It is hard to mediate a dispute where both sides feel entitled to use scorched earth tactics that ensure that innocent people get hurt. The gay (or same-sex) marriage wars have quickly escalated to that point, and while it may have been predictable, it was not necessary.
Gay marriage advocates, who were winning and, it is now clear, will win, could have shown patience and compassion toward the unsuspecting Americans of faith who weren’t paying close attention to the epic cultural shift underway, and who are reacting like most human beings react when the basic traditions, assumptions, and beliefs that they grew up believing were good, fair and immutable suddenly move beneath their feet like unstable tectonic plates—with confusion, anger, fear, impulsive words and actions based on instinct and panic. The gay advocates couldn’t bring themselves to do it, though. They rationalized their aggressive strategy with the Goldwateresque “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” approach to social change. They insisted on demonizing opponents, without caring about their motives or their lack of understanding of the issues. Even passive acceptance wasn’t enough: the pro-gay marriage warriors had to purge contrary thoughts from the culture. Forget about tangible opposition: anyone who wasn’t thinking friendly thoughts about gays and their unions had to be destroyed. Use the fear of the tradition-bound against them. Crush them…beat them into submission.
It has been ugly, destructive, and wrong. American shouldn’t lose their jobs for signing a petition or voting for a referendum. States, and all their businesses and individual livelihoods, shouldn’t be boycotted because of misguided laws. This week, a family that just want to make and sell good pizza was drawn into a controversy it neither understood nor could be expected to, and was targeted for destruction after the owner made a comment rife with ignorance about, well, everything. Does it really matter that a pizza seller mistakenly thinks that it would be honorable and virtuous not to cater a hypothetical same-sex wedding reception? Does the family really have to be brought to its knees, made an example of, and ruined to teach anyone else what can happen to them if they don’t conform to the new, mandated belief system?
Who respects or likes people who act this way? We call them bullies. We call them cruel. We call them fanatics. ( This hateful CBS reporter tried to derail the GoFundMe effort to raise funds to rescue the pizza place.) Unless we are determined to understand their motives, we are very likely to hate them.
So the advocates of gay marriage really think it advances their cause, and it is a just cause, to make people hate and fear them.
What utter, utter folly.
Naturally, as in any war, the other side has responded in an equally brutal and ugly manner, just worse—dumber, to begin with. It’s Dresden for Coventry all over again.
In Florida, a former televangelist named Joshua Feuerstein called a local bakery and asked the owner to make a sheet cake with an anti-gay marriage message on it. He didn’t really need a cake, of course. He was just looking for a victim. The owner said that she wouldn’t put such a message on a cake, because she’s a decent, kind and professional businesswoman. Feuerstein, parody of a Christian and disgraceful American that he is, then used his more than a million Facebook followers to target the bakery, chosen at random to illustrate a point that is mistaken and wrong in every way.
Think of it: a million people follow this ignorant, hateful, abusive man. Frightening.
He posted a video launching the attack, disclosed the owner’s name, and encouraged the good Christians of shriveled souls and negligible IQ scores to “call her yourself, ask her the same exact questions,” “show the hypocrisy,” and generally harass the store out of existence. They made a good pass at it, too, flooding the business’ Facebook page with insults, posting multiple one-star reviews, and making up bad experiences they said they had doing business with the store. Here are a couple of examples:
There was no hypocrisy. Refusing to put abusive words on a cake, a sign or any product is a business’s or an individual’s absolute right. That’s expressive speech. There is no discrimination in such a business decision at all, but Feuerstein is as ignorant as he is vicious. As despicable as it is to set out to destroy a business for saying that it thinks it might discriminate against gays in a hypothetical situation unlikely to occur (catering a gay wedding with pizza), trying to destroy another business based on total, inexcusable ignorance of the Constitution is far worse.
Ironically, today Colorado handed down its ruling on a discrimination claim by a similar anti-gay Christian bigot who ordered anti-gay cakes to force a confrontation. The bakery told him it would make the Bible-shaped cakes he wanted, but without the requested anti-homosexuality words and images. The resulting complaint asserted that this refusal constituted unequal treatment and the denial of goods and services based on the bigot’s religion. Garbage. The words were rejected, not the religion; there was no discrimination, just discriminating good manners and taste. And so the state civil rights commission properly held.
Animals and people are dangerous when cornered, and this is the current stance of the unthinking, unreasoning, and desperate anti-gay marriage segment of the population. They have blown the issue out of all proportion, and are apparently willing to sacrifice anything and anyone as they make their final, Masada-like stand against the changes in law and culture dictated by the ongoing process of humanity’s evolving understanding of right and wrong.
Both sides of the conflict share blame for the shear mindlessness of the carnage, but it is the gay-marriage opponents who will be most accountable for the damage. After all, their opponents just want to be treated like everyone else, and to have the rights guaranteed to all American citizens. It is inconceivable to me that anyone would think that the ethical course is to destroy lives and businesses to prevent that.
The manner in which the gay marriage culture war is being waged, indeed the fact that it had to be a war at all, embarrasses the nation and the species.