Gay, I mean. I’m not gay. Nor do I have a personal opinion on your gayness. Or half gayness. Or exploratory gayness. Or lack of gayness altogether. It’s a lifestyle choice–to not spend time dwelling upon who may or may not be operating at varying levels of gay.
But this piece isn’t about being gay, or straight. If you’re are TrueCon© purist in the mood for a brawl over the virtueless life of the American homosexual, the door is right behind you. If you’re one of those allegedly virtueless American homos looking for a forum to air your grievances about the hateful wingnuts who want to patrol your bedroom at night, please go away. I don’t want to go anywhere near your bedroom. EVER.
We’re in an election year, and with every election year comes the birth and rebirth of those issues that make those of us who remain engaged in politics 24/7–and don’t just surface mid-primary to parrot talking points they read in The Weekly Standard–want to light ourselves on fire in the middle of a busy intersection. As of now, LGBT equality and abortion are neck and neck for the Most Obnoxious Issue and Advocates trophies. For now, though, let’s deal with LGBT equality. It’ll be fun. Or something.
Equality is one of those things that everybody loves to fight about, but nobody wants to define. The meaning has become elusive; for progressives, what once stood for equal opportunity now stands for equal results. This is our first problem–a difference in expectations. Most conservatives, myself included, look at equality as having an equal chance at success. Efforts by the government to “fix” things lead to skewed results, and eventual societal dependance on bureaucratic interference.
Not so with the left. For liberals, lacking “programs” bent on “achieving equality” is akin to throwing every woman and minority under the bus. They reject the concept of equal opportunity, and instead focus on the importance of equal results–even if their solutions absolutely destroy the very need for equal opportunity.
Which brings me to the point. Equality.
As far as LGBT issues are concerned, we’ve gotten to the point where “equality” doesn’t even matter any more. We’ve gotten past equality, and moved on to…something else. There’s really no word for it. I’d hate to allege that liberals are using that demographic as pawns in a sick political game of “Screw the Other Party,” but that’s really what it comes down to. If it weren’t for that we wouldn’t have seen the stunning evolution of a little thing called “hate.”
Or, “H8,” if you’ve got tape over your mouth.
Hate is another one of those concepts that people love to scream about, but never really take the time to define.
Well, except for this conservative. This conservative is sick of the left’s cheap perversion of what it means to “hate.” Their definition is an insult to truly hateful people everywhere. “Hatred” does not equate to disagreement. “Hatred” is not analogous to “dislike.” Hatred goes far beyond the superficial. It is the opposite of love. To love someone is to want the best for them; to hate someone is to want the worst–for them to be damned or cursed, or to die.*
What a horrible thing, to hate. To wish someone would die. This is something you’d normally associate with the KKK, or Nazi Germany. Not conservatives. And yet, every day I’m inundated with accusations of hatred and intolerance–sometimes from my own friends and colleagues. It’s exhausting, to have such a horrible thing projected onto thoughts I’ve yet to think, and word’s I’ve yet to speak. Exhausting, but manageable, because I know myself better than the loons think they know me. What really gets me is when those freedom fighters on the right foist a hateful motivation on loving, honest, and compassionate conservatives and Christians.
Recently, the law school I attend co-sponsored a panel entitled, “IS HATE A MICHIGAN VALUE?” It addressed several pieces of legislation that were, at the time, making their way through the Michigan legislature. These pieces of legislation had the potential to make a substantial impact on the gay community, and if there’s demand, I’ll address this legislation at another time. In preparation for this event, the school issued a press release, and promoted the student-run event on the front page of the main website. (Interestingly enough, the Federalist Society was denied any sort of promotion or website privileges when it hosted conservative Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman. I’m sure it was just a coincidence, right? The marketing department has yet to respond to my inquiries into the matter.) I have information suggesting, but that I have not confirmed, that the student groups who sponsored the event were instructed to not bring a balanced viewpoint to the panel. But that’s beside the point–we all knew what it was, I was just the only one brave enough to start asking questions. The point is, for two weeks, it was in my face: “Is HATE a Michigan value? Is it a Michigan REPUBLICAN value? HATE IS YOUR VALUE. HATE HATE HATE. I am a victim of your HATRED. HATE HATE HATE.” It was enough to drive me insane. I wasn’t able to attend the event due to class, but that’s immaterial; what is material is the fact that in the days leading up to the event, both Facebook and Twitter were inundated with discussion about the “hatred” exemplified by Michigan legislators in proposing this “hateful” legislation that was just so full of “hate” and meanness and “hate” and more “hate.”
