North Carolina Wedge Issues

I probably should not be shocked that North Carolina introduced an “Uphold Historical Marriage Act” to make same-sex marriage illegal again. Truth be told, I am somewhat shaken and somewhat mystified.

I’ll save the marriage rant for another day, except to say that overall the emphasis on marriage as a gay rights issue makes me uneasy, but that should not stop others from enjoying their marriages if they wish. Regardless of my feelings, I was fairly confident that after the Supreme court decision the issue was pretty much resolved. More importantly, it seemed that gay marriage was more-or-less dead as a wedge issue, which as far as I could tell was the primary reason Republicans kept bringing it up. Unlike gun rights or abortion or trans people being able to use public restrooms, within my bubble it seemed that the issue had lost its power to provoke outrage. Too many gay people had come out, and as a result too many Republicans knew (and cared about) gay people who wanted to get married. Support for gay marriage has been rising steadily, and even in the mid 2000s we were seeing right-wingers resistance weakening (with President Bush cracking jokes about Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Puppetmaster Cheney supporting his gay daughter, and the right-wing Harper government in Canada refraining from overturning gay marriage after getting into power in 2006).

But now it’s 2017, and for some reason Republicans in North Carolina think they can score political points by bringing up gay marriage again. I ought not to have been surprised that there is an undercurrent of resentment against gay marriage in North Carolina (and probably across the USA), but I was surprised. Writing this out I feel stupid that I was surprised. I just got complacent, and thought that the dark days of demonizing homosexuality in America were largely behind us. I still believe that being gay is much easier in America than being trans, and it is much easier than being gay in other countries (Russia, anyone?). But perhaps we ought not to feel secure just because Barry Manilow came out in public. Things could change again in an instant. (And let us hope with all our hearts that there is not a second plague.)