I was reading Conduct Unbecoming the other day. The narrative is right now in the early-mid 70s. The movement for gay civil rights is having amazing success, toppling sodomy laws, an out gay man speaks at the Democratic convention, even a few antidiscrimination laws are being or are about to be enacted. Gay service members are fighting back and up to this time the fightingest they got was fighting the accusation that they were gay -- not, as Leonard Matlovich did, because they were gay and deserved to stay in the military. The justness of the cause was self-evident (still is) and all it took for some to get it was to have it pointed out to them.
I have Conduct Unbecoming at home. The book I have on my desk at work, which I carry off to read at lunch, is Family Values, a nonbiological mother's fight to get the state (California) to allow her to adopt her lover's biological child, a child the nonbio mom has helped raise since birth. The narrative takes place in the early 90s. But at one point the author recalls being a schoolteacher in 1977 when Anita Bryant led her "Save the Children" crusade to kill an anti-discrimination ordinance in Dade County, Florida, and her terror when the following year the Briggs Initiative was placed on the California ballot. The Briggs Initiative would have required the firing of all homosexual teachers -- and any nongay teacher who protested.
I had a moment of cognitive dissonance, trapped in the 70s between unrealistic optimism and crushing pessimism.
Well, Dade County has an anti-discrimination ordinance again (enacted in 1998) and it even survived a repeal vote in a general election. The South African Supreme Court today told the government it has to rejigger the laws to allow gays to marry (being as discrimination against gays is explicitly prohibited in the new South African constitution) -- though in typical courtly cop-out fashion it gave the government a year to change the laws. Meanwhile by two to one margins in state after state here in the US voters go for family-attacking anti-marriage laws that purport, as Bryant did, to "save" something, the sort of saving epitomized in such warisms as "we had to destroy the village in order to save it."