It’s Time to Do This Thing
And now finally, after so many years, maybe we can finally just have it out.
For the past decade, the professional right has succeeded in the neat parlor trick of stoking anti-gay sentiment to turn out votes and wallets while simultaneously handing their prejudiced flock focus-group tested soundbites that allow them to hide their bigotry under the bushel of religious tolerance.
“It’s not about gay people,” I’ve been told over and over. “It’s about religious freedom. It’s about the sanctity of marriage. Why can’t they just have civil unions, and stop infringing on our freedom to worship as we choose?” This was always a crock, and now thanks to the fallout from both North Carolina and the surprising move by White House we can all stop pretending.
As everyone with access to the internet knows, two days ago North Carolina passed Amendment One. It should be noted that prior to Tuesday, same sex marriage was already banned in the Tar Heel state. Amendment One went farther, partially changing their Constitution and thereby making that ban part of the State’s most basic legal framework. But it also looked to ensure that same sex civil unions and domestic partnerships, those secular alternatives to religious matrimony, are not recognized either. This in part led to the president stepping up to the plate and putting the rights of the GLBT community on the table in a way no sitting president has ever done before.
Over at NRO, Dennis Prager has the chutzpah to argue that the right’s support of actions like Amendment One (and the bizarre compulsion to not let gay people talk about foreign policy) is in absolutely, positively, not even a teeny bit anti-gay:
“[W]hen it comes to the “anti-gay” charge, conservatives need to clarify to ourselves as much as to the general public where we stand. As an opponent of the most radical redefinition of marriage in history (more radical than outlawing polygamy), I have argued for the Defense of Marriage Act before Congress and have written and spoken on behalf of amending state constitutions to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. I believe that the ultimate aim of the LGBT movement and the rest of the cultural Left is nothing less than to end gender distinctions. But I am not anti-gay. Proponents of same-sex marriage may conflate opposition to same-sex marriage with being anti-gay. But conservatives must not.”
This will continue to be the right’s argument, and it’s a good bet that it’s the tack Romney (who, ironically, I suspect has no problem with SSM except that it diminishes his chance at the Oval Office) will take over the coming Summer and Fall. But Amendment One’s elimination of civil unions and domestic partnerships underlines that the right’s problem was never with the infringement of religious liberties by same-sex marriage. The problem is and always has always been gay people.
When I was a wee guest poster here, I made a wish that we could abandon all the tedious pretense surrounding the same sex marriage debate and just get to the heart of it: either you recognize that gays and lesbians are just like everybody else save the obvious, or you find them icky and you want to stick it to them (so to speak). Everything else is just window dressing- all of it: Your claims that your first amendment rights are being violated. Your citing Thomas Aquinas as if even 20% of the people who voted for Amendment One could even tell you who he is. Your arguments that Amendment One serves the greater good of Federalism, while simultaneously supporting the Defense of Marriage Act. All of that, to quote guest-post me, is just a polite way of saying “yuck.”
And now, thanks to the timing of both the good people of North Carolina and Barack Obama, we can finally just get to the nub of it. People that are anti-gay can make their case why being anti-gay is good, and people that are pro-tolerance can do the same for their position. And the country can take a look at those around them in their communities that are out and make the decision for themselves.
And you know what? We’re going to win. Not only are we going to win in November, but the tipping point we are at now is going to pick up momentum, and in 30 years our children will ask us in disbelief if people really didn’t let gay people get married or have certain jobs back when we were growing up. Most of the people arguing against SSM today will, a generation from now, swear up and down that they of course were always on the side of tolerance, the same way everyone from my father’s generation remembers that it was someone else that was against the civil rights movement. Because these two movements have something in common.
Oh, it’s not the maligned minority that’s the same. Conservatives will be the first to point out that sexual preference and race are in no way the same thing, and they’re right. No, the common denominator is those of us in the majority. Bigotry is bigotry, and the way it acts in a democratic society always follows the same path: A group in power is taught to hate and fear a minority it never really interacts with. And then, overtime, more and more of the population is exposed to that minority, and discovers to it’s surprise that those people aren’t so demonic after all. In fact, they’re just like everyone else – good, bad, successful, struggling… human. And given enough of that exposure, most everyone wonders what the big fuss was about. It was that way with Jews; it was that way with the Irish; it was that way with blacks; it will be that way with our GLBT brothers and sisters.
So I say to all of my brethren on the right that either fight for bigotry or make excuses for those that do: Abandon this pretense that you’re not anti-gay, and let’s do this thing. I’m tired of waiting on your Frank Luntz focus-grouped asses.