There are bigots and then there’s Maggie Gallagher, President of the National Organization for Marriage, a conservative group that serves as a front for anti-gay discrimination which put out an ad this week that’s riddled with fear and manipulation– as well as some entertaining storm footage. Gallagher has become the last-best hope for the anti-gay rights movement, which in itself is pretty laughable.
As the arguments against gay marriage fall apart, Gallagher, in her own mental storm, has cobbled together a potpourri of false maternal concern, the argument that gay marriage will somehow destroy heterosexuals lives and the ludicrous argument that the real reason we want to get married and have equal rights is to destroy the American family and the church.
But just who is Maggie Gallagher– and why are people listening to her?
A Yale graduate in Religious Studies, Gallagher has a knack for being on the wrong side of controversy. She first came to prominence by penning a defense of Dan Quayle’s criticism of the unwed mother subplot on Murphy Brown and ever since, she’s been a reliable shill for the Republican party. This isn’t surprising considering they pay her for her opinion.
In 2002 Gallagher testified to Congress, arguing in favor of Bush’s proposed $300 million program to strengthen families. The one thing she forgot to leave out; she was on the Bush payroll to the tune of $21,500. When the Washington Post‘s Howard Kurtz uncovered the story, she replied, “Did I violate journalistic ethics by not disclosing it? I don’t know. You tell me.” The Economist wrote about her in a piece entitled “The Etiquette of Bribery.”
But political hacks don’t die, they just get cushy jobs at necon think tanks like the National Organization of Marriage. Gallagher has become cable news’ go-to gal for the anti-gay marriage side of the story and she tries to make the most of it, portraying herself as a woman who doesn’t have any desire to infringe on the rights of gays and lesbians, but is simply, deeply concerned about gay marriage’s impact on straight couples.
On Hardball yesterday, she went tete-a-tete with HRC’s Joe Solomonese as they argued about her new ad, which Joe characterized as a series of lies.
Watch Hardball with Maggie Gallagher:
One of her biggest arguments is that school teachers will now be forced to teach about gay marriage in school, though in what class they’re now teaching about marriage of any kind, she doesn’t say. She points to a Massachusetts Catholic adoption agency who was forced to allow gay adoptions or face being closed down as a sign of the coming apocalypse. Solomonese points out that institutions wishing to be involved in the public sphere ought to follow the laws of the state.
What’s most appalling is that Gallagher’s arguments boil down to “If we give gays and lesbians equal rights, than in the public sphere we’ll have to treat them equally.” Duh, that’s the whole point. However, she obfuscates her point so that it sounds as if the equal treatment of gays and lesbians will force the private domains of the church and the home to change as well.
Of course, Gallagher will never point out that there are plenty of churches that welcome gays and lesbians with open arms and that there are plenty of families that do so as well. Her fear is that with civil equality, personal attitudes will change as well. She fears what “the next generation of children” will be like, growing up in a society that treats gay people equally.
She gives the LGBT movement far too much credit, though. We know all too well that you can’t force people to be tolerant– they have to do it themselves. That changes doesn’t happen in the courts or on the floor of a legislature; it happens in the individual hearts and minds of Americans.
That Gallagher’s made it her life quest to keep Americans from being a more tolerant and caring people is infuriating, for sure, but at it’s core, it’s just sad.