A tsunami of hysteria washed across the U.S. last Tuesday. The source was Judge Kevin Chang's First Circuit courtroom where he announced his decision on the same-sex marriage case.
Although the judge stayed his order and it will be appealed, it was unequivocal: "Defendant ... is enjoined from denying an application for a marriage license solely because the applicants are of the same sex."
To many, this is revolutionary change. Cultural anthropologist Jennifer James says humans react to radical change just as we grieve.
First came denial. When the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that refusing to license same-sex marriages was unconstitutional, many opponents simply refused to believe it.
Now, a second stage begins: anger. Expect demands for explanations and the blaming of scapegoats. For example, one angry caller demanded the newspaper investigate whether the judge and attorney general were bribed.
The next stage, James says, is bargaining - an effort to maintain the status quo while seeming to go along with change. Expect continued resistance here and elsewhere.
Eventually, comes acceptance. "People are inspired and energized by the sudden realization that what they have lost is gone forever and it's time to get on with their lives."
The final stage is rebuilding, making plans for the long haul and renewing public trust in the system. That can't begin soon enough.