One line from Amanda Marcotte’s piece this morning on the New York marriage win, and its concomitant right wing hysteria, grabbed me:
There are 44 more states to go, and the usual suspects in the South will be the biggest struggle, but the size and influence of New York will help usher this process along. Once straight people start to realize nothing is really going to be that different from them, they’ll stop caring. Many people are quietly adjusting towards a less bigoted point of view about gay people.
A recent poll out of Iowa showed that fully 61.3% of Iowans support marriage equality. That’s a couple of percentage points above public support in New York, which was around 58% right before the law passed. Wait, that doesn’t make sense, does it? I think it does.
One of the most important things for us to grasp, as marriage laws are expanded to include gays and lesbians around the country, is that absolutely nothing that the Religious Right promises — none of their scare tactics, none of their sky is falling Chicken Little Chickensh*t hysteria — ever comes to pass. Ever.
Now, in the small minds of the wingnuts who fervently hate gay people, who spend an inordinate amount of their lives obsessing over what their religious masters tell them about gay people, that sky is falling and will always fall. Before Iowa, all of the equal marriage laws were in New England, a “cultural elitist” place that, for the common wingnut, is sort of an exotic destination that may or may not actually exist, much like Europe. So they can sort of compartmentalize what they’ve heard is happening — gays are forcing children to dress up as drag queens in preschool while taking fisting classes from GLSEN! or whatever — and imprint it upon themselves because they have, truly, very little experience with these places. An obvious parallel came out during the fight over healthcare, where wingnuts went absolutely insane at the suggestion that nations in Western Europe had better health outcomes, for less money, than we do. It’s, of course, completely true, but those facts had little bearing on wingnuts, most of whom couldn’t pick out the nations of Western Europe on a map. To them, “France” is not a real place, but a target for their childish resentments.
But now Iowa has had marriage equality for a little while, and over 60% of the people in that heartland state couldn’t care less. I would suggest that, as Amanda said, sane, reasonable people who were once on the fence or even opposed to marriage equality have now had an opportunity to see that absolutely nothing — nothing! — has happened. All the screaming and caterwauling from the Religious Right is just that — the hysterical moaning of liars who are losing their cultural influence. Meanwhile, nice and normal gay and lesbian couples are getting married and raising families and regular Iowans are going, “Well hell, I guess the world didn’t end after all.”
I predict that this will happen in every state. Oh sure, there will be a backlash when the Supreme Court finally and ultimately, in the tradition of Loving v. Virginia, declares that anti-gay marriage laws and amendments are unconstitutional and states like Georgia and South Carolina are forced to grow up real fast. I mean, for a lot of Georgia wingnuts, Atlanta is exotic. And that’s where a large percentage of that state’s gays and lesbians live. But even in those places, public acceptance of LGBT equality will grow exponentially when we actually have equality in those places.
Because people hear the hysterical warnings from the Religious Right, and it works for a bit, for as long as the bigots can keep the harsh light of reality away from their followers. But once that light starts to shine in, once those warnings are exposed as the insane lies that they are…
And that’s how you get a larger percentage of the population supporting marriage equality in Iowa than in New York. To be sure, New York will zoom by Iowa once marriage equality has been the law of the land for a little bit. In a way, we should thank our opponents for being such craven, hysterical, and most importantly, dishonest bigots. They’re helping us more than they will ever understand.