I know so many straight people in Seattle who worked unbelievably hard to approve [the marriage equality initiative]. They gave money, they volunteered their time, they reached out to friends and relatives and coworkers, all in an effort to make it possible for same-sex couples to marry. Gays and lesbians are a tiny percentage of the population. We couldn't do this on our own. A majority of the legislators who voted for same-sex marriage? Straight. The governor who signed the law making same-sex marriage legal in Washington state? Straight. The majority of the folks manning the phone banks for R-74? Straight. The overwhelming majority of people who voted to approve R-74? Straight. The president who took a huge political risk and came out for marriage equality before his reelection campaign? Straight. It has gotten better for us—better, not perfect—but it hasn't gotten better for us in a vacuum. It's gotten better for us because straight people have gotten better about us.Dan suggested a party, which no one would turn down.
The LGBT community in Seattle should do a little something to thank all the righteous, awesome, beautiful straight people who worked so hard—all the straight people who fought so hard, phone banked so hard, donated so hard—to help us win the right to marry in Washington state. All the straight people who worked so hard to make our relationships and our families more secure.
But here's the thing—straight progressives fought (and will continue to fight) for marriage equality because it's the right thing, and because we're all in it together, and because we look forward to having gay allies when we fight our own battles.
Conservatives have grown as strong as they've been because their various constituency groups work for each other's causes. You have the NRA talking about tax cuts, and you have the Religious Right talking about gun rights. This unity has allowed them to politically outperform their support among the general population—the very reason they work so hard to prevent broader voter participation.
The Democratic coalition used to be a hodgepodge of silo'd interest groups competing with each other for attention and donor money. It was an endless battle over whose issue was more important.
The 2000s have brought a more cohesive progressive movement, led in large part by non-issue specific holistic progressive organizations, like DFA, MoveOn and Daily Kos. This focus on broad movement-building has gotten liberals away from that single-issue mentality to the point where coalition building has become second nature. it was nothing like that even a short decade ago.
So Dan, have your fabulous party in Seattle. I wish I could make it, but I'll applaud from afar. But the reason so many of us have joined the fight for equality, is that we know you'll pay it forward someday. Maybe you can join me in my pet fight for comprehensive immigration reform, and then we can both work to preserve Social Security, and then all of us can do our part to combat global climate change, and so on, and so on.
But there is one way the equality movement stands apart from the rest—it is unquestionably the most effective movement of our generation. When Howard Dean ran for president in 2003, he was considered radioactive because he had passed civil unions in Vermont. Today, just nine years later, we reelected a president who supported marriage rights for all.
That dramatic change didn't happen in a vacuum, and it didn't happen passively. And I guarantee that the lessons the equality movement learned over this past decade will pay big future dividends for the rest of the progressive movement.
Also, the anti-equality forces are assholes. We want to beat them up too.