Matt Miller - The Archives

New attitudes on gay marriage are a result of class
The Washington Post, March 27, 2013

Did you hear that Dick Cheney came out for universal health-care coverage after his uninsured daughter went bankrupt because she fell expensively ill?

Or that Sen. Rob Portman just proposed a big new program to guarantee great teachers for every child after finding out that his son had awful, untrained professors at Yale?

I've been thinking about the amazing pace of change in public attitudes and political sentiment on gay marriage—and how every Tom, Dick and Harry (or at least every Hillary, Mark and Claire) seems to be rushing out a video or press release getting on the new right side of marriage equality.

As a Jew at this season, I can't help asking a variant of the eternal Passover query: Why is this issue different from all other progressive issues? Why has this one moved so quickly?

There are surely plenty of reasons, but the one that gets little attention is class.

It's obvious but still bears underlining: When every economic and social class shares in the experience of injustice or intolerable wrongs, things change faster. If only poor people were gay, does anyone think our political leaders would have "evolved" at this pace? Likewise, if we had a draft, does anyone think our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would have proceeded as they did?

Today we all have friends, colleagues and relatives who are gay. That's the way societies change. The moral circle widens. The boundaries of empathy expand. This was the genius of the strategy in Harvey Milk's passionate refrain on Gay Freedom Day almost 35 years ago: "Come out .