Every morning, as I go to work at a rather progressive organization, my fiancé and I always grab a copy of the Washington Examiner on the way down the escalator to the metro. Together we remove the Washington Capitals promo cover and the Macy's inserts and flip immediately to the "Commentary" section. This is where we find the rightiest of the right proclaiming Obama as the antichrist and gay marriage as the downfall of human civilization. We read it for two reasons. Firstly, it gets us both motivated enough to go to work each day supporting what we support. Secondly, those are two copies we will dispose of and no one else will ever read. We do our part.
Several years ago, I took part in a similar sadomasochistic experiment when I would leave my apartment in Washington Heights to head to whatever day job I wound up in for the week. I'd drop my quarter and pick up the New York Post for the 30-minute ride downtown. I knew the paper was conservative, and I'd get more and more frustrated with each turn of the page. But there was one thing that always made me angrier than anything else.
Once a week or so, I'd read an article about the assault of gay people on the "traditional" family. I had developed a Pavlovian gag response to seeing the writer's photo by her column. I knew whenever I saw that photo that I would be reading something horrible and untrue about me, making assumptions about who I was and what I was looking for when it came to simply living my life. I was so astounded that this woman, who didn't know me, could write such horrific lies about who she thought I was.
It wasn't until a few years later that I read an article about the writer being in trouble because she was getting paid by the Bush administration to fight marriage equality, while at the same time using her position as a columnist to do that work -- meaning she was being paid by the government to spout her bigoted opinions, while failing to recognize the clear ethical breach of journalistic integrity one would hope a columnist might have.
Now Maggie Gallagher is a part of our everyday lives as we pursue our fight to be seen as equals by a government that promises it. For those who don't know, Maggie is the co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a very well-funded, anti-gay hate group. Over the years, they've claimed only to be interested in protecting "traditional" marriage, but their fights against civil unions, gay parent adoption, and even transgender people having access to restrooms leads us to believe they are indeed anti-gay and not "pro-traditional marriage."
Maggie has railed and ranted against gay people for so many years that it's amazing that so many have failed to see the hypocrisy in her own life. Her primary argument against marriage equality is that she believes children are better off when raised by a biological mother and biological father. This is the crux of her argument. What many don't know is that Maggie raised her son Patrick as a single mother.
Patrick, now a young adult, writes musicals in New York City. He identifies as straight and, given his chosen occupation, spends a great deal of time with LGBT people. We offered Patrick the opportunity to tell his side of things, but given the obvious personal conflict he feels about the situation, he declined. Though Patrick doesn't want to comment directly, it has become clear that his views differ from his mother's. According to Patrick, Maggie has been very supportive of his career and has not obstructed her son's goals and dreams -- as any mother should. One thing Patrick did say, which I don't think he'd mind sharing, is, "Maybe one day I'll write a hell of a musical about this." Patrick's a nice guy who doesn't deserve to be in the middle of this -- but we feel that his and Maggie's story is an important one that demonstrates the strength of a "non-traditional" family.
Maggie had the opportunity to raise Patrick lovingly and to be a good mother to him and support him even now, unconditionally. Also being the son of a single mom, I understand the struggle it was for her to make ends meet. I understand how much of a challenge it is for a mom to blindly support a son trying to do something with his life that has absolutely zero security. And for that, I appreciate what Maggie has done for Patrick. My mom did the same.
I am at a loss however, to understand how Maggie Gallagher is so able to separate her compassionate, unconditionally supportive self from the woman who spends her life hating and hoping to take so much happiness and love from other people simply because they are gay.
How does a woman who clearly had to face so much hardship and so many challenges in raising a son on her own justify her work in ripping other families apart? Maybe one day, she will see and understand the utter disconnect there is between who she was as a struggling single mom and who she is now as a crusader against others' families.
(P.S. Salon.com last week offered a very thorough profile on what brought Maggie Gallagher and her hatred of LGBT people to where she is now.)