Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Is It Possible to Be Against Same-Sex Marriage Without Being Homophobic? - Carlos A. Ball - Professor of Law at Rutgers University, August 24, 2010 – Huffington Post

A CNN poll released earlier this month has received considerable attention because it is the first national survey showing that a majority of Americans believe that same-sex couples should have the right to marry, a rate of support for gay marriage that is double what it was in 1996. The poll was released a few days after federal Judge Vaughn Walker, in striking down California's Proposition 8, concluded that defenders of that law had failed to introduce any evidence in court that same-sex marriages harm either society or individuals.

Now that opponents of same-sex marriage appear to be in the minority and that their allegations about the purported negative consequences of same-sex marriages have been discredited in federal court, it is fair to ask whether it is possible to oppose marriage equality without at some level, whether consciously or unconsciously, being prejudiced against gay people.

My view is that fifteen or twenty years ago it was indeed possible to oppose gay marriages without being homophobic. Back then, the idea that marriage could be anything other than a union between a woman and a man had simply not crossed the minds of most Americans. Indeed, as I tell in my book "From The Closet to the Courtroom," when the plaintiffs in the Hawaii same-sex marriage case in 1991 first asked the Honolulu civil rights lawyer who eventually represented them to take their case, the attorney had never before considered the possibility that two people of the same gender could ever be married.

What has happened during the last two decades is that the marriage equality movement has patiently and methodically questioned every plausible objection raised by conservative opponents...

Without factual support for their arguments, it is becoming less and less tenable for opponents of same-sex marriage to argue that their positions are not influenced by a dislike of gay people and their intimate relationships…

…It is impossible for anyone to know for sure why others take the positions that they do on controversial social issues. In fact, because prejudice and discrimination can have deeply psychological explanations, we often may not even know why we (much less others) hold certain positions on matters of race, gender, and sexual orientation. Nonetheless, after marriage equality opponents have failed for twenty years to articulate rational arguments for their opposition to gay marriages, it is becoming less plausible to contend that such an opposition is not, at some level, grounded in homophobia.
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Carlos A. Ball
Author of "From The Closet to the Courtroom" and Professor of Law at Rutgers University

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