Cooper, Mozilla, Arizona

A friend asked me, after reading my last interview with HuffPo, “So are you really stepping down from the marriage and religious liberty fight?”

No, I told him.  Sorry if it sounded like that.  What I am advocating doing is three very big, and very hard things: a) accepting where we are and b) learning from what we did not succeed in so that we can get to c) how do we build anew?

Right now most people who believe in the classic understanding of marriage are in shock, they are awed by the powers now shutting down the debate and by our ineffectualness at responding to these developments.

The temptation to shout and yell and stamp our feet in ineffectual ridiculousness is understandable, but it is to be resisted.

The version of America we were born into is no more. For the first time in American history being a faithful Christian (or Jew or Muslim) now calls into question in the public square in a new way one’s good citizenship.

Well, yes.  Now what?

I headlined this essay “Cooper, Mozilla, and Arizona” because each of these recent public news events highlights one feature of the challenge before us, and what we need to build to respond.

The rapid collapse of opposition to gay marriage we are witnessing did not just happen, and it was not inevitable. But it is.

The question now on the table is: will orthodox Christianity (and other traditional faiths), be stigmatized and marginalized as the equivalent of racism in the American public square?  Will Biblical morality be wiped out as an acceptable public position in America?

Or will we regroup, rebuild as a subculture, and survive to become the possibility of a new foundation in the future?

Hiding or pretending is not going to help us, now.  We have to face the truth.  And we have to find the Love at its heart.

And we will have to do new things, not simply do what failed, over and over again, harder.

Let me begin with Charles Cooper.  Cooper gave an interview to Jo Becker, a New York Times reporter who authored a new book, Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality.  The book is basically an insider account of Ted Olson’s and David Boies’s legal battle to dismantle Prop 8, and in the course of it naturally Jo Becker interviewed Chuck Cooper.

Unbeknownst to any of us, Cooper was at the time in the middle of the turmoil of the political becoming the personal.  In 2013, before he attempted to argue the Prop 8 case before the Supreme Court, he learned his wife’s daughter (his stepdaughter) was gay and would be married to a woman in Massachusetts.  He and his wife are co-hosting the same-sex wedding ceremony.

Cooper said two things that upset many people on our side: “My views evolve on issues of this kind the same way as other people’s do, and how I view this down the road may not be the way I view it now, or how I viewed it ten years ago,” he said to Jo Becker some months ago.  And when the book became public and the news of his stepdaughter’s wedding came out he told AP:  ““My daughter Ashley’s path in life has led her to happiness with a lovely young woman named Casey, and our family and Casey’s family are looking forward to celebrating their marriage in just a few weeks.”

I received many emails from people who were angry and upset by his comments, but if he were here in front of me (and I hope he reads this) this is what I would say to Charles Cooper:

“Thank you for your hard work, and your service.  I had no idea you were working this hard, for so little benefit to yourself and your career, while simultaneously managing a family crisis like this.  Thank you for being faithful to the end to your client and our cause.  And I wish God’s blessings on you and your family.”

I would say this, even though I do not see how someone faithful to the Biblical or the natural law underlying it, can host a gay wedding. (More on this in another letter).

Nonetheless, we cannot let the “system” overwhelm the human person.

Not just Charles Cooper, we are all struggling with how to respond to the new moral order implied and reified by gay marriage.

And here is the thing I take away, and what I want you to take away, from the Charles Cooper story: Whatever we do, and whatever we say, we have to be willing to say it, as if to a beloved child of our own family, coming to us with a loving gay marriage.

There is no line we can draw that pushes gay people “outside” and leaves us free “inside” to be angry, foot-stomping, and morally “pure.”

We are all tangled up in Love with sin, our own and that of those we love.

I faced this personally, in the sense I was often asked “What if my child was gay?” I was asked it by people who believed I probably had a gay child and didn’t know it.

But I accepted that the facts are irrelevant.  I could have a gay child.  Anyone could have a gay child.  Other people I know have gay children. Our children are beloved and yet do not necessarily put together the world the way we would have them.   We have to love them anyway, across all the gaps.

A movement able to withstand what is coming will have to face the Love problem first.  Anything we say, anything we believe, we are going to have to be willing to say it not only with a generic gay person in the room, but as if to a beloved gay child.

Try it before you judge Charles Cooper.

There is a lot of hard cultural, intellectual, moral, and spiritual work to be done on how to combine Love and Truth.

Let’s get to it.

Next, Brendan Eich and Mozilla. Here we face the fist within the velvet glove—one of the few public instances of what is happening all over America. People are afraid to say this: “marriage is the union of husband and wife, because kids need a mother and a father.” They are afraid and they are falling silent.

Brendan Eich is a brilliant and rich man and he will personally be okay, no matter what happens.  But if he, the Mozart of Mozilla, cannot survive opposing gay marriage, who can?

A week after Brendan Eich resigned we learned from Angela McGaskill’s case, that Gaulladet University, a university for the deaf chartered by the federal government, can in fact demote her for nothing more than putting her name to a petition putting the gay marriage question before the voters of Maryland.

This is not news to me.  I know many cases public and private of people facing job loss for opposing gay marriage and I know the threat of this is shutting down even more good people.  This is not because they are cowards.

Think hard about these alternatives: the good that will be done by writing a letter opposing gay marriage—versus losing your family’s income.  What sane person says “yes I will take that risk?”

