EdgeWise 9.3.2004


Urgency of Progressive Action Part II

Jeff Hodges replies to my last post on the urgency of progressive action. Interestingly, he suggests that the more attention an issue gets, the greater an individual's effectiveness in pursuing the issue. This is roughly like the old politician saw about not getting too far ahead of your constituency. There may be truth to this, as group action, rather than the action of a lone individual, is required for most significant change.

However, I suspect that broad awareness of an issue is not the same as effectiveness, and therefore urgency. It seems hard to make progress (individual or group) on issues where most people have very entrenched, polarized positions. Sometimes, creative proposals really enjoy broad multilateral support and seem obvious in hindsight.

To be more concrete, civil unions and same sex marriage have been trending more and more support over time. Currently, a majority of americans do not yet support same sex marriage, while it very recently appears that a slim majority do support civil unions. As a result, conservatives are anxious to freeze the current temporary situation. I believe the Federal Marriage Amendment's banning civil unions is overreaching. That conservatives feel the need to be disingenuous about this fact indicates they agree. In this situation, I can easily agree with Jeff that preventing such a constitutional freeze is urgent. Time is certainly key, as repealing a federal constitutional amendment is very difficult. Look how long prohibition lasted. However, I'm not sure I'd say that getting full same sex marriage is as urgent, as it seems like time is on the side of support for such.

Honestly, the neurological research is increasingly pointed to genetic reasons for homosexuality. I think once that becomes the inarguable scientific consensus and filters into the mainstream, people will have a hard time opposing same sex marriage. Just as people of one or two generations ago were uncomfortable with racial intermarriage, I think a generation from now people will see same sex marriage as similarly benign.
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