In those few days, I may have lost friends, because I refused to let it go–what gives my colleagues the right to publicly accuse me of hate? I had no recourse. What makes this garbage so difficult to counter is the simple fact that progressives–especially progressives and even moderates my age–have lost sight of what it means to hate. They have no understanding of the difference between hate, and disagreement. This is mostly due to the fact that for most of our natural born lives, college- and professional school-aged people have been trained to believe that our feelings and self-esteem are the most important things in the world. In fact, they are other-worldly–the world revolves around our right to be understood and coddled and made to feel like we are special and important and right. Therefore, when someone disagrees with our lifestyle–our gayness, or our partying habits, or our sex life–it’s not just disagreement, it’s a grudge against us as a person.
This, of course, is bullshit. It would be laughable if it weren’t so sad; sad because, for the most part, they believe it. They really do believe that Christians are inherently hateful because doctrine teaches that homosexuality is a sin–like we can’t help but be all nasty and judgey whenever we sense there’s a gay about. They really do believe that Rick Santorum is a hateful man because he is a Christian. They really do believe that ideological disagreement amounts to, and I quote, “not giving a fuck about [gay people].”
I’m over it. Truly over it. Why? Because I do give a fuck about gay people. So do conservatives, so do Christians, and so does Rick Santorum. If I stopped caring–actually stopped caring–about every person who embraced as part of their lifestyle something I disagreed with, I wouldn’t care about anyone. Anyone. Ever. I’d be…Dostoyevsky. Or someone else equally depressing. The point is, if progressives actually applied their own logic to the world at large, they’d end up with a world full of people who don’t care about anyone, because there’s not a person in the world whose views are 100% in lockstep with those of even one other person. Foundations differ. Motivations differ.
If we’re dealing with a world where it comes down to either “HATE” or “complete agreement and acceptance,” it’ll be hate coming out on top every single time.
That’s not good enough for me. I’m better than that argument. I’m above the intellectual dishonesty of it, especially when the people accusing me of being “hateful” are the ones who think it’s productive to threaten and intimidate people who use the power of free speech in an attempt to preserve their own traditions. Because that’s what it comes down to. If you took a survey of 100 conservatives right now, I’d bet that 99 of them couldn’t care less what you do in your own bedroom. I know I don’t. There could be swings and blowup dolls involved, and I wouldn’t even blink. It’s your sex life. What they’re worried about is the preservation of a tradition (or sacrament or ordinance, depending on their affiliation) that “society” has no business messing with. The sacrament of marriage does not belong to society; it belongs to the church. It is a gift from God, separate from whatever the State requires before a couple is deemed “married.” Understand? Not yours to change. Not yours to co-opt. Not yours to define. Wanting to protect this beautiful, sacred thing is not hate–it’s remaining true to the very definition of what that beautiful, sacred thing is.
So there it is.
Most gay people I know think that I’m a nut for loving Jesus and thinking that having my husband’s babies is the sexiest thing I’ll ever do. That’s fine; I’m not going to accuse them of “hate” because of how they feel about it, because it’s not hate–it’s a lack of understanding.
Ironic, considering how huge of a push there is for straight society to automatically understand and acquiesce to anything the activist LGBT demands of us.
But that’s the key, isn’t it? Understanding. The most effective way I’ve found of defeating the “HATE” narrative is to explain the “why”: “Why don’t you support my marriage?” “Why don’t you support my lifestyle?” “Why don’t you approve of pumping pre-pubescent kids full of hormones?” Tell them why–and don’t just give them a “because the BIBLE” argument and move on, because that gets you nowhere. If there’s one thing a non-Christian doesn’t understand or accept, it’s what the Bible says. Explain the motivation. Explain the doctrine. Do whatever you have to do to deconstruct the idea that hatred motivates the traditional mindset. It may not change minds en masse, but it might help a friend or coworker understand where you’re coming from. It’s worked for me–it can work for you, and you don’t have to compromise a thing to do it.
