Pat Buchanan is angry. In a new piece written for the conservative WorldNetDaily website titled "The Gaying of America: Is Civil-Disobedience on 'Marriage' Imminent?" he states that "homosexual acts are immoral and same-sex marriage [is] an absurdity." He poses the question, "What happens if the gay rights movement, as it appears it may, succeeds politically on same-sex marriage[?]" He wants to do something to subvert the legality of immorality, so he suggests that a "new era of civil disobedience may be at hand" and that there could be a "public rejection of the new laws by millions [of social conservatives] and a refusal by many to respect or obey them." His article is a call to arms. If this "gaying of America" continues, his logic goes, then he and other pissed-off conservatives will take action by rejecting laws that legalize same-sex marriage.
How would that work? How could millions of people, in a mass act of civil disobedience, refuse to obey marriage laws? When Rosa Parks recognized that she was being denied a fundamental right, she reclaimed her right by sitting in the front of the bus. In Mr. Buchanan's example, the "millions" are not being denied anything. They are permitted to marry legally, now and in the future. How would they go about reclaiming something that they already have? To defy the law, would they get married again? Get divorced? Marry someone gay and then get divorced? Huh?
Let's be clear: Mr. Buchanan is not referring to civil disobedience. He is promoting discrimination. Although he refers to Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement in his article, he is not following these models at all. Rather, he is cloaking discrimination in a new guise. If same-sex marriage is legalized, he is not actually advocating rejecting, refusing and disrespecting the new law. He is advocating rejecting, refusing and disrespecting gay people.
This is nothing new. It is not a "new era." It is a reaffirmation of old prejudices.
Similarly, the Republican National Committee voted to reaffirm its opposition to same-sex marriage this past week. At least they had the decency to be upfront about it, unlike Mr. Buchanan.
If Mr. Buchanan's call to arms succeeds, what are some ways that these millions can reject gay people? I am reminded of an incident from my own experience a number of years ago. My partner and I went shopping for a new mattress. We were the only shoppers in the mattress store, yet the man working in the store refused to look at us. We tested a few mattresses, agreed upon what we wanted and then approached the employee to ask some questions. He would not look us in the eye. His answers were curt and dismissive. He obviously wanted us out of the store and did not want us to buy a mattress from him. I guess that if you hate gay people, the thought of gay people actually using a mattress is too much to bear. We got the message, left the store and took our business elsewhere.
So if this kind of incident is reproduced millions of times, what will be accomplished? It will make homophobia more overt, which is one of Mr. Buchanan's goals. This may be harmful to gay people, but it also harms businesses and the economy.
Mr. Buchanan says that the issue of legalizing same-sex marriage "is pulling the Republican Party apart. It is pulling Christian communities apart. It is pulling the nation apart." If this is true, then his answer is, in essence, to refuse service to gay people in a mattress store?
Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Henry David Thoreau, Gandhi... and Pat Buchanan?!
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