We learn from the reaction to Brendan Eich that this kind of strong-arm public punishment makes the regnant liberal class nervous.  They don’t like it.  Andrew Sullivan bless him, took enormous heat for recognizing what this case means, what it stands for: punishing by the threat of unemployment, divergent views.  He rebelled.  Bless him.

But none of the negative objections moved Mozilla, or the power structures that be.  At least not yet.

I just learned of a public statement by gay marriage advocates opposing in the name of liberal and humane values this kind of threat to people’s employment. The signatories including Jonathan Rauch, Will Saletan, David Blankenhorn and James Kirchick,  all of whom emphatically support gay marriage but say: “the consequence of holding a wrong opinion should not be the loss of a job. Inflicting such consequences on others is sadly ironic in light of our movement’s hard-won victory over a social order in which LGBT people were fired, harassed, and socially marginalized for holding unorthodox opinions.”

We live in the middle of a contest.  We can predict, but we do not know how it will come out.

We live in an America in which standing up for Biblical morality (or its common sense moral analog) puts your employment in jeopardy.  How will we respond to the fear this inspires?

Will we recognize we are a subculture now facing a dominant culture and build subculture strategies?  These include building networks to get our story out, to get the “face of the victim” in front of power?  For without a community that appears to care, very few individuals will find the courage to stand.

Or will we look the other way, keep denying to ourselves what is happening right in front of our nose?

It is an open question.  Fear no longer motivates, it shuts us down.  We need to find new ways to come around the people under attack to build community, to give them (and us) a reason to suffer, if necessary, in the hope that someone cares.

And we need to negotiate with the new powers that be, from the position of our relative newfound weakness.

Not to surrender or beg, not to, as Ross Douthat put it, “negotiate the terms of our surrender” but to use the weapons of the weak, to force the reigning power to recognize what they are doing, the power to oppress they are marshalling against us.

Let me put it this way: the first struggle we now face is internal and spiritual:  Will we accept the newly dominant culture’s view of our views—of ourselves—as hateful and bigoted and stand down?

Or will we, first of all in our heart and minds, refuse to accept this external view of ourselves.  Will we stigmatize ourselves or will we force the powerful to do that to us?

It is the first question, from which a great deal else flows.  If they can get us to silence ourselves, they do not have to accept moral responsibility for silencing us.  The outer battle is important, but the first and most important battle is internal:  Will we accept living in an America where we have to be afraid to say “marriage is the union of husband and wife because children need a mother and a father”?  Or will they have to force us, through raw and ugly power, to live in that America?

That is the contest that the Mozilla episode asks of us.

To stand we are going to need new cultural resources:  storytellers and social scientists.  We are going to have to craft our own picture of who we are and why we stand—for the dominant culture creators’ view of who are is not pretty.  That is part of the challenge Mozilla poses before us.  Can we invest the resources to become culture creators and not just consumers?

Arizona.

Gov. Jan Brewer’s collapse in Arizona is very important and I don’t mean this as a criticism of her.  Here is what happened.  Christian conservatives tried to use their “back strategy” of quietly passing legislation through a very conservative legislature.  The legislation in question was not particularly new or radical, many other states have Religious Freedom Restoration Acts with similar language.

Gay rights advocates decided to prove they could stop legislation like this deep in the heart of the reddest of all red states.  And they won.

First they defined the bill as an antigay pro-discrimination measure.  Then they got credible GOP leaders to validate this framing—John McCain and Mitt Romney.

They did this in a matter of hours.  I doubt either McCain or Romney got a thoughtful analysis of the legislation and its meaning.  They got they did not want to be “antigay” and they got props for being on the right side of history.  And it was enough.

Let us not turn our eyes from what this means:  by their capacity to use the mainstream media to define what an issue “means”—progressives got the conservative movement to fold with credible and major GOP figures.

They can do this.

They can do this in part because Christian conservatives have been doing politics stupidly and on the cheap.

If we keep doing politics this way we will soon not have to do politics at all.

To win a space for us at the American table, we are going to need to invest large amounts of money in new and directly political institution—organizations capable of unelecting those who would shut us out, and those capable of rewarding the courage of those who agree with us.

It cannot be all c3 messaging and pastor organizing from here on out.  We get serious or we get rolled.

Which will it be?

I cannot tell you, but I can tell you this:  It’s not all about numbers.  It’s about intensity and intelligence.

Pew recently released a poll that could be discouraging, but I find it enormously encouraging.  One of the questions they asked is about contraception.  I know most Jews and Christians have no problem with contraception and I am not asking you to have a problem with it.  I am asking you to appreciate a modern poll result that shows 7 percent of the American people believe contraception—while legally acceptable—is not morally acceptable.

This is the mostly Catholic base.  And it represent twice the manpower of the LGBT movement.  It represents 20 million people or more.

If we add to that people who believe seriously enough in Biblical morality to limit their own sexual behavior—those who think sex outside of marriage is wrong—it’s a huge base of potential support.

And we do have this: In the middle of all the decline, just 6 percent of American believe adultery is morally acceptable.

Here’s the truth: Two percent of the American population, worked a cultural revolution.  Hats off to them.

We have the resources to survive, and if we survive, to eventually flourish.

Will we?

Will we face the truth, act in love, and do new things?

Let’s get over the shock and awe and get to the task God has given us: to build among the ruins of the old America, something new.

