When Barack Obama was first elected president in 2008, only three states permitted same-sex marriage. The Defense of Marriage Act was still the law of the land. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was still Pentagon policy. The president whose very election broke historic barriers did not embrace the cause of marriage equality. When the New York State Senate took up marriage equality legislation in 2009, the measure failed by a 38-24 margin.
Eight years later, as the campaign to elect Obama’s successor rolls on, gay marriage is legal everywhere. The change has been stunningly swift, so much so that one might be tempted to think the battle is over in this particular front of the American culture war. The recent uproar over North Carolina’s law preventing municipalities from allowing transgender people to use the restrooms that align with their identity, however, indicates that while the focus has shifted, the intersection of sex, identity and politics is still contested territory.
StraightUp, the BRIC-TV reporter-roundtable show that I am honored to host, recently brought Steven W. Thrasher, writer-at-large for Guardian US; Slate culture critic and Outward editor June Thomas; and Matthew Breen, editor-in-chief of The Advocate together to have a few drinks and talk about LGBTQ issues—and the reporters who cover them—today. The full show and a few key clips follow.