Some Argue Gays Have The Fastest-Growing Civil Rights Movement (Ever!)

By Daniel Borgen, PQ Monthly

The LA Times–and a multitude of other media outlets–have coalesced around the following contention: gays’ civil rights may be moving forward at a rate we’ve yet to see in American history. Many have cited quickly-changing attitude adjustments, mostly attributed to greater familiarity (with queers) among the general population; family and friends come out, there’s arguably more visibility in terms of cultural representation–though said representation remains far from perfect–among other contributing factors.

On those quickly-changing attitudes, from the opening of the LA Times piece:

“In 1958, the Gallup Poll asked Americans whether they approved or disapproved of marriage between blacks and whites. The response was overwhelming: 94% were opposed, a sentiment that held for decades. It took nearly 40 years until a majority of those surveyed said marriage between people of different skin colors was acceptable.

By contrast, attitudes toward gays and lesbians have changed so much in just the last 10 years that, as Gallup reported last week, ‘half or more now agree that being gay is morally acceptable, that gay relations ought to be legal and that gay or lesbian couples should have the right to legally marry.’ (In 1996, when Gallup first asked about legalizing same-sex marriage, 68% of Americans were opposed.)”

The story features quotes from Cleve Jones, who had this to say: “it’s pretty extraordinary what we’ve accomplished in less than 50 years.” He also pointed out how recently homosexual behavior was illegal almost everywhere, and how uncomfortable he and other activists are when comparing the queer movement to other civil rights struggles.


“That is not to say that gays and lesbians enjoy a full measure of equality, or complete legal protection. Same-sex marriage is forbidden in the vast majority of states and, in many, gays and lesbians lack the protections against job and housing discrimination afforded women, Latinos and African Americans.”

The piece also concedes the difficulty in gauging progress–is it marriage? Economic gains? Also, there was one glaring omission throughout the various stories: trans rights/justice.

There’s much more to the story–check out the full pieceĀ here.

And be sure to read this op-ed aside about how the LGBTQ movement occasionally loses focus–and anything not specifically queer-centric is a distraction.

Thoughts? Weigh in below, dear readers–comment away! We love hearing your thoughts.