The blogs are alive with the sound of malice

Recent posts by two conservative bloggers going negative on the Marshall-Newman amendment have apparently had quite an impact on the anti-gay right. Some of them have forgotten the instruction they have received from on high to Not. Sound. Hateful.

Apparently the carefully constructed argument that the amendment is not about hating anyone, and is only about “protecting marriage” quickly collapses into undisguised animus when it is poked by true conservatives. Juvenile rhetorical slippage, abusive language, sexual harassment, smug claims of etymological and religious authority, flat-out lying, and many more kinds of fun can be viewed here, here, here, here, here and here.

The “only about protecting marriage, not hating anyone” argument is really only constructed for appeal to the honest people who really feel that way. It’s no secret that, while a majority of Virginians oppose same sex marriage, 59% also are in favor of civil unions, and an overwhelming majority are in favor of prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in other areas, such as employment.

What this indicates is that many Virginians experience an internal conflict between the desire to preserve the idea of marriage as the culturally heterosexual one they are used to, and the desire to be fair. They recognize that families headed by same sex couples are real people who love each other and deserve to have security and happiness.

If the amendment were advertised as a way to harm and punish gay people, how far would it get? It would be dead on arrival. Yet that is precisely what it is intended to do. If the intent of the legislature was to reflect popular opinion, then the amendment would be a very different one. It would preserve the cultural idea of “marriage” while also creating an institutional structure for the protection of other families.

Instead, it offers anti-gay groups and vindictive individuals a collection of vague, undefined terms to use in challenging the very rights that most Virginians say they think their gay friends and neighbors should have.

A full report on the recent “Love Won Out” conference (a training for activists in the “Ex-gay” movement) is forthcoming, but one aspect of this event’s messaging is especially pertinent here. According to movement leaders, there is an important distinction to be made between “homosexuals” and “gay activists.” In their words, as long as we are “homosexuals,” which they define as people with a pathology who hate themselves and agree that they need to be “fixed,” we deserve their compassion. However, as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who love ourselves, who know to the depth of our being that we are being exactly who we are supposed to be, and that we are entitled to the same rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as every other person, we are the enemy. The veneer of “compassion” gives way to unvarnished malice as soon as we cease hating ourselves.

No, people who just want marriage to keep being what it’s always been are not hateful bigots, but the leaders who are manipulating their feelings are having a very hard time hiding their hatred. You could say that it’s become “The Hate that Will Not Shut Its Mouth.” There’s nothing wrong with saying enough is enough.

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7 Responses to The blogs are alive with the sound of malice

  1. Sophrosyne says:

    What about my comment was “hateful”? I was commenting on Article V of the Constitution as an open and democratic process?

  2. David says:

    So you think using the Constitution’s Article V (possibly one of the most democratic facets of our Republic) would be ramming “garbage” down people’s throats?

    For some reason when I visualize your metaphor I don’t see a constitutional convention in the picture.

    Is there a reason I should not be reading your second sentence as patently offensive sexual innuendo? Why would you be thinking about the person you are conversing with engaging in a sexual act, anyway? If I indicated that I was thinking about your sexual habits, as if I knew anything about them, it would be offensive. It would be rude. You would, I imagine, consider it harassment, and I wouldn’t do it.

    There are serious constitutional issues at stake here, and issues that go to the heart of what it means to have personhood.

    I get the impression, from the above sort of comment, that you don’t take my personhood very seriously. What I mean by that is that you seem to think of gay people as completely defined by our sexuality, and not whole people.

  3. Sophrosyne says:

    Ummm… his metaphor (of employing Article V) was one of “ramming garbage” down people’s throats… and I don’t equate that with a Constitutional convention. How is that sexual?

    I really don’t see how saying I don’t agree with Terry’s metaphor is “patently offensive sexual innuendo.” Article V is a legitimate process to amend the Constitution and was instituted by our Founding Fathers after much deliberation… I don’t equate it to some kind of force-feeding of crap (when it would clearly be the overwhelming will of the people) and thus my comment.

    And as to your second comment… claiming that I seem to think of “gay people as completely defined by [their] sexuality, and not whole people”… That is absurd. If you think that my beef with trivializing Article V of the United States Constitution means I don’t value your intrinsic value as a human being then you are WAY to sensitive.

