Monday, April 11, 2011

One Culture War...Two Warriors

Of all the actual wrongs in the world, why are we singled out as the single worst? There is murder, natural disasters, horrible diseases, poverty and many things to fight and yet stopping homosexuals is at the top of every bodies short list of the ills of society to eradicate first. Hell...If I had a dime for every time I've heard someone equate homosexuality to murder, I could pay off the national debt and buy everyone coffee afterwards. The groups that spend enormous amounts of time and money fighting equality are many, and the individuals that they attract come for their own Personal reasons. Some are true believers who are truly frightened that the acceptance of homosexuality signals the breakdown of the world they grew up in. Others use the issue to create fear in the public and raise copious amounts of money for themselves and the organisations that sign their paychecks. But whatever may bring an individual to see their fellows as the ultimate evil, the fact remains that they are still just human beings...the same as those they fight against. Being human means they can make mistakes, change their minds and grow, or take the crazytrain all the way down into madness. Two stories have surfaced this week that highlight that this struggle isn't one fought on the basis of abstract issues or morality...but a battle fought to recognize the basic humanity and rights of LGB..& T people.

For your consideration I present the stories of Ryan Sorba of CPAC who believes that Conservatives should not use the word "gay" all....and Louis Marinelli, a former member of the National organisation for Marriage who has given up his work for NOM and endorsed marriage equality after actually getting out in the world and meeting some gay people....go figure.

First, grab your ticket for the crazy train because were taking the express with Ryan Sorba of California Young Americans for Freedom. I don't know what it is about conservatives lately but making thoughtful, well informed arguments doesn't really seem to be their strong suit. More often than not their arguments are an appeal to emotionality, don't make any sense, or are just plain is the case here. Last year, Mr. Sorba made the news for his rant at CPAC condemning them for allowing the gay republicans GoProud to attend. Follow the crazy rant if you dare...

This year Mr. Sorba is building his conservative credentials by again taking on the gays. This time he is calling on conservatives to stop using the term "gay" to refer to gay people. Mr. Sorba is seen here at an anti-equality strategy conference held at liberty university... much to say here. First off, we know that in most political campaigns rebranding can work if you can make the terms stick. The flaw in Mr. Sorba's argument is that just because you stop using a particular word to describe something, it doesn't stop being what it is. I can call my toaster a cell phone but I don't think I'll get very good reception. So also I could decide to rebrand Sorba as Mr. Crazypants...that one has a chance of catching on.

The crux of Mr. Crazypants argument is and has always been that civil rights are inherited from natural rights which come from human nature. The problem is he doesn't go the rest of the way to explain that "human nature" to him means biology and specifically, that heterosexuals can procreate as well as being the majority and therefore constitute his standard for "natural law". This argument has been refuted so many times it's beyond any claim of credibility. Those who claim it can not adequately explain homosexuality in the animal kingdom. They also ignore the millions of elderly or infertile heterosexual couples who would not be granted the right to marry under the "natural law" argument.

In the end, Mr. Crazypants can use what ever terms he wishes to dance around the word gay. He can make any claims he wants that being GAY isn't an inborn trait. He will still be wrong and the reality is he's delivering a message most people can see through. Who's gonna stop saying "gay" just because Mr. Crazypants thinks it's a "Left-wing Sociopolitical construct". He walking the same path as Donald Trumps reiteration of the debunked birther claims that President Obama isn't a U.S. citizen. The two of them are gonna come off looking unhinged and will likely get adjoining compartments on the crazy train. Trump will likely get off at marginalizationville but Mr. Crazypants? Him I'm not so sure. He's young and has alot of time to continue tweaking his message until he strikes a more popular cord. We may see him again. Is he a true believer or just a man out to make his career off the suffering of LGBT people? I don't know if that matters as much as the fact that he is in it to win it and we are not people to him and those who follow him.

On the flip side is the story of Louis Marinelli. You may have heard of him by now since much has been made of his ties to NOM as well as his recent change of heart. Mr. Marinelli has had a long and very sordid history of using the internet to push his then anti-gay views...among them, the notion that gays are pedophiles who's ultimate goals are the legalization of pedophilia. Mr.s Marrinelli's online activities were so incendiary that when he began to create ties with the National Organization for Marriage it raised a few eyebrows and put the lie to NOM's message of fairness. Marinelli is credited with running NOM's facebook presence as well as driving the bus in NOM's "Summer of Marriage" tour.

It was on that tour that Marrinelli began to be confronted by the gay people who he was actively working against and Jeremy Hooper of Good As You have a long conversation with him about what changed his mind. Here are a sampling of his own words on the matter:

Having spent the last five years putting all of my political will, interest and energy into fighting against the spread of same-sex marriage as if it were a contagious disease, I must admit that it is hard for me to put the following text into words let alone utter them with my own voice.

