The astonishing speed with which gay equality and visibility have transformed public attitudes is a function of many things: the AIDS epidemic, marriage and military activism, popular culture's evolution, religious reform in non-fundamentalist Christianity and Judaism. But it is also something that Burke would have understood and that real conservatives - unlike the authoritarian Christianists who now control the GOP - intuitively grasp. Our new politics reflects a simple organic social change that transcends the red-blue divide. You see it in Michigan where an openly gay mayor was just elected and evinced this kind of comment:
"He represents the overall interests of everyone in the city," said Leah Closson, a resident of Ferndale for 16 years. "We're a heterosexual family with two kids and we own our own home. I feel he represents us."
Utah is the poster state. Between 1990 and 2006, for example, it went from having the 38th-highest concentration of same-sex couples in the country to 14th highest. In that same time period, the percentage of gay couples who lived in large cities declined from 45% to 23%. Even more counterintuitive, from 2000 to 2006, states that banned same-sex marriage had above-average increases in the number of gay couples. And places where voter referendums went against same-sex marriages saw even larger increases.
This is the tide that makes gay equality inevitable. The question remains how best to channel this movement in constructive directions. Civil marriage is the answer today, as it was over a decade ago.
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