I can’t say I’m surprised it came to threats from the Mayors of Boston and Chicago, and a Chicago Alderman, to deny Chick-fil-A a business permit because the owners support the traditional definition of marriage as one man – one woman. Or that two other Mayors, in San Francisco and D.C., have jumped on the bandwagon telling Chick-fil-A to stay out of town.
So long as Obama supported the traditional definition of marriage, Democratic politicians and support groups had to tread carefully in how far their rhetoric and actions went. Once Obama came out in support of gay marriage, Democrats were freed to accuse anyone and everyone who supports the traditional definition of marriage as bigoted and unworthy of a place in their jurisdictions.
Now the “bigot card” is on full display as a centerpiece of Democratic politics.
And make no mistake, effectively banning the support of traditional marriage as “hate speech” is where the movement is heading. It is impossible to have a discussion of the issue without supporters of traditional marriage being called bigoted. “Bigot” is the new “racist” and the “bigot card” is the new “race card.”
Such an argument, however, is tantamount to an admission that persuasion as a political tactic has failed.
You saw that undertone even from those who understood that the Mayors and Alderman stepped over the boundaries of government power and that their threats, if carried out, would violate the First Amendment. Frequent analogies to the KKK having a right to speak in public were used in defense of the First Amendment rights of the owners of Chick-fil-A, and by extension, the entire evangelical Christian movement, the Catholic Church, and other religious groups.
The use of government power to punish those who hold traditional marriage views is the logical conclusion of the private boycott movement, such as the boycott of Mormon-owned businesses in the wake of Prop. 8 in California.
There is a difference between private boycotts and the unconstitutional exercise of government power.
But when the boycotts seek to shut down discussion on the ground that support for traditional marriage is “hate speech” and the equivalent of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, we should not be surprised that some politicians take it a step too far.
That the most prominent group advocating for same-sex marriage, The Human Rights Campaign, came out in favor of Boston Mayor Menino’s initial threats demonstrates that some in the movement are willing to trample constitutional rights.
The tactic of shutting down public dialogue may be effective superficially, but it cannot achieve the desired result. Shutting down dialogue with false charges of bigotry does not persuade, it simply drives the views underground.
Is it any surprise that every time gay marriage has come to a vote there has been shock that opposition was far greater than polls predicted? Demonizing supporters of traditional marriage didn’t change any minds, it just stopped the dialogue.
I am doubtful that five Justices on the Supreme Court will be persuaded that gay marriage is a federal constitutional right. Even the 9th Circuit avoided that issue in upholding a district court decision vacating California Prop. 8, ruling instead on the more narrow ground that taking away a right to gay marriage (created by the courts) was unconstitutional.
Ultimately, supporters of gay marriage will have to persuade the public that gay marriage is a positive. And in the privacy of the voting booth, political correctness holds no sway and demonization doesn’t work.
Some people just can’t take good advice, so I expect that these words will fall on deaf ears, or lead to more threats and false accusations.