In truth, with love,

 

Maggie

25 comments
StraightGrandmother
StraightGrandmother

"To win a space for us at the American table, we are going to need to invest large amounts of money in new and directly political institution—organizations capable of unelecting those who would shut us out, and those capable of rewarding the courage of those who agree with us." This will never work and I'll tell you why. Within one year the Supreme Court is going to strike down all the State Laws and Constitutional Amendments and Civil Marriage for Sexual Minorities will be the uniform law of the land. So what then is your agenda, Gay Marriage is out, the only thing left is pushing for the Right to DISCRIMINATE against sexual minorities as a Religious Liberty claim. That is hard enough already today for you, do you think it is somehow going to be more palatable once Civil Marriage for Sexual Minorities is the law of the land? I think the reverse, once Civil Marriage for Sexual Minorities is the law of the land even more and MORE people will reject discrimination against them. You would be asking support for DISCRIMINATION against something that is LEGAL. You will NOT garner majority support for this. You won't, it is unpalatable. Time is on OUR side not yours. The young overwhelmingly will provide protections in law to protect sexual minorities from Discrimination on Mainstreet. Don't forget Brown v Board of Education was decided in 1954, The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, ten years later. Less than 10 years after the Supreme Court institutes Civil Marriage for Sexual Minorities throughout the land we WILL open up the 1964 Civil Rights Act and amend it to include sexual orientation and gender identity. You are probably not aware of the rumblings right now to take this approach. ENDA has holes in it you can drive a truck through. We realize that we can, and we will ditch ENDA and amend instead the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Now THAT will be Shock and Awe, I have my finger on the pulse of the Gay Rights Movement and I'm telling you that is where it is going to go, the Civil Rights Act. ENDA is dead, we realize we should not fear to go all the way and amend the Civil Rights Act. I'm telling you the rumblings for this approach are already here. 1954--> 1964, think about it.

StraightGrandmother
StraightGrandmother

Quoting from the infamous apologists who signed this in the letter, "the consequence of holding a wrong opinion should not be the loss of a job. Inflicting such consequences on others is sadly ironic in light of our movement’s hard-won victory over a social order in which LGBT people were fired, harassed, and socially marginalized for holding unorthodox opinions.” Please pay attention because this part is VERY wrong and I want for you to understand this. Sexual Minorities were NOT "fired, harasses, and socially marginalized for holding unorthodox *OPINION*" No they were punished NOT because of their "opinion" they were punished based on their STATUS. Status, just like race, national origin and in their case, their sexual orientation. Straight people are being named and shamed for their *Opinion,* their *Opinion* that sexual minorities do not deserve the same Civil Rights as Straight People. Their *Opinion* is freely chosen, a sexual minorities *Status* of homosexuality is NOT freely chosen.

