Tim Carpenter wrote a column in the Topeka Capital-Journal today that brought up something that I have long said: The more anti-gay activists fight our movement, the more we progress.

The number one enemy for LGBT equality has always been the closet, which renders our families invisible. The legislative conflict created by anti-gay organizations hurts us in the short term — with sharp spikes in intolerance and even violence. But it also forces many people to come out and confront friends and family members. This inevitably leads to greater  understanding — with the final stop being equal rights under the law.

My hunch is now confirmed by research. According to Carpenter’s column:

Now comes a University of Kansas political scientist — working in the hotbed of opposition seven years ago to the amendment — who believes national advocacy since the 1990s for state laws and constitutional amendments against same-sex unions to have fostered public empathy for gay and lesbian partners and their families.

“If it hadn’t been for states pushing to ban same-sex marriages, people might not have been exposed to personal, often very tragic, stories of difficulties that gay couples  experience without benefit of marriage,” said Don Haider-Markel. “It’s an ironic outcome.”

Haider-Markel, with a research emphasis on U.S. gay and lesbian political movements, said evidence could be found by exploring movement since 2003 in states to legalize same-sex marriage or civil unions.

“We have seen broader changing attitudes in the past 30 years as well as an increasing number of people saying they know somebody who is gay or lesbian,” Haider-Markel said.

Thank you Brian Brown and Maggie Gallagher. While your nasty crusades to strip a minority of their rights may pay your bills today — these efforts will backfire and ensure equality in the future.