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How can we be 'radically anti' what we're so passionately for?

by Jeremy Hooper


The common thread binding all equality activists is that we should be doing something else with our time. By which I mean: In a perfect world, none of us would have to commit any amount of time, be it large or small, towards making this world safe, protected, and equal. In a Utopia, there would be no such thing as pro-equality activism, as there would be no anti-equality/anti-LGBT advocacy forcing such a contrived need upon us.

But we don't get to live in that world. We live here on Earth, where countless groups are still throwing tons of money and hours towards the cause of keeping LGBT people less-than-equal and far-from-protected, which forces those who either live within LGBT existences or support those who do to pause our lives and take on this fight. We do this because we are "radical" enough to see LGBT people as just as deserving of a fair shake as anyone else. We fight for our rights because we are pro-peace, pro-family, pro-values, and pro-marriage.

It's on the basis of those truths that I find NOM's latest campaign in support of House Speaker John Boehner so incredibly galling. Here, this graphic gives you the gist of what they are saying about us now:

Screen Shot 2011-10-10 At 2.13.15 Pm

"Anti-marriage radicals." In the e-blast, blog post, Facebook outreach, and action item that accompanies this graphic, NOM staffers repeat this same phrase over and over again. They seem to believe that if they say it enough, it might stick. Unfortunately for NOM, reality has other plans.

The truth: The modern marriage equality movement is more outwardly pro-marriage than any other group out there. Marriage equality activists, as a generalized movement, are seeking full and equal civil marriage rights, while maintaining support for religious figures' own right to exclude whomever they wish from the ancillary religious ceremony. Plus most marriage equality supporters are quite fond of opposite-sex marriages as well. We are pushing only for civil gains, which come at the expense of NO ONE!  How can we be the anti-marriage ones, when our opposition's side of this fight is the only one that would, by design, result in less marriages?!

But more than even that: Here in a world marked with a constant barrage of news regarding infidelities and divorce, marriage equality activists are the ones painting hopeful portraits of love. Of happiness. Of benign inclusion. It's marriage equality activists who are going out into the culture in support of more marriage.  This peaceful  portrait is only "radical" to those who embrace heterosexism as our world's one, true norm.

It's just a truth that pro-marriage equality activists are the ones most fully fostering marriage's good nature and name. In fact, one has to wonder who would be putting such positive marital imagery out into the world if NOT for same-sex marriage supporters? Would any other community be marching in the streets carrying signs in support of love and companionship? Would celebrities sign up to appear in ads solely focused on supporting a marriage culture if there were no modern marriage equality movement? If not for gay couples whose years of delay culminates in volcanic bursts of pure joy, would news crews have so much B-roll of American citizens participating in some good old fashion "I do" swapping?  And as we consider the future of marriage, one has to wonder: Would young people of an increasingly fragmented world have any sort of deep passions about any marriage-related matter if not for the vigor of the pro-marriage-equality push?

The answer to all those questions is a big, fat, resounding "NO!" Or at the very least, a "probably not."  But none of the answers trend towards more likely, which means those who value marriage and who want to help its sustainability should be thanking LGBT people and their allies for picking up this sweet cause, countering the barrage that children see every time they pass the magazines at the grocery store's checkout lines. Because let's face it: if not for those of us who are so pro-marriage that we're willing to suffer the considerable costs attached to obtaining and defending its more inclusive status, would anyone be "radical" enough to step up with such passion?

I mean look, if NOM wants to call me "anti" and call my legal marriage "radical," then okay, fine, whatever. All I know is that I love my husband more than I've ever loved anyone in this world; I gladly share my joy with anyone who will listen; and I have made every effort to foster the same freedom for any couple, LGBT or S, who wants it. Somehow I think that if both sides keep talking and America keeps listening, my kind of proud support for marriage will organically dissolve NOM's childish attack lines, regardless of how radically they push them.

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