Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. -- Jesus of Nazareth
Ugh, fine, I'll talk about it. I had originally determined to say as little as possible on the DOMA/Prop. 8 ruling, but my Twitter and Facebook are awash in triumphalism from my gay friends, paranoia from traditionalist Christians, and mutual hatred from all. My views are not a secret, yet I don't relish them, and discussing them now will convince nobody. But I'd like to address both my progressive and my traditional readers, gay and straight, Christian and secularist, and beg for a better mode of discourse.
First of all, fellow Christians:
1. This ruling has not in fact removed any of your liberties. The Supreme Court has not declared not supporting gay marriage illegal; it has not even declared not supporting gay marriage unhip. Could it eventually introduce legal penalties for those who decline to recognize same-sex unions? Yes. But let's keep our hair on and take things one at a time. In particular, let's wait until we've actually, you know, suffered something, before crying out that we are a persecuted minority: Nazi America (only this time with The Gays) is not sending Christians to concentration camps. The only person who stands to be embarrassed by you losing your temper is you.
2. The Supreme Court has not ruled on, cannot rule on, and has no interest in ruling on, the sacrament of marriage. What it has ruled on is marriage as a civil institution. Now, you might argue, as the Catholic Church does, that marriage as a civil institution predates any state and that no state has the authority to recognize same-sex unions as marriages per se, on the basis of natural law. Go ahead and argue that by all means; call the ruling wrong if that is what you think; but don't make the DOMA ruling out to be some sort of persecution -- not even if it makes persecution in the future more possible; distinctions are important.
3. Keep in mind that whatever you say in public -- and the Internet does count -- can be heard by gay people. This is partly because it's public. It is also partly because your church has gay people in it. Even if you don't know them, even if you don't know who they are, they're there. This is not a reason to pretend that you don't hold the convictions you hold, but it is a reason to stop and think about how you say things, and where your heart is in saying them.
4. Many of the rights secured by marriage -- such as the right to visit loved ones in the hospital, the right to stay in the country, and a host of others -- are things that Christians really have no need to oppose for gay couples. I certainly don't, and I see no reason to; indeed, opposition to them seems pretty cruel. On the other hand, a lot of opponents of gay marriage have not thought the matter through, and don't realize these obstructions are in place; but it's the sort of thing you ought to realize before opening your mouth. If you oppose gay marriage but support those rights being extended to gay couples, say so out loud. It won't go without saying, not even if you think it should.
5. Realize that, historically, the churches have connived in the redefinition of marriage. The understanding of marriage as a solemnization of two people's love for one another, rather than for procreation -- which is the basis of the case in favor of gay marriage -- is something originally introduced, promoted, and believed by Christians, and that without Biblical backing. Jesus never addressed gay marriage, since it wasn't a current issue then and there, but He had some choice remarks to make about divorce which plenty of Catholics and Protestants prefer not to think about, or try to establish as legal norms. Blaming the redefinition of marriage on the LGBT movement is shabby scapegoating.
6. There is a scene in the movie A Man For All Seasons, about the martyrdom of St. Thomas More, in which a witness recounts a conversation he had with the saint while he was imprisoned in the Tower:
"I said, 'Suppose there were an Act of Parliament that I, Richard Rich, were to be king. Would you then take me for king?' 'That I would,' he said, 'for then you would be king.' Then he said, 'But I will put you a higher case. Suppose there were an Act of Parliament that God should not be God.'"
God is still God. And He will continue to be even if the evil American police state makes you gay marry on your lawn tomorrow.
7. If your politics, or, God forbid, your faith, make you despise someone for not sharing them, you're Jesus-ing wrong.
Equally, fellow LGBTQs:
1. You won; a mazeltov is in order. Unless you are, uh, one of the many LGBTQ people who doesn't support gay marriage. You should know better than anybody else that ideology does not always line up with personal disposition as we'd expect; keep in mind that there is diversity within the gay world on this topic -- as there is diversity in the Christian world. It is a disservice to everyone concerned, and, I'd argue, especially to those who are in the sometimes awkward position of being queer Christians, to turn this into a war between Christendom and glistendom.
2. Calling people bigots for the views they hold is not worth your energy. It isn't an argument, for one thing; for another, if you're right, the only result it has upon a bigot is to make them mad or disdainful (or both). Since the fight on this subject is supposed to be to defend love, that doesn't seem like a very consistent tack. And if they actually have a reason for what they think, it just makes you look bad.
3. If you are having a serious discussion with someone who opposes gay marriage, you have every right to demand that they examine both their own hearts and your arguments; but it's not fair to make such a demand if you aren't willing to do the same. Arguments that amount to "But gay stuff is icky!" can of course be treated with the contempt they deserve -- though I'd add that treating an argument with contempt is not the same as treating a person with contempt -- but there are arguments, notably those of natural law, that are not based on homophobia, and even not based necessarily on the premise that queer sex and relationships are wrong. (There are also arguments that, while perhaps not intrinsically irrational, rely on a confusion of the authorities of the state and the church; I am fiercely opposed to any such confusion, but that is a debate that has to be had on its own grounds, and has a wider application than this.)
4. For those of you who are also Christians: if your politics, or, God forbid, your faith, make you despise someone who doesn't share them -- especially if that person is a fellow believer -- you're Jesus-ing wrong.