FORBES | Last week, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas opined that we should revisit several major Supreme Court decisions, including Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage. This startled me. But it also moved me to reflect on my own past. And some of these recollections are painful to look back upon.
Two decades ago I supported the official Republican platform and President George W. Bush’s public call for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. I can firmly say I was wrong then, and it would be a major step backwards for this country to even consider relitigating that issue in the future. Indeed, we have seen major, positive cultural and attitudinal shifts on LGBTQ+ issues for the country — and a parallel personal journey of awareness, enlightenment, and growth for me.
As Americans, we can all agree there’s been sizable cultural change in our nation over the last 20 years. Looking back on my time as a member of the United States Senate at the turn of the century, and later as its Majority Leader from 2003–2006, many of the issues we voted on and beliefs we held then – including my own – are totally out of step with today’s more enlightened understanding and prevailing viewpoints. And while many feel today’s culture wars may be reaching a boiling point, we should recognize that amidst current partisan infighting, we have also made huge, generational progress, always recognizing that much more must be done.