I read a blog post by Louis Marinelli (via Mark Morford’s SF Gate column), who is one of the architects of The National Organization for Marriage (to which I will not link on this site). He describes in some detail how he came to the conclusion that he actually supports same-sex marriage.
Having spent the last five years putting all of my political will, interest and energy into fighting against the spread of same-sex marriage as if it were a contagious disease, I must admit that it is hard for me to put the following text into words let alone utter them with my own voice.
Whether it is an issue of disbelief, shame or embarrassment, the one thing that is for sure is that I have come to this point after several months of an internal conflict with myself. That conflict gradually tore away at me until recently when I was able to for the first time simply admit to myself that I do in fact support civil marriage equality.
While I have come to terms with this reality internally, speaking about it, even with the closest members of my family, has proven to be something difficult for me to do.
In short, if there is an issue of disbelief surrounding my newfound support for civil marriage equality, it is disbelief from those who surround me. If there is an issue of shame, it is a result of acknowledging the number of people I have targeted, hurt and oppressed. And if there is an issue of embarrassment, its roots lie in the face-to-face encounters I have had and expect to have with those with whom I once toiled over this very contentious issue.
I understand that those whom I approach now are well within their right to disbelieve and question me and my motives. I accept that is the result of what I have done over the past few years and would therefore like to take this time to, as openly as I can, discuss the events that brought about my change of heart.
As you may already know, I was the one behind the 2010 Summer for Marriage Tour which the National Organization for Marriage sponsored and operated throughout July and August last year. It was my doing when, in March that year, I approached Brian Brown, then Executive Director of the National Organization for Marriage about sponsoring and participating in a series of traditional marriage rallies scattered around the Nation.
In fact, the tour route itself, while chosen largely by NOM itself, incorporated as many of the sites I had originally chosen and helped independently organize. Other locations were added due to strategic, political or simply logistical purposes.
Ironically, one of the last tour stops added to the itinerary was Atlanta and I bring this site up because it was in Atlanta that I can remember that I questioned what I was doing for the first time. The NOM showing in the heart of the Bible-belt was dismal and the hundreds of counter-protesters who showed up were nothing short of inspiring.
Even though I had been confronted by the counter-protesters throughout the marriage tour, the lesbian and gay people whom I made a profession out of opposing became real people for me almost instantly. For the first time I had empathy for them and remember asking myself what I was doing.
[T]he lesbian and gay people whom I made a profession out of opposing became real people for me almost instantly. I think that this is what people forgot all too often. LGBT people are indeed real people, people who have a difficult road because of who they are. LGBTs are a faceless enemy advancing the “homosexual agenda” – according to conservatives that oppose equal rights. Marinelli says as much in his post.
This is exactly the reason that I think LGBT people need to be visible, and not be in the closet. That doesn’t mean everyone needs to be an activist, but letting other people see you for who you are is critically important. After all, LGBTs care about all the same things everyone else does: the mortgage, the job, the car payment, the break-in down the street, getting the child to all his activities, the school budget issues, etc. They’re pretty humdrum, mundane concerns. Just like everyone else’s concerns.
But LGBT people face discrimination on top of all that. DADT is recently repealed but not fully implemented, so LGBTs cannot fully serve openly. DOMA is still the law of the land, even if the Obama administration has stopped defending it in court, even if the administration is still enforcing it. Same-sex marriage is not allowed in most states.
Until all this changes – and it is changing, slowly – LGBTs have to remain visible in living their lives. They have to become real people, not faceless, promiscuous people. When that happens, full equality will not be far behind.