At a Crossroads
The struggle for gay civil rights is at a crossroads in America, and even within the GLBT community there are differences of opinion about how the struggle for equality should proceed. While many committed leaders are continuing the long march toward full equality, including equal marriage rights, others are arguing that we have gone too far, too fast, and that we should wait for society to catch up. In determining our path going forward, we should look to the past and learn from the leaders of the civil rights battles that have come before us.
Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his Letters from a Birmingham Jail in 1963 that "I had ...hoped.the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom...(people were arguing that the Negro needed to wait for a "more convenient season") Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely rational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills... Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be coworkers with God and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right."
Important lessons come from the women's suffrage movement as well. As Susan B. Anthony said, "Cautious, careful people always casting about to preserve their reputation or social standards never can bring about reform. Those who are really in earnest are willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathies with despised ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences."