The Catholic Church has taken up a new strategy to fight against abortion and gay rights–talking about “religious liberty” to reject equal rights for gays and the right of women to control their own bodies.
I would say that whenever an institution is forced from the support of direct oppression to taking on the mantra of being oppressed, it’s a sign of victory for progressive forces. It doesn’t mean the victory will be complete–white homeowners used this very language in the 1960s and 1970s to protect their neighborhoods and schools from integration. But even in this case, this move was a significant response to just how much the civil rights movement had accomplished.
While I am less confident about the long-term availability of legal abortion in this country, the Catholic bishops are clearly being routed on gay marriage. I’d expect to see more of this language, talking about how not encouraging kids to beat up gay kids impinges upon their free speech.