Dr. Bruce Abbey
Dr. Bruce Abbey

Update for Maggie Gallagher, May 13th Federal Judge Candy Dale in Idaho has struck down that state's ban on equal civil marriage and the state constitutional ban, on the very reasonable grounds that these bans are unconstitutional at the level of the US Constitution and its Amendments the 5th and 14th, due process and equality, (and Butch Otter, Governor is going to appeal it to 9th circuit, which probably will refuse to even hear the appeal, and if not, to SCOTUS. Meanwhile today, oral arguments were heard in Richmond Virginia at the 4th Federal Circuit Court, -- one judge there "doesn't see the need for marriage equality" one does see the need to prevent ripping protections from the children in those same sex families, and the third judge -- well he didn't pose any hard questions really... So likely this is going to uphold the strike down of Virginia bigoted law by a 2-1 margin. Virginia will not be appealing this to the Supreme Court although no doubt ADF etc. will do so. Tomorrow in Oregon, your birth state, NOM is (very generously) being allowed to state its intervenor argument before Judge McShane, and no one else the state or anyone else opposed the plaintiffs there who want to get married. But he doesn't have to give NOM standing, and Mr. John Eastman is not even naming any of the parties on behalf of whom NOM claims to be representing that their interests are somehow being harmed, not even Melissa Sweetcakes. I imagine the ruling to quash the state law and the constitutional ban will be handed down soon, and since Oregon will not be filing an appeal, marriages there will be able to start immediately, because obviously the judge there is not very likely to stay his ruling. Maybe he'll hand it down on a Friday night, just in case, however so that some clerks can open up on the Saturday. I am not too sure there is any pathway to SCOTUS out of Oregon, as it is unlikely anyone can gain standing at this point. But amazingly, Arkansas beat Oregon to the punch, and 400 couples there now have marriage licenses! Of course Arkansas will doubtless get a "stay" after a bit, but they don't seem to be in any huge rush, as I suppose the Arkansas Supreme Court is itself of two minds about the development, and the AG seems merely to be going through the motions, while saying that he personally believes in SSM rights ( but wants to "do his job" ... and maybe keep some political options open for himself), We all will hand it to you, though, Maggie, you have definitely seen all of this coming, the writing on the palace wall at the feast of Nebuchadnezzar, and have said so. (And of course we saw it coming as well!) But you were the one who said it would happen with increasing velocity, something we did not quite anticipate. So kudos to you on a certain degree of realism. But you know what Maggie, just as Saul/Paul had an epiphany on the road to Damascus, and as David Blankenhorn, and Charles Cooper have had their own epiphanies, you too could have an epiphany too, it is still not too late to say sorry to those millions of American citizens whose civil and human rights were denied for so long. Even your current Pope is having some important reflections out loud, not shared of course by the American Bishops and Cardinals who are extremely bitter and negative as the various states in which they live are falling like dominoes. While many would not accept an apology from you some others will. Yeah, I know, you're not widely popular outside of your right wing circles, but you might want to consider renewing your Christianity in a manner that leads to a spiritual rebirth, and a renewed understanding of the miracle of human existence and what love truly is about in the lives of millions of ordinary people, both straight and sometimes gay. Put away the childish notions and theorising with flourishes of high-flown sounding rhetoric. Let the tears flow copiously, like a river flowing to the sea if necessary, and then let go of all your hangups and prejudices and bitterness. You need to let your human soul be reborn, Maggie. You could even become a valid Christian person, something that at present you are not. You probably realise at some level that the bar is set considerably higher to follow in Jesus' footsteps than what you have been up to, for you have not followed in his footsteps at all. And that is understandable in a way, very few who call themselves Christian have the slightest idea of how to follow Jesus example. Especially American fundamentalists, who are so poisoned by their own hatred and enormous insecurity in this life. Even as a Catholic, well so far a very fundamentalist one it's true, you probably are aware that most American Catholics are very liberal and accepting of the diversity and humanity of people around them. They don't agree with their Bishops and Cardinals on these issues, and 95% of them are quite OK with contraception. Because Maggie, the ice is melting in Antarctica, the oceans are accelerating the rise in sea levels, the tornadoes are more frequent and intense, the hurricanes more destructive and devastating. And we are heading for 10 billion on this planet and your God, if he (or she) is a good guy, really doesn't want that, and deep down I am pretty sure you know that. Personally I would like my 3 now grown children and their children and grandchildren still to come, undoubtedly in very small numbers, but very precious, to have a chance at life. Being personally rich now in 2014 does little for their future or for any grandchild you may personally have in future. God wants us to embrace good works Maggie, reduce overpopulation, cut emissions, mitigate climate challenges, stop carrying guns, stop fearing blacks and gays and hispanics, stop denying the "other" and seeing them all as God's precious children, stop judging others, lest we too are judged. Christians must stop judging and trying to change other people's neuro-physiological wiring, or beliefs or behaviour. Some clearly know how to love their fellow being, like the people at Faithful America, but most don't. The crusade in America against first blacks, (and still against them) then and now still against women and now LGBT is turning millions of people against this religion of yours. Young people don't want to hear their friends denounced by people who preach a Lake of Fire kind of religious absolutism. So they are turned off and tuned out from your mystic "revelations" and doctrines. There are 300 million people in America and 20 million think contraception is immoral? And those people are going to re-invent the culture, and that theocracy or whatever is going to theoretical emerge is going to be good? Come on Maggie, that would be one hell of dystopian society, full of misery, fear, loathing, abuse,and lacking in all joy and spontaneity. Your "brave new world" that you are conjuring here with your regrouped subculture is in reality going to be worse than the French reign of terror 1792-1795. Robespierre was one of the last to mount the scaffold to which he largely was the architect of 14,000 beheadings. Mr. Lively would love to have that kind of power, but can't get it in the USA, so he pushes it in Africa and Russia. You need to rethink all your theological and philosophical inclinations Maggie, you need to let go and cry yourselves that river of tears. And you need to jump up and cheer as each of the remaining states fall like dominoes and rejoice for the liberation of a long persecuted minority of God's precious children, and wish them joy and happiness. You have pushed the tyranny of the majority to oppress the minority, contrary to everything the founding fathers of America put into place to prevent such a terrible outcome. Saying sorry, and telling the world of a total change of heart would be your true Salvation at this point. Sure millions of people still hate Ken Mehlman, but many have had the grace to acknowledge his desire for reconciliation. God him/herself would like to see your small reconciliation however un-grand it may be, with those you have wronged. Let your tears flow... Maggie ... rescue your tormented soul while this miracle of life given remains to you, find freedom within, and then find some kind of peace.

StraightGrandmother
StraightGrandmother

I don't mean to hog the comments and had no intention off adding another one but this is to important an observation to NOT bring it to your attention. After Michael Sam was drafted by the NFL and the video of him kissing his boyfriend in joyous celebration was shown, (the kiss seen round the world) a player from The Miami Dolphins tweeted "OMG" someone tweeted him back asking if that was in response the the Michael Sam kiss, the Miami player responded, "Horrible." Today said Miami player was ordered to apologize by the coach, the coach making a strong statement that that would NOT be tolerated, the player was fined and the coach said he would temporarily not be participating in team activities. MAJOR WIN! And it is a WIN exactly where it is needed. In this case the NFL has taken sides, and is siding with gay men. The NFL is saying that you can say whatever you want about homosexuality as long as you are NOT affiliated with the NFL. We as an organization has established a standard, think of it as an employment condition in a contract and our NFL standard is, you are NOT permitted to speak badly against another NFL players sexual orientation. This is a HUGE WIN for my side as what it is doing is, it is chilling anti gay speech, and that is what I want. I don't want people speaking badly against sexual minorities, they can think it but I don't want them to say it. And the NFL today laid down the law that in THEIR organization that is the way it is going to be. Nobody, no other player is going to be able to call Michael Sam a fairy, or a pervert and remain unpunished. Here is the link to the story- http://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2014/05/12/fox-responds-to-nfl-disciplining-player-for-ant/199262 They are going to have to suck it up, keep their mouth shut, especially on social media, and play with gay men. Those are the rules. It has taken years of work by our different LGBT groups to get major sports leagues to even think about this, prepare policies, and now we arrive at the day these policies are enforced. The groundwork for that hand slap to the Miami player was years in the making, but when you are fighting for your dignity and fighting for Equal Civil Rights you just keep at it, little by little, first having a conversation. And NOW we WIN!

