Wedding Bells, Part II

With the sudden marriage rights granted in three states last week came a lot of to-do about how religious organizations will be impacted. One of the biggest (not-yet-a-) problems being raised right now is the possibility of gay couples attempting to sue churches to force them to perform their wedding ceremonies. That has not happened yet, although I believe that eventually it will.

You wouldn’t know that it hasn’t happened yet, though – not if you’re listening to the Christians on social media.

The Hitching Post, a wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, was recently sued by a gay couple. The owners and ministers, Donald and Evelyn Knapp, refused to perform gay nuptials for a couple. That couple filed a complaint with the city, claiming discrimination. The ministers quickly found themselves facing possible fines and jail time under city non-discrimination ordinances, and Christians all over the net started falling all over themselves. “We told you the gays would do this!” they’ve screamed. “You tried to tell us they’d never be able to sue churches to force this on us, but look – THEY’RE DONG IT!!!”

One problem: The Hitching Post isn’t a church. It’s a licensed, for-profit business. Since it’s not listed as a religious organization, it falls under the same non-discrimination laws that all city businesses are required to abide by.

I’m not saying this is a battle that shouldn’t be fought. I am saying that the reaction to this has been way over-the-top given the facts of the case. A lot of very un-Christ-like remarks have been made in some conversations, and one person took the time to private message me on Facebook simply for pointing out the fact that this didn’t involve a church and say some things that were…well, let’s just say Jesus wept.

All of this falls under “the law of unintended consequences.” Part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 barred businesses from discriminating. The cause of that portion of the law was the requirement that blacks – or “coloreds” as they were referred to at the time – have separate (and often less comfortable) accommodations at restaurants, movie theaters, and hotels. Since segregation had to end, it all had to end. The law, however, cannot be applied to only one group. It has to be applied to all. The result has been that businesses licensed by the government (and all businesses are required to have a license these days) are now barred from discriminating against anyone. The result is often harsh – from hefty fines to jail and/or losing one’s business. We’ve seen several businesses attacked over the past couple of years for refusing to take part in gay wedding ceremonies, including photographers, bakers, and tailors.

What’s happened this week to The Hitching Post takes it to a new level. We now must ask ourselves where the government nanny state stops and people are allowed to make their own decisions. If we strike down all anti-discrimination laws, then businesses can start discriminating against anyone. They can put out signs telling gays, blacks, Jews, or even Christians to stay away. The idea here is that a business that does discriminate could then be tried in the court of public opinion; a business owner could find themselves bankrupt after turning someone away.

I admit I don’t know exactly how it should be handled. I do know that the original complaint against The Hitching Post was valid according to the law. The best way for them to beat it is to file as a religious corporation, and they apparently have, which means they may now be protected. Maybe, because marriage is often seen as a religious institution, businesses that cater specifically to weddings should consider filing as religious corporations. I hope the Knapps win this, because I don’t believe anyone should be forced to do anything that runs contrary to their religious beliefs.

Either way, the religious portion of the right wing has nearly gone off the deep end on this story. Everyone needs to take a breath. Educate yourself before you lose your mind about something. Not only will you look less sophomoric, you’ll likely save your blood pressure in the process.

POST SCRIPT: If the day ever comes when gay leftist groups begin attacking religious rights over gay marriage, I will be out front, breaking my personal rules about never protesting in public, leading the charge to protect religious liberties. Just to make that clear.

Wedding Bells, Part I

With the new rights of same-sex couples in three states to get married has come a lot of arguing – often permeated by misinformation and outright lies. What should be a simple matter best left to history is turning into a hideous back-and-forth about the rights of the individual and the majority (not to mention the difference between a business and a church).

Last week, things happened at a pretty dizzying pace. The Supreme Court refused to hear a case regarding challenges to gay marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada. The Ninth Circuit had determined the bans were Unconstitutional, running afoul of the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. The refusal of SCOTUS to hear the case meant that the Ninth Circuit ruling stood, effectively striking down gay marriage bans in those states. Activists in Arizona immediately jumped on the opportunity, arguing that the Ninth Circuit’s decision applied to all of the states in the division. Same-sex marriage was immediately made legal when AG Tom Horne announced that it wasn’t worth fighting and he was ordering the court clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples forthwith.