And for all you gay rights activists out there–roll with the understanding thing. If you want to change conservative minds, you might want to start with not screaming obscenities and assaulting innocent people with handfuls of glitter.
Just a thought.
*Thanks to my friend J for this explanation
Very good. Really well done.
“If you want to change conservative minds, you might want to start with not screaming obscenities and assaulting innocent people with handfuls of glitter. ”
I personally do neither, but do not particularly mind when others do it. That being said, I don’t think they want to change conservative minds. They want conservative minds and conservative laws out of their business.
Similarly, conservatives want progressive social agenda out of the church.
It comes down to articulating the difference between marriage, and what the state requires for a couple to be considered “married.” I think the state should afford couples the same process, gay or straight. That’s separate from marriage. Marriage is a thing of the church, and “society” has no say in what the church will or will not recognize.
I don’t think anyone is suggesting that churches should be forced to marry people they don’t want to. In the same way a Catholic church isn’t required to marry a Jewish couple, they don’t have to marry a homosexual one.
‘Marriage’ is what the civil union is called in our country. And as I, an atheist, will be marrying my agnostic fiance at the end of the year, the government’s marriage obviously has nothing to do with your religion’s version of it.
1. Thanks for recognizing the difference between what’s ordained and what’s granted by the bureaucracy.
2. My larger point is that these activists absolutely refuse to let it go that someone may find their lifestyle objectionable. If religion doesn’t matter, and churches don’t matter, and Christianity doesn’t matter–then stay away from it. Ignore it. You can’t have it both ways–either accept the fact that not everyone is going to condone your lifestyle, and coexist, or stop talking and leave the church alone. It’s not just Presidential candidate-bashing; it’s an every day thing for someone who merely identifies as a conservative.
If people demand the right to live and let live, they should walk their talk and leave me alone.
1. You’re welcome. I really couldn’t care less what any religion does, provided they aren’t harming anyone. Which is the reason for…
2. It’s not that the religious find it objectionable. It’s that they find it objectionable AND they are trying to prevent homosexuals from getting married legally.
Forgive me, but from my perspective it seems that you have things completely backwards. It’s not the gay activists that need to leave the church alone. It’s the church that needs to leave the government alone.
What gay activists are doing is in direct response to religious politicians and religious organizations trying to keep them from getting legally married.
Here’s a novel proposal: why don’t both sides leave each other alone? I don’t have it backwards at all. It’s wrong for the church to attempt to influence the law on an unconstitutional level. It’s also wrong for rabid activists to accuse innocent people of hatred and intolerance simply because those people have doctrinal problems with a particular lifestyle. It’s manipulative and intellectually dishonest.
Very well written. Even though I strongly disagree with you about gay marriage it is clear you, and the millions that agree with you, are not motivated by hate. Which is why I always frame my arguments for marriage equality in positive terms – more liberty, more happiness, etc. No one has ever in human history changed their mind because someone threw glitter on them.
All I want to do is preserve the sacrament. Am I for equal civil rights under the law? Absolutely. It’s a complex argument.
Bravo! I bow to you being able to put into words what a lot of us feel about this issue. I have taken to not involving myself in the conversation, because the hate the rolls off the left over me is overwhelming – physical if you like.
Reblogged this on 54°40′ Or Fight! and commented:
Great piece by my friend Amy Miller. Straight (no pun intended) to the point.
How do you get most of society to recognize the difference between marriage as done through church, and religion and “marriage” as in civil union for legal purpose.
It might have to happen one on one; it might have to start with friends and colleagues. Focus on the details…what does the state offer when a couple is deemed married? Tax laws are different, dispensation of property is handled differently, somes states handle hospital-visiting privileges differently, etc. I don’t want to say those things are the “point” of a state-given union, but they’re definitely after-effects.
When it comes to the church, marriage is a holy union. The responsibilities and duties bestowed upon a couple married on the church are completely different, completely separate, and completely unique. Focus on the absurdity of allowing progressive “society” to redefine a tradition it neither understands nor respects.
