Well. There it is. Maine’s election this past Tuesday was yet another instance where gay marriage failed to pass. Every single popular vote on Gay marriage in America has failed. Literally from California to Maine. Including my home state of Michigan.
The obviously correct answer is that Gay marriage is not the popular majority position amongst voters. We must recognize this simple fact. We who support gay marriage need to take the next step and question how we convince enough of the majority to change their position, and we become the majority.
There are quite a number we simply won’t. To them it is a matter of principle. Whether for religious reasons or long-held opinions as to what is “traditional” they will never, ever vote for gay marriage. Yes, there are instances where people can change. But deconversions are the exceptions—not the norms—and getting a swing this large will not come in that manner.
I find it hard to believe (perhaps it is true) the entire majority position is comprised of such individuals. Therefore the only hope is to focus on those who are not entrenched in principle, but still do not desire gay marriage to be allowed.
How do we motive these people? What can we say to open their minds to the possibility of allowing gay marriage even though they personally do not want it?
Motivating people is hard, due to the individuality of humans. Some people are enamored by automobiles, and would be motivated by a chance of owning a rare car. To me, cars are unavoidable means by which we get from Point A to Point B. While I appreciate a Corvette, I wouldn’t spend the money on one. (Yet I am the person who couldn’t live with surround sound, and cannot understand people satisfied with listening to Pirates of the Caribbean through…gasp!...TV speakers.)
Those opposing gay marriage use a powerful motivation—fear. They claim gay marriage will lead to school children being taught a certain way. They claim gay marriage will lead to polygamy. To people marrying pets. To your children becoming gay. They understand the power of threats: “If gay marriage is allowed, then _______” and fill in that blank with something--anything--people could possibly be scared by.
You can’t talk people out of fear. You can’t reason fear away. Ever have a child wake up in the night, terrified about the monster under the bed? You know there is no monster. You can show them how empty it is under the bed. You can argue, point out and explain how there are no such things as monsters. Did your cadre of reason diminish their fear? Not even a bit.
Instead you hold them, let them know it is alright. We fear the unknown. We fear the dark because we cannot see. We fear the interview or introduction because we don’t know the person’s reaction. By reassuring the child that what is known—you—is there, you calm them down.
We are not going to argue these people out of these fears. The only way to reassure them is to generate familiarity with homosexuals. To meet gay couples. To gain understanding into their lifestyle—which unsurprisingly consists of “who is making dinner?” and soccer games, and watching TV, and enjoying a glass of wine.
See…familiarity is fear’s nemesis. Remember how scared you were driving a car the first time? How you carefully checked your mirrors again and again? How you didn’t want to parallel park? After driving for years, you think nothing of it. You hop in the car, turn the key, and your mind isn’t even focused on the automatic driving process.
I admit I am uncertain how to implement this idea—I just know it is the way to counter fear.
Besides reducing the opponents’ motivation of fear, we must equally propose our own motivation—selfless support for a minority.
To make many of the current majority position sit back and truly think, what harm does it do to them to allow gays to marry? Does it really reduce the value of heterosexual marriage? Think long and hard about that.
Britney Spears’ marriage lasted 55 hours. Zsa Zsa Gabor has had 9 husbands. We have a television show where producers interview potential females to marry a bachelor; the courtship taking place before camera crews. There are wedding chapels next to casinos. You can be licensed to practice marriages over the internet.
Every one of those marriages is legal. Allowed. Sanctioned.
This is the institution we are protecting? We find so sacred, no homosexual need apply? In reviewing such examples, I am uncertain how it is possible to tarnish heterosexual marriage any more than it has done to itself!
Does it really diminish your own marriage? Did the fact Britney Spears was only married 55 hours on a lark make no difference, but the fact Bob and Ted (who you will never meet) are married in Portland make your marriage just that little bit less?
Where were you on July 21, 2005? What happened on that day? Did you wake up and (if you were married) all of a sudden feel as if your marriage just didn’t mean as much? As if you and your spouse were just not as meaningful as before? If you were not married, did you wake up to the realization that your eventual heterosexual marriage would be less significant? Less wonderful? Less passionate?
Do you forever remember July 21, 2005 as a day--marked in infamy--when marriage lost its sanctity and become an unholy, impure travesty?
“What happened?” you are thinking, “What terrible tragedy could possibly have occurred to bring this about?” Simple…the day before, on July 20, 2005, Canada legalized same-sex marriage.
That’s right (remember, marriage is NOT an exclusively American idea)—our neighbor to the north allowed gay marriage. And not a single American felt their current or future marriage was reduced in any way.
See the reality is we each find the meaning in marriage through our own marriage. Whether Zsa Zsa picks up another husband, a celebrity marries or the Gosselins divorce does not affect the depth or value I have with my wife. Nor would allowing gay marriage impact my marriage. My wife and I make our own course—we don’t measure our marriage by the marriage of others.
The motivation we need to impart is protection of a minority position. There are less homosexuals than heterosexuals. There always will be. If we voted down hetero/homo lines, the homosexual will always lose. Yet so would males. And African-Americans. And every other minority.
The reason America can be great is NOT that we can implement majority rule. 1000’s of governments before America understood the simple concept of “might makes right.” We can be great because we use majority rule to protect minority positions. We can look beyond “who has the most votes gets the say” to understanding and granting rights to those who will never have the most votes.
This is where we have gone awry. We have become a nation of bipartisanship, where the only important question is who can get the most votes to support ME. We will do anything to get those votes. We have stopped looking out for the little person. To wonder how we can do better. To push and prod to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
America is failing. Not because of the economy, but because we have lost all empathy with minority positions. We want to win, and win at all costs. Voting is no longer a civic duty; it has become a video game where the final question is “Do I have the highest score?”