Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What some people don't get about Proposition 8

What people who oppose gay marriage don't get is that in this fight they are the bad guys. They are the Board of Education of Topeka in 1954. They are the State of Virginia in 1967. They are Bob Jones University in 1983.

At least, that's whose heirs they are. That's whose side they're on. Because just like they're certain they have good reasons to oppose gay marriage, eminently respectable people at places like the Board of Education of Topeka, the Government of Virginia, and Bob Jones University were dead certain that they had sound religious, legal, and scientific reasons to oppose racial integration, reasons that they would have strongly denied had anything to do with bigotry.

But who believes those denials today? They're laughable. They've always been laughable. The people making them couldn't see that at the time. But many of them do today, and many, many more of their children and grandchildren do too. I don't know how long it will take -- 10 years, 20 years, 50 years -- but eventually society will come to see the arguments against gay marriage the same way. It's inevitable. No argument can stand against love and equality. It's only a matter of time.

Most of the people against gay rights -- who include some of my family and some of my best friends, people I love -- are good people. They want to be the good guys. They're not used to being the bad guys. They're not used to being on the side of the bullies. Nobody wants to be on the wrong side of history. Everybody wants to be Loving, or Brown, or the United States. Nobody wants to be Virginia, or the Board of Education, or Bob Jones University. But that's who the people against gay marriage are.

And that's something that's impossible for a lot of them to get their heads around. "I'm not a bigot," they'll tell you, and they'll mean it. "I don't hate anyone," they'll tell you, and they'll mean that too. Well, maybe they're not really bigots. Maybe they don't really hate. I don't know. I can't see inside their hearts.

But I can see behavior. I can see history. And I can see that old-time segregationists said much the same things. They said they didn't hate anyone either. They said they weren't bigots. They said segregation was God's will. They said our very civilization would collapse without it. But they were wrong.

And if they didn't hate black people, they might as well have. If they weren't bigots, they might as well have been. It made little real difference. Their arguments were nonsense. Their arguments were lies. Their arguments were evil. Their arguments harmed people.

And if you oppose gay rights, even just gay marriage, you're not much different. You say you're not a bigot? Well, you sure act like one. You say you don't hate anyone? Well, you sure act like you do. You say you're tired of being called a hateful bigot? Stop acting like one.

Because now you're on the side of the bad guys. You're on the side of the people who deny other people equal rights. You're with the people who harm people who want nothing more than the same rights that you already have. If that doesn't fit your self-image, well, too bad, because that's who you've become. You can deny it all you want, but don't expect anyone who doesn't already think like you to take your denials seriously. That's been tried before. It didn't work back then, and it won't work now.


What do you think?