The argument being made by most of those opposed to same-sex marriage is that the majority voted to approve the ban, so it should be allowed to stand. Several have also tried to say that there was no ban – that the law (known in 2008 as Prop 102) was only about defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. Unfortunately, both of these arguments hold no water. Arizona’s laws regarding marriage had specifically targeted same-sex marriage, going so far as to bar state and local officials from recognizing such marriages that had been performed in other states (a la DOMA). The court wasn’t ruling on whether gay marriage was right – it was ruling that a law that singled out a particular subset of the population was Unconstitutional and could not be allowed to stand. They were right on that.

As for the majority argument? We are a Constitutional Republic, not a Democracy. Tyranny of the majority does not rule the day in America. The minority cannot be told they don’t have rights simply because the majority doesn’t want them to. I’m sure a rather strong majority of voters in Mississippi and Alabama wanted to keep Jim Crow laws when the federal government forcibly repealed them in 1964, but that didn’t make them right and it didn’t mean the court should have upheld them. There’s a majority of very liberal people in Chicago and Washington, DC. Gun laws for a long time have been so strict that carrying (or, in many cases, even owning) guns has been nearly impossible. SCOTUS had to stand up for the minority and tell the majority they were violating everyone’s rights. This is the same principle. The majority determines a lot of things; there are some things, however, best not left to a simple majority. That is the point of a Republic.

Then there’s the “G-d” argument. “G-d says marriage is between one man and one woman, so that’s the way it’s supposed to be!” If you want to believe that, it’s up to you. I’m not here to tell you you’re wrong. I am here to tell you that you cannot codify your personal religious belief into law. The only mention of religion in the entire Constitution is in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That means that no government entity or law can tell you what you are allowed to believe. On the same token, it also means that the government cannot pass any law based purely on one religious belief or another. Your rights to believe that I am a sinner for being gay are protected. Your right to tell me I’m a sinner for being gay are protected. You have no right to pass a law against me because I’m gay.

Which will lead into the next article…Wedding Bells, Part II: The Hitching Post!

(In)Tolerant

In 2012, many names of those who contributed money to California’s Prop 8 campaign – the law proposed to make newly-legalized gay marriage illegal again in the state – was publicized. Many people were called upon by angry LGBT groups to answer for their support. Not surprisingly (at least to me), many of the people who contributed were also Democrats who voted for Barack Obama. I’m sure nobody remembers the fact that the vacationer-in-chief staunchly supported DOMA during his first campaign in order to attract the Democrat voters who are against gay marriage,

One of the names on that list two years ago was Brendan Eich. At the time he was the CTO of Mozilla, the company that built popular free internet browser Firefox. Last month he was hired as Mozilla’s CEO. Almost as soon as he achieved the highest position in the company he helped found, the fact that he had donated $1,000 to the Prop 8 campaign was trotted out by bitter gay activists again. OKcupid got involved by asking their users to log onto their website using any browser other than Firefox. The message was sent: Eich is an anti-gay hatemonger, and we need to ruin him!

Just a few days ago, Eich was pressured to resign as Mozilla CEO. He apologized for having hurt anyone but the apology mattered none.

Before I get into my issues here, know that I am fully aware that this is not a matter of First Amendment rights. Nothing that happened is a violation of Eich’s rights. Everyone involved was exercising their rights to free speech. That is not what is wrong here.

What is wrong is this episode is setting a dangerous new precedent. This is the new face of the mob mentality that has begun to take over in American politics. Lists of political donations and firearms license holders are being published in the press by so-called journalists who feel they have an obligation to shine a light on a perceived wrong in society. The fallout is things like this – people being singled out, their lives torn apart because one small group decided that they were doing something they felt was wrong.