I am also a conservative. I was raised Southern Baptist and I still hold strongly to my faith. However, I am also a man of science and reason, to the best of my ability. I agree with many of the things you said and I am especially impressed with how well you expressed the conservative right’s feeling on marriage. I whole-heartedly agree that marriage is a holy union that is done in the presence of God and that it should be treated as such. However, that definition of marriage only applies to those of us who share these beliefs. The State also conducts marriages as the legal form of civil union in our country. For Christians, these two ceremonies are usually entwined and that is the end of it, but for non-Christians the State’s civil ceremony is still very much a marriage without any religious affiliations. The movement for gay marriage isn’t them trying to get a church ordained marriage. Gay people simply want the right to be able to marry in the same way which Atheists, Agnostics, and anyone else not of the Christian faith can marry. It took me a very long time to come to understand this because I too used to feel that gay marriage would ruin the sanctity of marriage. However, they aren’t asking to get married in your church or for it to involve whichever god you may believe in. They simply want to be able to marry whomever they love in the eyes of the State which may or may not be the highest power in which they believe.
As for all of the hate-mongering that you mentioned, I agree that it is completely ridiculous and that in the end both sides are accomplishing nothing. The conservatives are lashing out towards the liberals because they feel like their time-honored, deep-rooted traditions are being destroyed. The liberals are lashing out towards the conservatives because they are desperate to change the way things are and they have to work against centuries of social momentum. After all, homosexuality isn’t a new thing. There have been gays all through history but the social stigmas of the time have always kept them repressed. In the last century, western society has come a long way towards ending social repression of minorities. Just look back at the growth of women’s rights in the first half of the 1900s and then black rights after that. In both of those movements there were hostilities thrown around by both sides just like with this issue. I say this not to condone anger or violence, but simply to say that this seems to be the pattern for social change in America. Ideally, we should all be able to sit down and calmly discuss our beliefs and opinions without having to raise our voices or get angry. Unfortunately, it’s very much like you said in your post, “[People] have no understanding of the difference between hate, and disagreement.” If someone doesn’t share the same beliefs as another person, the reaction seems to be a fight-or-flight reflex instead of using the opportunity to learn about someone else’s thoughts and opinions which could possibly be right or even just give that person more to think about. This very behavior is why I am annoyed with modern politics, but that’s a different matter.
My grand point is that I understand where you are coming from in writing this post and I can feel your frustration at the anger and hate-mongering that is happening. I just want to point out that both sides are doing it whether they realize it or not and unfortunately, most of this whole debacle is because people are arguing over two different definitions of marriage but treating them as though they were the same thing. I’ll leave with this analogy: Imagine that the Right family had a golden retriever that it absolutely loved and it was practically part of the family. Now, the next door neighbors, the Left family, decide that they want to buy a golden retriever too, because the Rights’ dog is awesome. However, when the Lefts try to buy their own golden retriever the Rights call the cops and accuse the Lefts of trying to steal their dog. The Lefts explain that they weren’t trying to steal anyone’s dog and that they simply want to have a dog of their own. Then the Rights say that if the Lefts have to have a dog then they can’t get a golden retriever but they can get a bulldog instead. The Lefts don’t want a bulldog, though. They want a golden retriever. More importantly, though, the Lefts want to be able to buy whichever breed of dog they want without their neighbors having any say in the matter. In much the same way the conservative right doesn’t want gays to be able to marry. If gay people want to marry, then it doesn’t affect the Church or the conservative right. Thus, there is no reason for them to be upset or defensive about it. And there is no reason that gay marriage should have to be called a civil union unless all secular marriages are called civil unions.
PS: I apologize if I’ve accidentally said anything to offend anyone and I apologize for taking up so much of the comment space. I just felt like I needed to share my thoughts on the matter and I sincerely hope that this will be read by any and all with the intention of an open and non-aggressive atmosphere.
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This may sound hugely simplistic but why not call ALL government sanctioned marriages “civil unions” since that it what they are? This doesn’t preclude people of religion from having a marriage ceremony within their house of faith but there is no reason why the religious union and the government union need have the same name.
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