Short-term memory

One day, perhaps in the near future, gay people will have the rights and responsibilities that come along with marriage. They’ll be recognized by society as committed couples just as straight people are, heart-broken widows and widowers will have inheritance rights over their homophobic in-laws, and gay celebrities will fight their divorce and custody battles in the pages of the tabloids and the courts.

It won’t take too long for society to forget that we voted in favor of ballot initiatives like Proposition 8; there won’t be any collective sense of shame because we are not only shameless, but brazen in our shamelessness. Jim Crow? That’s old news. Ditto Executive Order 9066, which put over 100,000 Japanese-Americans in internment camps, because they were trusted less than Americans of Italian or German descent. Women’s Suffrage and Alien Land Law? That’s really old shit. The Trail of Tears, Chinese Exclusion Act, and slavery? What century are you living in?

It’s really unfortunate. We keep patting ourselves on the back about how we are the most-free, the most-tolerant, the hands-down pinnacle of human civilization–which in many ways we are–but we forget about the decades and centuries of struggle and death that got us where we are, we like to think that every generation gets a fresh-start without the baggage of the previous generation, and we don’t recognize the disconnect between what we say we are and what we actually do.

It’s easy when you’re a straight, married man with some education and a decent job to file this away under “Abstract thing that I’ll voice an opinion about in polite conversation but doesn’t affect me” (along with single mothers, homelessness, and at-risk kids). But maybe when your life’s biggest problems are whether you could have saved more money buying from or whether you want to buy a BMW or lease a Porsche you should take advantage of that human gift of looking outside yourself and fucking do it.