StraightGrandmother
StraightGrandmother

I take my lessons on how to effect Social Change from the Black Civil Rights movement. Black Civil Rights Leaders had no problem at all labeling someone a Racist. Calling out Segregationists, and labeling those people publicly, bringing down public shame on them. It's called Name & Shame. It's effective, as fewer and fewer people, even those who *still* held to a segregationist viewpoint, would publicly state their views for fear of Name & Shame. That is what my side wants, fewer and fewer people who will stand up and say: "I believe that Sexual Minorities do NOT deserve the same Civil Rights as me. We should ALL work to keep them as second class citizens, as OUR relationships and ONLY OURS, benefit society." We want fewer and fewer people to publicly state the above, and the way we make that happen is to rain down Social Pressure via Social Media. The beauty is, we as a gay rights community can make this happen without any leadership at all. Simply spontaneous grass roots activism. Appealing to Andrew Sullivan or Johnathan Rauch *is useless* as they do not lead the grass roots and nobody listens to them. You will NEVER get your "Right to Discriminant against Sexual Minorities based on your Religious Beliefs." You may win a battle or two but this will ultimately fail. It is amusing to me when you hold up Sweet Cakes by Melissa as a cause célèbre. The movable middle will swing towards Freedom FROM Discrimination for the Gays. The ONLY people (who are now thankfully in a minority) who support Sweet Cakes by Melissa is the Religious Conservatives and the HomoCons. It can't be both ways, the Gays having Freedom FROM Discrimination AND the Religious having Freedom TO Discriminate. It can't be both ways, one viewpoint will emerge as the majority, and it will fall to Freedom FROM Discrimination. Nobody has a Constitutional Right to be a Florist or Baker or Wedding Photographer. Those people have a perfectly legitimate solution they are CHOOSING not to exercise, get out of that line of work into a line of work that does not burden your religious beliefs. I heard you on Catholic Radio say how Sweet Cakes by Melissa's husband is now hauling garbage to support his wife and five kids. I say "Hooray," he found a solution, hauling the garbage of people who are Gay does not burden him. He found a job that allows him to live out his religious beliefs, and *at the same time*, Gays are not being discriminated against. Sweet Cakes by Melissa's husband did the right thing, he got out of the baking business and found a family supporting job that does not burden his religious beliefs nor burden people who are gay. Win-Win.

El Be
El Be

Maggie asks: "The question now on the table is: will orthodox Christianity (and other traditional faiths), be stigmatized and marginalized as the equivalent of racism in the American public square? Will Biblical morality be wiped out as an acceptable public position in America?" The answer is a resounding no. What will be marginalized are those who preach and practice intolerance, those who believe that only their own beliefs are right and that all others are wrong. Those people who practice suppression against others who have other beliefs will be marginalized. What will rightfully be marginalized are those who believe that the only true god is Allah (or whatever other religion they believe) and all other beliefs should be suppressed. Those who deny the rights of people to live according to their own beliefs will be marginalized. No one's own morality will be wiped out or made unacceptable. If one believes that it is right only to have marriage between a man and woman, that belief will always be acceptable for you to believe and for you to live by. Just don't force your own belief on others.

Daniel F
Daniel F

I enjoy reading your articles and understanding your perspective, even though I do not agree with your position. I just want to note that the 2% of Americans you discussed are joined by their parents, extended family and friends - a number that is considerably larger than 2%.

phein39
phein39

Dear Ms. Gallagher, The debate has not been shut down. In fact, the problem for you is that your arguments have been given a full airing and rejected. Your arguments have been heard by Americans of all persuasions, and the majority find them specious at best, abhorrent at worst. No matter what else you do, please do not lie to yourself or to others that you did not get a fair hearing.

Jeff B.
Jeff B.

