Never in a million years did I think I’d write what I am about to write: progress on gay rights and same-sex marriage is the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal political landscape.
Yes, you read that correctly. Think about it.
Within the past couple of months, the Justice Department concluded that DOMA is unconstitutional, and announced that it will not defend it in court. The silk-stocking law firm hired by the Republican troglodytes in Congress to defend the measure backed out, citing its own commitment to gay equality.
In the last few weeks, I’ve read an impassioned essay by a conservative Evangelical pastor berating his fellow Evangelicals for their political activism against same-sex marriage and taking them to task for hypocrisy. I’ve seen a You Tube of a young Republican (and boy, are they rare) testifying to a state legislative committee in favor of same-sex marriage. I’ve seen two polls conducted by respected national opinion research firms, both of which found a slight majority of Americans in favor of same-sex marriage. And most recently, this news item appeared on the ABC News website:
“The Navy will allow same-sex couples to wed in ceremonies on its bases and officiated by Navy chaplains after the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is officially repealed, according to new training guidelines published last month by the Navy’s chief of chaplains.”
This ship has sailed. There will be rearguard actions, there will be setbacks, but the war is over, and the good guys won.
Unfortunately, the rest of the country is going to hell.
State legislatures are passing increasingly insane measures. In Texas, the legislature has overruled law enforcement and the administrations of the state’s universities, and authorized students who are so inclined to carry guns on campus. (That should “shoot down” their academic recruiting—nothing as comforting as knowing that the student you just failed is mad as hell and packing heat…). Arizona was just the first of several states to pass anti-immigrant measures that—whatever their highly dubious merits—they know to be unconstitutional. (Profiling aside, the Constitution makes immigration an exclusively federal issue.) Here in Indiana, where I live, in addition to passing our own version of such a bill (over the strenuous protests of our largest employers), the legislature passed–and the Governor signed—the nation’s most restrictive abortion bill, which among other things de-funded Planned Parenthood, the only provider of healthcare services for some 22,000 low-income women. (The fact that denying two million dollars to Planned Parenthood will cost the state four million dollars in federal family planning money didn’t matter any more than the health of Indiana’s poorest women mattered.)
I won’t even mention the efforts of Governors in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan to deny public sector workers the right to engage in collective bargaining, or their wars on public schools and teachers. Or the states that have passed their very own “birther” bills.
When you look at Congress, it’s even worse. The 2010 elections swept a large number of absolutely crazy ideologues into office, where they are busily trying to abolish Medicare and Medicaid, cause the national government to default on its obligations by refusing to raise the debt ceiling, voting that climate change doesn’t exist (I kid you not!) and engaging in all sorts of other mischief, the consequences of which they clearly do not begin to understand.
Seriously, if it weren’t for the progress on gay rights, there’d be no progress at all. And if that isn’t enough to make you head out for the nearest bar, I don’t know what is.