Saturday, April 4, 2009

Gay Rights Opponents Are Perverts

I wrote the following column for the Daily Iowan in June of 2008:

California's state government will soon stop issuing marriage licenses in a discriminatory fashion. Rather than referring to any given happy couple as "bride" and "groom," the new documents will simply list them as "Party A" and "Party B." Thus, California will join Massachusetts and several European countries in granting full civil marriage equality to gays and lesbians.

As a young gay man, I find this development to be greatly encouraging. I am convinced that our society is moving in the correct direction: toward truly treating all people equally under the law. Unfortunately, not everyone understands that ending governmental discrimination against gays constitutes progress. Dissenters to such legal reforms unceasingly denounce them by holding protests, writing editorials, and posting comments on news websites.

Of course Americans are all free, as we ought to be, to express our opinions regardless of what those opinions are. But we must not allow people with reactionary, backward-looking views to promulgate them unchallenged in the public square. Those of us who know better are morally obligated to respond.

There will always be people who are slow to follow along as society's collective conscience gradually grows more attuned to the rights of minorities. Ridding oneself of long-held prejudices is a difficult process, and it is only fair to sympathize with those who lag a bit behind, particularly older people who formed many of their opinions in a radically different era. The best thing to do is engage with such people and persuade them through experience that gays are, except in the realm of sexuality, fundamentally the same as everyone else - and unquestionably worthy of equal treatment by the government.

The most vocal and proactive opponents of gay rights, as opposed to those who are simply set in their ways, don't warrant such gentle treatment. Truly reactionary, regressive political arguments must be countered with overwhelming rhetorical force. We must fight ferociously in the ongoing ideological struggle to move society further forward in its recognition of and respect for individual rights. And in doing so we have to be far less defensive.

Merely characterizing gay-rights opponents as homophobic or intolerant isn't enough. Doing so cedes too much rhetorical ground, implicitly allowing our adversaries to argue that gays are so inherently scary or repellent as to require one to have a strong stomach merely to put up with us at all. No, we must turn the tables completely.

I decided upon the ideal rhetorical device to attack those who agitate against gay rights in a discussion I had with a straight friend and colleague of mine who writes for a paper in Minnesota. After a long and rugged night filled with drink and debate, my friend and I concluded that right-wing culture warriors are perverts. They doth protest too much against gays, calling us a perverted minority in a desperate attempt to hide their identity as just that.

The perversion at the heart of anti-gay activism is readily apparent: voyeurism. The prospect of right-wing ideologues leering in through people's bedroom windows, straining to see exactly what sort of sexual practices they engage in with other consenting adults is gross and frightening. But that's effectively what these perverts advocate. Having no regard for privacy or basic decency, they obsess over other people's sex lives to the point where they barely seem able to think about anything else.

In order to disguise their depravity, these false moralists generally include feel-good words such as "family" or "Christian" in their fetid organizations' names. Don't be fooled. The preachers and politicians who work tirelessly to make sure gay people remain second-class citizens spend far more time worrying about gay sex than about helping American families.

Some of these sick bastards may even spend more time talking about gay sex than the vast majority of gays do. In fact, they've created an entire industry around their repugnant voyeurism, actually making money ceaselessly ranting about their disapproval of other people's sex lives. It's beyond disgusting: It's deranged. Rational people attempt to distance themselves from circumstances they find unpleasant, not dwell on them.

Opinion polls show decisively that our society is finally reaching a level of maturity in which we realize that people's sex lives are their own business, but we need to remain vigilant in maintaining forward momentum. So the next time you go toe-to-toe with these creeps, don't settle for offering up effete denunciations of their bigotry; instead, go for the jugular and call them out for what they are: pernicious, pathetic, window-peeping perverts.

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