Fragile Foundation of Marriage Equality, Part 3

In the minds of “marriage equality” supporters, the discussion is over; there is one “right side of history.”

Damon Linker has “made clear repeatedly” that he supports gay marriage, and yet he is “troubled by the equally stunning lack of charity, magnanimity, and tolerance displayed by many gay marriage advocates.” The problem is that certain “equality” proponents “don’t just want to win the legal right to marry. They don’t just want most Americans to recognize and affirm the equal dignity of their relationships. They appear to want and expect all Americans to recognize and affirm that equal dignity, under penalty of ostracism from civilized life.”


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We’ve seen how movements can collapse as fast as they galvanize. We have also covered the slanted framing of public opinion polls and the mixed results that show approval of same-sex marriage might only be a symptom of a general increase of narcissism, which makes demands by entitlement and reacts harshly when told “no.”

No matter how the Supreme Court rules in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, we can be sure that the demands for more “equality” will continue. While plenty of Americans still have religious or moral objections, those objections are being treated as automatically obsolete; not even worth hearing in the public forum. In the minds of “marriage equality” supporters, the discussion is over. There is one “right side of history” and according to speech, actions and lawsuits, everyone best get on the “right side.”

Intolerance In The Name of Tolerance

Other opinions are obsolete

Ryan Anderson on Piers Morgan Show

When watching Ryan Anderson on the Piers Morgan Show to debate same-sex marriage, notice how he is marginalized in the setup. He is placed in the audience instead of the platform with Morgan and lesbian guest Suze Orman. Notice how the host calls for an audience response against Anderson’s ideas and the round of applause given. Mostly, notice how his points are not directly engaged, but dismissed as “uneducated,” “offensive,” and “un-American.”[i]

Roman Catholic professor ends discussion

The Roman Catholic position on homosexuality is well known, but pressure to not challenge or ask questions about same-sex marriage exists even in Roman Catholic higher education. In the fall 2014, a teacher at Marquette University told a 20-year-old student that disagreeing with same-sex marriage is homophobic and will not be tolerated in class and if he disagreed then he should drop the class. The ethics class was discussing a range of controversial topics written on the board, such as immigration and the death penalty, but the teacher skipped over gay marriage. It was announced that everyone agrees on this topic so it need not be discussed. The student approached the teacher after class, secretly recording the conversation. The teacher can be heard saying, “There are some opinions that are not appropriate – that are harmful – such as racist opinions, sexist opinions.” Moments later the teacher said, “You don’t have a right in this class especially [in an ethics class] to make homophobic comments.” The student says, “Because they’re homosexual, I can’t have my opinions?” The teacher replies, “You can have whatever opinions you want but I will tell you right now – in this class homophobic comments, racist comments, sexist comments will not be tolerated. If you don’t like it, you are more than free to drop this class.”

Any opposition to same-sex marriage is simply not allowed. The feelings of LGBT people change the rules of public discourse so that traditional opinions are “homophobic,” which is equivalent to “racist.” This pressure fits all the characteristics of a disastrous dynamic among even the best and brightest.

Marriage Equality Groupthink

JFK’s group of experts going ahead with the Bay of Pigs invasion is just one example showing that the human tendency toward overconfidence, stereotyping the opposition, and self-serving bias that can lead to foolish actions. In psychology, this is known as groupthink. Groupthink happens when three dynamics occur. First, the group overestimates its correctness or virtue, such as believing it is on the “right side of history.” Secondly, the opponent is stereotyped to the point where discussion is out of the question. The opposition is too wrong or insignificant, and engaging them directly would be a waste of time at best or validate their position at worst. Thirdly, the group has internal pressure to go along with the prevailing opinion in order to maintain an illusion of unanimity.

“You’re Just Wrong”

Under such a social climate, objections and dissenting views are not welcome. Even highly intelligent people, out of concern for group morale and not wanting to be the only idiot in the room, will fail to raise relevant questions or valid concerns. The Titanic, the Bay of Pigs invasion, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are just some examples of highly capable leaders suffering from groupthink.

“Liz – this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree, you’re just wrong – and on the wrong side of history.”

This famous Facebook post from Mary Cheney to her sister, Elizabeth, exhibits the groupthink dynamic. Disagreement is not allowed. Our cause is right and just. The opposition is so much in the wrong that it’s not worth discussing. History will prove us correct.

James Obergefell, the plaintiff whose name is now enshrined in the court case for marriage equality, appealing his case at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said, “I know I walk on the right side of history.”[ii]

Same-sex marriage is no longer a matter of disagreement. It is a matter of being right or wrong, forward or backward, reasonable or ridiculous.