"The question now on the table is: will orthodox Christianity (and other traditional faiths), be stigmatized and marginalized as the equivalent of racism in the American public square? Will Biblical morality be wiped out as an acceptable public position in America?" Let me disclose I am politically in opposition to your stances. That said: first, thank you for remembering to humanize your position. Secondly: I can only imagine how ..well, afraid and uncertain you might be right now--the culture is in a state of shift, as to what is acceptable and what isn't, what you can get fired for (both of our views put both of us at risk for employment, depending on where we are), and where we go from here. I do not want you to change your religion. While I do not share your faith, I view faith as a virtue and a struggle, and I can respect it. If your faith tells you that my actions are wrong, I want your moral approbation, I want you to gently express what you need to for you to live in accordance with your faith. I believe that many on 'my side' have lost sight of this: your religion and your faith are your own. I do not want to co-opt your morality. I do not need you to accept or agree with what I personally believe or how I personally live. My goal is not to prevent you from worshiping and living as you feel you must, in accordance with your faith. I apologize that many on 'my side' have forgotten this, and I wish the backlash that is likely to happen could be avoided. I want government to facilitate your peaceful co-existence with mine; I do not want to control your faith through the state, nor will I allow your faith to control me through the state. That said: I think your cause faces a perception of hypocrisy and inconsistency in primarily two areas--and I think you may need to help explain how your cause's actions are consistent in order to remove the perception of hate and bigotry you and I both see. The first area is helping others understand why your moral obligations trump your ethical obligations, only with regards to gay marriage or homosexuals. For example: John 14:6 has Jesus stating he is the way and the truth, and no one comes to the Father except through him. For Christians, as I understand it, this means a belief in Christ is absolutely necessary. Your morals may require that your sacrament of Marriage is something that is expressed in accordance with Christ. Your ethics, presumably, prevent you from protesting Jewish Temples and seeking to outlaw non-Christian marriages or non-Christian religions. In part, ethically I think you would see this as the height of rudeness and disrespect for others: to disrupt a non-Christian wedding or service, either through protests, state action, etc., or to tell a Jewish couple: "Mazel Tov, but you're not really married unless it's before Christ. Maybe we can call it a Civil Union?" One of your challenges you face, to help me and others like me understand why it's not hateful bigotry or you rudely intruding is, why you feel it is acceptable to pick and choose who you grant respect to, when so many others do not share your beliefs. Why is it rude for you to protest a Jewish Temple and stop Non-Christian weddings, but it is ok and also your duty to do your best to stop the marriage of others that do not share your belief and faith, so long as they are gay? The second biggest inconsistency your cause needs to help explain is why, out of all the ills and areas for you to combat in the world, why THIS CAUSE, ABOVE ALL OTHERS, is on the top of your list. Yes, you have moral approbation against it. Yes, your faith tells you that this is an evil, yes your faith compels you to live in accordance with morality above ethics. However, this is not the only area to combat; why is this even on your top 5 areas to fight for? Christ's message, it seems to me, is one of compassion and non-judgment. He healed the Roman soldier who came to imprison him; he allowed crucifixion even when he could have prevented it, as restraint was one of the virtues he seemed to embody. He offered healing, he ministered the sick and the poor--I do not believe he ever said, 'Ew gross, no homo.' If your cause wants to combat the perception of bigotry, you cannot simply rely upon a statement of 'morality', because your faith, your morality do not remove your personal responsibility for how you live your faith. I believe you need to explain why, out of all the areas you could be working towards, why this one that targets homosexuals? Is that really the biggest log in your neighbor's eye? There's no greater ill for you to combat, this isn't a religious red-herring to allow greater ill for you to fight? Thank you for your patience. This response is a bit long because I am serious about these issues; I at least need these areas explained to understand why it's not a fixation on homosexuals, why your faith of restraint and compassion isn't being co-opted by something else. I think others need the same explanation as well.

Dan
Dan

In this column there are a few considerations that you seem to miss: 1. Nothing in the Federal court decisions or the state laws providing for marriage equality under law, would require a member of the clergy for ANY religious denomination to perform a marriage ceremony of any kind. If your religious belief is that only heterosexual marriage is valid, your congregation is free to practice that belief. 2. If you take the time to read the "findings of fact" in the Federal District Court decision that invalidated Proposition 8 in California, you will find that none of the factual assertions about the potential adverse effects of marriage equality were supported by the evidence submitted by the defenders of Proposition 8. In other words, "marriage equality" harms no one. 3. Religion is a human institution and religious beliefs are held by human individuals. Even though a business can be a "legal person" under law, it is not a human being and is, by definition, incapable of holding any religious beliefs. The owner of a privately held business is free to practice his or her religious beliefs in his or her private life. What he or she is not free to do is impose those beliefs on employees of that business or on customers of that business.

Tim Wayne
Tim Wayne

Well, that can't have been easy to write. Nice to see it, though. It looks like everyone is evolving on this issue, after all.

steve
steve

I don't think anyone on the pro side of SSM intends to go out and start marginalizing good Christians or others over their beliefs. If they do, then their acts are as hypocritical as the one man-one woman advocates claiming marriage is "sacred" and then marrying multiple times. In my opinion, Ms. Gallagher, you are trying to start another war where no skirmish need exist. And remember, if you're going to be "forced to live here by raw and ugly power", you are free to leave and seek out your own anywhere across the globe. Why not try co-existence with the freedom to believe as you will behind the doors of your churches? Have you?

Exilepriest
Exilepriest

Well, I linked this from a site "crowing" over this article. What a strange response to one of the most realistic, humble assessments I have read. The cases listed in which people have lost jobs or have been demoted bespeak a chilling time, a dark time in a purported republic. The freedom of speech and expression is unique, and perhaps, in God's good time, shall shine again among us. As for me, I grieve that the oppressed once in power are now new Pharoahs and haughty Caesars. To be liberated while having no ethic rooted either in a legitimate spirituality or even in American freedom with responsibility is to fall victim to a new Fascism. And I speak as a gay, partnered man who does not oppose gay marriage, but wonders how it became "my way or the highway," when both pro-gay and heterosexualist traditionalists were moving to a more nuanced understanding of the issues. Truly sad, and sadder the spectacle of the unthinking and shortsighted dancing on the backs of political losers.

Elle
Elle

No. She's suggesting it's time to let the Titanic sink...and build a better boat.

