Wednesday, June 22, 2005


What's Their Real Problem With Gay Marriage? (It's the Gay Part)

This article from last weekend's New York Times Magazine offers an interesting take on why anti-gay advocates believe in and fight for the things they do. It's thought-provoking; reading it, and seeing how the issue of gay marriage has galvanized the right, it's hard not to wonder if the belief that progress is inevitable--what I consider progress, that is--is foolhardy. The people in this article and those like them are not changing their minds anytime soon. The author, Russell Shorto, concludes the piece with an anecdote that shows how far apart the two sides are:
That means changing hearts. How difficult that will be was illustrated by a single vignette. When I met Polyak [a lesbian mother of two], she told me how, when she first testified before a legislative committee, an anti-gay-marriage activist, a woman, confronted her with bitter language, asking her why she was ''doing this'' to the woman's children and grandchildren. Polyak said the encounter left her shaken. A few days later, as I sat in Evalena Gray's Christmas-lighted basement office, she told me a story of how during the same testimony she approached a blond lesbian and talked to her about the effect that gay marriage would have on her grandchildren. ''Then I hugged her neck,'' she said, ''and I said, 'We love you.' I was kind of consoling her to some extent, out of compassion.''

I realized I was hearing about the same encounter from both sides. What was expressed as love was received as something close to hate. That's a hard gap to bridge.
It's difficult for me to even take Gray at her word--who hugs a neck?--and I cannot comprehend how she can believe that her actions--striving to prevent Polyak and her partner from having any legal protection for either their relationship or their two children--are based on love.

If that's hard for me to fathom, though, I suppose Gray would have just as hard a time understanding that this isn't a lifestyle choice on my part, or Polyak's. But she should know that the stats she marshals, which purport to show that homosexuality is linked to cancer and alcoholism and mental illness and suicide, are the fault of people like her, whose hatred for gays, even if she believes it's love, leads to lives of shame and sadness.

Reading this article is almost enough to make me want to go to this weekend's Gay Pride parade, because I am proud--proud that I've come out to my friends, my family, and my coworkers, proud that I've made a stable life with someone I love in spite of both the normal difficulty of doing so and the special difficulties that being gay sprinkles on like so many nuts on a sundae. If I weren't spending the weekend at Ravinia, living that stable life, I'd go to the parade, but somehow just being living proof that Evalena Gray's worldview is wrong seems like pride parade enough to me.

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