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01/10/2011

'Nice'

by Jeremy Hooper

Screen Shot 2011-01-10 At 1.14.50 PmIn response to something I've written about an anti-LGBT group or personality's words or deeds, I often get defenders who attempt to counter my points by saying that I'm wrong because said group or person is really quite "nice." Or charitable. Or some other descriptor meant to convey decent, Christian values.

My primary reaction to this is two fold: "Perhaps and so what?"


"Perhaps," because there really is much validity to the claim. From my experience, many members of the professional religious right are, on a personal level, quite amiable. I've said so many times in multiple publications. And I mean it: I've experienced much genuine courtesy from some of my strongest political adversaries. Because remember: Almost nobody who makes a career out of anti-gay advocacy admits that they are discriminating (or even anti-gay, for that matter). Why embrace anger, when you're merely working for "pro-family" values™?

Another related element: Not everyone who votes against us is even anti-gay, much less "mean" Some folks are duped into their resistance. Some people cast votes out of misinformation, lack of awareness, or a false belief that they must do so in order to keep the gays off of their faith. So in these cases, aggression might not even cross the mind. Or if it does, it may be unrelated to actual anti-LGBT animus.

Plus the very notion of "mean/nice" is subjective. And fluctuating. And dependent on many factors, sometimes even provoked by the other party's own deeds. This situation reality is the argument for doing what this site does every day: Focus on issues, arguments, campaigns, etc., and not so much on the characteristics of the individuals who back the same.

Which brings us to the "so what."


"So what" if the president of the National Organization For Marriage has me over for coffee? Even if freshly ground and perfectly French pressed, does that change the fact that he wants to legally divorce me under the civil law that governs our shared nation?

"So what" if the socially conservative member of Congress welcomes me into his or her office with a warm smile? Even if we share a nice laugh, does that alter the text of the bill wherein he or she called for my banning?

"So what" if Focus on the Family's outreach person engages in genuine, off-the-record conversations about the ups and downs of this "culture war"? Even if we share both respect and confidences, does that free the mental anguish from the kids who are daily subjected to FoTF's "ex-gay" teachings?

"So what" if that company that's financing the anti-equality movement was good to your stepbrother's uncle's roommate who worked for them in college? Not me. In terms of your stepbrother's uncle's roommate collegiate work history, sure -- but not in terms of this fight. What I care about here on G-A-Y is the empirical work. The policies. The legislation. The lobbying. The junk science. The lives that are needlessly, shamelessly turned into a fight. The quickest way I can invalidate the very need for a site like this.


So for all future emailers and commenters who are planning to "get me" with testaments to one's pleasant nature: Please know that I'm going to find it completely anti-intellectual when you anecdotally call someone "nice," thinking that will cause me to alter my perceptions. Because while that very well may be true, it is not even a question I've put up for debate. My goal is to end this contrived "culture war", not psychoanalyze its individual foot soldiers. My focus is on the rights-depriving con, not the geniality of its proponents.

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