Ohio town’s fight a gay rights microcosm

by
November 27, 2010

By David Crary-Associated Press

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio | Thirty years ago, a vote like the one just decided in this university town wouldn’t have happened; gay rights activism hadn’t taken root across most of America. Thirty years hence, such votes may seem a historical curiosity in a time of equality for gays.

Right now, though, the gay rights movement is at a tipping point, as epitomized by Bowling Green’s divisive referendum that extended anti-discrimination protections to gays as related to employment, housing and public education. The vote was so close that it took three weeks to determine both measures passed.

Nationally, gay rights supporters and their conservative opponents are trading victories and setbacks, and the public is deeply divided on same-sex marriage. Could the push for full equality be stalled or reversed? Probably not, if public opinion evolves at its current pace.

“All you have to do is look at the demographics, and you can see this is as inevitable as anything,” said Michael Klarman, a Harvard Law Schoolprofessor who has studied the civil rights and gay rights movements.

Surveys repeatedly find that young adults, far more so than their elders, support the rights of gays to marry and serve openly in the military. A Gallup poll earlier this year showed, for the first time, a majority of Americans saying same-sex relations were morally acceptable. Increasing numbers of Americans personally know gays and lesbians, and positive portrayals of them abound on TV and in films.

“The more gay-friendly an environment you create, the more people come out as gay,” Mr. Klarman said. “When people know other people are gay – family, co-workers – they find it harder and harder to dislike them and deny them equal rights.”

To read more, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/nov/25/ohio-towns-fight-a-gay-rights-microcosm/

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