But this time, in the general sense, ... if you were paying attention 10 years ago, you saw this coming.
This -- maybe not in exactly this way, or maybe not this month, but something like this -- was going to happen. It was a matter of when, not if.
I came out as bisexual to my sisters and brother call it 10 years ago. My brother was maybe 14.
I was home from college one day when I saw him wearing a gray T-shirt.
On it (that's a rough design match) were bathroom door symbols representing three couples.
The first was a man and a woman.
The second was a man and a man.
The third was a woman and a woman.
And I started to cry.
Under them were three words that told me this week and month would happen in my lifetime.
Those words told me this reality would arrive before 2002 became 2020.
Three words told me the minority -- the queer community -- was gaining unstoppable momentum:
It's all good.Ever since that day, losses at the polls and in the courts have meant opportunities to learn, not reasons to despair.
The most amazing part of this movement is all you straight people, and particularly hilarious is how the religious right (I reserve capital letters for things what deserve them) has motivated you.
King marched and Horton taught and Jackie took it and Thurgood argued, but that was a white Senate and House that passed civil rights legislation.
Piles of women were involved in the fight for suffrage, but that was men who passed it.
And just so, we -- the GLBTQ community -- simply could not do it alone. Even assuming 10 percent, which is generous by many estimates, that is still 90 percent of the population that has to be convinced.
Tall order, that. But along the way we got a huge assist from our enemies. See, a funny thing happens when someone who is ambivalent about something hears so much hate spewing about that something.
Eventually, that someone meets the target of the hate. That someone realizes the hate is just stupid. There's nothing particularly ... worthy there. "Those people are destroying America!" ... not so much. Frankly, a lot of us are pretty boring compared to the ones who dress up like the colonists in those paintings.
Repeat that process dozens of millions of times and you raise a generation of people who started off having no problem with us queers (and whatever other words you'd like to use) and strengthened that position to loudly supporting/not opposing gay whatever because -- wait for it -- who cares?
Overwhelmingly, my ally friends support marriage equality and adoption equality and employment equality and [thing] equality partly because they just do not see what in the everloving hell is the big deal. It's like getting all het up over bowl colors -- who cares if the bowl is white or green? It's a bowl! Long as it serves the purpose, do it.
I doubt entirely that the ally part of GLBTQA would be so big if the religious right had not stirred the pot so much. Sure, being out to friends and family matters, but people care more about rights when they're being opposed than when nothing is opposing them.
So thank you, religious right, for making us stronger by the day until we overpowered you. The fight's not over yet -- we still have more ways to make marriage equal -- but your defense improved our offense.
The only question now is if marriage equality will emblematically be a wedge issue, like anything to do with race, or if it will be embraced by both parties, like female voters.
Time is running out for Republicans, I submit. Before very long, the tide will have turned for equality so clearly that those late to the game will be recognized as opportunists -- people who weren't with us when the other side was winning.
And at that point, anyone who joins us will be a bit late to the game, akin to Newt Gingrich coming out in favor of marriage equality in a desperate bid to return to relevance.
Oh, sure, great to add more people. But it's one thing to run on allowing openly gay soldiers in 1992 and another to, well, be Newt Gingrich running for nothing and risking nothing.
As more states and legislatures warm to marriage equality, running on a platform that does not explicitly support marriage equality will be untenable on either coast except for in the Carolinas and Georgia. Ducking the issue in the manner of Gov. Chris Christie will not be an option. Those few(er and fewer) hanging on to their endangered notions of tradition will want someone who stands for what they believe are values; the rest of the electorate will want someone who has a clue.
But in those Washington-is-the-enemy states, where states and counties are rectangles, it's going to be a few. That will cause Republicans the most trouble. Running against marriage equality statewide will be a gift to Democrats in California and likely assumed in Utah.
What to do? Remove marriage equality from the Republican Party platform? Try to appease with some states' rights language? That may mollify a few for a few, but I suspect the Republican leaders will see the holy mess they've gotten themselves into with everyone of color, with women, with young voters and with the politically off-limits coasts ... and decide to rip the Band-Aid off. Remove that growing social issue -- on which former Republican leaders are suddenly not lockstep -- and you can focus more on stuff like taxes.
On a wall on the first floor of my company building is a nondiscrimination policy that spells out (paraphrased) why needless employment discrimination is stupid:
You lose talent. It goes to other companies and makes them stronger. Meanwhile, you're weaker because you didn't choose the best candidate, you chose the one in your social club.
I'm not explicitly out at work because I don't see the need, but anyone who doesn't know how far left I am of center doesn't know me. And that background is a bonus because it connects me closer to some customers than other folks get to them.
That background means I wear a Matthew Shepard wristband. It's purple, with "ERASE HATE" outside on top (as I wear it) and www.matthewshepard.org on bottom. When I was preparing to be interviewed for this job, I considered hiding it inside my sleeve. I thought about it for several minutes because I needed to get closer to family (daughter is now 6 months old but was in utero when I was interviewing), but I didn't want to go where I couldn't be myself.
I've been in toxic work environments. I didn't want to go to another -- despite the claim that the media is liberal, lots of people in media still have a problem with people like me -- so I left the wristband out where it could be seen.
One of the interviews was with the editor-in-chief of the whole operation (several weekly newspapers, a few monthly magazines and constant updates online). Maybe midway through, he noticed the wristband and, being a reporter at heart, asked about it -- asked if it was Livestrong.
My heart rate bumped up about 20 notches in a second, but being in toxic environments has taught me to hide fear. He asked to see the wristband and I took it off and said, "No, it's Matthew Shepard."
Everyone I've met in media knows that name. You might as well mention Robert Bork or Carl Bernstein.
He studied the bracelet for a few moments, then gave it back to me and the interview continued.
Maybe that wristband did nothing. Maybe it told that editor I was open about myself and was part of this country's social future. I'll never know.
But after almost four years of looking for a better job, I got us the hell out of Texas three weeks later. Two months and three days after my first day at my new job, our daughter was born hours from both sets of grandparents, my godmother, one of my sisters and various other relatives.
She won't know a world without Lawrence v. Texas. She won't remember this week of oral arguments. She won't remember much until a year from now.
She'll be part of a world in which marriage equality is expected. We will talk with her about marriage equality as a thing that exists in many states and other countries, not a goal being pushed in a few states or some island nation that doesn't even have reliable drinking water.
She will push for more than we got because we pushed for more than our parents got.
And with luck, her T-shirt will have those three men and three women all as one couple.