Perhaps the greatest irony of the campaign last fall against Proposition 8 was how readily opponents of the initiative used the most hateful language to slur their opponents as haters. So self-righteous were they in their cause that they assumed that only those with malicious motives could support the measure.
In the course of the campaign, however, those promoting the proposition rarely attacked the opponents with the vehemence of those opponents used against them.
I was reminded of this at our GayPatriot dinner earlier this week. A reader (whom I had not previously met) joined us and recalled their rhetoric exactly as I had. He too reported how vicious opponents of the initiative had been, nearly bringing him (a young gay man) to vote in favor.
Yet, this reader’s words reminded me of my thoughts last fall when I voted against Prop 8. While I didn’t think it was appropriate for the state constitution to define marriage, I also didn’t want the haters to win. From all the hateful e-mails I received from the “No” side* and the speeches and conversations I heard, the hatred came primarily from the gay marriage side, those how like me, opposed the constitutional amendment.
I was no alone. In hist post on wavering before voting “No,” Wesley says he had wanted to “punish” those who had made an anti-Mormon ad (ostensibly to oppose 8). He too was offended by the rhetoric of Prop 8 opponents.
Later, at the height of the Carrie Prejean hullabaloo, he would write:
When [we] tell the opponents of gay marriage that they’re stereotyping all gays and lesbians and then label everyone on their side, from someone who would beat a 19-year-old to death for looking effeminate to someone who supports civil unions but not marriage, as “haters,” we lose. And when that stops being just a self-defeating political tactic and we actually start to believe that anyone who doesn’t meet us 100% of the way on this issue really is a “hater,” we lose again.
Now with Miss Prejean dethroned, it might become tempting to believe that tactics of intimidation do pay off. Perhaps they do pay off in an institution headquartered in deep “blue” enclaves of our nation and dominated by people from the cultural left.
But, to repeal Prop 8, it is necessary to win hearts and minds of people with attitudes different from those of the “cultural élite.” To that end, it is imperative that advocates of gay marriage move beyond the hate.
As I’ve said before (and undoubtedly will say again), we need acknowledge that some people can oppose gay marriage without hating gay people. We need to find out why those people are opposed to the social change gay marriage represents and find a means to take issue with their arguments without denigrating them as individuals.
*By contrast, the “Yes” side’s e-mails made sure to remind us that even if Prop 8 passed, the state’s landmark domestic partnership program would remain in place–something which the California Supreme Court affirmed when it upheld Prop 8.
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