A friend reminded me last night--I'd forgotten this--that, in the case in which a federal court ruled DADT unconstitutional yesterday, the plaintiff is Log Cabin Republicans.
And we all know, because we talk about how politically brilliant it was, that Ted Olson's deeply-conservative constitutional argument in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is what led to the court's ruling against Prop 8 in California recently.
Can there be any lingering doubt that the mainstream of the LGBT rights movement is now essentially conservative?
Yesterday's ruling is historic. Not because it is a victory for gay rights (I'm not an expert on the judicial branch, but everything I'm reading today says the ruling will most likely be appealed and the case will drag on for a while longer, making this just another step - an important step, but just a step - on a long road) but because it is a victory for the Log Cabin Republicans. Gay conservatives, whom most politically-active queers have laughed at for years or at least considered hopelessly oxymoronic, are now the avant garde of what used to be the sexual liberation movement.
I can't help but imagine a day a few years from now when LGBT activists who still care about liberal progressive politics suddenly, finally, realize that their movement has been pulled out from under their feet by conservatives. And I imagine they'll be surprised and dismayed - despite the fact that it's happening right under their noses and with their enthusiastic support. Right now.
Libertarians and Republicans are running the show now, y'all. After the ruling yesterday, it is impossible not to acknowledge that this is their moment. Andrew Sullivan - a man whose name evoked as much scorn in gay circles in the 90s as Jesse Helms's did in the 80s - has effectively written the agenda of what they're now calling a "civil rights movement." (The big exception is hate-crimes legislation, which conservatives do not support, and it's interesting to see how little attention that issue gets compared to marriage and the military.)
I wonder if the fact that it is easier now in many ways to be openly homosexual in the U.S. has made liberation feel less urgent and that's why the priorities of so many activists have turned to entitlement. Or maybe this is just part of the more sweeping political realignment happening in recent years as those on the right who actually believe in a conservative ideology shake off the religious loonies who have dominated the Republican party for the last few decades. Maybe it just comes down to the U.S. being an essentially conservative country so sexual minorities are more likely to be tolerated if we promise not to misbehave.
Whatever the cause or causes, this is a fascinating moment in queer history. It wouldn't have occurred to me, even 10 years ago, that the sexual liberation movement could transform itself from radical to reactionary, let alone so quickly and stealthily.
Lately, I've been cultivating a longer view, looking at this moment in American queer politics with some historical, philosophical distance. I step back to avoid falling into despair. Here's what I really think: if you support this agenda, you have sold out our sexual liberation movement.
You're working for the Log Cabin Republicans now.