The Wind At Our Backs

Civil Rights Movement Builds Momentum In Popular Discourse

Whether you’re talking about marriage equality, hate crimes legislation, or workplace protections, the momentum for LGBT civil rights is undeniable. As a movement, LGBT activists have known for years that we’re on the right side of history, and as such we were never turning back. Now others who have been silent on the issue, whether it’s because they thought it didn’t impact their lives directly or they didn’t think it was important, are starting to recognize its importance and take a stand on the issue.

I’m encouraged by the dialog, even as some of it is painful. I’m seeing people really struggle with the issue with honesty and sincerity. Several politicians have stated that they will not support Chick Fil A restaurant franchises coming into their districts and cities because company president Dan Cathy’s assertion of the company’s stance on same-sex marriage. Even the Muppets have said that they no longer wish to do business with Chick Fil A. Unrelated to the Chick Fil A debate, numerous powerful corporate executives have recently made significant gifts and public statements to support marriage equality.

It may be even more significant that even activists who have been central in the movement to repress LGBT civil rights are starting to change their positions. Insiders to the so-called “ex-gay” movement are starting to say that “curative” therapies developed to make gay people straight do not work. In June of this year, David Blankenhorn, a central figure who provided testimony supporting Proposition 8 in the trial that questioned its constitutionality, publicly changed his position on same-sex marriage.

Also of enormous significance, two major civil rights organizations this year passed resolutions supporting marriage equality, effectively identifying themselves as LGBT rights allies. Both the NAACP and and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR – which coincidentally has the same acronym as the National Center for Lesbian Rights) issued resolutions supporting President Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality.

I could go on. There is no doubt about it, 2012 has been a very important year in turning the tide in the movement for LGBT civil rights.

As more and more people start to get it, the debate has finally been popularly framed as being about fairness, equality, and civil rights.

In the past, those opposed to gay rights have successfully framed the public debate by relating morality to sexuality, and conflating homosexuality with sexual perversion. That framework and way of thinking has been soundly rejected. Currently, in popular discourse the question of morality as it relates to LGBT civil rights is about how people treat one another in a diverse society.

The opposition to protecting LGBT civil rights is widely recognized for what it is: bigotry.

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