There are big polemic and polarizing issues out there, that demand either advocacy or opposition. Things like tax reform, climate change, and civil rights are some prime examples of divisive topics that will easily send calm and collected individuals on an unyielding diatribe that will, at worst ignite plumes of hatred and resentment, and at best be cause for discomfort and effectively break up what was once a convivial dinner party. Gay marriage happens to be one of those issues.
To come right out and say it, I support gay marriage. Much in the same way I support the right of clouds to move effortlessly through the sky, ice to melt into pools of water, and chocolate to be dark and/or milky brown (for the record I think white chocolate is an abomination against god). In short, I think the right of consenting adults to marry is a veritable no-brainer (regardless of gender or sexual orientation), and can’t imagine wasting my energy trying to think up reasons why this right should be relinquished or even challenged.
I have followed the recent developments on the subject with the passage of Proposition 8 in California, as well as the recent victories of gay rights advocates in both Iowa and Vermont, and am encouraged by the possibility of change through straightforward political action. To characterize my mood about the general movement towards equality, I would have to say it would be something like composed sanguinity. And then along comes a commercial that is so misdirected, manipulative, hateful, and dishonest that all that composed sanguinity that was casually pinned to my lapel becomes a raging pendulous mace ready to smite my enemies.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a conservative religious group in heavy opposition to gay marriage, is running a television advertisement titled the “Gathering Storm” as an effort to rally and recruit an online army of two million gay marriage opponents willing to blather and bellow to anyone listening. Now, I have railed against ads in the past when they have been cynical, dishonest, and manipulative, but this particular advertisement has shaken me out of my passive state of composed sanguinity and moved me towards rabid activism against NOM and in favor of gay marriage anytime and anywhere.
I encourage you to view the ad yourself and make up your own mind (and feel free to use the space below to voice your opinion), but to summarize, the advertisement taps into a particular fear that says, by allowing gay marriage to occur, straight Americans everywhere will have their rights supremely violated. In this advertisement, actors stand in for real Americans as cheesy superimposed clouds and lightning gather in the distance (likely the electrical hellfire that are the nuptial-crazed gay masses) as each actor makes declarations like “My freedom will be taken away” and “Those advocates of gay marriage want to change the way I live.” Now, I empathize with (not respect nor understand) people who are not on board with gay marriage and feel uneasy about the definition of marriage changing to include everyone, and I have no reason to want these people to feel uncomfortable or disenfranchised. However, I have no regard and little patience for political and activist groups that are willing to feed on fear and ignorance in a self-serving effort to impede the rights of others while spreading misinformation and fueling intolerance.
But really–enough of my yakking. After viewing this advertisement and taking into account everything you know, believe, and trust, do you feel a message like this adds anything to the public debate? Is there value here? If there needs to be a voice of dissent regarding gay marriage, shouldn’t it be more constructive, and scrupulous?
Stephan’s note: Eric is a good friend of ours, and resident of our very own Big Gay Hudson Valley. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Edible Hudson Valley Magazine, the first issue of which is due out this June.