Michigan’s Ruling On Regnerus

Federal Judge Bernard Friedman, who overturned Michigan’s voter-approved constitutional definition of marriage heard testimony from reputable experts but was quickly dismissive of testimony given by researcher Mark Regnerus who had conducted the largest study of its kind on adult children raised by same-sex parents. His study, published in the July 2012 issue of Social Science Research,[iii] showing that children of same-sex parents had more social and mental health problems than children of heterosexual parents.[iv]

Judge Friedman dismissed Regnerus’s testimony: “The Court finds Regnerus’s testimony entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration.” Why? “Other sociological and demographic experts… heavily criticized the study on several grounds.” [v]

Criticism is a common and even expected reaction within academic study. Studies are constantly being done to refute others using different variables. Judge Friedman simply did not agree with the testimony and sided with the opposing school of thought. This not being enough, the ruling went on to make a questionable if not completely false:

“It is no wonder … Regnerus’s own sociology department at the University of Texas has distanced itself from [his study] in particular and Dr. Regnerus’s views in general and reaffirmed the aforementioned APA position statement.” [vi]

Actually, the university conducted an independent inquiry and found no fault in Regnerus’s work.[vii] In addition, 27 social science professors from other highly-rated schools (including two from Regnerus’ own University of Texas at Austin) made a public statement criticizing the bias toward certain results: “We are disappointed that many media outlets have not done their due diligence in investigating the scientific validity of prior studies, and acknowledging the superiority of Regnerus’s sample to most previous research. … We are also disappointed that many of our academic colleagues who have critiqued Regnerus have not publicly acknowledged the methodological limitations of previous research on same-sex parenting.”

Judge Friedman said Regnerus and three other experts “clearly represent a fringe viewpoint that is rejected by the vast majority of their colleagues across a variety of social science fields.” [viii]

The 27 professors are not exactly isolated right-wing religious fanatics. Their statement makes claims definitely outside right-wing dogmatism: “…we think it is unfortunate that other media are using the Regnerus study to draw definitively negative conclusions about gay parenting.” Later on, “Indeed, it is possible to interpret Regnerus’s findings as evidence for the need for legalized gay marriage…”[ix]

Judge Friedman was even presented with the notion that studies supporting same-sex parenting were examples of groupthink. Family studies professor Loren Marks took the 59 articles cited by the American Psychological Association’s 2005 statement backing same-sex couples raising children. Marks noted the flaws in many of these studies, such as using small sample sizes and lacking a heterosexual comparison group. Judge Friedman’s ruling noted how Marks “characterized the overwhelming consensus among sociologists and psychologists who endorse the ‘no differences’ [of children raised by heterosexual or homosexual couples] viewpoint as ‘group think.’”

Judge Friedman’s response to the suggestion of group think: “Marks’s testimony is largely unbelievable.”[x]

“Unbelievable” is what those under the influence of groupthink think of dissenting opinions. They are ridiculous, discarded like a candy wrapper with little if any consideration.

Even friendly voices are pressured and silenced

Ron Snyder, President Emeritus of the Young Democrats of America, and a self-proclaimed “gay evangelical Christian,” senses the prevailing groupthink at work when he writes, “Here’s a shocking piece of news. Just because someone doesn’t support gay rights doesn’t automatically make them a hateful bigot.”

As a gay evangelical, he is in a position to notice the groupthink at work within his fellow supporters, particularly, the underestimation and dismissal of the opposition: “it’s foolish to think this group can be ridiculed into submission or silenced into oblivion.”

But even as Snyder is sensitively resisting the groupthink against evangelicals, he falls in line with the rest of the groupthink party line. In the same article, he says anybody who “continues to hold to the idea that being gay is a choice or that sexual orientation can change” is “akin to a flat earth” cosmology.[xi] The choices are reasonable or ridiculous.

But other LGBT supporters are taking this “flat earth” position and are getting the third degree for doing so.

LGBT-friendly voices such as Debra Kolodny, gets slammed for challenging the LGBT identity argument. For disagreeing that “sexual orientation is predetermined” she gets significant backlash. “The queer movement relies on, ‘We can’t help it. We’re born this way,’ she said. “If you don’t say it you’re thrown to the lions and you’re evil.”[xii]

Actress Cynthia Nixon saying to a group of LGBT equality supporters, “I’ve been straight and I’ve been gay, and gay is better,” was unacceptable for her audience. “They tried to get me to change it, because they said it implies that homosexuality can be a choice. And for me, it is a choice. I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me.” She says the matter of whether you choose this way or are born this way is irrelevant. “…let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not. As you can tell, I am very annoyed about this issue. Why can’t it be a choice? Why is that any less legitimate?”[xiii]  According to Cynthia Nixon, LGBT identity can be a choice, but she is facing the powerful groupthink that pressures people to conform. This seems surprising since marriage equality is about not being forced to conform to the mainstream practice.

Making the stakes into right vs. wrong, reasonable vs. ridiculous doesn’t help anyone. The rights will grow more forceful lest the wrongs drag us all back to the Dark Ages. The wrongs will face more pressure and more penalties. The rights will grow angrier. The wrongs will grow more fearful.

