One of the totally unexpected outcomes of last month’s national election was the fact that, suddenly and without precedent, gay marriage was affirmed by popular electoral majorities in not one, but four states.
This happened because the election became a national referendum on fairness and equality largely due to the sexist, anti-woman postures adopted by the Republicans and also to their disdain for the proverbial “47 percent” of the nation less privileged.
The surge on Election Day against over-spending on negative campaigning, attempts to suppress voting, the denigration of women with numerous incendiary comments on rape and abortion, the disregard for the aspirations of racial and ethnic minorities, spilled over at the ballot box into a stunning sequence of victories for gay rights.
Of course, hatred and prejudice have not gone away, and there is a troubling trend toward increased random violence against gay people in the District, for example.
But the “arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice,” to quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and this month’s election should be viewed as evidence of just that. As we said before the election, the re-election of President Obama is even more significant, from that standpoint, as his first one.
For gay people, the election was an enormous affirmation in a world that has counted for eons on suppressing them through the worst forms of denigration and violence. Still, for many of them in the U.S. and even moreso the places like Africa and Asia, gay people remain subjected to brutal repression, psychologically and otherwise.
In the post-November election era, however, some refreshing new steps are now being taken to lift such burdens off of gay people. Beginning with the initiative of Gov. Jerry Brown in California, and with a “Stop Harming Our Kids” bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, the matter of so-called “reparative therapy” is being identified for the cruel and unusual punishment it is.
The religiously (not scientifically) based notion that gay people can be turned straight through “reparative therapy” methods has been completely discredited, as has been well documented.
It is cruel on a number of levels, including its implication that there is something wrong with being gay, such that if one cannot successfully be turned straight, there is even more reason for self-loathing, possibly resulting in suicide.
But often overlooked is the way in which “reparative therapy” tears families apart, denying young gay people the kind of unconditional love that they need from parents. As perpetrators of this fraud introduce the false expectation that it will work, when it doesn’t, the parents blame their children and often disown them.
It’s not just that it doesn’t work, it’s that it inflicts great harm. That is why new laws are needed to ban it, and why there will now be some very personal benefits from the election results last month.