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Let's just let history decide who showed respect and who didn't

by Jeremy Hooper

I'm going to be somewhat charitable. I'm going to say that I can see how someone who has so fully bought into the idea that his movement is simply out to "protect" rather that discriminate could believe now, at a time when his movement has so clearly lost, that the onus is on his opposition to couple their victory with graciousness.

Even through that lens, it's still pretty galling to hear Ryan T. Anderson, a young man who has spent the past couple of years dedicating virtually all of his public profile toward stopping same-sex couples from civil marriage, insisting that some sort of "respect" burden is now on the very citizens who he and his team have so staunchly tried to deny:

Ryan Anderson, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation who co-authored “What is Marriage?” with Princeton scholar Robert P. George, is a powerful voice among young conservatives. Anderson thinks the court is “very likely” to take up same-sex marriage in 2015 given the 6th Circuit decision, and he believes the decision will come down to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has authored the court’s most significant gay rights decisions.

Anderson (a Roman Catholic, like Kennedy) said the majority of evangelicals will remain opposed to gay marriage regardless of the ruling. But he believes the law can serve a “pedagogical function,” so legalizing gay marriage could “change the public understanding of behavior.” While Anderson won’t predict how conservative Christians at large would react, he said much depends on the behavior of LGBT advocates.

“We’ll have to see how gracious or vindictive voices within the LGBT community are in their responses,” Anderson said. “Will they become a live-and-let-live movement or a stamp-out-dissent movement? If there’s respect, there’s likely to be less pushback from conservatives.”

FULL: If the Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage in 2015, how will evangelicals respond? [RNS via WaPo]

Just last year, Ryan, someone who has on several occasions advocated for gay people to be "set free" from their "same-sex attractions" and who gives paid speeches that essentially frame families likes mine as contra all that is right and good Screen Shot 2015-01-05 At 7.33.50 Pm in the world, looked a gay Californian in the eyes and told him that his legal right to marry would never result in a "real" marriage. And yet he wants to tell me that he now gets to sit on some sort of a moral perch and adjudicate whether battle-weary, understandably hardened, and justifiably celebratory people who he and his movement so viciously tried to deny, for so long in so many ways (and for years and years preceding Ryan's relatively short time in the fight) are being "live and let live" enough? You've got to be kidding me with that noise! Even for as ego-driven of a movement as this one, which has always positioned itself in the do-no-wrong camp even as it was doing-so-much-wrong, this is an extremely hubristic thing to say!

And I say that as a firm member of what anyone who knows this fight could only rightly consider to be in the "respectful" camp. I don't have any desire to label people as bigots or haters or to shout anyone down. I don't care to deny anyone the right to protest my right to marry (and would in fact fight for their right to do so). While I 100% stand in support of laws that insist public accommodations act like public accommodations and not discriminate against LGBT people (a position with which someone like Ryan disagrees), I also don't care to deny anyone of any reasonable objection they might want to raise against me, my family, my marriage, or my existence on this mortal plane or in their vision of my eternal future. When a state gets marriage equality, my usual M.O. is to pretty much forget the local opposition figures even exist. The same goes for an increasing number of national figures who no longer have any political viability. Once their right to hurt me in policy falls away, I tend to have no problem letting even the most virulently anti-gay people in America live-and-let-live their proudly anti-gay lives. And I of course haven't spent one second of my life trying to disrespect any of my political opponents, be they powerful or powerless, of their deserved civil rights.

But with all due :ahem: respect, the people who forced me to pause my life in order to fight for my life aren't the ones who are dictating my procession through history. When you spend decades trying to change constitutions so that they become weapons against my family, you kind of lose the right to portray yourself as the benevolent teacher to my inexperienced civics student. When your movement is defined by disrespect for just about every facet of the lives of both me and my family members, the word "respect" sounds a little different when it comes out of your mouth.

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