This has been an incredible year for gay rights. Support for same-sex marriage is the highest it has ever been—58% according to the latest Washington Post poll.
Since November, six states have legalized same-sex marriage. Three of them this month alone. One of them was Minnesota, whose voters last November rejected an amendment to the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. That was a first.
Another first? Jason Collins. The basketball player became the first male professional athlete last month to come out of the closet.
Another first? Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio became the first sitting Republican Senator to come out for gay marriage. His stunning change of heart was due to his son’s coming out of the closet. Portman’s revelation led to a parade of Senators declaring their support for marriage equality.
Today, a majority of the U.S. Senate is in favor of allowing loving and committed same-sex couples to enjoy all the rights and responsibilities that accrue to marriage. And the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases that could end the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and California’s state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
But for all those amazing steps forward in the march to LGBT equality, we have witnessed a few stunning steps backward in the the last week.
A week ago Friday, Mark Carson was murdered because he was gay. Right here in New York City in the heart of Greenwich Village—the capital of gay America.
On Wednesday, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy reluctantly pulled a provision from the immigration reform bill that would have allowed Americans to sponsor their same-sex foreign-born spouse for Green Cards. He did so because Republicans vowed to kill the entire bill if it stayed in the legislation.
On Thursday, the Boy Scouts of America voted to allow gay boys to be a part of the Scouts. But the organization retained its prohibition on adults being scout leaders.
All of these things remind us that the march for equality doesn’t follow a linear path. No, that path is littered with obstacles that require retreat and detours. But marches are all about forward motion. The key is to not be deterred by the discouraging and disheartening things that happen along way.
Two steps forward and one step back still leaves you one step ahead of where you once were.