Whether it is an issue of disbelief, shame or embarrassment, the one thing that is for sure is that I have come to this point after several months of an internal conflict with myself. That conflict gradually tore away at me until recently when I was able to, for the first time simply admit to myself that I do in fact support civil marriage equality for all...

As you may already know, I was the one behind the 2010 Summer for Marriage Tour which the National Organization for Marriage sponsored and operated throughout July and August last year. It was my doing when, in March that year, I approached Brian Brown about sponsoring and participating in a series of traditional marriage rallies scattered around the Nation....

Ironically, one of the last tour stops added to the itinerary was Atlanta and I bring this site up because it was in Atlanta that I can remember that I questioned what I was doing for the first time. The NOM showing in the heart of the Bible-belt was dismal and the hundreds of counter-protesters who showed up were nothing short of inspiring.

Even though I had been confronted by the counter-protesters throughout the marriage tour, the lesbian and gay people whom I made a profession out of opposing became real people for me almost instantly. For the first time I had empathy for them and remember asking myself what I was doing.

If my transition from opponent to supporter of same-sex civil marriage was a timeline, Atlanta would be indicated by the first point on the line. The next point on that timeline would be two months later....

One article I wrote, towards the end of October, 2010 caught the attention of a blogger by the name of RJ, who writes on the blog AmIWorking (ed. note: That's blog's now rebranded as Fighting For Cake). He responded to my article about the homosexual agenda with an article addressed to personally to me regarding marriage equality (ed. note: That article reposted here). In short, his article had the miraculous effect of instantly putting things into prospective for me.

At that point, between what I had witnessed on the marriage tour and RJ’s post about marriage equality, I really came to understand that gays and lesbians were just real people who wanted to live real lives and be treated equally as opposed to, for example, wanting to destroy American culture. No, they didn’t want to destroy American culture, they wanted to openly participate in it. I was well on my way to becoming a supporter of civil marriage equality.

Here we have a case of two men fighting the same fight yet coming to very different conclusions. The major difference between these two men is that one could look across the trenches and see another human being and that realisation became the catalyst for his change of heart, the other is still so caught up with waging the culture war that he can not see the pain his actions will cause to others. However, if Marinelli can wake up that gives me hope that others like Mr. Crazypants could as well. Perhaps we will never see the defection of those for home this has become more of a career than an issue they truly believe in but even if the Maggie Gallaghers of the world never change we have learned one very valuable lesson in the form of Mr. Marinelli's change of heart. That lesson is that sharing our stories and our lives with others can change the world as it did for Marinelli. For him it ceased to become a war of morals when he could see gay people as being just like him. it took courage for those people in Atlanta to go out to that NOM protest and face those assembled there...but they did...and it wasn't there razor sharp wit or knowledge of facts that made the difference, it was just letting themselves be seen and recognized as human beings who want to love and live in freedom. For Mr. Marinelli that changed the culture war forever.  Repeat that for a nation and perhaps it could end it for good.

Until next time dear readers....


  1. Great post Bryan.

    That "bunch" has always used FEAR as their fuel to demonize us. You "fear" someone or something that you do not know... As the tide turns and more and more gay people come out of the closet..all of a people ARE people that you know... We are your bothers..sisters..uncles..aunts..friends..neighbors. The "bunch" are getting desperate. They know the whole "fear factor" is quickly evaporating.
    I suppose you might consider my partner Dave and I "RADICAL HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVISTS" Why? I participate in a YouTube channel. We write to our politicians. We donate money to gay friendly causes. We do not want anything special from our government..just the same rights as the married couple across the street. That's all..
    PS..These "RADICAL HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVISTS" are both quite sore from doing yard work all weekend! Sorry "American Family Association"..we did not have any time to "recruit" innocent children into our "lifestyle"..we gotta get the house ready because we're having a big family get together Easter weekend! :)

  2. Another great post Bryan. I just wish that everyone was subscribed to your blog, and could read your messages of peace. These cruel, rude, anti-gay people will truly be on the wrong side of history, just as the white supremacists and Nazis were.

  3. BTW, your second video was out, thought I would post a link to the same one.

  4. Really great post!
    You don't even know me, but you are certainly changing the gay man I'm becoming, since I'm a newbie. Thank you so much!
    I'm recommending your blog to everyone I know, even if they don't really know english very well. lol

  5. I hope Louis Marinelli now feels a responsibility to work for the side of marriage equality now!

  6. another great post as always, now if only more people would open up their eyes and not only join in the fight for gay rights, which the right is trying to revers and strip away but also the right for workers rights. It should come as no surprise they want to keep gays out of the same rights so that they can keep working at striping workers rights from every one.

  7. Hi
    I am currently a student and studying to be a Early Childhood Educator. I would like to be able to honor the different kinds of families of the children that I teach. Can you give me some insight on cultural values of gay families, how do they differ from other families? How are they the same? What would you like your child's teacher to understand about your family? I would appreciate your input