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03/21/2013

'Times' report: Dwindling number of younger professional conservatives cling to discrimination; hope slick rebranding will save their cause

by Jeremy Hooper

The New York Times is running a piece this morning on the small and dwindling percentage of younger voters who oppose marriage equality. Here's one particularly annoying snip, delivered by NOM "March For Marriage" speaker Eric Teetsel:

“Proponents of same-sex marriage have done a fantastic job of telling the story of same-sex marriage through music and television and film,” said Eric Teetsel, 29, the executive director of the Manhattan Declaration, which describes itself as a movement of Christians for life, marriage and religious freedom. “I think it’s really a case where once they hear the other side of the issue, and really think about it deeply, we’re going to win a lot of those folks back.”
Young Opponents of Gay Marriage Undaunted by Battle Ahead [NYT]

To a married gay man like myself, this is so immensely offensive. Teetsel's suggestion turns my marriage into little more than a PR campaign. In his view, my neighbors, family members, colleagues, and community support my husband and me not because they want to but rather because they have been duped by some slick marketing effort. And in Teetsel's long game, these same supporters will eventually grow tired of Andrew and me and turn against us over time. As I said—offensive.

Not to mention, every single person quoted in the Times piece is a working member of the far-right movement. The writer (Ashley Parker) quotes the aforementioned Teetsel, a Screen Shot 2013-03-21 At 9.18.53 Amstaffer at the anti-LGBT Manhattan Declaration; Joseph Backholm, the executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington who helped lose his fight at the ballot last November; Will Haun, a member of the far-right Federalist Society; Ashley Pratte, the executive director of Cornerstone Policy, the New Hampshire group that, until very recently, pushed "ex-gay" resources on its website; Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation; Caitlin Seery, the director of programs for the Love and Fidelity Network, a project of NOM co-founder Robert George; and of course NOM's own Thomas Peters. These are not people who simply have a point of view—the are people who collect a paycheck off of this kind of work! Of course they want a forty year fight that rivals Roe v. Wade; this is the fight that keeps food on their heterosexist tables!

The truth (i.e. the evidence that belies the anti-LGBT spin machine) is that "the other side of this issue" is one that operates outside of the political space and in the day-to-day world where gay people exist, pay taxes, find and maintain love, and settle into longterm relationships just like heterosexual citizens. The professional conservatives in this piece think they can rebrand this fight into one about "protecting marriage" (though this is not at all a rebrand, really, since they've been trying to do that for years) because they view this whole thing through the skewed prism that their echo chambers and talking point machines have morphed into truth. But in the real world, where people who know actual LGBT people turn eighteen every single day, this, the obvious and offensive attempt to deny the discrimination that they are pushing and then twist that antagonism into a virtue, will no doubt backfire.

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