by Zach Wahls
A few months ago, an offhand tweet of mine nearly turned in to a bet with two friends who work for the conservative Washington Free Beacon about whether or not President Obama would endorse same-sex marriage before the election and, as a corollary, before the convention.
My bet was for before the convention, another predicted before the election while the other suggested after the convention. Second-guessing my gut, however, I wound up passing on the bet. Messed that one up—as we know, the POTUS announced his support for gay marriage four months before the convention.
The most powerful aspect of our discussion was that it was a conversation over when, not if, the president would endorse same-sex marriage. When Freedom to Marry launched its campaign to include marriage equality in the Democratic platform back in February, a lot of people raised their eyebrows. In an election that so many have called “the most important of [their] lifetime,” was this going to be a good move? OK, 2016 was a given, but 2012?
Again, the conversation turned to “if,” rather than “when.”
Earlier this week, in a move that invokes a reminder of Hubert Humphrey’s passionate demand for equality in an earlier Democratic Party, top officials confirmed that marriage equality would be part of the party platform. It’s only icing on the cake that the committee responsible for this decision convened in the late Mayor Humphrey’s Minneapolis and that the decision was unanimous.
There are, and have almost always been, two competing views of this county. One is rooted in our Puritan past, among those for whom the fear of God was supreme and the state allowed only with the blessings of that all-powerful creator. It is suspicious and hostile to change.
The other is rooted in our founding revolution, among those for whom logic and courage prevailed, the state informed and defined by the consent of the governed. It embraces reason and welcomes change.
One vision is ruled by fear of eternal damnation, convinced the devil lurks around every corner. The other is determined by due process of law, governed not by those God cares to appoint, but by those we deem fit to serve the public in elected office.
One vision is rooted, inseparably, in fear. The other is rooted, inseparably, in progress.
For centuries, the Left has slowly toiled to deliver this latter vision and secure the blessings of liberty by extending suffrage to non-land owners, the eradication of slavery, the empowerment of women, the recognition of LGBTQ identities among many, many other victories won always as social conservatives hemmed and hawed, dragging their feet as we marched proudly to the drumbeat of history.
Now, with conviction and confidence, the Democratic Party can know it is continuing its march on the right side of history.
Zach Wahls is a sixth-generation Iowan, author of My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength and What Makes a Family, Green Bay Packers fan and a commentator on LGBT and youth issues. He lives in Iowa City, Iowa.