There is currently a quite well-written and passionate diary on the rec list entitled "It's not Obama I'm mad at; it's way too many of you". Not suprisingly, it's currently on the very top of the rec list, which underscores the strange kossack desire to self-flagellate. (We tend to love being told "we suck", here -- try finding comparable diaries on the top of RedState.) ;)
But, once again, I really have to cringe when I read something like this:
You keep saying things like, "Just because someone is against gay marriage doesn't mean they're a homophobe or a bigot," even though there are no non-bigoted, non-homophobic reasons to oppose marriage equality.
To those, including the author, who share this view, I say: Really? You REALLY think that the majority of Americans who are opposed to gay marriage are homophobic bigots? Even Obama and Hillary? Even your best friend's mom? I just can't share such a pessimistic world view. Those advocating gay marriage from a "if-you-don't-agree-you're-a-bigot" perspective will not be successful. You want the average American, who has been told their whole life that marriage is between a man and a woman, to all of sudden abandon those beliefs just because you're calling them names? I think it would be far, far more useful to ask most Americans why they oppose gay marriage, and you'll find its almost always an issue of faith.
I'm going through my pre-marriage classes right now. To Christians (note: should have been "To many Christians, especially Catholics"), marriage is the union of a man and a woman for the purpose of having biological children. That's it. In the Catholic church you can't even get married if you're impotent. Adoption options aren't enough -- you have to be able to biologically conceive and raise children as a couple. That's the whole point. It's God's plan, to Christians. It's an article of faith that marriage was intended for this sole purpose, just like it's an article of faith that Jesus is God's son.
As people here know, I'm about as adamant a pro-gay-marriage supporter as they come. But that does not mean I believe my parents or other friends/relatives who disagree are necessary bigots. Yes, of course, there are many Christians who are bigotted against homosexuality. But telling a whole huge class of people that they are "bigots" if they don't fundamentally reject an enormously important tenant of their faith... well, frankly, that's pretty bigotted, too.
(And yes, there are some Christians who even "hate" gays. But to be honest, I've found a lot more gays who really, passionately, savagely HATE HATE Christians. Even the author of the diary I'm responding to describes herself shaking with uncontrollable rage. "Bigotry" goes both ways.)
I think the average American, who is generally Christian, has come a long way, frankly. It was only 10-15 years ago that gay marriage support was virtually non-existent, and many Americans thought that any gay relationship should be illegal. We've especially made strides recently. In 2004, only 33% of Americans supported gay marriage -- only four years later, we're up to 39%. In 2004, only 40% of Americans backed legal civil unions -- only four years later that's skyrocketed to 55%!
So even if you still claimed that everyone who opposes civil unions and marriage was a bigot, do you really think the 16% difference in approval between "marriage" and "civil union" can still be explained by "hating" gays? I don't understand this argument. Those 16% who say "yes, gays can have civil unions absolutely identical to marriage in every way, just don't call it marriage" are not all (or, I suspect, even mostly) "bigots". They are those who were taught that "marriage" is a church-sanctioned sacrament. They believe, they have faith, that God created marriage for a single purpose that a gay couple (or an impotent couple) cannot biologically acheive. To put it another way, suppose Scientologists started using words like "transubstantiation" or "baptism" in their rituals. I bet the average Catholic would say "ya know what, if you want to have a ceremony just like a baptism, in which you dunk someone in water and have a church elder cleanse their sins, that's fine -- but, out of respect to our church, could you please find a different word than baptism?"
I'm not agreeing with the position, here. But I'm also not going to simply dismiss 60% of the country as gay-hating morons.
Incidentally, I do think that this is an issue that should be settled by the courts, not the vote, anyway. A year after the Supreme Court outlawed state bans on interracial marriage in the 1960s, 53% of Americans, according to the New York Times, still believed it should be illegal for blacks and whites to intermarry. In this case it was not so much a religious issue (the Bible really doesn't care about interracical unions) but one of traditions, how it's "always been done". (A pretty hefty percentage of blacks also opposed legal interracial gay marriage, at the time.) Now yes, a big percentage of those who opposed interracial marriage at the time probably were bigots, just as now a large percentage of those opposing gay marriage are probably bigots. But not ALL of them, not then, and not now.
You can't judge societies based on the values of a different generation -- for the same reason that Jefferson can still be admired as a great mind even though he owned slaves, which by today's standards would make him a monster. People have to be given time to adjust. When slavery was outlawed, yeah, it took a while for the average Joe in the south to hate slavery. When interracial marriages were allowed (again, not that long ago), yeah, it took a while for the average Joe to find such unions acceptable. Gay marriage will be the same way -- the courts will have to step in (this Prop 8 issue may hopefully have a domino effect in 2009), and people will be pissed -- but in time, they'll get over it. And by the next generation, I'm sure my daughter will be incredulous when I tell her that, before she was born, two gay people weren't allowed to marry.
In the meantime, however, I continue to oppose the shouts of "BIGOT!!!" at every average American who opposes gay marriage. It has become the equivalent of shouting "ANTI-SEMITE!!!" at anyone who dares question elements of Israel's foreign policy. As a straight man with the legal right to marry who I love, of course I can never know what it's like not to have that right. But that's exactly why gays and lesbians need to reach out -- constantly -- to "homophobes" who don't understand. The diarist even goes out of her way to ridicule the very idea of such discussion -- saying "telling us to reach out to them is like saying battered women need to reach out to their abusers". What!? With respect, that's just an ass-backwards strategy. Just as the constant hurling of insults against an entire class of people, without any intellectual curiosity in finding out why the religious definition of marriage is so important to so many, is neither progressive nor helpful in advancing this important cause.