The Wages of Prejudice

It wasn’t long ago that gay marriage was a wedge issue that consistently helped Republicans turn out the vote. It was part of the Republican playbook to plonk a gay marriage amendment on the ballot to get their base to the polls. Today’s results -  the victory of Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay senator, in Wisconsin; the legalization of gay marriage in Maine and Maryland – mark the beginning of the end of that strategy. This is the first time equal marriage has ever been approved by voters at the polls, and to win every battle is a triumph for the queer rights movement and a triumph for the better angels of America.

The tide has turned on the gay marriage battle, with Americans finally reaching for equality. The soul of the nation is embracing gay and lesbian people. Today Republicans lost more than the Presidency and a slew of Senate seats: they lost yet another wedge issue with which to divide this country. No more can they count on prejudice to bring out their base, and they must now realize that if you hit gays, we’ll hit back.

Women responded to attacks on their bodily rights by supporting the President some 55 to 45%, and throwing out anti-choice Republicans who wished to deny women their freedom to decide whether to continue a pregnancy even in the case of rape. All showing Republicans that, if they want to wage a “war on women” they are welcome to do so – and lose crucial votes for it.

And, all across the country, as millions of new Hispanic, African American and Asian American voters took to the polls, they used the opportunity of suffrage to repudiate a Republican Party which has in recent years ignored and denigrated them. The Romney campaign did practically nothing to reach out to non-white voters – 28% of this year’s electorate - and paid a heavy price as these rising new constituencies rebuffed their Presidential candidate as surely as he overlooked them.

The images of the activists surrounding Obama as he gave his victory speech tonight herald the rise of a new America – young, diverse, engaged, and progressive – a new political coalition and new “great generation” that will decisively change – has decisively changed - this country for the better.

And the images of Romney’s dejected campaign, drifting away after a decisive loss they didn’t expect – what of them? They demonstrate, too, a new and inspiring truth of American politics, a new truth which the Obama Coalition has made possible: that you can no longer use sexuality, race, immigration status, gender, and sex to divide the nation with impunity. If you try to play American against American – straights against gays, whites against blacks, women against men and against their own bodies - you will lose.

In his victory speech President Obama spoke of the responsibilities which come attached to the rights Americans enjoy: “Love, and Charity, and Duty, and Patriotism.” A defeated Republican Party must now struggle to remember and regain those virtues, restore their commitment to those responsibilities. And they must hearken to the new truth of American politics:

The wages of prejudice is loss.

About James Croft

James Croft is the Leader in Training at the Ethical Culture Society of St. Louis - one of the largest Humanist congregations in the world. He is a graduate of the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard, and is currently writing his Doctoral dissertation as a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is an in-demand public speaker, an engaging teacher, and a passionate activist for human rights. James was raised on Shakespeare, Sagan and Star Trek, and is a proud, gay Humanist. His upcoming book "The Godless Congregation", co-authored with New York Times bestselling author Greg Epstein, is being published by Simon & Schuster.

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  • smrnda

    This is great news, especially since I’ve noted many homophobes will pull the idea that the ‘silent majority’ still opposes GLBT equality and it’s just a conspiracy between media elites and activist judges. Overall, it’s just hard to be prejudiced against people who you know exist, encounter day after day and realize are just the same as you, whose relationships matter just as much.

    I’m wondering if the GOP will actually dump their prejudice, or whether or not decent people will just leave the party.

  • Hilary

    You forgot Minnesota. We actaully defeated an amendment to put straight marriage only in the constitution by popular vote, 51% no to 48% yes.

    Sit and swivel, Bachmann!


    • James Croft

      The final result in Minnesota was yet to be announced when I posted this – more evidence of change =D

  • Bart Mitchell

    I guess my question is ‘who’s next?’
    What other great oppressed group needs emancipation? I have to, shamefacedly, admit that I thought ‘teh gays’ were, well… gay. It didn’t take much, just a swift smack to the head of good logic to realize that homosexuality is just as natural of a condition as heterosexuality. Now it looks like our nation is waking up to the same conclusion.

    I wonder if we should be done. We still have work to stamp out discrimination, but I worry about going to far. I worry that in our secular righteousness, we might begin to discriminate against those who hold ‘conservative values’. If we suppress them, and drive them underground, it will continue as a wound festering on our body politic. Religion is nonsense, homophobia is lunacy. I think that this, our breaking point, is critical. We need to be careful as we walk up to the mantle of dominance in our nation that we do not follow the prejudice and injustice inflicted on us, and turn that vitriol onto those who tried to oppress us.

    Let them worship, let them pray. Embrace their lifestyle. Their children will see us, and will want to emulate us.

    • SouthernGal

      Sorry the discrimination against social conservatives is in full swing.

      • James Croft

        Can you say what you mean by this?

    • Alexandra Leigon

      Great response, Bart! I wholeheartedly agree! If you have a FaceBook account, check out my Page It really is time for a change.