How would you like to be on the wrong side of history? The folks who are against gay marriage and against gays in the military? They are clearly on the wrong side of history. Just as white racist types in the 1960s were mighty angry as the civil rights movement went through the streets, courts, and legislatures, with history slipping away from them. I realized during dinner (a very conservative set of Sloppy Joes) that it would suck if one were on the wrong side of history.
To see that one's preferences going from mainstream and accepted to unpopular and then anathema must really suck. I have been blogging often here about the demographic changes that are causing folks to be desperate, trying voter suppression nakedly to stave off the day that one has to appeal to minorities, but there is more to that. It is probably the plummeting self-esteem of folks who have learned that their ideals are simply wrong, that the folks they find to be abhorrent are now accepted by not just Hollywood but by the majority of the Americans.
There are other debates where the forces of history, the tide of public opinion is less clear. Taxes, deficits, military spending, death penalty, and so on. But on gay rights, the social conservatives have lost. They have started to realize it, and it is not going to get any better for them. They will have to find some other group to demonize to make themselves feel good. I guess immigrants and Muslims in particular will work to a degree, but to lose on gay rights, that has got to hurt.