Thursday, August 30, 2012

Undercover at an anti-gay conference

Gay journalist Carlos Maza went undercover as a delegate to the ITAF conference at anti-gay Skyline Church in San Diego, where he listened to Jennifer Roback Morse, Jim Garlow, and Robert Gagnon attack gay people with lies and demonization.  (This was the event that culminated in the "conversation about marriage" that included Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, which you can read about here.)

Despite claims that the conference wouldn't be about "gayness", Maza found otherwise.  It wasn't marriage that was under attack.  It was LGBT people--like him.
Despite the promise to focus on "marriage, not gayness," ITAF had been a veritable crash course in demonizing LGBT people. 
That's because, for NOM, there really isn't much distance between being "anti-gay marriage" and being "anti-gay" - the latter motivates the former. "Raising the negative on homosexuality," as one NOM memo put it, is a central part of the organization's effort to defeat same-sex marriage. Even Morse recently confessed that NOM's decision to publically attack gay marriage instead of gay people is purely "strategic." 
ITAF showcased the kind of anti-gay animus that activists have for years accused NOM of harboring behind closed doors.
I can't imagine being a gay person enduring that.  But as well as the expected hate speech, Maza found surprising evidence for common ground.
Against all odds, I caught myself agreeing with a lot of what she was saying. Morse clearly wasn't speaking with the LGBT community in mind, but her comments aligned with my own feelings about gay dating, relationships, and intimacy. I shifted uncomfortably in my chair, coming to terms with the possibility that Morse - who had spent the last several years of her life fighting tooth and nail against the acceptance of same-sex relationships - might actually have some useful advice to offer to gay and lesbian couples.
I've argued before that there is common ground in pro-family politics on both sides of this divide--that gay couples actively seek the same commitment as straight, and that we all value healthy and stable families.  I said the same thing when David Blankenhorn shifted sides.   But the anti-gay forces won't admit any commonality.  The argument increasingly has nothing to do with marriage, and everything to do with attacking us simply as gay.  And until they stop dehumanizing us, common ground won't be possible.

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