Gay marriage,  Gay Rights,  Stateside

The ultimate taboo?

With the Supreme Court holding a second day of hearings on the question of same-sex marriage, it’s interesting to note the astonishingly fast change of public opinion in the US on the issue.

Even Fox News’s conservative curmudgeon Bill O’Reilly conceded: “The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals.”

Ohio’s Republican Senator Rob Portman recently joined former vice president Dick Cheney as a conservative who became an advocate for gay-marriage rights because one of his children happens to be gay.

Another conservative– Senator Saxby Chambliss, a same-sex marriage opponent– also took a highly personal stand on the issue:

When asked if his views had changed on gay marriage, the Georgia Republican quipped: “I’m not gay. So I’m not going to marry one.”

(Is there a patten here of conservatives basing their positions on the needs of themselves and their immediate families? Is this what differentiates them from liberals like my sister, a straight woman married to a straight man with two straight children, who nonetheless is active in the Gay-Straight Alliance?)

While the changing attitudes are welcome, I appreciate the reality check offered by the gay former congressman Barney Frank: “[M]y continued sexual attraction to men is [now] more politically acceptable than my attraction to government.”

Like The Washington Post’s Matt Miller, I can’t help wondering if an “enlightened” conservative like Cheney would support, say, universal health-care coverage if it was his uninsured daughter who became gravely ill.

As Miller observes:

Maybe America’s accelerated “evolution” on gay marriage proves that the ultimate taboo in our society is redistribution. As Martin Luther King Jr. learned near the end, securing legal equality turned out to be the easy part. Nobody had to write a check. Equal opportunity and economic justice are entirely different matters, requiring a nation to take even bigger leaps of empathy and imagination.

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