We should have seen it coming. Back in 1989 two young activists pushing for the normalization of homosexuality coauthored a book intended to serve as a political strategy manual and public relations guide for their movement. In After the Ball: How America Will Conquer its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90s, authors Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen argued that efforts to normalize homosexuality and homosexual relationships would fail unless their movement shifted its argument to a demand for civil rights, rather than for moral acceptance. Kirk and Madsen argued that homosexual activists and their allies should avoid talking about sex and sexuality. Instead, “the imagery of sex per se should be downplayed, and the issue of gay rights reduced, as far as possible, to an abstract social question.”
Beyond Kirk and Madsen and their public relations strategy, an even more effective legal strategy was developed along the same lines. Legal theorists and litigators began to argue that homosexuals were a class of citizens denied basic civil liberties, and that the courts should declare them to be a protected class, using civil rights precedents to force a moral and legal revolution.
That revolution has happened, and it has been stunningly successful. The advocates for the normalization of homosexuality and the legalization of same-sex marriage have used legal arguments developed from the civil rights era to their advantage. Arguments used to end the scourge of racial segregation were deployed to normalize homosexuality and homosexual relationships. Over the years, these arguments have led to such major developments as the decriminalization of homosexual behaviors, the inclusion of homosexuals within the United States military, and the legalization of same-sex marriage in some states.