At a certain point -- long before the president concluded that the political benefits of supporting gay marriage this election cycle outweighed the disadvantages -- millions of Americans concluded that it's important affirm that marriage is exclusively a union between one man and one woman.
Those people are called bigots, and worse.
Be wary of those national polls showing a majority now supporting a redefinition of marriage. People who don't like being called bigots might just lie to pollsters. Pre-election polls in North Carolina predicted the vote on that state's constitutional amendment would be closer than the 20-point blowout it turned out to be.
For the partisans of gay marriage, North Carolina's vote was an expression of bigotry and hatred, plain and simple. No other explanation could possibly suffice.
Only bigotry -- and nothing else -- could explain similar votes in 29 other states.
Only bigotry -- and nothing else -- could explain how six in 10 black voters in California voted in favor of Proposition 8, the 2008 constitutional amendment reaffirming the traditional definition of marriage, and cast their ballot for Obama at the same time.
Maybe "bigotry" isn't the sole property of one side of this argument.What Ben's argument does this week is replace any debate about the merits of gay marriage with familiar-if-tired conservative martyrdom-making. "They're calling us bigots!" doesn't really tell us why heterosexuals should get to exclude homosexuals from the legal right to civil marriage. (To be fair: This kind of martyrdom isn't usually Ben's rhetorical style, and he has made more substantive arguments about this in our previous debates on the issue.)
I myself think opposition to same-sex marriage comes from too many sources to reduce simply to "bigotry"—though that certainly is the motivation of some opponents. But I do think that many opponents of same-sex marriage have justified their religious opposition to a civil right by creating a counter-narrative of victimology.
Rights aren't a zero-sum affair: I myself would be content to live in a country where my gay friends could get married and my Christian friends express their disapproval. And contra Ben's statistics, the ability to get millions of people to vote against rights doesn't really tell us much about the legitimacy of those rights.