It is no secret that I don’t have much love for Arizona representative Kyrsten Sinema. Whereas I once had a couple of things to agree with her on, thanks to her followers I cannot even hold onto that anymore. A couple of years ago, I engaged several of her most ardent followers in a “debate” (I do use that word rather lightly) about Second Amendment rights and whether human beings have a natural right to defend themselves. As is always the case with hard-left liberals, it was very heated on their end with a lot of name-calling and almost no factual offerings while I tried to be rational and reasonable. One of them started taking the personal information on my Facebook page and posting it on the thread, making fun of me for it. Then it came out that I’m an EMT working in a 911 system in their areas.

Oh, that was it. Multiple people had absolute meltdowns. How could I possibly believe we have a right to carry guns when I’m responsible for treating people who have been shot? How could I believe that we should defend ourselves when I see the consequences of those beliefs on the streets? Here’s a sampling of the comments made:

“Your license to practice as an EMT should be revoked! You are violent and angry and I hate you and everything you stand for!”

“I’m going to write a letter to the state health department about you, Mel Maguire! You’re a disgrace to your profession and you should never be allowed to help people ever again!”

“If you ever come to my house, I won’t let you in! Don’t you ever answer my 911 call!”

And these are some of the nicer comments made. Kyrsten never deleted anyone’s comments, never stood up for me as a public servant, and never bothered to tell people to dial it down. Her silence said a lot about where her stance was. I didn’t have the heart to tell any of these people that the overwhelming majority of police, fire, and EMS workers are on the right side of the political spectrum. Their reactive comments, though, honestly scared me. They still scare me – now more so thanks to what was done to Brendan Eich. Nobody deserves to lose their livelihood simply because a few disagree with their politics.

If a small but vocal group of angry people can end a man’s career with the company he founded based on a technology he wrote (JavaScript), it does not bode well for the rest of society. That anger can and will be turned on others. It is magnified many times over when those in power do nothing to calm that sentiment. Don’t hold your breath for a phone call from President Obama apologizing for the hate that Eich experienced. Don’t plan on a DOJ investigation into whether his civil rights were violated. The press has said little about the fact that Eich’s professional image was irreparably damaged by this episode.

His donation and personal beliefs about marriage are not anti-gay. He simply doesn’t believe in gay marriage. That does not equate to hatred, and I’m tired of hearing people make that parallel. We can’t get the press to call out Al Sharpton for his blatant and wanton racism, but you can be damn sure they’ll attack anyone who is not 100% supportive of gay everything.

Eich’s personal beliefs were never brought into his workplace. He never refused to hire gay people. In fact, Mozilla has gay-friendly workplace policies as far as I know. If he never brought his personal ideas into his office, then nobody else should have. The way he was forced out of his own company, you’d think he’d been caught on camera drowning puppies or something. He wasn’t a member of the KKK. He just doesn’t believe in gay marriage. I fail to understand why that is grounds for a smear campaign aimed at destroying him both personally and professionally.

Just because the First Amendment allows you to do that to a person does not make it right. The fact that you don’t agree with him doesn’t make him intolerant and you a saint. Every single person who allowed this or supported it should be deeply ashamed. You are the living proof that those who scream for others to be more tolerant are the most intolerant among us.

MYOB

As a direct descendent of one of our founding fathers, a Tea Party original, and a “conservatarian” (my dad’s description of me), I believe strongly in limited government. While they disagreed on quite a few things, nearly all of the founders agreed that any central government had to be limited in size, scope, and power. A system of checks and balances was put into place. After the Declaration of Independence, both the Constitution and the Articles of Amendment were written. These documents were written in such a way that if you take out one, the rest will fall.

I believe in everyone minding their own business. You have a right to your religious beliefs. If you believe that I’m living in sin for acknowledging and embracing the fact that I am a lesbian, that is your right. If you want to say so publicly, that is your right. I would fight to the death for your rights because I would expect my rights to be protected just as fiercely.

You do NOT have the right to enact laws that single out one group that you don’t happen to like based on your religious beliefs.

