Oh, Maggie. You just don’t get it.
The kid in the audience — he seems a kid to me, just 20 years old — asks me a question:
“You say gay marriage will lead to the use of the law to repress traditional faiths including Christianity. But I was raised in a Southern Baptist family. When I came out, I lost my sister. What is wrong with the idea that religions will be pressured to be less anti-gay?”
So the question from this gay kid — this clean-cut collegian who I’ll call “Phil” — hits me like a ton of bricks. What can I say to Phil? I just pointed out the ways that “marriage equality” will lead to the repression of traditional religious faiths by government. And here he is asking me: Why is that a bad thing?
But tonight, this is a different kid in a different state. And behind his question, he makes clear, is a world of suffering — a family torn apart by the deepest moral and religious disagreement.
And the first thing I want to tell him is: I’m sorry for your pain. I’m sorry for your sister’s pain, too. Family to me is the place where love is an obligation. Your family are the people you didn’t choose to love. But you still do.
Can we build a world where people like Phil and people like me will both be OK? Where people who disagree about the meaning and purpose of human sexuality can somehow not only tolerate but love one another?
Maggie, listen up! Gay people have been trying to explain this to you for years now. I know Jeremy Hooper has probably worn out a few keyboards trying to get through to you. This gay kid, this hurting gay kid, would probably not be hurting quite so much if people like Maggie Gallagher Srivastav weren’t dedicating their lives to fostering a climate of fear, lies and hatred about gay people like “Phil,” like Jeremy, like the readers of this site, and like me! You see, one of the only places “trickle-down” actually works is in anti-gay animus (and other race, gender and class-based bias)! You are apparently human, as you were able to see that the kid is hurting, but somehow you’re unable to make the connection between that pain and your life’s work! Maggie, we all have our own beliefs about things. That’s fine. No one is threatening to take that away from you. This is the United States. You are free to oppose homosexuality all you want, insofar as it involves your own life. But what you do is different! The second a law is passed that adds greater protection to our families, to our children, the same protections your family enjoys, you take your toolbox and your undisclosed donors and you run off to make sure those protections are taken away. I do not know what has happened in your life that is so painful that you are redirecting that pain and anger toward an entire class of people. I’m truly sorry, but the first step in recovering from that victimization is to stop using it as an excuse to victimize other people and to stop trying to remake the world in your own biased image. We have no desire to ruin your marriage. It is beyond me why you would want to do the same to me.
So, to answer your question, “How can we build a world where people like Phil and people like me will both be OK”? It’s quite simple, Maggie. Live your life and make it beautiful. Have a happy marriage. Live out your belief system. But have the courtesy and the decency to realize that your beliefs are not shared by everyone else, that your religion is not the arbiter of law in this secular nation (the law which allows you to practice that religion freely in the first place!), and allow your LGBT neighbors the space and freedom to live our own lives to the fullest and to be treated equally under the law.