It’s an interesting twist: gay marriage opponents are now claiming “intolerance” for their beliefs. The problem is, their argument that marriage is about a man and woman and their biological children means that my marriage is not valid. So not surprisingly I have strong feelings about this:
About 10 years ago, during a friendly discussion about marriage equality, a gay colleague convinced me that legal marriage for same-sex couples was unattainable, given then-current public opinion. Instead, he argued, activists should work toward more incremental successes, such as legalizing civil unions or, say, removing the words “intrinsically disordered” from the catechism.
Boy, was he wrong.
OK, so maybe “intrinsically disordered” is still in the catechism. But public opinion on marriage equality has shifted seismically in the past decade. Most national polls now find a narrow majority of Americans in favor of legal marriage for gays and lesbians — with even stronger support among younger generations.
That’s a radical change from 1996, when Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Back then, only a quarter of Americans supported marriage equality, according to averages of national polls reported by The New York Times.
Of course, DOMA — which allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages — is no more, having been found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court this year. Meanwhile, the number of states recognizing same-sex marriage continues to grow, though, sadly, my own state, Illinois, has not yet passed such legislation.
My former colleague, I’m sure, is happy to have been wrong and most likely joins other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folks and their supporters in cheering this societal change. But they’re not the only ones with their fingers in the wind.
Opponents of same-sex marriage, who consider themselves defenders of so-called traditional marriage, know how to analyze poll data, too. So it’s not surprising that there has been a noticeable revision to their arguments.
Sure, some still argue that homosexuality is a sin, indeed an abomination, and that anyone who is gay is to be despised. Others are less harsh, pointing out the difference between homosexual orientation and acts, judging as sinful only those who act on their “preferences.” Love the sinner, hate the sin, as it were.
But an increasing number of “traditional” marriage supporters are taking a different tactic. They’re not talking about gay people at all — or if they are, it’s only to voice newfound support for LGBT folks.
(On a good day, I charitably hope such support is real, perhaps born out of their experiences and relationships with LGBT friends or family. On a bad day, well, I’m cynical … )
It’s not about gay people anymore. It’s about the children.