Connor Friedersdorf doesn't get it when it comes to tolerance. We should, of course, be respectful of other views. Even right-winger Charles Krauthammer, in his new book, talks about the need to respect all views and how he doesn't have all the answers. But we can and should be intolerant of intolerance. Silence means consent, and when you refuse to speak out against homophobia, you give your consent to it. That is what Martin Luther King taught us.
Based on my observation of this community over 10 years, I would say that we hold five basic pillars -- equality of opportunity, preserving and expanding the social safety net, non-interventionism in foreign affairs, ending the military industrial complex and corporate welfare and the police state, and the use of science to uphold our positions. We take a strong stance against corruption and it is no accident that FDR and Obama are among the least corrupt administrations in the last 100 years.
A lot of people crossed over and voted for both Obama and Proposition 8 in California. But since then, we, as a party and as a movement, have come to a lot better understanding of what our values are. As long as we do not support equality of opportunity for all, then there are always going to be people who will be second-class citizens. President Obama did not support gay marriage at first, but finally came out in favor of it in 2012 because he came to a better understanding of what we need to stand for. Many of us went along the same journey. But the problem with Brendan Eich was that he never changed from his position even though it was public support for one of the most mean-spirited amendments in American history. Obama opposed Proposition 8, because it ran counter to his vision of a country where we were much more inclusive and much more willing to provide equality of opportunity. So when someone is that public with his support of something that mean-spirited, it creates a serious conflict of interest. How can someone like Eich be objective in deciding who to hire, fire, or promote? And another problem was that his public stances and his company's values were two totally different things.
Now, let's discuss Friedersdorf. First, he argues that opposition to gay marriage and opposition to interracial marriage are not the same thing.
Opposition to interracial marriage was all but synonymous with a belief in the superiority of one race and the inferiority of another. (In fact, it was inextricably tied to a singularly insidious ideology of white supremacy and black subjugation that has done more damage to America and its people than anything else, and that ranks among the most obscene crimes in history.)The problem with Friedersdorf's argument is that nowhere is that definition of marriage found anywhere in the Constitution. What is found in the Constitution is freedom of thought. Therefore, since this is a pluralistic society, we can have all the disagreements that we want about the nature and institution of marriage. But what is a dealbreaker is when we take those disagreements and use them to make other people second class citizens. Gays can and do have children through procreative means (two women; one has a child through IVF), and they can also adopt; as one common public service ad encouraging adopting says, kids don't care about all your crazy hangups -- all they want is you. Studies show that most children are just as healthy and well-adjusted with gay parents as they are with straight parents.
Opposition to gay marriage can be rooted in the insidious belief that gays are inferior, but it's also commonly rooted in the much-less-problematic belief that marriage is a procreative institution, not one meant to join couples for love and companionship alone.
When we fall into the trap of the right and try to create a homogenized society, then that is when the "mischief of faction" feared by our founders comes in. The only person whose views matter on the role of marriage in our society is the person in the mirror. The only role of the government is to create equality of opportunity for all.
The next question Freidersdorf raises is, are all opponents of gay marriage bigots? This argument implies that we are attacking the person and not the problematic view. The answer I give is, we don't know. That is because we have no insight into a person's state of mind. But what we can do is refuse to respect peoples' actions that show intolerance towards gays. There is a big difference between attacking actions and attacking people. Attacking actions means not giving someone a platform. It means addressing such actions. It means taking a stand on what we believe and why we believe it. And it can mean not doing business with companies that don't share your values.
I hope folks who defended Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich's ouster can see why I think they're overstating the similarities between white supremacists and gay-marriage opponents; failing to make important distinctions among the most and least objectionable gay-marriage opponents; and dramatically expanding the norms around stigma, not applying previously established norms to a new case.But the problem is, there are similarities between white supremacy and homophobia. Both are directed at something that is biological. In other words, you can no more change the color of one's skin than you can change someone's sexual orientation. Exodus International tried it, and it was a catastrophic failure. While Freidersdorf is right that there are important distinctions between certain gay marriage opponents, just like there were between segregationists, the problem is that their policies still promote second-class citizenship for gays, something that should never be acceptable in our school of thought.
Next, he goes on to play the selective outrage card. I can't speak for other people, but I can speak for myself. I have written about drone strikes, deportation of illegal immigrants, discrimination against Muslims, indefinite detention, and other civil liberties issues at one time or another. That argument attacks the person, not the argument.
Finally, I agree with Freidersdorf that engagement and persuasion are normally the best tools. But sometimes, certain people can't be reasoned with on certain issues. You can talk to them until you're blue in the face, but nothing you say can ever change their mind. Recently, George W. Bush, in one of his paintings, depicted his approval of the torture tactics used in our name against so-called "terrorists." Good luck to Freidersdorf in trying to get George W. Bush to change his position on torture.