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Can Sympathetic Outlets Escape Contrived Memes in Gay Marriage Debate?

by Jeremy Hooper

So here's the thing:

-76% of Americans identify as Christians-

-A relatively small portion of that percentage is engaged in "culture war," social issues politics-

-An even smaller portion is engaged on what I'd call the
anti-equality side of the equation-

-Of that figure, a smaller portion still is engaged in a way that would identify them with one of the leading groups working against LGBT rights on the policy front-

-Of those national and state groups (of which there are hundreds), only 16 of them have made the Southern Poverty Law Center's anti-gay "hate groups" list-

Right, so here's why I bring this up: The Christian Post is currently running this headline...

Screen Shot 2011-07-20 At 4.23.47 Pm
[SOURCE: Christian Post]

…for a piece all about how the common belief, especially on the pro-equality side, is that (a) Christians, as a monolith, are opposed to marriage equality; (b) the personally-opposed are also politically engaged against it; and (c) the pro-equality side is incapable of responding to this supposed Christian monolith without resorting to "hate" labels. It's a completely unfair presentation that improperly addresses the "teams," reasons, and actual span of engagement, instead buying into the "poor, pitiful us" act that the "protect marriage" crowd has adopted in these increasingly accepting times.

To bolster the point, the Christian Post writer (Jeff Schapiro) includes quotes from Peter "export/criminalize the gays" Sprigg, and notes his group's inclusion on the Southern Poverty's list as some sort of "proof" of this "anti-Christian" "name-calling." But going back to the quick and dirty graph above: The Family Research Council's inclusion on the SPLC's list is not an indictment of Christians. Hell, it's not even an indictment of the "pro-family" movement as a whole! The Family Research Council was chosen for this list because they have met a very high bar (or low bar, as it were) in terms of their willingness to take the discourse to uniquely hyper-charged places. Focus on the Family's not on the list. Liberty Counsel's not on the list. NOM's not on the list. Very few of the state groups are on the list. We may debate whether or not they should be on a list of this kind, but the fact is that SPLC, under its own criteria, has not added them. SPLC has added FRC -- and they were chosen because they are FRC, not because they are Christian, or even because they are opposed to LGBT rights!

Perhaps the problem is that SPLC's "hate groups" labeling of the list let's groups like FRC say, "See, see -- they call us haters." But I say hey, go ahead -- call the list "Groups that have most fully slighted LGBT people." Call it "The ones most in need of a Gay Pride weekend at Dollywood." Call it "Strawberry Soda," for all I care. What matters is the empirical data that led to any one group's inclusion. You know -- the one thing they never acknowledge when responding to this list?

So anyway, back to the larger point: The hyper-engaged, reliably hurtful folks like Peter Sprigg and professional "ex-gay" Greg Quinlan (who's quoted in the article, proudly stating, "I am intolerant") really need to stop pulling this estimated 76% of the population into their boat! Lots of Christians out there are just as supportive of civil marriage equality and just as disturbed by uncivil "culture warring" as we are -- many of them *because* of their Christianity, in fact, not despite of.

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