I want to do something a little different this week with the precious time you and I have together.
Usually, each week with the newsletter, I try to take you with me on an exciting front-seat ride through the latest news in the fight to protect marriage—and don't get me wrong, there's plenty of news and a lot of it good.
(See for example NOM's new Rhode Island ad, affectionately known around here as “the Moose ad.”)
Today, I don't know, maybe it's the terrible Tucson shooting which has made me want to pause and reflect with you on the “climate of hate.”
Now, I’m not really talking about the Tucson event: Pres. Obama, Charles Krauthammer, and many others have responded to the infuriating charge that mainstream conservative rhetoric was behind the sad, senseless and ultimately monstrous shooting spree that killed a judge, several bystanders, and a 9 year old girl, leaving a Congresswoman in the hospital.
But I do want to ponder, in a deeper way, what it means when a Nobel Prize-winning economist at The New York Times can possibly write this sentence:
"It's the saturation of our political discourse—and especially our airwaves—with eliminationist rhetoric that lies behind the rising tide of violence. Where's that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let's not make a false pretense of balance: it's coming, overwhelmingly, from the right."
By "eliminationist rhetoric," Paul Krugman means rhetoric, which suggests that one's opponents are not just wrong, they are illegitimate—that in a better world they would not exist.
Well, you and I know a little about rhetoric that sounds like that don’t we?
(He may only be speaking of rhetoric inciting to violence, and I want to be clear that I don't consider gay-marriage advocates on their worst day to be doing that.)
But for me the worst part of the gay marriage debate is this eliminationist quality coming (in my experience, and of course I'm speaking only about public and visible organizations and spokespeople) almost exclusively from one side: activists who support gay marriage.
They've said over and over again, until they've totally convinced themselves, that there really is “no legitimate argument” against gay marriage, no reason why marriage in virtually every known society is a union of husband and wife.
They do not see themselves as behaving aggressively when they insist that all good people now support the redefinition of marriage, so the public and political resistance of others to their new views on marriage strikes them as incredibly aggressive.
Having already redefined marriage in their heads, living in progressive bubbles and talking mostly with folks who agree with them, too many have concluded that our words must simply be cover for some dark desire to make other people's lives miserable.
I've come to believe that this is not merely tactical on their part; they really experience the world in this way, which makes me sad.
If you say, “The ideal for a child is a mom and a dad,” they hear something very different, something which sounds more like, "You hate me and my family—you want to attack me."
I'm not sure what it is possible to do about reactions like that. Many parents are not married, and all responsible parents deserve respect. But an America where our ideal is seen as a vicious and hateful attack?
I will tell you one thing: I'm very proud of the way you and I have conducted this great fight for the meaning of marriage in the public square.
I'm proud of our victories, but also of the courage and kindness which you and so many decent and loving people have displayed in standing up to those who would redefine moral disagreement on marriage as hatred.
I don't really think that anything I can say is going to stop the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and others like them from calling what you and I do “hatred,” and creating fundraising videos which distort who you and I are and what we believe in. (Particularly reprehensible is suggesting that you or I somehow endorse violence against homosexual people—most reprehensible not because it hurts you or me, but because some gay people who trust HRC might really believe it—a major and mainstream political organization advocating violence?!)
But somehow after Tucson, I feel an obligation today to try again, anyway. Because I know that there are people out there reading this newsletter who do quietly appreciate it when we say it.
I think every gay person is a child of God first and foremost—beloved by their Creator, who sent His only Son to die—for them, as much as for me.
Gay-marriage advocates and I have deep, real and important moral disagreements about the nature, meaning and purpose of marriage (and sex and gender, most likely!). If the expression of these views makes anyone feel personally attacked, I will say: that saddens me, it's not my intention, I wish I could make it otherwise.
No American should be afraid to exercise our core civil rights, to speak, to donate, to organize, or to vote on behalf of deeply cherished moral beliefs, to fight for what we think is right.
But together, can we reach across our deep differences to agree at least on that?
If so, the debate can be drained of a little of its poison.
Thank you again, you and all our fellow marriage fighters, for your good wishes, your company, your thoughts and prayers--and, above all, for your courage in joining with me in this great struggle to defend God's truth about marriage.
Until next week, Semper fi and God bless!
P.S. We are spending over $100,000 on the Rhode Island “Moose” ad this week. Can you help us add a minute or two of airtime—to get the message, “Let the people vote,” to people across America in similar efforts? If you can give $5, $10, or $100 for marriage this week for the marriage fight across this great land, please know that we will steward your gift thriftily, wisely and effectively—towards victory!