Robert Cruikshank, a smart and very hard-working guy who works with California's Courage Campaign, writes about the Maine marriage defeat:
Much as I respect Robert, I think he's wrong. I think he's repeating a piece of conventional wisdom here that we need to move beyond. And yes, I know it is impolitic to admit this.
The reason that the anti-gay messages about LGBT marriage being taught in schools "work" is twofold:
- Being worried about the "innocent" kids is a more acceptable form of bigotry than outright recoil from gay ickiness. Gayness is rapidly being normalized in 1000s of venues, most notably consumer culture. It would be unacceptably uncool for many adults to admit that gay people simply make them queasy. But they can be proud of themselves for being queasy on behalf of someone else -- kids serve well for projection of very adult anxieties.
- When we win the right to marry, what opponents fear will come true. Kids will learn in school that gay people/gay families are simply a normal variation in their world. In most circumstances, teachers aren't going to teach that Johnny's parents are dirty and immoral while Suzy's are good and pure. This sort of thing creates discipline and administration problems; better to teach the kids that we're all human and we can all get along.