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The arc of the universe

Sunday morning, a horrific act occurred.  It was not the first and it will not be the last--whether you consider mass shootings or attacks on gay clubs, or terrorism or any kind, etc.  But the reaction to it has made me glad.

Answering the call for much-needed blood in the area, thousands of people lined up to donate.  Ironically, sexually active gay people are still banned by the FDA from donating blood.  But to see the overwhelming response from concerned neighbors, friends, family, and perfect strangers is very heartwarming.

I remember as a child seeing something about gay people on TV.  The memory is vague, but as I recall there was some debate as to whether or not it is a choice to be gay.  I remember at that time there was a general feeling of disgust toward gay people--either from the TV show itself or from my family.  On another occasion, I was watching a TV show and there were two teenage boys who were friends.  At one point in the show, the one boy confesses to his friend that he's gay.  I recall a member of my family asking why I would watch such an immoral show, and I recall being embarrassed about it myself.  There was a lesbian who taught at the high school I attended.  I remember very unkind things being said about her behind her back, and I cannot remember one single nice thing said about her.

I mention all of these things because they are so long ago.  15-20 years ago.  The majority of voters supported things such as "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and the "Defense of Marriage Act", which were both anti-gay laws.  The public view of gays was largely negative.  Gay people were perverts, immoral, deviant.  They would seek to corrupt your children and turn them gay as well.  And decades before that, it was entirely common for police officers to be the perpetrators of violence against gays, raiding bars such as Stonewall to persecute gay people.  They viewed themselves as righteous--acting in god's name to quell the immorality of homosexuality.

Martin Luther King, Jr said "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."  I believe this encapsulates his message very well.  He dreamt of a future which was more just and equitable than the world in which he lived.  And I believe that we have made progress in the last several decades.  I think we have made progress on matters of race, and certainly on matters of sexuality.

It is now no longer routine for entire police departments to plan raids on gay clubs and beat gay people the way it happened decades ago.  It is now the case that the majority of voters support marriage equality.  And it is now the case that when a gay club is attacked and there is a desperate need for blood, thousands of people line up to donate to help out.  I believe progress has been made, and I think it is important for us to acknowledge that progress and continue to press forward toward a more equal society.

There is still work to be done.  Clearly we are not yet in a society where gay people are accepted and treated fairly and equally, since events such as the shooting yesterday morning still occur.  And we should continue to work hard to improve society.  But it warms my heart to see the compassion and selflessness that has been shown in reaction to the shooting.  It makes me smile to see so much support that would not have been there even twenty years ago.  We can change hearts and minds, and we should.  We should continue to come out of the closet and to be out and proud, to show our families that we are loving, happy people.  We deserve all the rights and protections that anyone else deserves.  Let us do what we can to eradicate the remaining fear and hatred toward us and toward all classes of people.  Let us continue to nudge the arc of the universe in the right direction.

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