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Atheists and agnostics have a lot to learn from gays about the essential role of coming out in any long-term battle for personal respect and political recognition in American society, writes Washington Post blogger Susan Jacoby. 

“When New York’s state Senate passed a historic bill legalizing gay marriage last weekend, I happened to be attending a reunion of my eighth-grade class at St. Thomas Aquinas School in East Lansing, MI. A striking fact about this group of men and women, raised on the Catholic and American verities of the 1950s, was that many of my classmates, influenced by gay relatives and friends, long ago discarded the anti-homosexual biases with which we were all raised. Atheism, however, is still—if not a dirty word—an uneasy secret. Several of my classmates told me quietly that they would be happy to be interviewed about their nonreligious beliefs but wanted to remain anonymous.”

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