What's Next? Gay Marriage, Of Course.

What Women Really Think
Dec. 20 2010 10:52 AM

What's Next? Gay Marriage, Of Course.

Dahlia , I agree with you that the thing that killed DADT at the end of the day is that more and more Americans are coming around to believing anti-gay bigotry is wrong.  Which is why I found this article asking questioning if equal marriage will work out like the repeal of DADT by David A. Fahrenthold in the Washington Post to be overwrought.  The opposition to gay marriage rights and to gays serving in the military comes from the same place, which is bigotry and fear. And just as the realization that gay people are serving already warmed the public up to accepting them serving openly, education demonstrating that gay people are already forming lifelong partnerships will warm the public up to equal marriage rights.

For what it's worth, this article also demonstrates the dangers of calling up people who lead organizations formally designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Fahrenthold quotes Peter Sprigg of the hate group the Family Research Council for his opinion on why the same Americans who accept gay service members won't make the leap into accepting equal marriage rights.

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"Allowing a homosexual to serve in the military does not change the definition of what a soldier is, or what the military is," Sprigg said. But, he said, allowing gays to marry would "change the definition of what marriage is. To legalize same-sex marriage is to officially affirm and celebrate homosexual relationships. And that's a step that I don't think the American public is ready to make."

That's the tune that Sprigg is singing when he's in mainstream publications like the Washington Post , that this is about preserving some immutable definition of marriage instead of overt bigotry.  But when Sprigg is on right wing talk radio , this notion that opposition to gays entering institutions like marriage is offensive because of the integrity of the institution falls away, and is replaced by a more honest argument, which is that Sprigg fears that gays being able to join institutions will weaken bigotry against them.

Sprigg : That's right. They've already succeeded in taking over, ideologically taking over, the liberal institutions of society-the academia, the news media, and the entertainment media. They want to take over the conservative institutions of society like the military so that there will be no opposition to them at all.

On the same program, Sprigg compares homosexuality to pedophilia. The opposition to DADT repeal and the opposition to equal marriage rights spring from the same place, a concern that giving gay people access to the same rights and opportunities as straight people will mean that straight people get used to gay people, and therefore hate them less.  Not that I think Sprigg is entirely dishonest about his fear that equal access to marriage will somehow remake traditional marriage. Social conservatives like him still fight against the egalitarian model of marriage that feminists propose, and it's possible that seeing gay couples marry will reinforce the notion that there doesn't have to be dominant/submissive roles assigned by gender in marriage.  But the legal rights that feminists have attained for wives over centuries-the right to divorce, to keep your own name, to own property in your own name-have probably done more to dismantle traditional marriage than anything gay people getting married could do.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

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