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11/08/2012

Anti-equality campaigns' Facebook pages are now the unthreatening opinion pages they should be

by Jeremy Hooper

I just took what might be my final look at the official Facebook pages of each of the four marriage campaigns that lost on election day. And you know what's 201211081155interesting? Now, when we know that they have no chance of actually affecting our civil rights at the polls, these Facebook pages are actually what they should've always been: A place for (mostly) religious people to blow off steam, using their personally-held faith opinions to dialogue with like minds.

The fact of the matter is that most of us who engage on the side of civil equality do not care even a little bit if these folks want to talk about us. I mean, sure, if you see a friend of family member doing it, you might want to stand your ground. Or if you are a person of faith yourself, you might want to challenge those who you feel are misrepresenting the biblical view. But by and large, we in the equality movement do not so much care about what anti-LGBT people choose to think and say about us in their own forums. In fact, most LGBT people and progressive allies are the first to defend their right to speak out against us (*see the recent Westboro Baptist Supreme Court case, where the vast majority of progressives stood with WBC's speech and expression while conservatives showed outrage).

Anti-equality groups don't want to admit this. When we go onto their Facebook walls during election season and stand our ground in perfectly fair ways, they usually ban us from engaging at all (I've been banned from the Facebook pages of every inequality campaign to ever happen). Others proceed to misuse the term "troll," as if those of us who have something to lose on election day have no right to hold up our end of the conversation. They tend to seek out both the "right" to take away our rights and the "right" to do it all in the echoiest of echo chambers. That is not okay! During election season, you best believe that we are going to monitor what they are saying to rally their side to vote against our civil rights, and we are also going to push back against the untruths that are de rigueur within any one of these campaigns. Because again, when there are tangible civil rights on the table that we very well could lose, we care about what they are saying and how they are saying it. We have much to lose. And in all cases other than the semi-exception of Maine in 2012, they are the ones who forced the debate.

But now that we don't have this threat breathing down our neck, who really cares what they are saying? Want to say that you are never going to personally recognize our unions? Fine, whatever. So long as you are not in a position where you can and will use your personal theology to deny us of our civil licenses or their fair recognition, few of us are going to stand in your way when you break out your best condemnations. When we said that we respected your right to religious freedom, we actually meant it (unlike your campaigns' typically twisted view of what religious freedom entails).

So go ahead, dogged warriors of those groups that have misused words like "preserve" and "protect"—comment about us and our "fake" marriages. You have always had the right to make your opinions known. Now when you do it, you are likely to get even more of that echo chamber that you said you wanted. Enjoy the freedom!

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