As readers of this blog know, I wavered on voting “No” on Proposition 8 in the fall of 2008 in large measure because of the raft of nasty e-mails I received from opponents of the ballot measure. They spent more time attacking the initiative’s proponents (often in vicious terms) than they did promoting the benefits of state recognition of same-sex marriage.
Fortunately, about a week before the election, I saw a happily married lesbian couple who reminded me that the opposition to Prop 8 was not all based on hate. I voted, “No.” While I had wanted the haters to lose, I did not believe the traditional definition of marriage should be codified in the state constitution.
Now, if we were to borrow the Barney Frank standard, we would have to define the gay marriage movement by its fringe elements — and call it a hate movement as it includes many people who promote hatred of social conservatives and even rank-and-file Republicans, not to mention anyone who happens to believe marriage is defined by sexual difference. (And I don’t recall leaders of the movement “differentiating themselves” from the hateful rhetoric on the movement’s margins.)
We all know that’s not true, not all gay marriage advocates are haters; many gay marriage advocates believe extending the benefits of state recognition of this ancient institution to same-sex couples will be a boon not just for gay people, but also for society at large. And they make strong arguments in the most civil of language.
Simply put, you can’t define a movement by its fringe elements.
So, if Barney and his ideological confrères wish to tar the GOP and Tea Parties with labels which refer only to the most extreme of our fringe followers, then, fine, he’d better expect any cause he supports to be defined by its extremes.