It is amusing to watch national Republicans struggle with the issue of gay marriage. They oppose it because their base is a bunch of old, white bigots who are firmly and defiantly entrenched in their 19th century values - yet party leaders have seen the sudden and dramatic shift in the national public opinion on the subject and realize all too clearly that the train is leaving the station and their people aren't on board.
Things are changing. The Supreme Court is set to rule in a couple of months on two cases involving gay rights, and the American social landscape could change dramatically overnight. And even if the Court fails to side with the majority of Americans on the issue of gay rights, millions continue stepping forward in support of equality based on sexual orientation - and sooner or later the Court will catch up.
Gays easy to vilify as long as most Americans were afraid to speak out. Now, finally, there are some national leaders on the scene to champion equality. Credit has to go to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and most importantly Joe Biden. When the Vice President spoke out on the subject, America's power dominoes began falling - and ordinary citizens suddenly felt empowered to speak their minds and say what was in their hearts.
As of this afternoon, fifty United States Senators have announced their support of gay marriage. That number includes forty-eight Democrats and two very brave Republicans.
Yes, the train is chugging on down the track.
The state of Arizona is seldom at the forefront of any positive social change, and true to form, most of our politicians (almost all Republicans) remain vocally opposed to anything that might be seen as showing tolerance of gay individuals. But even Arizona is beginning to see some cracks in its armor of bigotry.
Tonight the Bisbee City Council is meeting in regular session where one agenda item will be an ordinance to permit civil unions within the city limits of Bisbee, a bill that would grant significant rights to same-sex couples. There appears to be a good chance that the bill will pass unanimously. Our esteemed state attorney general, Tom Horne (who still blows), has vowed to initiate an action in federal court to halt implementation of the bill. Horne, a Republican, feels an obligation to protect citizens from themselves.
Whatever happened to the good old days when voters could make their own decisions without state officials feeling the need to correct those actions?
And then there are those pesky real-life situations that always seem to pop up and challenge the biases which were once so comforting.
Sheriff Paul Babeu, the first Republican sheriff in the history of Pinal County, Arizona, was forced to come out of the closet in February of 2012 when his threat to have an ex-boyfriend deported backfired and hit the press. That news item came on the heels of a scandal in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office in which it was inadvertently revealed that two of his senior male deputies had been involved in a long-term affair with each other.
Stuff happens. Right, Joe?
This morning at the top of the on-line version of Phoenix New Times there was a photo of two young men kissing - or as the New Times so delicately put it, "swapping spit." One was the son of Arizona Republican Congressman Matt Salmon and the other was a cousin to Arizona Senator Jeff Flake. Congressman Salmon said that he supports his son and does not believe homosexuality is a "choice," but he is still opposed to gay marriage. Salmon is a Mormon who represents a highly Mormon district.
The times are truly changing, but still the Republicans huddle in wrinkled, white groups at the train station waving their fists in anger while shouting for all to hear that they are not bigots.
And that suits me just fine.