Has public opinion – and politicians – ever shifted so fast on an issue as on gay marriage?
A year ago, 60 percent of North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Yesterday, a U.S. Senator in a tough reelection fight endorsed gay marriage.
Yes, Kay Hagan is one of a lengthening list of moderate Democrats who recently changed her position. Like Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Jon Tester and Mark Warner. And one doubts they recently changed their minds; they probably had come to that conclusion long ago but were wrestling with when to go public.
In a way, they have no choice. A rising tide of young people is moving Democratic, attracted by President Obama and repelled by Republican meanness. For this generation, ending discrimination against gays is their version of Vietnam, civil rights and women’s rights. They know gay teens who were and are bullied. (We all did; we just kept quiet or joined in the harassment.) They believe it’s wrong, and they won’t stand for it. Good for them.
They, in turn, are moving their parents and grandparents. A lot of people who are coming around now long ago concluded the gay-bashing and discrimination is wrong, but they couldn’t get comfortable with gay marriage. What clinches them is a simple argument: You should be able to marry the person you love.
Just for the hell of it, why don’t Democrats in the North Carolina legislature put in a bill calling for another statewide vote on the constitutional amendment? It will go straight to the Republican trash can. And that’s the point.