Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Maine, messaging and marriage for us all

Robert Cruikshank, a smart and very hard-working guy who works with California's Courage Campaign, writes about the Maine marriage defeat:

...the Maine experience suggests we still haven't figured out how to message this in a way that neutralizes the other side's lies.

That's not to critique the No on 1 campaign in any way. It's more a broader point that none of us have, for example, figured out how to overcome the Schubert/Flint bullshit about schools. ...

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.
Most gay people who work for marriage equality are seeking exactly the recognition that anti-gay marriage forces hope to prevent us from getting. We can't message away our desire to be included as normal members of a complex and various human family. Fortunately, with enough hard work, our opponents will become more and more irrelevant until even they wonder what all the fuss was about.

1 comment:

Darlene said...

I do wish people would mind their own business and live and let live. I guess I have to plead to intolerance, but it's not for the gay community. I am intolerant of the judgmental people who deny others the same rights that they enjoy. Sanctimonious dolts make me angry.

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