    I seriously think this must be some significant misunderstanding”¦ we can and should be able to have a spirited debate on what marriage is (or should be) without personal attacks, while passions may run high I always try to remember such. We are all people and, I believe, our intrinsic value as human beings is not contingent on any form of sexual behavior (good, bad, or otherwise).

  4. David says:

    I seriously think this must be some significant misunderstanding…

    I hope so. Obviously, no one can prove one way or the other what you were thinking when you wrote “For some reason when I visualize your metaphor I don’t see a constitutional convention in the picture.”

    The fact is that we read things in context, and the context here is a long history of vulgar remarks made by anti-gay activists in these conversations. I can assure you that I am anything but sensitive. If I were sensitive I wouldn’t be doing this work in this community.

    Article V is a legitimate process. I think that the point Terry was making is that it is trivialized by using it to enforce prejudices, rather than to expand liberty. If there had been a sophisticated and well-funded anti-miscegenation industry that had seen Loving v Virginia coming down the pike, there would no doubt have been an attempt to amend the Constitution to prevent interracial marriage from being “forced on the people by activist judges,” and given the expressed “will of the people” at the time it would have been a real threat.

    What we are really talking about here is a current shift in public opinion by which a specific prejudice is becoming a thing of the past, and an attempt to codify that prejudice in our Constitution before the progression of that shift makes it impossible. Which explains the frequently expressed view by your side that it is “URGENT.”

  5. Sophrosyne says:

    Recognizing the differences and value in men and women and refusing to further encourage the willful denial of a mom or a dad for children… through the union of the two complementary parts of the human organism in marriage & family is hardly “enforcing prejudices”… but we obviously disagree on that one. I believe this is a fundamentally different discussion from the hurtful anti-miscegenation laws which decided WHO could marry and not what marriage IS (the core of marriage always has been the union of the two sexes and that is because it is the most defining characteristic of the relationship).

    I’d hope by now (assuming you’ve at least read some of what I’ve written on NOVA TownHall) that you’d see that I have no “long history of vulgar remarks” when discussing this important issue”¦ and I think it is important to note that there are also a history of vulgar remarks aimed at those who believe in marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Plenty of times I have been blindly labeled as a “bigot,” “homophobe”, etc because I hold a rational view in opposition to same-sex marriage. We all should strive (as I think we largely have on NOVA Town Hall and on your blog as well) to respect each other and engage in an honest and open discussion.

  6. Jonathan says:

    “”¦ but we obviously disagree on that one.”

    Sophrosyne, you’re putting words in our mouths. I personally don’t disagree with “that one” (that children are best raised by biological parents). I grew up with a mother and a father and sisters and brothers. I know where I came from and I love my family. Please don’t make stuff up about us. Your conflating marriage with sex and with procreation and then making negative attributions. Everybody doesn’t agree with your opinions about marriage and sex and procreation, and in a democracy, that’s ok. Imposing your opinions on everybody is not ok.

  7. David says:


    So then you would deny other people the right to form families that don’t conform to your model? In spite of the fact that there are thousands upon thousands of such families across Virginia, and in spite of the weight of the evidence and professional opinion that says that the gender of parents doesn’t matter?

    I understand that you believe it matters very much. But we have to consider more than your beliefs here. As you yourself said in our discussion of liberty, we have to consider how law and policy is applied in practice, and whether, in practice, real people are harmed.

    What I do agree with is that it’s better for children to have two parents if that’s possible. There is empirical evidence for that, as well as the common sense understanding that a child has more security with two parents. That’s why it makes absolutely NO sense to prohibit second-parent adoption. This harms children by rendering one of their parents a legal stranger to them.

    Families headed by same sex couples are formed in several ways. Are you suggesting that gay couples should be prevented from adopting children in foster care, for example? Can you honestly believe that denying a child a home and family is not harmful to that child?

    If a child can be raised by their biological parents, that’s great. It doesn’t always work out that way, though, and that’s a much larger question than just same sex couples who are or want to be parents. There is an ethical problem with people not having access to information about their genetic background (IMO), but that is a problem independent of the gender of the parents – and sperm donors are utilized much more often by straight couples, given that there are so many more of them.

    My point is, let’s talk about specifics and what is actually harmful to real individuals and families instead of just throwing out an abstract idea about what you think families should look like.