There's an outstanding post by Steve Benen on Talking Points Memo this weekend about San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders' sudden reversal of his position on marriage rights for gays. The conservative GOP mayor had been threatening to veto a city council resolution supporting a repeal of California's ban on same-sex marriage (currently under review by the state's supreme court).
But at the last minute…Sanders decided he couldn't do it…even though he had campaigned two years ago as being in favor of keeping marriage the exclusive province of heterosexual couples. In making the announcement to the press (which can be watched here), the mayor also revealed that one of his daughters is gay. Quel surprise!
And this is the crux of Steve Benen's commentary, that conservatives are capable of coming around on this issue when their positions impact their own family and friends. Steve thinks there's even a pattern. He writes:
They don't mind restrictions on free speech, until they have something provocative to say. They want to restrict reproductive rights, until someone close to them has an unwanted pregnancy. They want to break down the church-state wall, until they feel like their faith is in the minority. They want to treat embryos as people, until they suffer from an ailment that could benefit from stem-cell research.
And they balk at the idea of equal rights for gay people, until it's their daughter who is looking for equality.
The key to social change in this country seems fairly straightforward: wait for conservatives to have more life experience.