Maybe it doesn’t matter that the debate on gay marriage has been (on the whole) so pathetic. Maybe we don’t need a national conversation on the meaning of marriage. Maybe it’s those myriad private conversations that are really making the difference.
Or maybe not even conversations. Interactions. When people see gay couples living together and fulfilling the responsibilities that inhere in a relationship, they understood that gay men and women are capable of marriage. They don’t need words to convince them; they have evidence.
Writing yesterday about the shifting consensus on gay marriage, Jennifer Rubin observed:
As more gay and lesbian Americans came out to friends, family and co-workers, the anti-gay-marriage voices were handicapped; they argued against an issue in the abstract while gay-marriage proponents could argue that Mike and Sam down the street or Sue and Ann at the office shouldn’t be denied the right to marry.
In the past few weeks, two Democratic Senators came out for gay marriage, both following the lead of their Republican colleague from the Buckeye State, Rob Portman, who changed his position on the issue after his son had come out to him.
Were the Democrats inspired by the Republican’s example? Would the Republican have changed his mind without dealing with the flesh-and-blood experiences of his son?