God, I hate using such a cliche for a post title, but it's pretty apt for a couple of issues. It's worth reminding ourselves from time to time that things are getting better.
Dustin Lance Black's Oscar acceptance speech for his screenplay of Milk is a good example. He said:
When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas, to California, and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life; it gave me the hope that one day I could live my life openly as who I am and that maybe even I could fall in love and one day get married. […] Most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told they are less than by their churches, or by the government, or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value. And that no matter what everyone tells you, God does love you, and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours.
This is really important to remember. Milk was killed 30 years ago. Look at far gay rights has come since then. In another 30 years, I have every faith that we will see, at the minimum, federally protected domestic partner benefits, many openly gay politicians, and 15-20 states with gay marriage. This is really incredible and a wonderful thing.
On a related issue, recent polls suggest a dramatic shift toward the legalization of marijuana. The stupidity of the drug war is mind-numbing. Given that a huge number of Americans under the age of 40 have and do smoke pot, I have been wondering when we would see a strong movement toward legalization. I think that NORML has possibly retarded this effort somewhat by stigmatizing the use of the drug as something a bunch of hippies do, when of course it is much larger than that. Medical marijuana is a great issue and obviously should be legal, but that it is serving as a clear front for people who just want to get high on the streets doesn't help. Nonetheless, two recent polls have shows that around 1/2 of Americans believe marijuana should be legal. Both polls show at least a plurality. This is an important step in ending the stupidity of marijuana criminality.
So like with gay rights, I think that in another 20 to 30 years, you are going to see real positive changes, including decriminalization of marijuana, at least in many states. No doubt the DEA will fight like hell to stop this, and they probably will have success at first. At present, there are no major politicians willing to openly support legalization. But these numbers don't lie and there is absolutely no reason that pro-legalization numbers won't grow. Young people are strong believers in social libertarianism and whether it is gay rights, drugs, tattoos, or any number of other issues, they want the government to let people do what they want if it is not hurting anybody.