June 20, 2007

GLBT Rights Struggle Part of Progressive Tradition

I ran across a wonderful column in the Baltimore Sun that places the current battle for GLBT equality in some historic, and positive, perspective.

The movement for sexual orientation-based equality is part of a proud, progressive tradition that includes abolition, women's suffrage, the ending of child labor, racial integration of the armed forces, the civil rights movement and anti-miscegenation reforms.

Three patterns hallmark this long tradition: a defiant insistence by conservative doom-and-gloomers that the proposed reforms will undermine the fabric of American life; the inevitable rally by progressive and altruistic-minded Americans to the cause of expanding to others the protections they already enjoy; and, finally, widespread agreement a generation or so thereafter that conservative hysteria was not only misplaced, but America was stronger for having ignored their pinched, wrongheaded warnings.

Sure enough, conservatives who bemoan the "radical homosexual agenda" again find themselves losing the debate - not because the homosexual share of the population is growing but because straight Americans are rallying to their defense in the same way whites pushed for abolition and men marched with suffragettes.

Of course, the reason right-wingers want "the voice of the people" heard by giving them the chance to vote on GLBT rights is the simple fact that, since the overwhelming majority of voters are straight, most of them would be inclined to vote against. Like many views from that side of the fence, it is simplistic and short-sighted. As the columnist points out, it has failed before and will fail again because, eventually, people will move beyond their perceived self-interest to support the right thing.

GLBT equality is the right thing. I support it, and more people like me are reaching that point any day. The religious right always wants to turn things back, but their attempts to discriminate against GLBT people are doomed to fail. Let's work to make that happen sooner rather than later.

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