I had an interesting dinner conversation with a few friends recently. Now, these are some of my more "conservative" friends. I use the word "conservative" with the caveat that they're not conservative in the right-wing teabagger sense of the word. The most conservative of them has a "small-government" ideology but is progressive on social issues. The other two are leaning Obama, for reasons I'm about to discuss.
Anyway, we were having a conversation about "extremes." They were very concerned about how extreme the Romney ticket has become on issues from abortion to LGBT equality. And, of course, the ticket has become even more extreme now that Ryan has been welcomed aboard with his Medicare voucherization plan and ridiculous views on reproductive freedom, among many other things. All in attendance seemed to agree that the Romney-Ryan administration was a very, very scary proposition.
At the same time, these friends of mine--at least two of them--seemed to acknowledge that President Obama's policy record and positions are not extreme in the least. One of them said, "The most extreme position he's taken, and this isn't really extreme, is his endorsement of marriage equality." That launched us into a whole new conversation in which everybody--even the most conservative at the table--agreed that there was nothing at all "extreme" about giving equal marriage rights to all people, regardless of gender. The most conservative friend said, "It's not extreme. At this point, it's just common sense."
She's right, obviously. What used to be viewed as a fringe position is now quite mainstream. And it's becoming more mainstream every day as more and more people come to realize that there is no moral or legal justification for barring gays and lesbians from getting married.
Follow me below the fold to find out where I'm going with this.
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But, of course, that's not how the anti-gay right likes to portray it. According to the likes of Tony Perkins and Maggie Gallagher, we LGBT people and our allies are forcing our views on others, shoving a "redefinition of marriage" down America's collective throat. In their portrayals of us, we are the fundamentalists and the extremists.
From this warped viewpoint, there are two sides: one-man-one-woman marriage, or a complete redefinition of marriage. Two extremes, if you will. Same with the separation of church and state: either a Christian nation or an atheist nation. Two extremes.
This isn't the case, as a nifty little graphic posted on the Atheism Reddit points out. As the Redditer points out, this is a "simple matter of framing" that we need to pound home as often as possible. Our position--in support of the separation of church and state and marriage equality--is a neutral position. The following graphic shows what it would look like if we actually took an "extreme" position:
The right-wingers who would make our secular nation a theocratic hellhole and deny civil rights to an entire group of people are the real extremists. We're simply advocating for a neutral policy of non-discrimination that is quite mainstream and common-sense. And more and more people are starting to see that.