Thursday, January 26, 2006

We can only choose our side

We don't get to choose the battle. We only get to choose our side.
I have been thinking lately about how to reply to the apparently-reasonable-sounding argument that I hear from Conservatives and religious people that a person can support gay rights without supporting gay marriage.
But you can't. Not anymore.
We don't get to choose the battle.
No one decided that the second world war would start in defense of Poland. But once Germany invaded, no one could just sit back any longer and say "Sorry, boys, can't fight now because we just aren't organized well enough quite yet. Let's put this off until something else outrageous happens."
No one decided that the right to have an abortion should define the women's movement. But this issue came to symbolize the most basic right, for women to control their own bodies, and therefore people who do not support a woman's right to choose are not feminists and cannot claim to be.
No one decided that the black civil rights movement would make its bones through a bus boycott in Montgomery. But once this boycott began, the black people of Montgomery had to keep on walking no matter how tired they were and how violent things became. The people couldn't say "Sorry, boys, this is really inconvenient for everybody, so can you please take your cause to some other city?" No, Montgomery became a battle that had to be won.
And so it is now with gay marriage. The battle is real and immediate and personal to many gay people, but its has also become symbolic. The Christian Right hysteria against gay marriage is one of the factors that has made this battle so important, because the core of their opposition to gay marriage is bigotry and hate against gay people, which cannot be allowed to win.
When someone says "I don't support gay marriage but this doesn't mean I am a bigot", this simply isn't true. Not anymore. The battle lines have been drawn.
The choice is which side you are on.
You ARE a bigot if you don't support gay marriage.

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