When support for gay marriage gets ugly

The Week 21 April 2015
When a school learns that one of its alums has achieved great things, the institution will usually seek to promote those accomplishments. But there are exceptions. If it’s discovered, for example, that the former student also happens to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan, or a neo-Nazi, or a convicted felon, then the school will naturally seek to downplay the connection — and to sever any explicit ties between them.

To this list of offenses — normally reserved only for bigots and criminals — we can now apparently add opposing same-sex marriage.

Consider the recent experience of Ryan T. Anderson.

A graduate of the Quaker Friends School of Baltimore, Anderson has achieved far more than most 33-year-olds. He completed his undergraduate education at Princeton and earned a Ph.D. from Notre Dame. He has been cited by a Supreme Court justice (Samuel A. Alito, Jr., in his dissent from the majority opinion in United States v. Windsor, which struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act). He was recently named the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at the conservative Heritage Foundation. And last week he was profiled fairly and respectfully in The Washington Post. (Headline: “The right finds a fresh voice on same-sex marriage.”)

By all means, fight for your rights. Work to win the public argument. But then accept that the world is a big place, not everyone agrees with you, and those on the other side have as much right to make their (losing) case as you do.

That’s what a genuinely liberal society is supposed to be all about. Do those who favor gay marriage really want to win by stamping out dissent and driving into the wilderness every person who holds a contrary position?

Apparently many of them do.

Well, they can go ahead and try. I just hope it doesn’t hurt their feelings too much when the rest of us call them out for behaving like petulant thugs.

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