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Wineke: Why gay rights win

Published On: May 14 2013 03:50:08 PM CDT

The Boy Scouts of America organization is hoping to back off its unpopular stance against homosexuality by proposing to accept gay scouts but not gay scout leaders.

It will be interesting to see whether they can actually make the change. Scout troops are often sponsored by churches and churches still make up the center of anti-gay sentiment.

The proposed policy doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. Scout leaders tend to be former scouts. If you’re going to change one part of the equation, why not the other?

But the bigger question, to me, is how did this nation go from being pretty much anti-gay to pretty much pro-gay. Minnesota, for example, just became the latest state to legalize same-sex marriage.

And, I think the answer is simple: Gay people have gone public about their gender identity.

Once they did that – and once their families became open about their gay and lesbian children and siblings – most of us could no longer avoid confronting the fact that we know gay and lesbian people and they are pretty much just like us.

I got a taste of this years ago when I lived in Brooklyn Heights, New York. Brooklyn Heights was, and is, a beautiful section of New York City featuring tree-lined streets and classic brownstone homes. It had been run down until homosexual men and women started moving in and restoring the homes.

I knew nothing about homosexuals before moving there. I pretty much assumed that gay men were effete and lesbians were mannish. Except that none of that seemed to be true of any of my neighbors. In fact, the main difference between them and me is that they watched sports on television and I didn’t.

Elsewhere, gays and lesbians tended to stay in the closet. In some states, they could be arrested just for being gay. In most places, their employment prospects were limited.

And, as I look back on it, we had family friends who were almost surely lesbians. It just never occurred to us that they might be sharing the same beds.

Nor did I, nor do I, know a thing about the sexual practices of my heterosexual friends.

But once I realize that the only public thing separating my neighbor from me is that he likes guys or she likes gals, then it gets pretty hard to justify saying the neighbor can’t legally marry, or be a parent. . .or lead a Boy Scout troop.

The more we know, the less we need to know. I predict we will have both gay marriage and gay scout leaders within the decade and I predict western civilization will be just fine.

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