In 1966 Time magazine broke new but ugly ground with a cover story called "The Homosexual in America," in which the author writes, "Beset by inner conflicts, the homosexual is unsure of his position in society, ambivalent about his attitudes and identity--but he gains a certain amount of security through the fact that society is equally ambivalent about him." That's the cover below.
Today, a little under 50 years later, Time has a far more welcoming and uplifting take on the state of LGBT America: "How Gay Marriage Won," a cover story that runs with two variant covers, one featuring a male couple kissing and the other a female couple. There's no squeamishness about gay and lesbian affection here (a far cry from the outcry over Modern Family's gay couple's decidedly vanilla relationship) as Time zeroes in on the very real love same-sex couples enjoy.
"We had a long debate in our offices about this week's cover images of two same-sex couples," said Time managing editor Rick Stengel said in a statement. "Some thought they were sensationalist and too in-your-face. Others felt the images were beautiful and symbolized the love that is at the heart of the idea of marriage. I agree with the latter, and I hope you do too."
This new piece itself is a long and detailed and very fluid history of how marriage equality not only became number one on the LGBT rights wish-list but continues to find fresh support in the unlikeliest of places.
This swell is more than just activists lobbying lawmakers, writes journalist David Von Drehle: "The impetus has come from disparate forces in seemingly unconnected realms: courtrooms, yes, but also hospitals, nurseries, libraries and sound stages. The rise of same-sex marriage from joke to commonplace is a story of converging strands of history." What once seemed outlandish will soon be reality. "Yesterday's impossible now looks like tomorrow's inevitable."
More from this week's piece:
"Yet no matter what the Justices decide after withdrawing behind their velvet curtain, the courtroom debate -- and the period leading up to it -- made clear that we have all been eyewitnesses to history. In recent days, weeks and months, the verdict on same-sex marriage has been rendered by rapidly shifting public opinion and by the spectacle of swing-vote politicians scrambling to keep up with it. With stunning speed, a concept dismissed even by most gay-rights leaders just 20 years ago is now embraced by half or more of all Americans, with support among young voters running as high as 4 to 1."
The covers' couples, shot by photographer Peter Hapak, are Russell Hart and Eric LaBonte and Sarah Kate Ellis-Henderson and Kristen Ellis-Henderson. The women were married in New York City and are raising two children. The men, who hail from California, are engaged and waiting for same-sex marriage to be legal. But both duos are now part of the growing quilt of committed same-sex couples who prove that love is best when multiplied.
Time's latest edition hits newstands on Friday.