Photo: AFP/File, Yasuyoshi Chiba
Just a little while ago, a U.S. district judge struck down Texas's ban on same-sex marriage. Judge Orlando Garcia says that while he'll allow the state to continue to enforce the ban while his ruling is appealed, likely all the way to the Supreme Court, he has little doubt that the two gay couples who filed suit against Texas will ultimately win. Garcia's decision reads in part: "Today’s court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent. Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution." You can't be much clearer than that.
There's still far to go in changing the collective mind of the nation overall when it comes to same-sex marriage and gay rights in general, to make equality a fact of American life that's never up for debate. But what we have here today is another big step toward that inevitable reality. And that's what LGBT equality is: an inevitability. And so, with that in mind, let me address those who are still fighting tooth and nail to hold on to an America in which gay people are treated as second class citizens. Let me say what very much needs to be said to every single person desperately creating legislation sure to be eventually struck down and clinging to scripture as a basis for supposed conscientious objections to gay people living and loving as they please.
Stop. It's over. You lost.
I've written something along these lines before, but I'm not sure it can be said enough to those hold-outs continuing to fight so fruitlessly in various corners of the country: Times aren't changing, in many ways they've changed. It's already happened. Discriminating against people simply because of how they were born and whom they happen to love is unacceptable in the eyes of a substantial portion of our society and gay marriage, as a legally accepted practice from coast to coast, is all but assured at this point. It’s an unpreventable fact, no matter how desperately those who want to cling to the past try to stop it. Any opinion to the contrary is merely a leftover relic of a time we'll very soon look back on with shame.
The reason for this is simple and somewhat ironic in that it involves the very nature of the freedom that opponents of gay equality claim to embrace. The unavoidable reality is that freedom expands. It will not be denied and it cannot be contained once it’s been allowed to flourish, even in the smallest of ways. The genie is well out of the bottle when it comes to same-sex marriage in the United States and it won’t be put back in. History is already written in stone on this because we’ve seen the same sort of thing happen so many times before and our society as it exists today is a living example of its ultimate outcome. We live in a world where it’s impossible to imagine separate-but-equal laws dividing the races by color, or women deprived of the right to vote, or Americans living with disabilities discriminated against as a matter of acceptable practice. And all of this was because the first steps toward justice were taken years ago — all leading us here, now.
A vote by Arizona lawmakers to allow businesses to discriminate against gay patrons, or a publicity stunt push by a lobbyist to get Congress to ban openly gay players in the NFL, or attempts to use antiquated religious beliefs to excuse discrimination and advocate the death penalty for LGBTs all feel like exactly what they are: the tragic last gasps of a way of thinking that's on its death bed. Even random legislative victories for opponents of gay equality are, in the end, all for nothing. There of course will always be bigots and they will always be dangerous, but the mood of much of the country -- the belief system in its heart and soul -- has already inexorably moved away from treating gay people as a separate class not deserving of the rights their straight friends and neighbors enjoy. Things have changed, but admittedly we're not completely there yet as a nation. But make no mistake: we will get there. There may still be minor delays in the road but the final destination for America and its gay citizens won't change and can't be avoided.
There's no sense trying to fight it. You won't gain a thing in the end.