The fight over gay rights: Spear it with a stick and haul it off the campfire, ' cause it's done. Well done, which is terrible for meat but just fine for a political fight. What's left is the mopping up. For the time being, homosexuals can enjoy their meal before clearing out the rest of the dead wood.
Things ended this week when the Supreme Court threw out the Defense of Marriage Act. This was mostly expected, since the law was clearly discriminatory in its intent. What made it a watershed moment was that the Court simply rolled along with normalizing the place in our society for people with different sexual identities.
In reality, the fight ended when homophobia became not only not cool to the next generation of Americans, but downright embarrassing. We're not even any longer in “love the sinner, hate the sin' territory. We're in “I'm not quite sure how loving someone qualifies as a sin' territory.
There are, of course, still holdouts — Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, for one. In his dissent, he puzzled about judicial review of laws, not just overlooking centuries of legal precedent but a majority opinion he'd joined just the day before that had overturned a critical part of the Voting Rights Act based on the grounds that the high court just doesn't think it needs to be a law any longer.
There was also Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, who proclaimed it the death of the Republic. This is now, to my reckoning, the fourth time the Republic has been slain in the past five years.
Everywhere else, however, it appears that the wind is fully out of the sails of homophobia and that the issue is settled. When Michigan's constitutional ban on same-sex marriages goes back onto the ballot in 2016 for repeal, there might be some rearguard action to stop it, but it'll be a high-turnout presidential year for Democrats. If the courts don't reject it as an act of overt bigotry (a federal judge signaled earlier this year that he was leaning in this direction), the people will.
Mostly, however, you can understand why there isn't a lot of energy to fight change. Homophobia polls better as people get older. Resistance is very literally dying out. The back of the resistance is broken.
So, what explains the rapid turn of public opinion on this? My guess is that at the end of the day, the inability to mount a coherent, logical case against acceptance exposed opponents to equality as nothing more than bigots. It turns out that Americans really don't care what private citizens do in the confines of their own homes, which includes how they arrange their relationships. It also turns out that most people feel that the argument that broadening the definition of marriage will lead to man-on-dog marriages is pretty stupid.
Scalia has in the past been lauded as the leading conservative intellectual on the court, but he's built up an impressive record over the years of saying, writing and doing things that challenge whether that's actually true.
His dissent to the court's ruling on DOMA reads like a man who is just simply outraged at the way society is changing around him. He could have expressed himself by boiling down his objection to, “Get off my lawn.'
These are the words of a classic dead-ender, of people who just 10 years ago found themselves in a comfortable majority. It slipped away from them, more rapidly than anyone predicted. Today, they're relics, living reminders of a time when bigotry was fashionable.