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Wake up, Maggie: A redux

by Jeremy Hooper

Since Maggie Gallagher is all over the news this week, defending her group's resoundingly rejected ad (still at 1 star and 99% negative comments on YouTube, even though stats show that 6,400+ of the views have come via NOM's own site), we want to repost something that we recently wrote about America's self-appointed doyenne of marriage discrimination. Mainly because we think her audio really highlights a primary (yet widely overlooked) failure of her work: The inability/refusal to see that certain ideas, like fair civil treatment, deserve a premium because those ideas hold an inherently greater value.


Audio: Yes, Mags, your views surely will fall out of favor. Now ask yourself why.
(originally posted 2/27/09)

Picture 4-209Prominent anti-marriage equality activist Maggie Gallagher recently addressed a law class at Spokane's Gonzaga University. Here's a short snippet that we'd like to address:

Okay, so Maggie's basic assertion is that marriage equality for same-sex couples will eventually make her seem like a bigot, much in the same way that the elimination of anti-miscegenation laws have helped foist those who oppose interracial marriage in a negative light. She states it ably and clearly enough -- an ability to convey a message is not a skill we would ever deny of Maggie. However, through her long explanation, she overlooks the most key concept at play here. That concept: That views and laws regarding racist behavior have rightfully changed over the years because society has evolved and corrected its past biased thinking. And in fact, we would argue that Maggie's comparison here actually hurts her cause, as it reminds folks of all of the other mistakes that we as a nation, whether through courts, votes, or legislative action, have stepped up and remedied.

We'd like to think that the LGBT activist community has the power and influence that the "pro-family" movement ascribes upon it. The reality, however, is that our movement pales in comparison to the anti-gay forces in most every area. They are bigger, more connected, more well-financed (Focus on the Family alone has more means than all of our groups combined), have a much easier ability to rally through their churches, and have always held public opinion regarding marriage on their side. So it's illogical to assume that our gains are due to our ability to outpace their considerable front. In truth, we have made all of our GAINS despite their muscle.

So that takes us back to the key variable that we feel Maggie is failing to acknowledge: The righteousness of the fight. It's very easy for the "pro-fams" like Mags to make it sound as if we've whipped society into P.C. submission, but it's simply untrue. In truth, we have stated our case in face of considerable adversary, and have managed to slowly connect with the public. We've come out and shown who we are, using our visibility to open hearts, minds, and others' previously-sealed closet doors. We have stood up for that to which we feel we are deserved yet denied. And over time, we've come to where we are today: A time when public opinion polls are a mixed-to-negative bag, but where the tide seems to be carrying us to a brighter shore.

It is that tide, with all of its variables, that Maggie must both acknowledge and examine in full. Not just in terms of the marriage fight, because it cannot be accurately disassociated from LGBT lives and loves as a whole. Instead, she must look at why we in the queer community have been able to progress against all odds. She needs to examine the variable of her own team's anti-gay activism, as well as any and all public rejection of the same. She has to take a hard, objective look at the basis for her marriage views, no matter how fully she believes in them. She must ask herself why bigotry and bias is more readily associated with her side. And rather than look at what marriage equality will mean for her operations in American society, she has to ask WHY she thinks that this would be the one time in American history that a valid minority group's ability to achieve their desired gains would be a negative outcome.

Maggie's honest prediction may be that same-sex marriage victories will bring on a slew of problems that will plague her "pro-family" peeps. However, you can't just look to what may flower -- you have to most fully examine the root. And we would argue that if you look at the roots of marriage equality, you'll see that they, like the roots of so many other virtuous fights, were always strong and conducive to growth. It has just taken society a very long time to dig through the mounds of withering talking points, rhetoric, code words, and false compassion under which they had been buried!

Maggie at Gonzaga Law School [view/download full video podcast]

**Note: To be fair, Maggie addresses a number of points in her hour long speech, bringing up all sorts of reasons why she sees marriage equality as a negative. However, none of her thoughts change our feeling that she's (a) far too readily overlooking the virtues and merits of our community's gains, and (b) being far too subjective when it comes to her own peeps' prospects of experiencing heightened scrutiny in the years to come.

**We also find it unfair to trivialize the fight by making it sound as if all marriage equality activists see folks like Maggie as "bigots." We certainly don't. And we think the assertion monolithically assigns unfair viewpoints to one side of this debate, the very thing that Maggie seemingly wishes to reject by fighting against the "bigots" label.

**Oh, and Joe Solmonese is pronounced Joe Solmon[EES], not Joe Solmon[AYSEE].

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Your thoughts

Your rebuttal was absolutely beautiful.

Posted by: Jamie Pritchard | Apr 10, 2009 4:25:18 PM

Essentially her argument is: "Your rights should be limited because the more rights you have, the less socially acceptable my bigotry against you will be and that's infringes on my freedom". It's such a flimsy, irrational argument that you'd think an educated person like Maggie would be embarrassed to even put it out there. The Catholic Charities is an example of this and Maggie doesn't have her facts straight: http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2006/03/11/catholic_charities_stuns_state_ends_adoptions/

Posted by: Steve | May 7, 2009 7:16:26 PM

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