I’ve said that before, but it seems nobody is really getting the message. Let me say it again: you do not have the right to enact laws that single out one group that you don’t happen to like based on your religious beliefs.

Nearly every challenge to state gay marriage bans has won, ending with such laws being stricken down in Kentucky, Utah, and today, Virginia. In response Ted Cruz (who I normally like) introduced a bill co-sponsored by Mike Lee that would essentially bring back DOMA, albeit in a slightly different form. DOMA barred the federal government from recognizing gay marriages even in states that had decided that gay marriage was legal. The so-called State Marriage Defense Act would do an end-run around the Constitution and “protect” states from intrusion by federal courts if the voters in those states agree to make gay marriage illegal.

Here’s the big problem: the Tenth Amendment already addresses that sort of thing. The language literally says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” In other words, if the Constitution doesn’t give the feds the right to have power over something, that power belongs to the States. Reading all of the recent judicial commentary on rulings that strike down gay marriage bans all pretty much points to the same thing…the Fourteenth Amendment. The end of Section One reads, “…nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

So we’ve established that the First Amendment gives everyone the right to agree or disagree (peacefully) with gay marriage and to speak about said disagreement openly, but that it does not give anyone the right to write laws based on one religious belief. Now we’ve also established that the federal government is not allowed to take any power that the Constitution doesn’t give it. Add to that the fact that the government, whether local, state, or federal, cannot discriminate against one group or another for ANY reason in how it applies laws and rights. I think it’s pretty clear that gay marriage is a fight that social conservatives should give up now.

I don’t agree with liberalism because I see what it is doing to my country. I am talking to people every day who actually believed that Obamacare was supposed to make their healthcare free and eliminate the wait to see a doctor – and they don’t understand why the opposite is happening. I am called a racist because I don’t like President Obama and think he’s worse than Jimmy Carter. I am called heartless because I believe that there should be limits to the amount of money the government spends, particularly on welfare, and I believe that welfare should be something that one has to prove they genuinely need (and are trying to get off of). I am called a traitor because I’m a lesbian who isn’t liberal and told that I should just kill myself so I can’t do any more damage to the cause of gay rights.

I’m watching the press, who is ardently protected, take advantage of their protections and make a concerted effort to defend an indefensible man holding the highest office in America. I’m watching my friends and family come home from foreign countries drastically changed because their country asked them to go to war and then refused to back them up when they needed it. I feel like I’m watching my beloved country disintegrate because the people refuse to educate themselves and want nothing more than to know how to get their free stuff.

We wanted the government out of our bedrooms. We got that. Now we want the government out of everything else in our lives, but we are somehow willing to give them complete control? How does this work? I just want you all, from Ted Cruz to Barack Obama, to mind your own business. Get out of my life. Get out of my healthcare, my gun safe, my workplace, my bedroom, my TV, my computer, my cell phone – get the hell out. You don’t have the right to tell me that I can’t defend myself and my family if someone decides to try to harm us. You don’t have the right to tell me that I have to turn over all of my personal information to make sure I’m a terrorist. You damn sure don’t have the right to tell me that because you believe a certain way, I cannot love another woman and commit myself to her for the rest of my life. When you social conservatives do something about the astronomical divorce rates and clean up your own act, then and only then will you be allowed to wag a finger at me and accuse me of trying to destroy that supposedly sacred institution.

You cannot claim to want limited government while you’re championing the fight to give the government more power. It doesn’t work that way. I believe in remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy. That does not mean that I believe I should have a law written that forces all businesses to close on Saturdays to accommodate my belief.

The Real Slippery Slope

Social conservatives call gay marriage the “slippery slope” that endangers our freedoms. I never understood that argument, even when I was trying to make it. Yes, it may endanger your version of morality, but your freedoms? No, it doesn’t do that. However, what CAN happen really will endanger your freedoms – in fact, it already is.

Last year, Jack Phillips – owner of Lakewood’s Masterpiece Cakeshop – refused to make a cake for a gay couple’s private wedding. As a private citizen, he exercised his First Amendment rights to religious expression and free speech. He immediately found himself at the center of a discrimination firestorm, complete with protests outside his shop and a writeup in The Advocate. What he probably wasn’t expecting was what has recently been announced.

