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The rise and fall of homophobia

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Growing up in St. Louis, homophobia was never an issue that I came across much. I had gay friends as a teenager. There was a gay club downtown that I went to because you only had to be 16 to get in. Then in my later teens the underground rave scene got started and I just never found myself in a position to witness homophobia.

At 19 I joined the Army. After training I was shipped off to Germany to work in a communications unit. Being a unit full of techies, homosexuality was generally accepted by everyone. There were even some openly gay men in my unit and nobody seemed to care. The Germans and other Europeans didn't seem to care, either. That was 1996 through the summer of 2000.

I came home to a country that was just starting to see the beginning of legalized civil unions for same sex couples. Then George W. Bush happened. Individual states had already started fearing gay marriage and passing bans and electing Republicans as preventative measures in the late nineties to early oughts.

In 2004 Bush announced support for a constitutional ban on gay marriage, officially bringing homophobia back, making it cool again. In just that year alone we saw it go from three states with gay marriage bans to sixteen by that November. By 2006 that number jumped to twenty-six states, then Justin Timberlake started bringing sexy back.

The number of states offering civil unions or domestic partnerships started rising. Then civil unions started being replaced with actual, legal marriage. As of this writing in January of 2014, there are sixteen states, along with the District of Columbia, performing same-sex marriages, five states still clinging to the antiquated civil unions, and twenty-nine states with same-sex marriage bans on the books.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has been abolished in the military and the federal government is now recognizing same-sex marriages for government employees and military regardless of state law. The IRS accepts same-sex marriages for tax purposes regardless of the state the couple is now living. Even in the realm of public perception gay marriage is now as popular as pot with 55% supporting legalization.

We’re on a roll toward becoming a nation of decent people again, so let’s keep bringing sexy back.

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