I’ve been chewing on the recent events on this from in an Francisco and New Peltz, NY (just a train stop to me up to now), and thought I’d take a few minutes and go set out why these make me so happy, and what I think they mean.
Just for openers, as I said a while ago, I’m all for gay marriage, both as a matter of abstract moral conviction and out of direct personal experience (and no, I’ve never been denied the right to marry because I was gay…).
And I’m convinced that by the time Littlest Guy marries, it will almost certainly be legal. But as I noted, the process to get there is going to be messy, erratic, and anything but simple.
Here’s the image I have in my mind when I talk about it; as a society and as people, our values are complex, and often on some level, self-contradictory. I don’t see that as wrong, I just see it as human. At the highest, simplest, most public levels, the values tend to align. But deeper, it looks like the strata underneath California – more faults and temporarily stable dislocations than solid bedrock.And that dynamic system changes over time in response to events, to changes in belief or behavior, to a kind of social evolution.
As a believer in punctuated equilibrium, I also see that as a metaphor for patterns in societies.
Which brings me to Gavin Newsome (who looks like he is going to rival Joe Alioto and Wille Brown as a Bay Area political figure) and his act of civil disobedience – because it really can’t be characterized in any other way.
I’m really pleased that he’s doing this. I think that this is going to be remembered along with the sit-in at the Woolworth’s lunch counter. These are events that are among the first signs of real slippage on those faults as society aligns itself anew.
That’s how social change happens. A small event that would have been lost at another point in history, manages to set of a wider shift – because the underlying forces were in place to make society receptive to it.
Two years ago, it wouldn’t have had the same effect, and two years from now, it would have mattered less.
I believe that the gay community needs to keep fighting for this, and when the victories come – like this one – cherish them and use them for fuel to keep going for the rest of the fight.
And, most important, to realize that while those who oppose this are wrong and that this is a struggle – that hating and demonizing them is not going to make victory come sooner, and in the end will make the battle less worth winning.