Yes We Can Because Yes We Could

Announcing his support for marijuana legalization, Josh Marshall claims, “odd as it may sound, gay marriage probably had as much as anything to do with changing my mind”:

A decade or two ago I didn’t support gay marriage. I was one of those civil union folks. It wasn’t that I had any personal objection to gays marrying as such and certainly no issue with gays in themselves. It just seemed like such an outlandish and politically implausible idea that it wasn’t something I supported.

I would suggest that it’s difficult for people under the age of 35 or 40 to grasp just how differently people saw this issue 15 or 20 years ago. But I’m not trying to make excuses. I think I’m simply of the political breed that what I think and my pragmatic sense of what’s possible are difficult to distinguish, often even in my own mind. This meant that I was against the various referenda trying to ban or preemptively outlaw gay marriage while also not being precisely for it either. Civil unions seemed sufficient to address the concrete issues at stake. What I didn’t grasp at the time was how the stigmatization of the LGBT community itself was at the heart of the issue.

But the rapid — not just rapid but mind-bogglingly rapid — rise in public support for gay marriage has made me realize just how quickly our society is changing (on a number of fronts) and made me think I need to learn to flex my own moral imagination a little aggressively.

I just want to say how grateful I am for Josh’s honesty. Very, very few pro-gay liberals in the 1990s backed marriage equality, including the gay pro-gay liberals. Even my good friend E J Dionne reviewed Virtually Normal positively, except to say that he couldn’t buy the marriage argument, which was the crux of the case. For the first ten years, the idea was resisted by the left; for the next ten years, it was brutally exploited and attacked by the right. But with each assault failing to end the argument, the argument continued. And since we had by far the better one, we slowly persuaded people, including Josh.

When left-liberals proclaim that a majority of Americans are dumb, would never elect a black president, let alone support gay marriage (which was and is the consensus in some smug-suffused cocoons), those of us who still have faith in democracy can point to the marriage equality movement and prove them wrong. We will end Prohibition of marijuana in this country the same way: persistence, persuasion, evidence, and patience.