For Michael Moore, the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage provides the perfect capstone to a week that’s seen justices uphold the Affordable Care Act and South Carolina lawmakers call for the Confederate flag to be taken down at the state Capitol.
“It’s a very bad day for the angry white guy,” Moore joked during an interview with Variety shortly after gay marriage was legalized in all 50 states. “Already this week we’ve seen the Supreme Court uphold semi-socialized medicine that was put forward by a black president. We’ve seen the Confederate Flag being taken down at Walmart and at Nascar. Now they’re going to have to live in a world where two people of the same gender, that love each other, can get married.”
Moore, the documentary filmmaker behind “Fahrenheit 911” and “Bowling for Columbine,” marveled at the speed with which attitudes on gay rights have changed. He noted that in 2004 gay marriage was a wedge issue during the presidential race and that President Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton, two proponents of marriage equality, opposed same-sex unions when they ran for the White House in 2008.
It could have gone differently, he argued, remembering how several states such as Michigan and Ohio passed constitutional bans on gay marriage.
“When politically it seemed hopeless, things changed on a personal level,” said Moore. “Millions of gay, lesbian, transgender and bi Americans came out of the closet. As each person had the bravery to do that, one after another, it became harder to hate.”
Personal connections inspired people to surrender prejudices, Moore believes.
“It’s easier to hate gays when they’re an abstraction, but when it’s your daughter, your aunt, your best friend, your co-worker or the guy that sits across from your desk that you joke with every day, it becomes hard to keep up the hate,” he said. “Ignorance is what breeds fear, and once you dispel the fear and ignorance, the hate goes away.”
He argued that the speed of social change is attributable to a younger generation of Americans who came of age in a world in which being gay wasn’t viewed as sinful or aberrant. “They have changed the political landscape,” said Moore.
The director said he was sorry that Chief Justice John Roberts, whom many gay advocates had hoped would align with marriage equality, was one of the dissenting voices. “He, like a lot of Americans, is a slow learner,” said Moore. “It will take some time, but he will come around.”
An effusive Moore said he was struggling to find anything cynical or pessimistic to say about Friday’s court decision, although he did offer a few choice words to opponents of marriage on the right. “This was a rebuke today of the Republican party, of right-wing politics, of the Catholic Church and conservative Protestant churches and of any group that was organizing the hate,” said Moore. “They lost.”
“It may sound hokey to say this, but love really has a contagious effect and historically wins out over hate,” he added.
The court’s ruling left Moore thinking of the United States’ motto, E pluribus unum, which in Latin means “out of many, one.”
That could benefit from a slight addendum, he suggested.
“America: Sooner or later, we get it right.”