However long it takes for a real victory to be certified—no matter what happens on Election Day, it will be too early to unfurl a "Mission Accomplished" banner—the once ragtag march of lovers has acquired an air of inevitability. Edith Eyde's prophecy is almost fulfilled: gays are more or less regular folk. All the same, many who came out during the Stonewall era are wondering what will be lost as the community sheds its pariah status. They are baffled by the latter-day cult of marriage and the military—emblems of Eisenhower's America that the Stonewall generation joyfully rejected. The gay world is confronting a question with which Jews, African-Americans, and other marginalized groups have long been familiar: the price of assimilation.—Love on the March by Alex Ross.
Writers live in dread that their stories will be overtaken by breaking news. I'm elated, though, that one line in "Love on the March"—my long essay on gay rights and gay culture in America, which appears in this week's issue—is about to be rendered obsolete. Same-sex marriage will shortly be legal not in six states, but in eight or nine: in yesterday's election, voters in Maryland and Maine approved ballot measures to that effect, and voters in Washington appear likely to have done the same. Furthermore, Minnesotans turned down an attempt to codify a "one man, one woman" definition of marriage; Iowans declined to unseat David Wiggins, a judge who ruled for gay marriage in 2009; and, most breathtakingly, Wisconsinites elected Tammy Baldwin as the first openly gay senator in American history. Lesbians and gays who are accustomed to electoral setbacks even in years when the liberal cause advances—California Proposition 8, in 2008, was one stinging example—now savor something rich and strange: the feeling that the great silent majority is moving to their side.
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