frenemies

Will America Find a Way for Supporters and Opponents of Gay Marriage to Love Each Other? Maggie Gallagher Hopes So

In her best effort yet — no, really! read this — to sound like the reasonable party in the gay marriage debate, Maggie Gallagher’s latest missive almost makes you feel sympathetic to her cause. In denying gay families the rights and privileges of what a marriage would provide, Gallagher says she doesn’t want to “score points” with anyone. It’s not about winning, like those obnoxious lawyers Ted Olson David Boies. It’s about being fair and just while continuing to endorse discrimination.

In a debate this week with gay marriage supporter (and civil union compromiser) Jonathan Rauch at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Gallagher told the audience, “I’m against discrimination, I’m against hatred, I’m in favor of marriage equality, but I don’t think same-sex marriage is marriage. Therefore I think it is wrong for the government to insist, through the use of law, that we all believe that same-sex unions are marriages.”

This is the woman who feels bad when you lose your gay marriage rights. Who loses sleep at night thinking about this institution. Who says she got involved in “protecting marriage” because of America’s high divorce rate (but won’t come out in support of banning divorce).

In recounting the lead up to the speech, Gallagher recalls (from another forum?) a question she received.

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?”

[…] I hunger, as so many of us do, for some way to connect across our differences.

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?

Well, Phil, this woman feels for you. She wants everything to be okay. But she’ll be the first to volunteer to stand in the middle of doing what is right.

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?

I don’t know. In Europe and Canada it is becoming increasingly clear that gay rights requires the repression of Christianity and other traditional faith communities. Can we find a better solution?

America usually has. Being honest with one another, being unafraid to say what we think, is the first, fragile step.

And there’s the central point: Gallagher, who insists her group the National Organization for Marriage is a secular entity, continues to believe that gay marriage somehow infringes on religious rights. It does not — at least not more than religion, and the gross misinterpretation of its involvement in the state, infringes on our civil rights.