The District Attorney filed a discrimination complaint on behalf of the gay couple he refused to serve. Now Phillips faces the very real possibility of prosecution and a year in jail for his refusal. The slippery slope here was the discrimination laws that made this sort of thing possible – the Constitution, including the Civil Rights Act and all similar Amendments, were meant to stop discrimination on the part of the government. Schools, voting places, and other government institutions were supposed to be affected. Thanks to liberals, though, those laws are being expanded to be used as weapons against those they dislike: private citizens and business owners trying to stand up for their faith.

To some degree, I can understand wanting to change the mindset of some people. The law is not the way to do it, though – not in a free society. Discrimination against black people was a serious problem in the early 1960’s when the Civil Rights Act was passed. The government needed to come up with a way to end discrimination by government officials, and in order to do that they had to change the minds of those people. Does discrimination still exist? Is racism still an issue? Of course it is. When I was a teenager I was refused a job at a store near my home by a black manager who openly told me and several others that she would only hire black people. I went to school with white kids whose fathers were still members of the KKK. The big difference today is that such ideas are not acceptable in mainstream society.

Thanks to the power of public opinion, most companies want to protect everyone’s rights. Especially in the age of the internet, when a story of discrimination can be spread to the entire world at the speed of thought, businesses don’t want to ruffle feathers and most won’t refuse to serve a person unless they’re a danger to all of their other customers. The idea with discrimination laws now is that businesses that want to have licenses have to abide by the city, county, and state laws where they operate – if that means they are never allowed to turn someone down because of race, religion, or sexual orientation, they have to agree to the terms or they can’t stay in business.

This is NOT the way to use anti-discrimination laws.

The Constitution was never meant to dictate our personal dealings. It was never meant to allow laws to be written restricting what people believe or who they will serve in their private businesses. Discrimination laws may have been needed, but our Constitution was meant to protect us from the GOVERNMENT. It was meant to limit what the government could do or stop us from doing.

You see, in the legal world, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. That means that if a known anti-gay religious leader wants to eat in a restaurant owned by a gay couple, they will be required to serve him. Even if he’s having a conversation that they don’t like, they MUST serve him. If they don’t, they can now be brought up on the very same charges that Mr. Phillips is now facing. If they do not provide the same service to the people they don’t like as they do to the customers who are gay, they will be in violation of the same law.

Somehow I don’t think the gay community wants to be held to that standard. If you don’t want to have to do that, don’t try to use the law to do it to others. We live in a free country. If you don’t like Mr. Phillips, don’t take your business to him – protest calmly, get out the word, but stop trying to force people beyond tolerance and into acceptance with legal brute force.

This is exactly the kind of thing I have tried to warn social conservatives about for a long time. Tolerate gay marriage, give it direction – otherwise you will lose both your belief-based morality laws AND your basic freedoms all at once.

DOMA Has Fallen

As expected, the Supreme Court has handed the decision over California’s Prop 8 back to the lower courts (all of which held that it was Unconstitutional). Now gay marriage will resume in CA. What SCOTUS didn’t do, as many gay liberals had hoped they would, was declare all gay marriage laws Unconstitutional, throwing the doors wide open for gay marriage everywhere, regardless of state laws and in violation of state’s rights.

What they DID do, however, was strike down DOMA. That is a consolation we can definitely live with.

What does that mean? It means that the federal government cannot legally deny benefits to same-sex couples married in states where gay marriage is legal. It also means that states where gay marriage is banned cannot continue to deny the benefits of married couples to those same-sex families. SCOTUS declared DOMA to be a violation of both equal treatment/due process (Fifth Amendment) and the Full Faith and Credit Clause (Article IV, Section I of the Constitution). In short, the federal government cannot pass a law that singles out gay couples to be denied certain benefits, and the states must honor any contract made in another state – which, in this case, would be gay marriage.

Now I’m just waiting for the Full Faith and Credit Clause to be applied to my paramedic license and my CCW. But that’s another issue.

