Cast your mind back to 2004. Remember the most pressing political issue then? Nope, it wasn't the war in Iraq, or those nasty photos out of Abu Ghraib. The economy was chugging along nicely, so nobody much cared about that. Nope, the burning issue that asked us to look deep within our national soul and think about what country we wanted to live in was ... gay marriage.
In the 2004 election, 11 states passed amendments banning same-sex marriage. The presence of the issue on state ballots goosed conservative voter turnout and helped George W. Bush reclaim the presidency for another four years. And it seemed that gays would have to wait for a whole generation of embittered old prudes to disappear before they could have the right to marry.
Now, just five years later, have all the codgers who were so inflamed over gay marriage just magically died? Because suddenly, states are legalizing gay marriage left and right -- and, weirdly, nobody seems to object. It's now legal in Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, and Iowa; on its way to legal in New Hampshire; and recognized in the District of Columbia.
Five years ago, this would have been a calamity. Today, it generates a collective yawn. Maybe that's because state legislatures have been deciding on the issue rather than those much-maligned liberal activist judges handing down the word from on high.
The anti-gay marriage movement, much like a dying star burned brightest right before its demise. Fueled by an influx of out-of-state Mormon cash, California's gay marriage initiative was struck down, sending thousands of outrage homosexuals and their sympathizers marching in the streets in protest.
But now it appears gay marriage opponents have resigned themselves to the ultimate futility of their cause, which might make them a little bit quieter about their disappointment. (Reliable numbers guru Nate Silver predicts support for gay marriage "will reach majority status ... at some point in the 2010s.")
Maybe people have just gotten bored with the whole thing. The issue has lost its frisson, and the only way you can get anyone to care about it is by making it a subject of debate between a certain blonde beauty queen and a gay blogger -- and then the reason for the interest is pretty clear.
This is, of course, great news for gay people everywhere. Far better to be dull and ignored than to be exciting and vilified. And boredom is, as any married person will tell you, a vital component of the sacred nuptial union; the more boring gay people become, the more married they already seem.