Above the Hate

Maggie Gallagher
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Posted: Nov 25, 2008 6:39 PM
Above the Hate

(NOTE: Maggie Gallagher is the president of the National Organization for Marriage, which is sponsoring an AbovetheHate.com campaign.)

Take this column with a grain of salt.

I've been an opinion journalist for 20 years, but when it comes to marriage I'm an activist for a cause I passionately believe in.

This November, in the middle of a great blue Obama tide, Americans in three states spoke up clearly to agree: Marriage is the union of husband and wife.

That's an ideal which most Americans, whether they are black or white, Democrat or Republican, evangelical or Mormon, cherish. The majority of people, and the majority of courts, recognize that same-sex marriage is not a civil right. Unions of husband and wife really are unique and deserve their unique status in law, culture and society.

By a clear margin of 53 percent to 47 percent, California voters rejected same-sex marriage as a civil right. The results have been horrifying -- and I don't mean for California same-sex couples, who remain protected by domestic partnerships that provide exactly the same legal rights and benefits as marriage.

In the last few weeks, the same-sex marriage movement has visibly morphed from a movement advocating for tolerance into a political tsunami which will brook no dissent and openly seeks to punish Americans who disagree with its new dogmas.

Since California passed Proposition 8, extraordinary attacks have been unleashed -- livelihoods threatened, artists blacklisted, property defaced, worship services blocked, and even some physical attacks directed at ordinary people simply because they say marriage means a man and a woman.

Religious minorities (Mormons and members of black churches) are bearing the brunt and too few voices are being raised to say this is wrong. No Americans, especially no minorities, should be afraid because they peacefully exercised core civil rights to vote or donate in support of an idea such as "marriage means a husband and wife."

On the last day of the election, anti-Prop 8 forces ran a "home invasion" ad depicting two young Mormon missionaries ransacking homes. The ad further accuses Mormons in California of trying to take over the government because, as citizens, they participated in the political process by voting and donating to a cause they believed in. A week after the election The Los Angeles Times editorial board opined that No on Prop 8 forces should run more "hard-hitting" ads like "home invasion," along with more "in-your-face radicalism."

On the "Dr. Phil" show last week I sat next to a powerful politician -- Mayor Gavin Newsom -- who ritually rejected violence but refused to decry these extraordinary threats to ordinary voters' livelihoods. I also sat next to Joe Solmonese, head of the Human Rights Campaign, when a young Mormon in the audience asked him, "Why are you singling out my faith when so many other people supported Prop 8?" Did Joe, an amiable guy, take a moment to call his troops to back off from religious bigotry, to refocus on the larger problem -- 7 million Californians disagree with his organization's gay marriage civil rights dogma?

No. I sat silent, dumbfounded, next to Joe when he pointed at the young man and cried, "We are going to go after your church every day for the next two years unless and until Prop 8 is overturned."

My mouth dropped. This was Joe's response just a few days after white powder was sent to LDS temples in Utah and California.

But no one else seemed to notice.

If any political movement had aired ads attacking Jews for taking over the government because Jewish citizens donated "too much" money to a cause they believed in --everyone right and left would recognize that something very wrong was happening.

But right now, judging from their unwillingless to speak out, leaders of the gay marriage movement (including powerful politicians like Mayor Newsom) apparently believe that the new politics of payback works for them.

Something new and very ugly has entered American politics.

Right now, the politics of hate may be centered on marriage, but if these tactics are permitted to work uncriticized, I promise you one thing: They won't end there.