On Father's Day, CNN "Sunday Night" ran a long interview with the Asian-American gay actor B.D. Wong about his book Following Foo, which chronicles his efforts as a gay parent. Never raising a hint of controversy, let alone objection, to the issue of gay adoption, the interviewer closed the discussion by noting how much better off the world would be if all fathers were like Wong.
That may or may not be true, but such a comment would be unimaginable in a world where gays were on the defensive.
Indeed, at the same time as all of this, it is all but impossible to say a negative word about gays in public settings (unless you're gay yourself). For example, in March, when Senator Rick Santorum echoed almost verbatim the language of a Supreme Court decision in an interview with an AP reporter, he was widely denounced as a "bigot" and "homophobe."
Earlier this month, Attorney General John Ashcroft reportedly tried to cancel a scheduled Gay Pride Month celebration at the Department of Justice for lesbian and gay employees. He failed. Despite pressure from social conservative activists, DOJ reversed course in the face of protests from gay groups and a sympathetic media (and, probably, pressure from the White House).
When the most famous and powerful member of the Religious Right in the U.S. government can't stop a gay pride event in his own office building, held by his own employees, you know that social conservatives are losing this fight.
And now Canada is moving rapidly to legalize gay marriage from coast to coast above the 49th parallel. Gay activists, liberal legal scholars and sympathetic journalists (i.e. 95 percent of the media) say this will have huge repercussions in the United States for, among other reasons, American gays will marry in Canada and come home with an extra argument for why the U.S. government should honor their marriages.
There may be some wishful thinking in this analysis, but when so many elites offer wishful thinking it often translates into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It's certainly true that Great Britain is not that far behind Canada on the issue of gay marriage, and the developments in Canada only promise to expedite that process.
In short, it's a global trend and, like it or not, the traditionalists have lost. This isn't a value judgment, it's simply dispassionate analysis. Many conservatives refuse to accept this fact. But refusing to acknowledge a fact doesn't make it any less real.
The challenge for social conservatives, it seems to me, is to make the best of what they consider a bad situation. But that would require making some painful capitulations -intellectual, moral, philosophical and financial. It would also require gay activists to understand that they've won and that the best course of action for them would be magnanimity in victory. Unfortunately, this is all unlikely since both camps are in denial about how far gays have come.