LGBT community should appreciate evolution of Tom Ridge

gay-flag copy
Tom Ridge has come a long way and we in the LGBT community should appreciate his evolution.

Tom Ridge, former Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush as well as Pennsylvania's former Governor, supports marriage equality. So does former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman. By the way, marriage equality is the correct term to refer to same sex marriage. Ridge was opposed to any legislation for non-discrimination against the LGBT community when Governor. He's come a long way and we in the LGBT community should appreciate his evolution. He is one of over 100 top republicans who signed the conservative amicus brief before the supreme court which asks to strike down anti marriage equality legislation. Also signing on was Clint Eastwood, without his stool.

My personal favorite of the signees is Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, who is the definition of neocon. Others who have voiced support are former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and even Laura Bush, though she doesn't want her statements broadcast.

For those who have been watching the issue evolve, this should come as no surprise. Marriage equality has become the rallying cry of the LGBT community, primarily because its message is simple: allow people to love. It's an easy message with no ill effects. The hard right-wing has tried excruciatingly hard to prove that it causes some form of harm, but has failed in every single state to prove any. If you had gay neighbors and they got married, how would that change your life? You might have to make an extra trip to the store and buy a congratulations card, but not much more.

The more important area is that of public opinion, and it's an area that is rapidly changing. A little over half of Americans support marriage equality. Much of that is due to the public support from President Obama. Now, the African-American community is becoming a close ally in this battle, same with the Latino community. What's the connection between the LGBT community and latinos? Latinos must deal with hate groups on the issue of immigration, while LGBT people have similar groups bent on destroying marriage equality. So who is still lagging behind on marriage equality? Mostly it's the two Rs: Republicans and the ultra-Religious. Both face the predicament of losing their followers if they continue to preach the ideals of the 1950s.

Facts speak for themselves, and at times loudly. A recent New York Times/CBS poll show that 62% of Catholics support marriage equality. Here's a group that has endured weekly sermons on the sins of homosexuality. Guess what? Most of the parishioners aren't listening. The same holds true for almost every segment of the population. Love is hard to hate, and spreading hatred isn't as politically popular as it once was. Even the Republican party's official hypocrite Newt Gingrich has stated that his party should start coming around since public opinion is no longer with them.

I'm not going to attempt to explain the issues before the Supreme Court since the court has taken not one but three cases of marriage equality under consideration, each with it's own points. Depending on their rulings, they can change how the law applies to LGBT couples statewide and federally. Pundits and legal scholars are all over the map with guesses on how the court will rule. In the 1980s, while discussing a case where the court ruled against homosexuality, Bowers v. Hardwick, Chief Justice Warren Berger told me that Justices are not immune to public opinion, and to give the issue time. I believe he was right, and that time is now.


Mark Segal is one of Philadelphia's most awarded opinion writers and has been recognized by the National Newspaper Association, Pennsylvania News-media Association, Suburban Newspapers of America and the Society of Professional Journalists, among others. He can be reached via Facebook or Twitter.