The LGBT movement has made enormous progress in recent years, in large part by focusing, laser-like, on what’s come to be called the “movable middle.” We identified that third or so of the American population that was not hateful toward LGBT people but was uncomfortable with full equality. They were not yet with us but were open to change if we allayed their anxieties by reassuring them that we wanted no more or less than what they wanted — equal opportunity, fair treatment, safety, security, and dignity.
So we targeted high-profile, glaring legal inequalities like barriers to military service and marriage and unequal treatment of LGBT parents and their children. These goals were quite conservative in one sense, in that they sought inclusion in mainstream pillars of American society. We also fought for smaller-bore but critically important gains like nondiscrimination legislation and policy changes the Obama administration could issue to make a real difference in the lives of LGBT people.
There was a strong logic to targeting the movable middle. Growing popular support for our equality in states and throughout the country is critical to raising the kind of awareness that allows for both durable political change and the equal treatment we deserve in our daily lives. And this kind of change builds on itself, as increasing visibility and acceptance invite more and more people, including politicians, to support our cause and embrace us as human beings worthy of equal dignity.
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