Signs of Improvement

The U.S. left Iraq (mostly) over a year ago. We seem to finally be departing Afghanistan. And yesterday brought welcome signs that yet another war is ending: the Culture War. (This must be Eric Miller’s worst nightmare…)

Nationally, there were reports in several news outlets to the effect that the Boy Scouts would abandon their ban on gay Scout leaders, and allow each troop to decide such policies for itself. Given the fact that the national organization felt strongly enough to take its case to the Supreme Court not all that long ago–where they made the argument that being straight was an essential and defining characteristic of “scout-ness”– this is quite the turn-around. The cynic in me notes that Scouting lost a lot¬†of members in the wake of that case, and that it generated a new, competing organization, “Scouting for All.” Nevertheless, the Boy Scouts have stubbornly persisted in this position, reaffirming it as recently as a few months ago.

So–I’d say this is a big deal, as cultural markers go.

Here in Indiana, there are signs that our legislators–so hell-bent on protecting my heterosexual marriage from the certain doom that would befall it if same-sex couples weren’t conclusively banned from the institution–have seemingly misplaced their sense of urgency over the need to insert a ban into the State’s constitution.

Republican leaders who previously insisted that the prospect of same-sex marriage was an existential threat are reportedly assigning a lower priority to the matter this year. Senators who had previously highlighted their opposition to both same-sex marriage and civil unions–not to mention anything that looked remotely, sorta, kinda like marriage–are expressing doubts about the much-debated “second sentence” of the current language of the ban. And several Senators are actually advocating prudence, suggesting that it would be wiser to delay action and wait for the Supreme Court’s decision in cases it will decide this term.

Even in Indiana, the electoral calculus has changed. Homophobia and mean-spirited attacks on gay folks aren’t the surefire winners they used to be.

We Americans can be slow learners, but just maybe we’ve figured out that–both at home and abroad–some wars are misplaced, and others aren’t worth fighting.