Nothing changes, everything changes


Back in the early 1970s, the lingering few public school districts in the state of Mississippi that had yet to desegregate were forced to open their doors to all. Blacks schools and white schools were merged. Football teams, cheerleading squads, math clubs—all brought together, race be damned.

For those white citizens opposed to such a lifestyle, private schools emerged. They were called “academies,” but, truth be told, they were havens for white parents who could afford to shield their precious little ones from the darkness they feared.

Two days ago, in the process of researching my latest book, I interviewed a white man who, back in 1970, was sent to an academy. He was embarrassed to talk about it because, while at the time it seemed righteous, now it only comes off as bigoted and inane. “We were wrong,” he said sheepishly. “I didn’t know at the time, but we were terribly wrong.”

I bring this up because, while times change, time doesn’t change. Yesterday the people of Maine voted to repeal the state’s same-sex marriage law, meaning gay and lesbian couples can no longer wed within state lines. “It seems in the end that Mainers are not ready to treat these families fairly,” Betsy Smith, a spokesperson for gay marriage, told a crowd afterward. “Having the protection of the law, as well as the respect and dignity that comes only with marriage, is a journey on which we will continue.”

Shortly thereafter, a man named Scott Fish, spokesperson for Stand for Marriage Maine, insisted the movement was never anti-gay, but solely pro-marriage. “This was,” he said, “a campaign about protecting traditional marriage.”

I don’t know Scott Fish, or any of his cohorts. I can’t say they’re bad people, just as I can’t say the man who attended the white flight academy was a bad person. But 10 … 15 … 20 years from now, Scott Fish’s kids, and my kids, and your kids, will be asking the same question about gay rights that we asked ours about the civil rights movement from the 1950s and 60s. They’ll ask us where we stood, and what we did to make life easier for a battered minority.

What will you say?

12 thoughts on “Nothing changes, everything changes”

  1. thanks jeff, not that it will help. we the battered minority wonder when those who have gotten rights will care about those who haven’t.

  2. To answer your question, I will be able to say to my nieces and nephews and my godson that I was on the right side of history, active in my job and where I could be as a straight ally seeking civil rights for all. And I’ll tell the children that those of us who are not in the affected minority can often speak louder and longer than those who are – and that we have a right to fight for those who don’t always have the power and privilege that allows them to fight for themselves.

  3. i would like to know what kind of steps scott fish is taking to ban divorce, since i would think divorce is a bigger concern for the tradition of marriage than people ACTUALLY GETTING MARRIED.


  4. I am on the fence — on the one hand, I am sympathetic to proponents of gay marriage, especially when passed legislatively (as in Maine) and not through judicial fiat (which I think is wrong, because I don’t think gay marriage is a constitutional equal-protection right). But on the other hand, I hate the smugness and vitriol that gay-marriage proponents hurl to those who disagree. Against those who think that one man-one woman has served society pretty well and are slow to repeal it. I hate the smear campaign against those who disagree. I hate Hollywood celebrities boycotting Utah (when it was CA voters who passed Prop 8).

  5. The Mormon Church was a major funder, if not THE major funder, of the ad campaign to pass Prop 8. Also, to allow the majority to decide the rights of minorities is patently absurd.

  6. I understand the Utah based Mormon church supported Prop 8, but the voters of California are the ones who voted for it (including many racial minorities). If anyone is going to be boycotted, should it be tha actual state that voted for it. Why not boycott Utah because of Maine’s vote. Is Utah our new go-to boycott state when it comes to issues of gay marriage. Let’s boycott the Vatican too. Just absurd.

  7. I should also note that I read that individual supporters of Prop 8 are being “outed” and “harassed”. I am sympthethtic to supporters of gay marriage, but their thuggishness and ugliness and accusations makes me more than a little less sympathetic.

  8. @Ted: And yet it was racial minorities who overwhelmingly supported the proposition and got it passed. Doesn’t really fit your narrative, though, does it?

  9. Actions have consequences, gentlemen, not always expected. And if the majority always determined the rights of minorities, women still would not vote, blacks would still be in the back of the bus, and interracial marriage would still be a crime…like in Louisiana, it would appear. As for the “church” of any sect…if you want to play in politics with your money why not renounce your nonprofit status and just indentify yourself as a PAC. I don’t think we should boycott Utah because of Maine’s vote, we should boycott Maine. And I have absolutely no problem boycotting the Vatican, either.

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