It’s fast becoming conventional wisdom: The culture war skirmish over same-sex marriage (SSM) is over, with the pro-SSM side having decisively won. Ever since people started noticing that folks in my generation were overwhelmingly supportive of same-sex couples having the right to wed, this line of analysis has been on the rise. But with the Supreme Court’s laudable decision last year to gut the Defense of Marriage Act, what was once just one common viewpoint among many others has now become the conclusion that anyone who knows anything must inevitably reach. The gay rights movement has won; all that’s left is to work out the details for the celebratory parade.
Like much conventional wisdom, there’s something to this. No one can doubt the sea change American culture is experiencing when it comes to LBGTQ people. But as is also often the case with conventional wisdom, this gay rights triumphalism is too simplistic, too pat. To put it simply, the gay rights movement is indeed winning — but it’s too soon to declare Mission Accomplished just yet.
Here’s an example of what I mean when I gripe about triumphalism: In a perplexingly wrongheaded article for the Atlantic this week, reporter Molly Ball tried to argue that, as the piece’s title puts it, “Republicans Are Driving the Momentum for Gay Marriage.” While I couldn’t begin to tell you what it means to “drive” the “momentum” of something, I can with great confidence report that Ball’s evidence is meager and at times even self-contradictory.