John Gunn
John Gunn

First, I feel I should say that I'm not a religious person. I believe that the world we are born into is all there is, but more than enough. Rather than looking outside myself for some external source of abiding truth and guidance, I choose to observe carefully the world as it is, so that I might use my mind, memory and reasoning ability, to define my own unique set of values, used in governing my actions. All of these values are subject to change as I have new experiences that guide me in refining them. That having been said, I'll tell you how I decided to add a comment to this web site that I never heard of before I stumbled upon it a few minutes ago. Since I have dedicated my life to learning as much as I can about it, I'm sure you will appreciate that I highly value the freedom to take actions according to my values, to test them and refine them as appropriate. Since I know the benefit of that freedom in my own life, I would never deny that freedom to anyone else. The idea of gay marriage is not something that appeals to me. I'm glad that there are no laws that would force me into one. But, by the same token, I would not presume to say that it is not appropriate for someone with a different set of values from my own. Since his own personal life choices do not affect my freedom to live my life as I choose, I have no desire to force my values upon him. At an earlier stage of life, when my values were less refined, I might have wanted to argue with him, to try and convince him that he was wrong, and I was right. But my more refined current judgement tells me it is a waste of time and energy to try and convince someone through argumentation to do anything. My life will go on no matter whom he chooses to wed. So you might be thinking that I am breaking that rule, by posting this comment. But I have no intention to argue with any of your statements. I am writing this because what you wrote revealed an open mind willing to consider other alternatives. So, finally, we arrive at my suggestion. If gay marriage doesn't appeal to you, don't marry a woman. When anyone but you chooses to do that, it is their life lived by their own individual set of values. Wish them well, as you go on winding you way through the individual labyrinth that is your life. I wish you well, as well.

Carol Taylor
Carol Taylor

This is the best piece I have read in a long time. Anyone who has lost a battle in the culture wars can appreciate what she's saying, no matter how intensely you agree or disagree with her. Face your losses but don't abandon the field. Look at what worked for your opponents and see if it will work for you. Do a head count; assess your resources. Regroup, rethink, act in love. Repeat. I am not exactly sure what "Love" means to Maggie but I know what it usually means to us Lefties and that's it's always good to keep in mind. We all face defeats in our lives and Maggie has offered good counsel for all of us. Onward ~

Brad Rothbart
Brad Rothbart

I am on the other side of this debate , and I disagree with your vision of America. However, I wanted to let you know that your piece is beautifully written , and I appreciate your talent . Please keep doing what you do.

Scott
Scott

I support traditional marriage; I agree that having both a mother and father has the highest likelihood of being best for the children. Indeed, I am in such a union and am happy to be so. But, in a struggling world where many children have only one parent, aren't two parents, even of the same gender, capable of contributing to the upbringing of precious children? And, to deny them that would force the affected children to be put into one of two camps: 1. Not being allowed to have two parents at all w/ the economic sacrifice that that would bring. 2. Being stigmatized as being "bastards" because their same-sex parents are not allowed to be married and are thereby "shacking up". So this raises the question: why can't I support traditional marriage AND ALSO same-sex marriage? Yes, one is "preferable" but the other doesn't "poison" the first. Indeed, the people I know in gay relationships are inspired by the roles and responsibilities of traditional marriage. But should they be condemned to live in "loveless" traditional marriage? What does that say to their children? What motivates you to try so hard to force others to have to live, under law, a marital situation suitable to you but not to them? That blocks the opportunity for many to participate in rearing a family when "family values" are so important to you? In my readings of the New Testament, love was always more important to Jesus than the Law. Indeed, the Gospels are largely devoted to tracing His struggles against the Pharisees who worried more about the interpretation and the enforcement of the Law than for love itself. Whether you are willing to see it or not, other people don't see the face of Jesus when they read your writings; they see the face of the Pharisee. In order to bring the global community together, you are going to have to change your heart as much or more than they will. If you do not, you need to realize that your political efforts will break more hearts than they mend. Does Jesus really want this for you? It's a hard struggle. Don't be on the wrong side of Jesus' love.

Brian Whetten
Brian Whetten

Hi Maggie, Thank you for such an honest and soul-searching post. It helped me understand you and your cause better. As context, the family I was raised in is firmly "in your camp" while I and my own family are firm advocates for marriage equality. I've been struggling to understand where they are coming from, so I can move past my judgments and create closer connection with them and with traditional marriage advocates such as yourself. Can I offer one thought which might have some possible value? The key "ahah" for me in reading your article was seeing how the liberal majority on this issue are seeing the traditional marriage position as being both hateful and discriminatory, and how painful - and untrue - this is to you. I absolutely get how there does not have to be any hatred behind the traditional marriage position. And, it seems to me that both sides have been conflating two very different things, at great cost to each. As you've stated, there are two issues at stake here: civil rights and religious freedom. From the perspective of liberal society, advocates of traditional marriage appear to have been fighting AGAINST civil rights much more than they've been fighting FOR religious freedom. My understanding is that religious freedom is about the right to hold and express your deeply held, personal views, without fear of persecution. This civil rights issue - from the perspective of the newly dominant majority on this issue - is about whether or not you're able to impose those views on others who don't share your views - whether you're allowed to mix church and state, and turn personal morality into public law, in a way that infringes on the rights of others who don't share your beliefs. Up until now, this has been framed as an either/or battle: either there is traditional marriage and religious freedom OR there is marriage equality and religious persecution. But it doesn't have to be this way. I get that you do not have to be hateful to be advocating for traditional marriage, and against marriage equality. At the same time, that lack of ill intent doesn't make the position any less discriminatory, from a public/political perspective. And as long as you are perceived to be advocating against what is rapidly being agreed on as a core civil rights issue, there will be continued backlash, and an escalating accusation that your position "must" be hateful and bigoted. My sense is that there is an opportunity here to divorce these two pieces - to hold FOR religious freedom and FOR civil rights. It's to establish a more nuanced and more loving position - where you are both claiming your love for your religion AND your love for equality. This isn't to say that you have to advocate for gay marriage, or change your beliefs about what is morally right. At the same time, my guess is that if you and people who share your beliefs were to start advocating FOR increased separation of church and state - standing up for the boundary between private beliefs and public law, by strongly placing the legal issue of marriage on the side of state and not church, the more power and respect you and your personal religious views would be accorded in the public sphere. If you were to say "We realize that society has changed, and that it's no longer appropriate to use strictly religious reasoning to advocate for political laws that affect groups who don't share those religious beliefs. We're sorry for any pain that this caused. We ask for your support in also honoring our civil right to have our own personal religious beliefs, and to express them in ways that don't invite public persecution. We will do our best to hold to our views without trying to impose them politically on others, and we ask that you do the same." My sense is that you would be welcomed with open arms. Does that make sense at all? The last thing I want to be doing is giving unsolicited advice. As a result of your posting, I have a lot more compassion for you and my family, and my wish is for you to receive the peace, honor and respect you so rightly deserve. Love and light, Brian

