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.