When Jay asked me write a post on the distressing breakdown in communication between opponents and supporters of gay marriage, I thought I’d approach it in my usual way: smirking a bit, maybe a little more verbose than necessary, but ultimately attempting to treat the subject fairly while remaining completely implacable in my opposition to it.
But when I sat down to write, I found that I’d somehow burned through the last reserves of goodwill I had towards people who seem to consider me — and people like me — no better than racists.
Let me say up front that most serious people in this debate (gay, straight, or miscellaneous) know better than to vilify their opponents unnecessarily. A person capable of rudimentary thought will understand that when they toss off an equivocation between racism and opposition to homosexual marriage, they are poisoning the well. At this stage of the game, though, it seems a growing number have determined the pretense of civility is no longer necessary. When you’re on top, you can afford to let the mask slip and show your true contempt.
Racism is, self-evidently, not the same thing as opposition to gay marriage. Racism is an expression of irrational prejudice, a system of dehumanizing and persecuting people based on observable physical characteristics. Opposition to gay marriage is a moral argument against a behavior, not against the state of being gay. No serious person who opposes gay marriage views homosexuals as sub-human.
Equating race with a sex act seems the more offensive position to me.
It was only a few years ago that the notion marriage could only exist between a man and woman was completely uncontroversial. It may distress some to learn that this error persisted for centuries, if not millennia. At last, that enlightened segment of the population that seems to make all its decisions in accordance with the diktats of the genitals mounted a successful campaign to convince the people that when it comes to marriage and its attendant legal benefits a gay is a straight (is a bi is a poly is a whatever else they’ll come up with).
And, hey, they fought the legal battle and they won. There are many good people out there who remain opposed to the legalization of gay marriage in their respective states, but that fight is essentially lost. The best that social conservatives can hope for now is to carve out a space to publicly practice their beliefs, up to and including the dreaded proselytizing. That’s not the best they can expect; that’s the best they can hope for. They probably won’t get that.
There is an effort to tar social conservatives and anyone who declines to affirm the revolutionary revision of marriage with that most repulsive label of “bigot.”
Of course, we’ve defined bigot so far down these days that the word is almost meaningless. In this context it is essentially shorthand for “anyone who doesn’t buy into my particular permissive vision of society, especially religious people.” It’s sad to see that, whether through misguided political pragmatism, apathy, or simple moral cowardice, many libertarians and self-professed conservatives accept and promote a false choice: you’re either pro-gay or you’re anti-human.
I’ve lost the ability to tolerate such casually stupid questioning of my character.
I no longer delude myself into thinking that any amount of reasoned well-meaning argument will have an impact on the “debate,” such as it is. But at least I know what they think of me — and now they know what I think of them. I hope that our occasions to think of one another will be fewer and fewer going forward.
But I don’t expect that to be the case.