But there was one bit that really lodged in my head; one troubling bit that doesn't make me rethink gay marriage, but does make me go back and wonder about some arguments against gay marriage.
It's the funny feeling I get from the following:
I get the feeling that Cannon is mixing up the struggle for legalization of gay marriage, with gay marriage itself. I feel like he is under the impression that if two people of the same sex want to get married, it is to increase respect and visibility for gay people. And not because, you know, they just want to marry each other.
But in an alternate universe in which I'm not already married, if I wanted to marry a woman and she was African-American, I'm reasonably certain the reason would not be to belatedly validate the civil rights struggle of 40 years ago. Rather, it would be because I loved her and wanted to marry her.
It certainly may be the case that there are gay couples marrying each other simply because they can, and they want the whole world to see that they can. I can see how that might demean the institution of marriage in some peoples' eyes. What I don't see is how that would apply in a world where same-sex marriage has been legal for decades and is largely accepted by society. That will be a society where homosexual marriage is no less (and no more) mundane than heterosexual marriage. I didn't marry my wife just to make the world show us straight people the proper respect.
So I wondered, is this a widespread belief? Do some straights really think gay people just want marriage rights for validation, a way of accruing respect and making their presence known?
And then I decided I was just being silly. Just because Tim Cannon puts something in a column doesn't mean he thinks it's true. I know how opinion columns work. You start out with the conclusion you want (i.e., it's a good idea to oppose gay marriage even if you're not bigoted against gay people), and then you assemble an argument to get you there. That's why op-ed writers can employ logic that directly contradicts the logic they employed last week, and there's no shame in it or sense that they're being slippery.
But then that thought got overtaken by other thoughts.
I can denigrate the art form of the op-ed column all I want, but nevertheless it's hard to deny that a column comes from the columnist's brain, and as such reflects some of the columnist's assumptions about reality, just as a novel that is fiction will nevertheless reflect the novelist's worldview. Maybe Tim Cannon really does believe he lives in a world where gay people want marriage equality primarily as a means of increasing respect and visibility for gay people. And if he believes it, maybe other gay marriage opponents do too.
This matters to me because I've long heard from marriage equality opponents that gay marriage somehow diminishes the institution of heterosexual marriage. People who say this generally act as if the logic behind it does not need explaining (though I need it explained to me), so I gave up and decided it was just meaningless talk of the sort you hear on both sides of every emotionally charged controversy.
But I'd like to better understand what makes these people tick. If they actually believe that gay people want marriage equality as a way of increasing respect and visibility, then suddenly the claim that it diminishes marriage makes a lot more sense. I believe that stereotyping gay marriage opponents as 'God Hates Fags' troglodytes is not just morally wrong, but strategically counter-productive. I'd genuinely like to know how they see the world.
I still don't have much respect for the typical op-ed columnist, though.