issue.
Compare that to gay rights—in 1996, when Gallup first asked whether gay couples should be allowed to wed, 68% of Americans were opposed. Nowadays the number hovers around 50%.
The rapidity of change isn’t insane, but it is notable. And why could it be? The Times thinks it’s “familiarity,” above all else.
The gay community tends to be more affluent, and the ability to give generously to candidates has translated into significant political clout, from the local level to the White House. Its leaders are well-versed in the machinations of government and the means of power, knowledge hard-won through years spent dragging politicians into the fight against the AIDS epidemic.
But experts and advocates agree on one explanation above all others: Familiarity.
But how did people get to know us LGBTs? We had to introduce ourselves at some point: whether it was saying hi on Christopher Street or coming out of the closet to our loved ones in the Deep South.
And the thing about the gay community, and it’s one of my favorite aspects of gay life, is that we’re so damned friendly! And pretty freaking lovable, too. I mean, who doesn’t love a little rainbow in their life?
It’s so coincidence we came to be called gay. It means happy! Which we are. And we’re happy to meet y’all. Now just let us get married, kay?