The Next Big Question

Public Domain

I am a big fan of bars as a social equalizer.  I believe bars are one of the last places in modern America where it remains socially acceptable to talk to strangers.  So put your phone away.

Anyway, I happened to be in a Providence Bar on the day Governor Chaffee signed marriage equality into law.  One of the men at the bar said to me something along the lines of: “I’m old enough to be your dad, and by the time your kids are the age you are now, they will never understand why marriage equality was a question.  It will be like mixed-race schools are to your generation: a societal given.”

At the bar, I asked the question, so, if you think marriage equality now reached its tipping point towards inevitability, what is next? In his second inaugural address President Obama made a comment about the path of civil rights in America running from “Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall.”

So I wonder, and I ask you BPR readers, what is the next question?  What is the next movement coming to our nation?  The next big social push?

One woman at the bar said the next big movement will be incorporating non-Judeo-Christian Americans into the halls of power.  This certainly will be coming up, but it will not require a major legislative push the way marriage equality has.  James Madison himself argued against religious tests for holding office.

I would appreciate some insights into this question in the comments section.


  • I think we need to take two giant steps back and look at the educational issues in this country that are (in my opinion) one of the main factors driving social injustice. Right now we have areas of this country where the education – even at the public school level – is world class; two towns over, we have a system that could barely be called “educational.” If we want to empower the most vulnerable in our country, we need to give them the tools that allow them to move forward.

  • Ben Wofford

    I’m surprised drug policy reform hasn’t been mentioned yet. “Legalization” of pot is the most visible iteration of this movement, but the question is whether that will be the first or the last in a string of more common-sense reforms.

  • Amazing question, not sure I will provide as strong a response. I hope that true women’s equality is the “next big trend.” Laws don’t necessarily need to be changed, but hopefully major sectors of society will not be troubled by the prospect of women leading the U.S. in the roles of president, vice president, secretary of defense, etc. Women will not have to face questions during elections about how they will raise a family AND fulfill the requirements of their position; that is, unless men are ALSO asked the same question. Keep the questions/posts coming Graham!

    • Re: Samantha
      We still ask/critique female candidates about what clothes they wear. Until we tackle basic issues like that, we can’t get toward more interesting questions like the balance of family/work (something any candidate should be asked).

  • Matthew McCabe

    I’d like to say it’s a greater acceptance of atheists in society and politics, although with the ubiquity of Christianity (especially among those in power) that might be a long time in coming. And this might be self-interested, but I wonder if the issues like student debt and unemployment will take the politically active cohort of young Americans engaged by the last several elections and turn them into a more potent political force (as is seen in some other countries).

  • Well, I personally think the next question will be handling transgender issues because in many cases transgender rights have been pushed aside for the betterment of gay and lesbian rights. We’ve seen this throughout history. In the women’s rights movement, african american women were divided from the question, this created a lot of divides throughout the women’s rights movement and led to a schism in the leadership of the movement. Social change is made in increments. This change is also seen in “revolutions” (however you define it), where there is radical change and then moderate change because often society isn’t ready to handle the radical changes. Change come in cycles: radical, moderate, conservative, etc. And unfortunately, change also takes an absurdly long time. People like labels, and constant definitions.

  • It’s still considered ok to criticize the obese and Muslims. They’re next.

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