The fact that SCOTUS didn’t hand down a ruling that immediately legalizes gay marriage in every corner of the Republic is not something to get upset about. They did what they were supposed to do – they interpreted the laws being challenged under the scope of the Constitution and ruled accordingly. They left the state issue to the state in question and handled the federal issue before them. DOMA is no more. That is something to celebrate.

I think I might actually take my nose out of my books for once and go out this weekend.

What it means for Equal Marriage Arizona is that the movement goes forward with efforts to bring marriage equality to Arizona. Having already taken the wind out of Cathy Herrod’s sails, Equal Marriage Arizona happily released to the public their intent to immediately begin collecting signatures to put the measure on the ballot next year. Warren Meyer said, “The US Supreme Court said today that the states can decide this issue for themselves, and this legitimizes our Equal Marriage Arizona efforts, allows Arizona voters the chance to guarantee the freedom to marry and guarantee religious freedoms. We’re confident the Arizona voters are ready to say YES to both of these interrelated freedoms.”

Erin Ogletree Simpson continued the sentiment: “Petitions will be printed today and our volunteer efforts will start tomorrow. People can get a petition by calling us at 480-625-8620. Whether you’re straight or gay, conservative like I am, or liberal this is an effort we all can embrace – an effort for guaranteed freedom to marry and a guarantee for religious freedom. The Supreme Court said it’s up to us, so now it’s up to all of us.”

If you’re in Arizona, it’s time to start work. Everywhere else…smile!

A Time For Equality

When I was born, being openly gay was only acceptable in certain parts of San Francisco. Even in the Castro, police would harass known gay people. Everywhere else? Forget it. New York City wasn’t even partially as progressive as San Francisco was. I’m getting ahead of myself, though.

With the collapse of Nazi Germany (the third installation of which I will post tomorrow), a gay-rights movement sprang up in Europe, the UK, and the US. I think it may have been spurred on by the revelation that the Nazis had targeted homosexuals for extermination along with the Jews. The original movement gained a surprising amount of steam considering the conservative social sensibilities of the time. In 1966 LAPD officers raided Compton’s Cafeteria to arrest men dressed as women and a riot broke out – the drag queens and transgendered patrons destroyed the place. The next day, they went back to the cafe and smashed the newly-replaced plate-glass windows again (because, you know, destruction is the only way to get your point across when you’ve barely attempted to talk). In 1969, NYPD officers raided the Stonewall Inn, one of many mafia-owned gay bars.

Maybe I should explain here what laws were like in America at the time. Even in places that are now known as firmly leftist – Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco – there were decency laws. Some were targeted specifically towards those who identified as G, L, B, or T – in fact, it was illegal to knowingly run a bar or restaurant geared toward homosexuals. Men were not allowed to wear women’s clothing and women were not allowed to be too masculine. Laws for women were specific enough in some areas that in New York, for instance, a woman was required to wear at least three pieces of feminine clothing. Anyone caught in violation of public decency laws was subject to immediate arrest. Police harassment was commonplace. The First Amendment did not carry the same weight that it carries now; you were allowed to speak freely and express yourself, but if you ran afoul of the morality laws you no longer had those rights.

Nobody can accuse me of not knowing or understanding gay history.

Mafia crime families knew that clubs catering to gay patrons were cash cows waiting to be exploited, so they opened the first regular gay bars in Greenwich Village. They overcharged for drinks and watered down the booze, but they also paid off the police to make raids on their establishments less frequent. On June 28, 1969, four NYPD officers barged in to raid the club. Patrons began to refuse to produce IDs, so the officers decided everyone was going to jail. Male officers frisking lesbians all but sexually assaulted them. The few who were released assembled a crowd outside, even gathering passing pedestrians to witness what was going on. Finally, a lesbian being dragged out was beaten for complaining that she was uncomfortable – she called to the crowd that had gathered, at least 150 strong, to “do something!” They did. A mob of around 500 or so gravitated to the area within minutes and construction materials, particularly boards and bricks, ended up being used. Police officers had to barricade themselves inside the bar they’d raided to protect themselves. Rioters then tried to light the bar on fire, even tore a parking meter out of the ground to break the door down. Riots continued for at least five days, with multiple fires being set.

