Justice Anthony Kennedy did the cause of gay marriage no favors when he ruled that the purpose of laws that uphold traditional marriage was to “disparage and injure” same-sex couples. By casting support for traditional marriage falsely as bigotry, he undermined the legitimacy of the holding in the case. Worse, he implictly excused the real--not imagined–bigotry of some gay marriage supporters against their opponents.
When the majority of California voters passed Proposition 8, upholding traditional marriage, gay marriage supporters went on a rampage against Mormons, who were scapegoated for the referendum. Angry protests were organized outside Mormon churches, and some were vandalized with ugly graffiti, as Mormons in general were subjected to an aggressive barrage of religious bigotry in the media and popular culture.
Just last year, the Chick-Fil-A restaurant chain was targeted with a campaign of boycotts because of its owners’ support for traditional marriage. Supporters of traditional marriage–and free speech–flocked to the restaurants to defend them, but the campaign has continued: a Chick-Fil-A restaurant in San Antonio was vandalized with gay marriage signs in the week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case.
Political leaders have not only defended but championed the bigotry against traditional marriage supporters, who are the one group it is still permissible to hate in American society. The White House has supported something called the “NO H8” campaign, run by “anti-bullying” activist Dan Savage–who is notorious for bullying Christians, including Christian students at a high school journalism conference.
The campaign against supporters of traditional marriage has been as relentless as it is hateful. Even when traditional marriage supporters win the argument, as they did in Proposition 8, they are not permitted to win the policy debate. They are subject to abuse at their homes and places of work; they are mocked by politicians, journalists, and entertainers; they are publicly humiliated when they are sincere in their views.
There are, to be sure, anti-gay bigots in America, such as the cultish members of the Westboro Baptist Church. But the movement for traditional marriage has nothing to do with them. It is, for the most part, made up of tolerant people who but wish to uphold a time-honored–and, yes, religiously-sanctioned institution. They are the victims, not the perpetrators, of bigotry–a point the dissent should have raised and emphasized.
Image credit: Patheos