David B.




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April 9, 2009

Gay Marriage: Four Down, 46 to Go


Last Friday it was Iowa. This week it’s Vermont. Tomorrow it could be your state, and who knows what it could lead to.


A shocking and virulent pandemic of justice seems to be sweeping across America as all of a sudden state legislatures and supreme courts waken from centuries-long comas and begin actually applying the principle of equality under law for all citizens, including the scary gay ones who so intimidate the political and religious right. Yes, the right to legal recognition of one’s marriage has finally been extended to all the citizens of Iowa and Vermont, bringing to four the number of U.S. states not under the thrall of Levitical piffle.


Hard to believe, but true: There are now actually four U.S. states that have moved past the Pleistocene era and may now be considered civilized.


Who would have believed it? It was only eight short, dark years ago that the American electorate placed a protofascist baboon in its highest elective office in a seeming effort to yank the entire nation back into the dark ages. An unholy alliance between televangelical scaremongers, cynical Republican legislators and a compliant and supplicating national media seemed perfectly positioned to poison the national intellect for decades to come with a torrent of faith-based divide-and-conquer drivel designed to neatly insert wedges between virtually every American demographic: African-Americans vs. Latinos vs. Asians vs. Anglos vs. gays vs. straights vs. poor vs. middle class – a seemingly unstoppable strategy designed to permanently assert the primacy of the Rich White Corporatist Christian.


From the vantage point of 2001, it might have seemed reasonable to expect to have seen a return to public stonings and witch burnings by the time we reached 2009, set to a soundtrack legions of Pat Boone clones droning “Nearer My God To Thee” as visions of the rapture danced in their fat little heads. 


Well, this is what might be called a reversal of fortune. Somewhere between “Mission Accomplished” and global economic collapse, putrescent bigotry and pig-ignorant superstition lost some of their curb appeal as Americans figured out that they really had bigger things to worry about than who Johnny or Janie was attracted to or in love with. By all appearances, the world was going straight to hell under the aegis of those who professed to lead it toward paradise.


War, famine, plague and pestilence started to take root here in the Good Ol’ USA, right under the less-than-watchful eye of its Stepford president and the legions of megachurch-bred flying monkeys serving as his support staff. Thanks in part to all of their finger-pointing, screeching, inveighing and bemoaning, the country’s gay minority was placed under the popular microscope, prodded and examined as never before – and when America looked closely at these reviled outsiders, it actually learned something new.


Gay Americans weren’t, as it turned out, the Evil Scary Other that they had been painted as. They were the next door neighbor, the housepainter, the schoolteacher and the policeman. They were Aunt Barbara and Cousin Bill, Doctor Alice and Professor Joe. They looked, walked, talked, laughed, worked, lived and died just like us – because they were us.


The generations-long campaign of orchestrated fear and loathing waged by organized religion against this misunderstood minority depended upon an aura of mystery surrounding gay people and gay life in order for its virulence to fester. And fester it did: Brandon Teena, Matthew Shepard and countless others were destroyed at the hands of the Falwellian freaks who served as the movement’s foot soldiers. As the mystery evaporates, so do the structural underpinnings of organized anti-gay bigotry, leaving the Pat Robertsons, Rick Warrens and – snicker – Ted Haggards of the world holding nothing but tired slogans and transparent lies.


Freedom, as George W. Bush might have said, is on the march. This time, it is marching in lockstep with an emergent gay America, whether the right likes it or not. Order the cake and flowers, and strike up the band. State numbers five, six, seven and eight are about to join the 21st Century, and there’s not a damn thing the reactionaries can do about it but cry.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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