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GLBT Rights On The Prairie Of Prax*

September 10, 2010

On the Prairie of Prax stood the North-Going Zax and the South-Going Zax.

The South-Going Zax was conflicted. It had demonized gays and lesbians for a generation, but it feared that that strategy had become counterproductive. A solid majority of Americans supported open military service for people of all sexual orientations. Half of all Americans supported marriage equality. And the demographics showed that this would be ever more true over time. Yet the specter of equality threw the South-Going Zax’s base into a tizzy, mobilizing them to the polls and the phone banks and making the money pour in. The South-Going Zax could not step to the left for fear of alienating its base, nor to the right for fear of alienating a generation of young moderates. The South-Going Zax was a mercurial creature that often reacted wildly, but not knowing which way to jump, there it stood.

The North-Going Zax too was conflicted. It counted on the votes of gays and lesbians and bi and pan and queer and trans folks who had always known that the other Zax was their enemy, even if the North-Going Zax wasn’t a very good friend. The North-Going Zax liked getting money out of the gAyTM, too. When the South-Going Zax was on the move, the North-Going Zax could loudly protest. But now, those folks wanted something more. They wanted bills passed! They wanted marriage equality, employment protection, an end to DOMA and military discharges, and an end to defending discriminatory laws! The North-Going Zax didn’t know what to do. If it moved a step to the left, would it lose some group of older, bigoted voters who would otherwise support it? If it moved to the right, would it lose the money and effort and the turnout of the GLBT folks, and their families, and their friends, and their allies? The North-Going Zax was a timid creature, and in a state of trembling trepidation, there it stood.

There they stood in a prairie that used to be a swamp, as two highways wound around them into Maryland and Virginia, and they expected the whole world to stand still.

It didn’t, of course. And it won’t.

*I’d apologize to Ted. But Ted is dead.

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