Yesterday I was ecstatic. And busy. My tivo can only record two networks at once, so it was tricky to bop between three networks as the two big Senate votes went down on burying the despicable Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
I wanted to watch the full vote on CSPAN-2, catch the mainstream reaction on CNN, and monitor anti-gay spin on FoxNews.
One of the best developments of the day, and a real bellwether: the last one did not happen. Fox broke into a Glen Beck rerun, and pre-empted it for half an hour with live coverage that leaned toward a positive take on the news.
That illustrates just how far the country has come. The gap between reactions of gays and straights told the rest of the story:
I called a closeted gay army Lt. Colonel I've been following for ten years. He said he was "elated." The exuberance in his voice echoed it.
I talked a friend in Denver last night, who had gathered a group at his house for a little pre-party before heading to the gay danceclub. They had popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate. Not a single person there knew anyone in the military. It had no discernible effect on the daily life of anyone there, he said. And yet it felt huge.
It was. Congress took a huge step, probably its biggest yet in the struggle for gay equality. It had never shown the courage to do anything like this before. And to my shock and delight, eight Republican senators—led by the women in the caucus—crossed over to join all but one of the Democrats. (Thank you, all 65 of you.)
In Politico, John Gerstein quoted David Frum, a speechwiter for former President George W. Bush:
“The military is the most trusted institution in American life,” he said. “This vote means there will now be a large public population of openly gay veterans, gay combat veterans and decorated gay soldiers and officers, sailors, airmen and marines. That presence is going to be a very large fact on the ground. . . . People who want to wage cultural wars ought to keep in mind that cultural views often don’t move at all for a very long time, but when they move, they can move very fast.”
How fast? On the straightside, the public was so far ahead of the Senate, Gerstein astutely described an "approving shrug."
Perfect. An unemotional reaction from most of our straight friends is not just OK, it is the biggest cause for celebration of all. They quit caring about the gay thing.
That's not universally true, of course. A sizable minority of the public still feels nausea at the mention of a gayboy. And they are a lifetime away from using that sort of loose gay lingo. But their kids are fine with it. So are more and more of their friends.
The majority has gotten over it. Polls show nearly 80 percent of Americans supported an end to the ban. A huge majority, and growing. More and more of those are scratching their heads over what's taking so long.
Of course gayguys and lesbians should be treated like anybody else. More and more straight people are ready to be done with this struggle.
That's the best thing that's ever happened to us.