POINT: Gay Rights Battle Is Far From Over
The transformation over the past two decades in how Americans view gay people is the result of one of the most successful social justice movements of modern times. As we have increased understanding of who gay people are, a super-majority of Americans have come to support our freedom to marry, with majority support in every region of the country.
But the work of our movement is far from over. Important legal and political advances remain — including passage of a federal civil rights law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. And beyond the law, we must assure societal acceptance and individual opportunity.
Hollywood has a major role in creating a climate that embraces equality for all. Television, plays and movies help bring the faces of gay and transgender characters to Americans who may not personally know someone who is openly LGBT, and spark conversation.
No one is better at telling stories that do this than Hollywood. For young people who feel alone, or who are struggling with the personal realization of who they are, TV, music and movies create a climate that encourages people to have the courage to be honest with their friends and family.
While entertainment can help frame discussion, what really changes minds are personal conversations with people individuals know and love or trust. In Maine, we won a ballot measure in 2012 for the freedom to marry, having lost in a vote three years earlier. We surveyed voters about what had prompted them to think about freedom to marry; the No. 1 answer was “television” (including TV ads from us and our opponents, as well as news coverage, etc.). But when asked what led them to change their minds, the overriding answer was “personal conversations with someone I trust.”
Americans can still be fired, refused services, and discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. There is no federal civil rights law expressly prohibiting such discrimination, and too many states and localities lack local non-discrimination measures.
We must harness the power of the marriage conversation, engaging people on shared values of love, respect and fairness. My Freedom to Marry team and I may soon be out of a job, but there is much more to do, and the entertainment industry has an important opportunity — and obligation — to continue making America a fairer, more inclusive country. If Hollywood is the Dream Factory, what better dream to shape than the American Dream, of the pursuit of happiness, liberty and justice for all?
Attorney Evan Wolfson is the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, a group that supports same-sex marriage in the United States.
COUNTERPOINT: Gay Marriage Defies Human Nature
A new orthodoxy has gained widespread acceptance among Western elites that support for same-sex marriage is not only right, but mandatory.
Witness the ritual public torture of Brendan Eich, who was purged from his position at Mozilla for donating to that most blasphemous of Propositions, California’s Prop. 8.
Other examples abound. Teachers fired, photographers fined, bakers sued, adoption licenses stripped. Why? Because they will not worship at liberal orthodoxy’s new altar: same-sex marriage. The new creed’s passion is matched by its simplicity: There is no meaningful difference between husband and wife; any apparent differences between male and female can be deconstructed; ergo, the view that marriage is the union of one man and one woman is discriminatory.
Never mind the philosophical and biological evidence for the complementarity of male and female. Never mind the near unanimous consent of civilizations, philosophers and religions throughout human history on the nature of marriage. Never mind the simple truth that a child has both a mother and a father. No, the bigger the supposed lies of the past, the more important that those repeating the “lies” (and their institutions) be punished, repressed and marginalized.
The problem? The new orthodoxy is against human nature, against human flourishing, and against a just society. It is, in a word, false. Those of us who reject same-sex marriage understand maleness and femaleness are not simply constructs; that both motherhood and fatherhood matter to children and society. And unfortunately for our new cultural high priests, the world is not bowing at the altar of same-sex marriage.
Just a few days ago, over half a million rallied in Italy against same-sex marriage. And in France, La Manif Pour Tous continues to effectively mount a campaign of education and resistance throughout Europe.
In the U.S., over 50 million Americans have voted to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. And the decision on same-sex marriage in the U.S. did not come from a popular vote but from an illegitimate court decision.
Out of the roughly 200 members of the United Nations, only 19 have redefined marriage in law. So, despite the claims of inevitability made on behalf of same-sex marriage, resistance is not dying, but growing.
Orwell’s dictum rings out new, that in our own age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary — and freeing — act. As long as there remain courageous souls who refuse to submit to the cultural power of the orthodoxy’s elites, the battle over the nature of marriage will be far from settled.
Brian S. Brown is president of the National Organization for Marriage.