The riots were bound to happen, but Stonewall was too extreme. Much like the Black Panthers on the heels of Dr. King’s assassination, the Stonewall rioters did more to damage the cause of gay rights than they did justice. It is a good thing that gay rights organizations began to sprout nationwide, but what was the cost? Much of America began to fight back in subtler ways. It would be another thirty years before gay rights movements would be acceptable in any form. Decency laws are still on the books in some areas, merely being ignored because it’s too time-consuming for police to enforce them. Sodomy laws were already on the books in some states, but many – including my home state of Texas – enacted them in the years following Stonewall, not to be overturned for 40 years.

I explained that so I can explain this: I don’t think that a Supreme Court ruling striking down all state-level gay marriage bans or even DOMA is going to be a positive thing for gay rights. I think it would, yet again, set our cause back significantly.

The arguments being made by social conservatives about gay marriage right now are so ridiculous in many cases that I’m having a hard time keeping a straight face as I listen to them. The sanctity of marriage? Really? We have a divorce rate soaring well above 60% and they want to prattle about the sanctity of an institution that the overwhelming majority of our society abuses at an alarming rate? There’s the argument that gay couples cannot procreate. Out of curiosity, does anyone have the latest figures on married couples who either actively refuse to have children or simply can’t have children? Do we now expect all married couples to produce a child for their marriage to be valid? Yeah, I didn’t think so. My personal favorite so far is the argument that children being raised in gay homes are more prone to being ostracized – more simply, bullied. I’m sorry, but how is that my fault? Is it not YOUR prejudices that teach your children to treat other people that way? If you know your kid is being a jerk, it’s up to you to correct their behavior. It’s not my issue and I won’t be disrespected because you’re too prejudiced and lazy to do the right thing. Your religious misgivings about my sexual orientation do not deserve recognition in the law of the land any more than Sharia does.

At the same time, history has proven that gray areas like this (yes, it is a gray area, whether we like it or not – we can’t yet be classified as a race and subcultures do not count) draw intense backlash when the courts issue broad rulings too quickly. As evidence, I present Proposition 8. After the California State Supreme Court made gay marriage legal in the state, the backlash was swift and severe. Prop 8 gained popularity among far more than conservatives in the state. California voters gave Obama a resounding victory – the same people who voted for him also voted yes on Prop 8, making gay marriage illegal once again and proving that opposition to gay marriage crosses political ideologies and is not confined merely to the GOP. Why? Californians of all stripes and party affiliations were saying that the courts, comprised of judges who are not elected, are not the final authority on what the people are willing to accept. Enough liberals in California were not yet prepared to allow gay marriage that the half-hearted, snarky anti-Prop 8 campaign was doomed to failure.

And the gay left is still blaming conservatives. Forget looking inward to figure out how we can change our message, we want someone to blame.

Our society has come a hell of a long way since that late summer raid in 1969. Despite those leaps forward, the gay left is acting as if marriage equality is a life-and-death struggle. We’re not being persecuted by government agencies. We’re not being hounded by the police anymore. I’m not going to be tossed in the clink because I have short hair and my clothing couldn’t be remotely considered feminine. The argument has now turned from ending oppression to government-sanctioned happiness, and really, I don’t need the government to give me a blessing or any special privileges – I’d still love my girlfriend with wild abandon and not give a damn who sees me holding her hand or kissing her in public.

We need to learn that there is a time for all things. Not all forms of equality are going to happen overnight, and my greatest fear is that the Supreme Court would hand down a ruling that would throw the gates open for gay marriage just so society’s pendulum can begin to swing the other way and we’ll end up with hard-line social conservatives at the helm that will undo so much of what we’ve accomplished. It can happen. It has happened before. Now that the real struggle is over, we need to back off a little bit and work on winning hearts and minds.