Today, standing outside the Supreme Court on this historic day, the first day that the Court heard oral arguments on a gay marriage case, one thing became clear: We are winning.
Gays and lesbians might not win the battle over Prop 8, of course, or over DOMA (though I suspect that the Justices will reach a narrow decision that both gives marriage equality back to California and mandates that the federal government recognize gay marriage in states where it has been legalized), but we were are absolutely, with out a doubt, no question winning the war of public opinion.
How do I know?
When I was reporting for a story about the rally and protest outside the Supreme Court, not one person I spoke with who was pro-marriage equality refused to give their names. Not one. They gave me their first name, their last name, their email address, their phone number. They told me where they worked, where they were from.
On the other hand, most people on the other side who were part of the National Organization for Marriage march refused to give me a first name. They didn't want me to take their picture. One woman, holding up a sign that said, "Kids Deserve a Mom and a Dad," wouldn't answer when I asked her why she was there, or why this case was important to her. Instead, she just said, "I really don't want to say anything other than what's on the sign."
This is extraordinary.
It's extraordinary, because when I first started covering LGBT issues 20 years ago, it was tough to get a gay person in a crowd to give their name. They were worried (and rightfully so) that they would lose their jobs, their friends, their families. The only names you could count on getting were from people who were "professionally gay" -- those who had outed themselves publicly, sometimes in spectacular ways, or who worked for a gay organization.
Now the situation is reversed. I suspect that the anti-marriage equality people who wouldn't give me their names were embarrassed. They know their opinion might make others think less of them. It could damage their credibility and respect in their families or offices, or among their neighbors.
It is no longer shameful to be gay. Now it is only shameful to be anti-gay.
That means that no matter what the Supreme Court says, no matter how this very important decision turns out, we will have marriage equality in the long run. There is no telling what this divided Court will do. But in the court of public opinion, we have already won.
This post was first published at the New Civil Rights Movement.