One constant in American history is that the notion that all people deserve full human rights is enshrined in our image of ourselves, making it very difficult for those who would like to set aside certain groups as undeserving of rights to make their arguments. The strategy that’s evolved in response to this conundrum, then, is for opponents of this or that human right to set up a distraction, and pretend the argument is about that instead of about basic human rights. Defenses of slavery and then of Jim Crow turned into arguments about “states’ rights.” Instead of boldly denying that women have a right to choose when and if they give birth, anti-feminists staked an implausible claim about their deep and lasting love for mindless embryos. But for the anti-gay movement, this time-honored technique of creating a distraction hasn’t worked out.
Nowhere is this more evident than this comically surreal battle between NOM spokesperson Jennifer Roback Morse and the liberal news blog ThinkProgress. To recap: Morse thinks she’s stumbled on a marvelous way to distract from her overt homophobia by claiming that opposition to the “gay lobby” can’t be equated with being anti-gay. ThinkProgress translated this stance as: “NOM: Opposing Gay Rights Doesn’t Make Someone Anti-Gay.” This cheeky headline can basically be a stand-in from roughly every conservative who somehow thinks if they wave their hands hard enough, people will stop believing that they oppose giving rights to gay people because they have something against gay people. But it’s really sent Morse spinning, and she’s insisting angrily that one simply cannot equate opposing the “gay lobby” with being against gay rights.
In theory, of course, that’s possible. You could, in theory, be opposed to the gay lobby because you don’t think they’re doing enough for GLBT people, for instance. But Morse’s protestations don’t really make a lot of sense, since her stated reason for opposing gay rights is flibbertigibbet:
The subject of my original article in The Blaze was my claim that removing the gender requirement from marriage would result in the state insisting that mothers and fathers are interchangeable. I believe that this will impact men and women differently, and that the net result will be the further marginalization of fathers from the family.
In other words, she’s arguing that if dudes can marry dudes, that means women will kick their husbands out because of dancing angels on a pinhead. And she’s mad that others are skeptical of her reasoning.
Really, the anti-gay movement ought to be ashamed. They’re doing a dishonor to a long history of American reactionaries coming up with disingenuous rationales for their hostility to equal human rights. The brilliant con artists who came up with the idea of using “states’ rights” to cover up for their naked interest in preserving slavery are looking up from hell and wondering if all the inventiveness of the American reactionary died with Jerry Falwell.