We'll leave regressive Republicans in the dust
Originally printed 3/10/2011 (Issue 1910 - Between The Lines News)
In the past few weeks, we have seen progress vehemently opposed and hastily unraveled. President Obama stopped supporting the Defense of Marriage Act and told his legal department to stop fighting for it in court; now, Republicans are likely to get their own lawyers and fight for it themselves. On the state level, Republicans are set to undo a decision to give state employees partner benefits. The decision by the independent, constitutionally-created Michigan Civil Service Commission was supposed to take effect in October, but now it's likely it won't happen at all: if Republicans can get a supermajority in the House and Senate to vote against it, the decision will be undone.
Republicans, basing their support on fear tactics ("The sky is falling! Gays want to destroy marriage! And recruit our children!"), have the power for now. They can undo legislation for now. They can get their older, conservative voting bases freaked out for now. But there's one thing these regressive Republicans can't undo.
It's called social progress.
Republicans can't undo the fact that the mainstream media likes gays, who are no longer just the butt of the joke onscreen. They can't undo the presence of gays as main characters in sitcoms and dramas that are popular with teens and young adults. They can't undo the influence of popular musicians such as Lady Gaga and Jason Mraz, who are using their fame to lobby for LGBT rights.
Republicans can't undo the vocal and powerful group of LGBT teens who are standing up to authority figures and fighting for equality, and they certainly can't make illegal the love of those teens' supportive parents, either.
Republicans can't change that so many of today's teens and young adults, who -LGBT or not - just don't get what the Republican fuss is all about. These young adults have grown up with out LGBT friends and family members. Many of them went to college, where they learned to think critically and reasonably. They spend free time watching Ellen and Glee. To them, Republicans look stodgy, unreasonable and decidedly old-fashioned.
Republicans can't undo the effect of the social media revolution. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are all making it possible for people to connect with one another across states, countries and continents. Connecting with each other enables people to feel less isolated and to band together for more organized and effective change.
Spaces like Facebook also tend to become forums for clumsy but open public debates, as acquaintances' views clash on Facebook walls and posts. Republicans can't undo these challenging, questioning and mind-expanding exchanges.
Republicans can legislate from the top all they want, but they can't legislate social change. Try as they might, they can't control the minds of the masses - minds that are slowly getting over their fear of LGBTs through education, acceptance and love.
And even though laws and policies are subject to the zigzag of progress - one step forward, two (or three) steps back - social progress tends to go in one direction. Once a parent decides to side with the LGBT community because their kid's a part of it, it's all but impossible to undo.
So when you think about it this way, Republicans' tantrums about LGBT rights don't look like roadblocks. They look like pathetic attempts to postpone the inevitable. It's as if they're flailing in vain against the rushing current. Time only moves forward. Every day the sun rises and sets. Every day, we work for progress, and every day we win - if only just a little.
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Stigma: a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person. Hearing the words "I'm HIV-positive" made Bryan (names and some details have been changed) freeze.View More World AIDS Day
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