20 Years from Now, Gay Rights Will Be Taken for Granted

Roundup: Media's Take

Andrea Georgsson, in the Houston Chronicle (Feb. 22, 2004):

I've often wondered what it must feel like to be one of the bigots immortalized in civil rights-era photographs and news footage, sicking dogs on peaceful protesters, shouting and spitting at little children walking meekly into public school buildings -- all those nice housewives with bouffant hairdos vowing in response to reporters' questions to never accept n-----s voting or eating in their restaurants or sleeping in their hotels.

Wouldn't it be shameful to come upon one's own face in one of these images, in a museum exhibition, documentary film, newspaper retrospective or textbook? How many people would cringe in shame? How many would defend their actions? How many would wish they had not been captured in black and white, though they might continue to hold the racist beliefs of the past?

I lived for a year in Munich and a year in Cologne immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Sometimes on the U-bahn staring across the aisle at a man or woman my grandparents' age (my maternal grandparents were East German), I'd wonder whether this elderly person's once-youthful face might be found in some old Nazi-era footage of enraptured teenagers at a Hitler rally.

Films and documentaries exploring this horrible period of Germany's history appeared on television with astonishing regularity when I was there. It might appear to an outsider that the holocaust was a national obsession, but because of state controls, what's on German television doesn't always have to do with what people are really interested in watching.

In all the time I was in Germany, though, I'm the only person I can remember ever bringing up World War II. Believe me, no one wanted to talk about it. They certainly didn't want to field questions about what they were up to during the war.

Twenty years from now, I'd like to look up some of the people, such as President Bush, who are inclined to chisel restrictions on same-sex marriage into constitutional stone. I would ask them how it feels to be on the wrong side of history.

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More Comments:

Joseph Caramello - 6/7/2006

While I agree with the author, I think most people against this type of marriage are truly afraid that it will open the door to plural marriages and marriages between people and animals. Sound ridiculous? The idea of two persons of the same sex marrying also sounded ridiculous to people that came of age in the 1940s and 1950s. I think the article was fair and well-written.