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For decades now, employers have offered their employees health benefits. Benefits are how an organization attracts and keeps qualified professionals. Companies that don’t offer benefits have higher turnover and attract a worse class of workers. Benefits packages are simply part of competitive compensation. You offer them because you need to.
For at least 20 years (maybe longer, but that’s how long I’ve been paying attention), organizations, universities, corporations, etc., have offered benefits to “domestic partners.” This was a bottom-up innovation. Like all bottom-up practices, a few places do it, then a few more, then a lot more do it to stay competitive, then it becomes a pretty common practice. Offering benefits to “domestic partners” was just something organizations did because they needed to. It was how they attracted and maintained professional talent.
Why did they do that? Because establishing the status of a domestic partner when a man and woman cohabited was a simple thing to do, right? No. They did it because organizations that extended benefits to the spouses of employees didn’t want to exclude gay couples. They needed to do this to attract and maintain professional talent.
Gay marriage, in the sense of two loving partners sharing their lives together, is nothing new. There’ve been loving, committed gay couple as long as there have been gay people and there have been gay people as long as there have been people.
What’s new, historically speaking, is not burning gay people at the stake. That’s only slight hyperbole. The Stonewall Riots happened 45 years ago this month. Lawrence v. Texas was decided only 11 years ago.
What do Stonewall and Lawrence v. Texas have in common? They both have to do with government oppression (sorry, but there’s frankly no other word for it) of gay people. The government’s acceptance of gay rights has been slow in coming. If politics is a lagging indicator, government is positively glacial.
If the string of legal decisions we’ve seen this year seem shockingly rapid, the whole thing has been a long time coming. The judiciary aren’t jamming anything down the public’s throat. Judges, politicians, and governments are merely responding to public sentiment, which has passed the tipping point. Above is Gallup’s polling on the subject. Look at that trend line.
If the complaint is that these changes are “undemocratic” in the sense that they did not happen through the legislative process, that may be true (in some cases). If we take the literal definition of “democracy” as “rule by the people” … well, the people have decided on this issue. It’s the law that’s catching up.
But we don’t vote on societal changes.We don’t vote on social norms. No committee decides on them. They’re organic. They come from the bottom up. Complain about elite opinion makes all you want, but their influence only goes so far. It cannot explain the above trend line.
Friends, I understand that many of you have strong feelings on this subject. But this battle’s over. You can keep fighting this, but you’re wasting your energy. You can keep fighting this, but you’ll lose, and you’ll also lose on all the other things that you wanted to do.
There’s no more fight to be had here.