Prop 8 has forced me to give up on the notion that gay marriage, and with it, complete integration of the homosexual community into mainstream America, are inevitable. I still find it quite likely, however, that there will be a time, perhaps not in my lifetime, when gay people will suffer no particular disenfranchisement from the American project. You know what predictions are worth, of course-- if you had asked me a year ago if California would vote against gay marriage, I would have been certain the answer would be no-- and none of us has the luxury of taking it easy, in the belief that gay marriage is just going to come. But my gut tells me that this country moves towards liberty, and towards justice, and I think that sooner or later, gay people will find themselves perfectly integrated citizens.
One consequence of this, it seems to me, will be that gay people will stop being an identifiable part of this country's liberal coalition. As homosexuality becomes less and less differentiated from conventional life, and there are more and more victories for gay normalcy and gay acceptance, there will likewise be less reason for a gay rights movement. And as gay people become fully integrated into the American experience as equal participants, the need for gay people to ally with any one partisan or ideological apparatus will shrink. One of my frustrations with conservative opposition to grievance politics and special interest groups is the fact that some groups of people actually have legitimate grievances (like being denied marriage rights). Sometimes certain groups of people actually have special interests, and as democracy is a system of individuals and groups competing for their own best interests, it's natural to have affinity groups dedicated to pursuing those interests. So the cure for minority politics is to remove the complaints of the minority groups in the first place.
This is, really, in keeping with an ideal most of us hold about any identity group or minority group: that as we progress towards eliminating their differentiated status, we want their status as minorities to mean less and less in terms of politics or culture. In other words, when there stops being a "gay identity" (which is inevitably constraining), there should equally be a end to the gay political identity. (Or at least, as we have come to know it.) If homosexuals are going to truly become just citizens, it's both natural and in their best interests for them to adhere to political parties or ideology based on their visions of political philosophy and public policy. That's democracy, after all, that's our vision of a community of equals who define themselves by their ideals and not through matters of race, ethnicity, sexual preference, religion or sex. (Though, of course, those things will influence our ideals.)
Not that I think gay men and women are likely to become majority conservative, or evenly distributed along the ideological axis. Heritage and traditions are more powerful influences on political affiliation, I believe, that we tend to account for. The social cues and experiences of gay men and women, if a gay culture can survive integration, will probably stay largely "liberal" in the mushy sense. It's impossible, of course, to fully divide what part of any person's political identity is a function of minority grievance and what part is "just ideology". I'm not suggesting that gay liberals are so oriented (uh, politically, that is) because they are gay. It's just that people will rally around the side that argues for them, more often than not, and there are I think quite a few people who stand with liberalism on social issues but not on economics. At the very least, anyone who knows more than a few gay people is sure to know some gay conservatives, and I'm sure more gay people will self-identify as such when conservatism gets out of the business of telling them who to marry, or that they are immoral or sinful. Bad for my ideology, perhaps, on a purely tactical level, but I think good for anyone who believes in a politics based on universal issues and philosophy.
I doubt I'll be around to see the end of the gay movement (through victory) and the requisite ending of the gay/liberal alliance. These things just take too long, and there is still far too much work to be done. If it does happen in my lifetime, I'll miss having the gays in the liberal alliance. They bring the style, if you'll forgive the stereotype, and politics is much more about aesthetics than many of us would like to admit. Plus (generally speaking) you can kid a lot of gay people about their minority status, in a way you can't kid a lot of other people with legitimate minority grievances. I'm sure I'm not the first to come up with this, but it's always struck me that a sense of the ridiculous is an essential element to dealing with oppression. Oppression is at its weakest, intellectually, when the utter absurdity of it is laid bare. You're going to tell me I can't drink at this water fountain because I'm black? Are you serious? You're going to tell me who I can and can't marry? Are you kidding? Put the spotlight on oppression and the intellectual underpinnings of it become so transparently weak, you almost have to laugh.
Anyway-- this is all pretty far flung and hypothetical. For now it's time for opposition, protest, organization and work.