As the ever-eloquent Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote last month, "I'm sick of debating these social issues like it's 1913, not 2013 ... but we are. So we need to fight back."
Could all those who are supporting the amazing forward march of gay rights with their time, money, social messaging, and coming out eventually "peter out"? Could we become complacent?
New Jersey, Illinois, Hawaii: the latest states to sanction same-sex marriage, which of course augments the U.S. congressional battle for ENDA. There's no turning back!
But please keep in mind that for each of the "for" states, there are still three who sneer, "No way!" Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia were just cited as resisting the processing of spousal benefits for gay members of the military, in defiance of the striking down of DOMA. Proclaimed Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, "They cannot simply ignore our [state] laws or the will of the people." Added Texas Gov. Rick Perry (predictably), "The National Guard is a state agency and as such is obligated to adhere to the Texas Constitution ... which clearly defines marriage as being between one man and one woman."
"Forget these jerks," some say. My response: Forget them like we forget racists because it's decades after the Civil Rights Act and we have a black president? Forget them like we forget misogynists and the ongoing subjugation of women because Susan B. Anthony and Roe v. Wade happened so long ago? Forget them like we forget anti-Semites because the Holocaust is ancient history for so many under 40? (Note the ugly item last week on swastikas in a small-town grade school just 90 miles north of New York City.)
Homophobia, like the above-mentioned societal cancers, has been millennia in the making.
Bishop Larry Silva of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu recently warned parishioners that "allowing same-sex marriage would open the door to incest and polygamy and" -- for good measure -- "poverty and juvenile suicides."
Perhaps Pope Francis will shift the Catholic Church's focus from all this to what he believes are the real social ills of the modern world: "youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old." Bless his heart. (Pardon the phrase.)
Responds a Catholic blogger in Virginia:
There have been bad popes in the history of the church. Popes that murdered, popes that had mistresses. I'm not saying Pope Francis is terrible, but there's no divine protection that keeps him from being the type of guy who with subtlety undermines the teachings of the church to bring about a different vision.
And we can't overlook the Mormons (even now, after Mitt). Despite a more tolerant tone toward gays on a new website, proposing that homosexuality per se isn't a sin, just homosexual acts, a church apostle, Dallin H. Oaks, reiterated at the recent biennial conference that "human laws cannot make moral what God has declared immoral."
All that I've noted here is fairly polite discourse. We hear as much from progressive national leaders as we do from the naysayers.
It's been reported that Terry McAuliffe's first priority as the new governor of Virginia (having barely squeezed past the loud and proud homophobe Ken Cuccinelli, his Republican opponent in the race) would be prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation anywhere in the state government.
And Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican and a Mormon, said as he entered the Senate chamber to vote "yes" on ENDA, "Religion should be respected, and so should people."
Will the pope, the senators, and the educated elite prevail? Don't count on it.
On the state level there's Tennessee State Sen. Stacey Campfield, representative of millions of red-blooded, all-American men who are quick to put up their dukes, who said:
[M]ost people realize that AIDS came from the homosexual community. It was one guy screwing a monkey, if I recall correctly, and then having sex with men. It was an airline pilot, if I recall.... My understanding is that it is virtually -- not completely, but virtually -- impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex.
We're with you, Sen. Warren. We will not stop fighting back.