Both Parties Flunk The Gay Issue

Rod Dreher writes:

I can't say that I'm all that surprised over Democratic foot-dragging on gay rights. The Republicans did the same thing when they held all the power in Washington. Back when they held the Senate and the White House, it was the best chance they'd ever have to pass out of the Senate and to the states an amendment to constitutionally define marriage as one man and one woman. The GOP pretty much ran on this in 2004, but when they had their best, and probably last (given the demographic shift in the pipeline) chance to protect traditional marriage in the Constitution, they balked. The president, an Evangelical Christian and social conservative, only gave it half-hearted support, and the Federal Marriage Amendment died in the Senate. The Republican Senate. And now Democrats who care about this issue are discovering what their Republican counterparts on the other side found out: that deep down, neither party establishment wants to deal with this thing. It involves forcing them to make choices they'd rather not make.

I fear he's correct; but this is not necessarily a dreadful thing. Issues like civil rights are not easily translated into swift federal action. They take shape and form in the realm of ideas first, then in culture and society. Soon, they percolate in the courts and popular initiatives, to be played by principle-free opportunists like Rove, and only in the end, make it into federal law. The Democrats, for their part, do not just remember 1993; they remember Johnson. Both analogies are anachronistic. But the fear endures.

Which is why it is so vital to counter that fear with clarity and hope.