Wednesday, March 7, 2012

GOP, it's time to kiss halcyon days goodbye

Leonard Pitts Jr. writes a blistering piece on the GOP's resistence to social progress:

The image forces us to see an old thing in a new way. It is a sign of the times -- jarringly so for some.

That's why it went viral, why it has made international headlines and sparked thousands of comments on message boards. You can probably predict the contents without bothering to read them. On the one hand are best wishes for the happy couple and gratitude for Morgan's service. On the other, claims that the picture induces nausea or proves the country is going to hell at warp 9.

Indeed, at least one GOP candidate -- the reliably entertaining Rick Santorum -- has promised, if elected, to reinstate the military's demeaning "don't ask, don't tell" policy, under which gay people were considered good enough to risk their lives for this country but not good enough to be open about their sexual identities while so doing.

That promise is part of a breathtaking Republican lurch -- not just to the right, as a number of pundits have framed it, but to the past. On issue after issue -- gay rights, contraception, labor rights -- the goal seems to be to return the nation to the supposed tranquility of its Beaver Cleaver years, before Martin Luther King Jr. had his dream, before Betty Friedan wrote her book, before Rock Hudson was gay, before everything changed.

And though it's doubtful Sgt. Brandon Morgan Morgan and his boyfriend Dalan Wells set out to make any particular point, the sheer joyousness of their reunion makes one, nonetheless -- the same point a similar kiss between two Navy petty officers, both women, made just two months ago. Namely, that you cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube.

Or, as Fleetwood Mac once put it, "yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone." And the sooner the Grand Old Party concedes that and stops pandering to the bitterness and fear of dead-enders and hard-liners still desperately clinging to the broken remains of Beaver Cleaver's white picket fence, the better off we all will be.

Their fear is that pretty soon, no one will fear, that we are approaching a day when a kiss like this will make no news, merit no attention, because it will be normal. They are right, of course. That is entirely the point.

There is something bracing in the very publicness and unselfconsciousness of that lip-lock. Coming after years of government imposed silence and government mandated lies of omission, it feels not unlike sunlight and fresh air blasting into a room that has been dark and stuffy for years. And it suggests four words of advice to those discomfited by this newborn change.

Get used to it.

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