Ah, I needed this: a sign that the United States is on a positive track. Last night my wife and I went to a Salem Social Dance Club event. Periodically I'd check my iPhone to see if the New York legislature had passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage.
When we were about to leave the dance, I checked one last time. Learning that New York had become the sixth state to make same-sex marriage legal lifted my spirits almost as much as the dancing had.
I felt that a milestone had been reached, that our country had finally turned the corner on ending discrimination against homosexuals. The trend seems clear now, as it has for some time, albeit less distinctly.
Gay marriage backers think this vote will have a national impact. I agree. When a Republican state senate agrees to hold a vote on a same-sex marriage bill, and several members of the G.O.P. cast "ayes" for it, that's a great sign.
A majority of Americans, 53%, approve of gay marriage. So this seems to be an instance of politicians following a politically expedient path -- not exactly a groundbreaking event.
But I suspect that ten or twenty years from now, when same-sex marriage is taken for granted and young people can't imagine how the United States ever was so backward as to discriminate against a major class of people, yesterday's New York vote will be seen as a moment when the gay rights movement turned the corner toward widespread acceptance.
I remember when our country accepted that blacks should use separate drinking fountains and restrooms in the South. That seems crazy now. To an unfortunately still-large number of Americans, discriminating against homosexuals is similarly OK.
Not too many years from now, that archaic attitude will seem crazy also.