Compared to the political revolutions rocking the Arab world, in which longstanding regimes have been toppled in a few short, tumultuous weeks, social revolutions move at a glacial pace.

The modern American fight for gay rights is already at least in middle age. While many gains have been realized, the trench warfare over gay marriage has been slow and painful.

President Barack Obama's recent decision to stop Justice Department opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act marks another redrawing of the battle lines, but one that brings the war no closer to an end.

Gay rights advocates have applauded the president's decision, which is based on a belief that the 1996 law barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, told the New York Times that the decision was "a great step by the Obama administration and a tipping point for the gay rights movement." Opponents have accused the president of attempting to use this issue to draw attention away from the federal budget.

Whatever the president's motivation, we wholeheartedly agree with Romero that this is a step in the right direction. And as much as we would like to see the pace of this battle quicken, we know it is more realistic to dig in for a long fight and to celebrate the small victories as they come.

Cancer center serves patients' needs

The affiliation of Bassett Healthcare and A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital has gone forward with little bang, and even less whimper.

When the affiliation became official news at the end of 2009, Fox CEO John Remillard told The Daily Star that there would be few changes visible from the outside. We have seen a few such changes already _ offices moving or combining _ but the most visible change came just recently, with the move of the Bassett Cancer Institute into FoxCare Center.

The center had its grand opening Monday with a combined Fox-Bassett staff. The site will have access to lab service, as well as radiation and oncology, and will give Fox patients access to participate in clinical trials.

We admit to having had some apprehension when the Fox-Bassett affiliation was announced. Consolidated services can mean fewer choices for patients, which is not always a good thing. But this recent news seems to be a win for patients, offering them the best that the two health care providers have to offer.

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