2.28.13 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
Comments: 0

SteveBlanchardHeadshotMore than 100 years ago, shipbuilders bragged that their latest creation, the Titanic, was unsinkable. As if tempting fate, the doomed luxury liner struck an iceberg and now rests quietly on the bottom of the North Atlantic.

It’s a story we all know well, thanks to the 1997 Academy Award-winning film Titanic, its Hollywood predecessors, the traveling expedition and the ongoing documentaries airing on cable’s educational networks.

The lesson in the debris is a simple one never say never. We’ve all done it in one way or another. It’s human nature and buoyed optimism or heavy pessimism are extremely difficult to break.

But things change, and they continue to change today.

As we were placing the final pieces of this issue of Watermark together,  word spread that more than 80 Republicans many of them prominent had signed a brief in the case of Proposition 8, the California law banning same-sex marriage, that goes before the Supreme Court later this spring. I, like many of my left-leaning friends, thought for sure the list of recognizable names were chanting the tired  “sanctity of marriage” argument in an attempt to belittle the desire of same-sex couples to be legally wed in the eyes of their government. But surprisingly, these Republicans were voicing their support for marriage equality and the repeal of Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act!

I had to reread the story to confirm what I had read.

For so long, the Republican Party has had the (rightfully earned) reputation as the party of inequality, especially when it comes to LGBT rights. Republican presidents have spoken out against same-sex marriage and during the Republican National Convention in 2012, the party elected to make the battle against marriage equality part of its official platform.

Of course, not all Democrats have supported same-sex marriage and not all Republicans have always been against marriage equality. But as a party, the GOP has been very vocal about its opposition to progress for LGBT Americans.

Blame the Republican losses in the 2012 election or blame the supposed lack of strong candidates for office. But the reality is that times have changed, and so too must politics.

Many have referred to this new dynamic shift within the party as “inconceivable” just two years ago. Realizing that Meg Whitman, a former California gubernatorial candidate who supported Proposition 8, is one of the Republicans now supporting its demise makes the news even that much more surprising.

It’s important to note that Ilena Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York, who are both Republicans, have sponsored legislation to repeal DOMA. And members and leaders of both the Log Cabin Republicans and the GOProud group have constantly urged their political leaders to embrace diversity and the freedom to marry.

But never before has such a large group stepped forward so visibly to support a portion of the population that only a few years ago was invisible to them.

Already, leaders of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage have threatened the political careers of those who sign on to support the death of Prop 8. But polls indicate that while arguments in favor of the ill-named “traditional marriage” continue, those making the argument see marriage recognition for gay and lesbian couples as an inevitability.

The federal recognition of same-sex couples is coming, and it could be here faster than anyone could have ever predicted.

That’s the funny thing about predictions. They are very rarely 100% accurate and far too often a victim of their own era and culture.

The Titanic was unsinkable in the minds of its builders and designers. But history proved them wrong. The incomprehensible notion that the party of Abraham Lincoln could finally step away from discrimination as a base line in its own description is just as flawed. Because as it was with that iconic ship 101 years ago, nothing is guaranteed.

Evolution is a reality and we’re witnessing it first-hand. As society changes, the parties governing it must change with it in order to survive.

When that evolution is finally complete, we’ll see an implausible reality where LGBT citizens and their allies can finally vote strictly on the issues, rather than on the basis of discrimination. Then, finally and as a society, we will truly be unsinkable.

Share this story: