Gay Marriage and Other Social Changes
Last week the California Supreme Court declared a state law against gay marriage to be unconstitutional. If you didn't happen to notice anything about this court decision in the news, you wouldn't be the only one. It was only in the headlines for a couple of days. Political pundits wrote a few articles to the effect that gay marriage wasn't likely to be an issue in this year's election because opinion polling suggested that as many voters would turn out to support it as to oppose it. Hollywood gossip columnists mentioned a few gay celebrity couples who were celebrating the decision and planning their weddings.
This goes to show how quickly mainstream society can adjust to a new state of affairs. Within four years, gay marriage went from being widely seen as threatening America's traditional way of life to being such an ordinary event that it hardly merited any news coverage. And who would have thought, before the presidential campaign season started, that a female candidate would lose the Democratic nomination because (among other things) she ended up being seen as the establishment candidate and yesterday's news?
Four years ago, the idea that our society ought to respect neurological diversity also was seen as an outrageously radical challenge to the status quo, to the extent anyone had heard of it at all. The number of pro-neurodiversity websites literally could have been counted on one's fingers. Autistic people were almost never interviewed by journalists, invited to speak at autism-related events, or considered worthy of holding positions of authority in autism-related organizations.
Now, although most media organizations have a long way to go in shedding their biases, they regularly interview people who support neurodiversity, and they're coming to see it as a mainstream viewpoint. Thousands of websites have been created over the past few years by supporters of autistic civil rights. Organizations are starting to understand that equal opportunity for autistics is a diversity issue. Governments are starting to understand that it is a human rights issue.
We're still at a very early stage in this process, and there is still a huge amount of ignorance out there; but I am hopeful that in another four years, social acceptance of the autistic minority population will have become just another unremarkable aspect of everyday life.