Charles Roth
Charles Roth

Well written, and mostly with love -- which, as a Quaker, I appreciate, especially because I disagree with the fundamental premise of "classic" marriage. But BOTH sides need to approach this issue with love, or we ALL fail. I completely agree that no-one should risk their employment because of their opinion -- either way. At the same time, Brendan Eich is an unusual case. It was Mozilla's own employees, volunteer supporters (and Mozilla as an open-source company depends heavily on volunteer effort), and even many board members, who were simply not willing to continue working under someone with his opinions. That is their right. Many of them left, some permanently, some temporarily. Brendan did the brave thing of realizing that a company like Mozilla requires a feeling of trust, and stepped down. And I must express some frustration that NOW you appear concerned (and correct me if I am wrong or misrepresenting you) that some people will get fired for their opinions or beliefs. Where were you when it was gay people who were being fired? (If you were in fact supporting them, then I retract and apologize.)

Dave
Dave

Maggie, I admire your perseverance and drive and ability to connect with countless people around the globe. You have the ability to do great things...use that in a positive way to help the poor, feed the hungry, heal the sick. Set the example for others. May you live long and prosper by focusing on your own bettering other people's lives, and not worrying about whether other people use contraceptives, who they love, or forcing your definition of morality on others.

Geno
Geno

Wow such a martyr. Christians are not being pushed down into some kind of subculture, over 70% of the US is christian. That's what most people call a majority. You need to learn the different between being prosecuted and not always getting your way.

mark
mark

Historically, adultery has been considered to be a very serious offense by many cultures, with the act of a man having sexual relations with another man's wife most. This has nothing to do with Gay Marriage.

Paul
Paul

I am a gay man and, with my husband, am a very strong supporter of all marriages, including SSM. I have also been enraged at the hateful and manipulative actions of the NOM crowd, and the nasty rhetoric of their leaders, including Ms. Gallagher. This is not bailing the Titanic with shoes. This is actually a well reasoned, if simple, analysis of the failings of their side as well as some very true comments of dark places we (progressives) are edging up to in our victory. I will not eat at Chik-Fil-A because of their corporate policies and actions, but I don't shun those who do choose to eat there because they like the food. I stopped using Firefox due to technical issues just before the Brendon Eich matter went big - and, while I oppose his choices and actions, it was personal not corporate. If we start punishing those who disagree we turn into the very people who harmed us for so long. If I am cynical, I say that Maggie wants to keep the position and money and attention flowing and is simply reorganizing for her next campaign. But if I am charitable and take her words at face value I might see somebody who has learned a valuable lesson about using hateful speech and manipulative fear-mongering to win political campaigns in the name of a religion that is supposed to be about love in a society that is supposed to be pluralistic. Her letter gives me hope, although I will be waiting to see the next step in the process.

Annette Magjuka
Annette Magjuka

You say, "There is a lot of hard cultural, intellectual, moral, and spiritual work to be done on how to combine Love and Truth. Let’s get to it." Maggie, Jesus came to teach us that love IS truth. You are to love all, knowing that we are all one in Christ. Jesus came to show us that we are commanded to embrace "the other." King James Bible: And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? The question is, how do we love our LGBT brothers and sisters? By legislating against them? By firing them from their jobs? By jailing them as they are doing in Uganda? By asking parents to turn in their children so that they can reap their reward in heaven (Uganda)? By stigmatizing, bullying, isolating, and marginalizing? We should be willing to grant others the freedoms we would have for ourselves. This includes the freedom to marry. If your religious views demand that you discriminate against gay people, then gay people cannot be married in your church. But this should not be civil law. In a pluralistic society, everyone should have the same rights. In my religious view (I am Catholic) my examined conscience informs me that any discrimination, any belittling or marginalizing, is sinful. I must, as a Catholic, stand for the dignity and equality of my LGBT brothers and sisters in Christ. I, along with many other Catholics, are speaking out as a matter of conscience. I believe that discrimination can never be a tenet of faith. Jesus demands otherwise. You say that Christianity is a minority view in America? Statistics say otherwise. We are a Christian nation. You say you want to be a culture creator? You have been a culture creator, and now fair-minded Christians are speaking from their informed consciences, letting you know that discrimination is wrong and is not holy. You say you want those who disagree with you to take moral responsibility for opposing you? I have no problem taking moral responsibility for speaking up for equality, dignity for all, and love for our LGBT brothers and sisters. You say fear is shutting down your followers and that you are risking your employment by stating your beliefs? LGBT people are being fired, bullied in school, and jailed (in Russia and Uganda). Many advocates for gay rights oppose threatening employment when people state their views. But this does not mean that those who would withhold equality for all should be unopposed when trying to pass bigoted and unjust laws.

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