It's easy to focus on the potholes when traveling the road to liberty and justice for all. But if a recent statement by conservative talking-head Bill O'Reilly, isn't an indicator that LGBT people are winning their liberty, then perhaps it's time to remember how much road has been traveled, and in how short a period of time. “The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals," O'Reilly said. "That is where the compelling argument is. We're Americans, we just want to be treated like everybody else. That's a compelling argument, and to deny that you've got to have a very strong argument on the other side. And the other side hasn't been able to do anything but thump the Bible." That's an extraordinary statement for the leading conservative, especially one who in 2009 compared same sex marriage to bestiality.
O'Reilley is not the only conservative now voicing support for marriage equality and same sex rights. In Minnesota, for example, according to NBC News, Republican donors are lobbying the state legislature to legalize same sex marriage. Even conservative Mormons are coming on board. According to the Los Angeles Times, the church has issued a statement that says they are willing to accept a proposal by the Boy Scouts of America that gay scouts be allowed, though the church is still not willing to accept that scout leaders might also be gay. Still, it's impossible to forget events which forced Chick-Fil-A to stop donating to anti-gay charities.
It's easy for supporters of marriage equality to cast a disparaging eye on the 41 states that have yet to legalize same-sex marriage, but it's important to recall that the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, Massachusetts, did so only 9 short years ago, in 2004. Since then eight other states, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Maine, Maryland and Washington have followed suit, and according to Time, Rhode Island is poised to become the 10th state in the union to legalize marriage equality.
Can anyone have imagined that just seventeen years ago, when the Defense of Marriage Act was the best deal President Bill Clinton could get, that today nine states and the District of Columbia would have already legalized same sex marriage? Who could have imagined in 1993 when Don't ask; Don't Tell went into affect, that today, 20 short years later, it would be two years buried in the scrap-heap of history?
For those who didn't live it, it would seem as if Rosa Parks once upon a time kept her seat on the bus, and the next day, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act. But it didn't happen that way. In fact, Parks sat in that seat on December 1, 1955 and the Civil Rights Act was not signed into law until July 2nd 1964 – 101 years after the abolition of slavery.
It's easy to focus on the potholes when traveling the road to liberty and justice for all, but as the old Virgina Slims cigarette ads used to say, we've “come a long way, baby.”