In the 2000s, the LGBT community struggled to gain political acceptance, and ridicule plagued them from pulpits so high even the White House burned them with cruelty.
Fortunately, that time has mostly passed.
The coming of nationwide marriage equality, the rising visibility of successful queer celebrities and business people, of happy, healthy couples raising happy, healthy children, and the sudden unity and tenacity of LGBT individuals in the face of adversity rocked the nation. As a result, the hens of bigotry have come home to roost. In 2004, George W. Bush, as advised by Karl Rove, called for a constitutional amendment to forever subjugate the queer community. The move was unprecedented, and though Bush narrowly won reelection, he sealed his own fate as an opponent of American values. Within two years, in the face of the Iraq and Afghanistan quagmires, the disaster of Hurricane Katrina, and the rampant cronyism of the Bush White House, Dubya had destroyed his credibility. And to add insult to injury, the precipitation of the financial collapse of 2008 sealed Bush’s rank as one of the worst presidents in history.
During that time, however, the LGBT community had begun to organize. The Prop 8 horrors of 2008 only further solidified gays and lesbians as a political force, and in less than 8 years following the reign of Bush, not only had they reversed anti-LGBT amendments, they also won their hard-fought right to marry.
The swift and thorough opposition to the recent handful of states that have tried to override or suppress LGBT progress only demonstrate the changed attitudes of the nation, and of the power of the community as a voting block. When Georgia announced the passage of a bill that would allow businesses to refuse to serve gay people on religious ground, Fortune 500 companies and the National Football League threatened to pull business from the state. The same thing happened with a North Carolina bill that would have made it illegal for local governments to offer LGBT protections; American Airlines, Wells Fargo and even the National Basketball League threatened to pull all businesses from the state. Even more amusing, popular porn site XHamster blocked all viewership within North Carolina where, ironically, gay porn is actually the most popular attraction.
The take away from all this political nincompoopery? The gay community, no longer ravaged by AIDS or forced into a closet, has risen as a political force, and it is not going away. While the LGBT voting block may not command the power of other key groups–women, Jewish voters, union members–future candidates for national and local office will need to pay queer individuals simple respect. That’s not being politically correct; rather, in the United States, it’s an American value.