Ireceived a provocative e-mail from a prominent gay journalist this week. It had two words: "It's over."
We had been exchanging thoughts about what a remarkable week it has been in the battle for gay rights: The Boy Scouts moved toward ending their gay ban; word came that the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A stopped donating to antigay causes; and the Mormon-founded Marriott Corp. joined the gay side in the legal fight against the Defense of Marriage Act. And that was just Monday.
By Tuesday, President Obama announced his sweeping immigration reform plan that includes protections for some same-sex binational couples. By Wednesday, 49ers player Chris Culliver's offensive remark about not welcoming gays on the team - and the immediate backlash followed by his apology - reminded us of how unacceptable homophobia has become, even in the macho world of professional sports. By any measure it does, indeed, feel as if we have passed the tipping point in the crusade for gay rights and that there are only individual battles still to be fought.
Some of those battles are significant, of course. Most notable is California's Proposition 8 case and the Defense of Marriage Act case about to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. But even if California gays lose their marriage battle before the high court, the new Democratic supermajority in Sacramento has made it clear that they'll put the issue back before the state's voters, who now favor same-sex marriage in statewide polls.
Similar polls at the national level show a clear majority favoring not only rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, but also same-sex marriage. Even a survey of young evangelicals, done in 2011 by the Public Religion Research Institute, shows 44 percent of them supporting same-sex marriage, compared with only 12 percent of evangelicals over 65.
Opponents of full equality for gays and lesbians are still vocal, of course. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., immediately threw cold water on the president's gay protections on immigration. But even McCain may just be mouthing the expected words, considering he had an openly gay chief of staff for many years.
Other conservatives are more realistic. Newt Gingrich (something of an expert on marriage himself), recently told Republicans opposed to same-sex marriage to surrender, saying, "Gay relationships will be legal, period." Add to that the LGBT election victories in November, and the future political wins on the horizon. The biggest prize may be New York City, which seems poised to become the largest American city with an openly lesbian mayor, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is the Democratic front-runner.
All of this comes after an election in which Obama's support of marriage equality proved a total nonissue - just eight years after it was the wedge issue that helped re-elect George W. Bush.