Over the last few years, this has become a numbing ritual. A major civil -rights breakthough takes place -- New York passes a gay marriage law, or President Obama comes out in support of same-sex weddings, or today's landmark ruling by the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, yet another example of Orwellian doublethink. A big party breaks out -- in the Castro District of San Francisco, or outside New York's Stonewall Inn. In Pennsylvania, we just sit here, perplexed.
Why can't us?*
It's not just that Pennsylvania doesn't recognize gay marriage -- that makes us like 36 other states, unfortunately -- even though an increasingly solid majority of citizens here want to see things change. As noted every time this comes up, Pennsylvania doesn't even have many of the basic civil rights laws -- things like workplace protection or hate-crimes provisions -- that are on the books most other states, including some of the reddest Republican outposts in America. Earlier today I was interviewing Malcolm Lazin of the Equality Forum, who said a couple of years back that the Keystone State is little different than Alabama or Mississippi when it comes to protecting gays, I asked him if much had changed. "Pennsylvania is still very much redneck...," he said.
Why do we accept this? If you need inspiration, look no further than Texas and the pink sneakers of Wendy Davis, standing up for a woman's right to chose in the blood-red heart of the Bible Belt -- and winning. If she can make it there, then civil rights can make it anywhere. Less than a generation ago, the legal recognition of gay marriage anywhere in America seemed as likely as flying cars and jet packs. Today, as the Troggs once said, love is all around.
Why can't us?