The Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson, an apparent protégé of National Organization for Marriage co-founder Robert George, has become one of the primary spokespeople for opposition to marriage equality. In a new column published last week and promoted this morning by NOM, he attempted to identify three tactics “the Left” is using to promote same-sex marriage, but he fails to make any compelling arguments for opposing it.
Anderson’s first concern is that advocates “oversimplify” how same-sex couples will benefit from marriage in a way that somehow undermines the actual definition of marriage. Anderson suggests the institution of marriage involves more “complex human realities,” but he doesn’t actually apply them to the arguments equality proponents make. For example, should all retired couples be able to share their Social Security benefits, including same-sex elders who tend to have higher rates of poverty? Should the children of same-sex couples have the same legal protections and connections to their parents as children in other families enjoy? The answers to these kinds of questions are simple, because these people’s lives already exist and the benefits they are deprived of are easy to comprehend. It’s conservatives’ philosophical pontifications about the supposed definition of marriage that are over-complex, not LGBT families that are too simple.
Secondly, Anderson objects to the silencing of “gays against gay marriage” — people who identify as having a same-sex orientation but campaign against marriage equality. The only two examples he cites — namely because they seem to be the only two American examples that exist — are Robert Oscar Lopez and Doug Mainwaring. Mirroring an ex-gay narrative without using the term, Mainwaring disavowed his orientation, abstaining from all gay sex and raising his kids with his wife. Similarly, Lopez is bi but abides by heterosexuality and he bitterly blames his same-sex parents for his social dysfunctions. He is so bitter, in fact, that he seems to oppose adoption in all forms and even describes same-sex parenting as inherently constituting child abuse.
There are plenty of gay people who may have different opinions about marriage. Some might disagree as to whether it should be a priority for the LGBT movement. Others might argue it’s a heterosexual institution that gay people shouldn’t conform to. Others still might be motivated by their faith to oppose marriage equality. But individuals like Lopez and Mainwaring are trying to speak on behalf of a gay community they admit they do not actually identify with or participate in. It is not the LGBT movement that has marginalized them, but they who have ostracized themselves.
Lastly, Anderson objects to labels of bigotry:
Lastly, the Left has tried to bully us into silence. A principal strategy of the forces that have worked for 20 years to redefine marriage has been cultural intimidation — threatening defenders of marriage with the stigma of being “haters” and “bigots.”
They’ve said anyone who disagrees is the equivalent of a racist. They’ve sent a clear message: Stand up for marriage, and we will, with the help of our media friends, demonize and marginalize you. Just ask Dan Cathy, president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A.
The racism comparison Anderson cites as an objection was a comment by MSNBC contributor Michael Eric Dyson that marriage equality opponents use the same arguments that white supremacists used to oppose civil rights for people of color. While the two struggles have plenty of differences, that doesn’t change the fact that Dyson is correct. In fact, the Howard University School of Law submitted an amicus brief in the Supreme Court marriage cases specifically outlining the parallel rhetoric.
Indeed, the language used by opponents of marriage equality is, by definition, bigoted. Chick-fil-A’s Dan Cathy continues to make quite negative statements about how same-sex marriage is hurting equality. NOM’s March for Marriage was rife with lies and smears against gay people and their families. The continued promotion of ex-gay therapy is a campaign of shame and demonization.
Anderson concludes that “we all should treat people on both sides of the marriage issue with respect.” Perhaps he could model that by promising to stop advocating that an entire group of people be treated as second-class citizens. Bigotry is defined by stubborn intolerance, and it is exemplified by the work of people like Anderson, whose entire career seems to be funded by and focused upon efforts to resist LGBT equality.