A few months ago, I found myself in one of those
Disneyland-style lines at the airport as we attempted to pass through security.
Just behind me in the line was a beefy, muscular guy, about six feet tall, who
had a shaved head and a ton of tattoos. At a certain point in the weaving line,
I managed to get a good look at him. His arms were adorned with swastikas and
pit bulls. Down the back of each of his triceps was a single word: “WHITE” on
the left and “POWER” on the right. When he got to the front of the line, I
slowed up a bit to see what would happen as he approached the black guy who was
checking IDs. He glared at the TSA agent with palpable contempt, but moved
forward once he was checked out.
There was no incident, but the message was clear: I hate
I thought about that guywhen I watched the election results
in Maine roll in. I was saddened for my friends in the gay community who want
nothing more than the right to be as miserable as those of us in the straight
community. Marriage is one of those things that some people love, others hate
and even more avoid. I know many people who have lifelong commitments that
dwarf mine but are unrecognized by the law and that saddens me. Listening to a
turdburgler like Frank Schubert who seems to think that this miscarriage of
justice is in some way preserving the institution of marriage reinforces my
sense that stupid people shouldn’t breed.
However, it took the Maine election to help me realize that
the issue of gay marriage doesn’t come down to guys like Schubert or Chuck
Schott or the other overt haters. While these folks are the lightning rods, the
stereotypes and the reasons activists get up in the morning to defend their
causes, they’re not the problem.
In an election thatdrew upwards of 500,000 people according
to fivethirtyeight.com, we saw a 52-48 split. If that’s the case, we’re looking
at about 260,000 people who said, “Yeah, we’re grateful for your contributions
to the fashion industry and all, but marriage? Let’s not go there…” Of these
quarter-million-plus voters, they’re obviously not all loud idiots carrying
signs or people who use “faggot” as a portion of their daily vernacular.
Instead, they’re the “regular people” we spend time with
every day. They’re the grandparents who are watching their grandkids ride on
the fake pony outside of K-mart. They’re the smiling folks who work the counter
at Starbucks and chat with everyone about the weather. They’re the people who
strike up a conversation with strangers on the bus about how the local high
school football team is going to do this year. They’re the decent, hard-working
folks who pay taxes, donate coats to Goodwill this time of year, help out at
the church festival and do all sorts of other things that are aimed at the
betterment of a society.
And yet, when they enter the shrouded secrecy of a voting
booth, they can’t bring themselves to say that equal rights aren’t special
rights. They get some strange vision that if we legalize gay marriage, a giant
spree of gaydom will unfurl across our country and that the red, white and blue
will become the pink, cream and robin’s egg. They hear the echo of the talk
radio idiots in their head about “what those people do in their bedrooms” at
night, as if the people in committed relationships aren’t doing it now to begin
with. (And as a general aside, I’ve seen some heterosexual couples that would
make me more than shudder if I had to imagine what they looked like doing the
deed in their bedroom. The fact that your nudity and sex acts may repulse
someone else should not be viewed as a legitimate reason to deny marriage.)
When it comes right down to it, we’d be better off if the
haters were honest. As Americans, we’ve always been better fighting wars in
which the enemy was clear and easily targeted. We know we can’t persuade the
people who are willing to mar their bodies, parade with signs or scream their
slogans in the name of a hateful cause. However, we can find ways to fight back
It’s the silent fears and quiet hatred that will always
cause trouble in a fight like this.