Fear of 'bigot label' a cynical dodge of marriage equality opponents
Almost from the very day we began the argument over marriage equality, opponents have been fretting about how they would be perceived. They have expressed in supposedly sad tones that they merely believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and it was unfair that their "simple and innocent" belief would have them labeled as bigots.
I think Justice Kennedy last week expressed the problematic deception behind this false worry with his words about DOMA. He said DOMA demeaned children in same-sex families by sending them a message that their families are somehow inferior.
In expressing that, Kennedy did not call anyone a bigot. However, to hear the opponents of marriage equality rant and rave, that's exactly what he did. They refuse to notice that by not calling them out specifically, Kennedy was actually agreeing with their notion that their beliefs regarding marriage equality don't make necessarily make them bigots. But he did attack the idea behind opposing marriage equality and you can attack an idea without attacking those who prescribe to that idea.
Now that is the standard view of Justice Kennedy's opinion versus the opponents of marriage equality fretting about being unfairly called bigots.
But it's not my view.
I don't worry about the so-called bigotry of marriage equality opponents because I am bothered by their deliberate evasiveness. Let's be honest. Their whine about being unfairly cast as bigots is a cynical dodge. It's a game many of them play to distract us from a real issue of marriage equality.
And that issue is the one Justice Kennedy so eloquently put. What about the children raised by gay couples? Why should these children feel that their families are somehow inferior simply due to someone else's personal beliefs? Why should they be denied rights and self-esteem simply because someone like Tony Perkins from the Family Research Council or Brian Brown from the National Organization for Marriage will not address their very existence while at the same time wax insincerely about being labeled as bigots. Or attempt to blur over the point with meaningless statements about "decades of social science research" supporting their point of view but not naming at least one study which would accurately back them up.
Just as they feel that they have a right to boggart the definition of "marriage," marriage equality opponents feel that they have an equal right to boggart the argument over marriage equality itself until it's less about same-sex families and more about them. As long as they focus all of the attention on themselves, they don't have to address how their point of view actually harms same-sex couples and their children.
And sadly, I think that those leading the charge against marriage equality know this. Their careful avoidance of same-sex couples and especially their children is deliberate.
A little tip, guys. All of the talk about "morality" and "values" don't mean a thing if you employ dishonest methods designed to ignore the rights, needs, or the very existence of your fellow Americans.
Especially when those fellow Americans are children.