People are personally penalized for even holding a respectfully personal view that homosexual unions are unethical.

Different opinions are not acceptable. The marginalization that the gay community complained about for many years is now being done to the traditional community. Now the shoe is on the other foot. The bullied have become the bullies.

Miss America contestant

If you are a Miss America contestant and are asked about same-sex marriage, you better not say, “I think it’s great Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.”

An answer like that itself will cost you the crown, with one of the judges posting a video the next day saying you “gave the worst answer in pageant history” and “she lost because she’s a dumb b—-.” If you had won, the judge says he would’ve jumped on the stage and snatched the crown from your head.[xiv]

Reality TV star

If you are a reality TV star being interviewed about your personal views, you better not paraphrase a Bible verse implying that gay sex is sinful: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”  Who cares that just a few moments beforehand you said your family “really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”

That sort of talk will give the magazine a free pass but will get your show cancelled. Never mind that your show’s last season debut remains the No. 1-rated nonfiction series telecast in cable history with 11.8 million viewers. Never mind that the show gave the network its best-ever series telecast in adults 18-49 (6.3 million viewers) and adults 18-34 (3 million). Your removal will be praised as “a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value.”

Washington state florist

If you’re a florist with a gay friend and he asks you to do the flowers for his gay marriage ceremony, you better go against your conscience, convictions and faith and say yes. It won’t matter if you had done many events for him in the past and the two of you have been friends for a long time. Who cares if he says he understands after you hold both his hands and painfully refuse because of your religious beliefs about marriage. Giving him names of three other excellent area florists who you know would understand his particular style and taste in flowers, and hugging him before parting means nothing. You will be sued by the state Attorney General for your insolence. As a service provider, you should see your customers as nothing more than “friendly, tip-paying, lucrative transactions” that simply “represent income.” What were you thinking in treating customers like “important loved ones?” Forget that your gay friend apparently saw business with you as personal. Apparently your “flowers had been sentimentally important to them in their romance” so much that your “rejection soured their betrothal.” Who cares if you employed gays and lesbians at your shop; this one rejection makes you a bigot, “attempting to humiliate LGBT families at the moments that should be the most respected and wonderful of our lives.”[xv] For humiliating this gay couple, your entire livelihood will be threatened by an ACLU lawsuit targeting your business and life savings.

Web company founder & CEO

If you are head of a successful web-browser, and you donate a thousand dollars supporting a traditional marriage ballot initiative, you can expect to lose your job. Never mind that you were just made CEO less than a month ago. Never mind that you co-founded the company and its very existence owes itself to your work. Your reassuring statements that traditional marriage is only part of your “personal beliefs” and that you intentionally “kept them out of” the company for “all these 15 years we’ve been going,” mean nothing. Your public statement that you are “committed to ensuring” that your company “is, and will remain, a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion,”[xvi] is useless. You should have apologized[xvii] for your personal views and private donation. You will be pressured to step down from the organization you helped create because of your personal beliefs, all while a company spokesperson announces that the organization “supports equality for all;” that it “believes both in equality and freedom of speech,” and that “our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness.”[xviii]

The irony of getting rid of someone under the banner of “equality” and “freedom of speech” is not lost on most people. The very next day an undisputed LGBT rights supporter would say, “I think there is a gay mafia.” The way supporters of traditional marriage are being treated has brought even comedian and political commentator Bill Maher – an undisputed polar-opposite of the Christian right – into the fray of surprise.

The CEO termination prompted Andrew Sullivan, a gay commentator who was among the first to publicly defend same-sex marriage, to speak up: “This is the definition of intolerance.”

“If a socially conservative private entity fired someone because they discovered he had donated against Prop 8, how would you feel?” Sullivan asked. “It’s staggering to me that a minority long persecuted for holding unpopular views can now turn around and persecute others for the exact same reason.”[xix]

The groupthink of marriage equality is unsustainable. Intolerance in the name of tolerance? Excluding for the sake of inclusion? When the passion overtakes the principle, movements turn into lynch mobs. And the lynch mobs of history have all failed.

Equality advocates recoil at reverse prejudice allegations

LGBT advocates can recoil sharply from the notion that the harsh treatment has shifted to traditional Christians.

A Slate writer says, “In America, LGBTQ people face persistent, systemic, widespread employment discrimination. Christians do not. In many states, LGBTQ people have no legal recourse to redress employment discrimination. Christians do—in every state in the country.” Thinking otherwise is “so asinine that I almost regret wasting space refuting it.” Because, “In 29 states, gay people can be legally fired simply for being gay. Federal law, as currently interpreted, offers no employment protections for gay people. And a horrifyingly high number of LGBTQ people report workplace discrimination and harassment. For Christians, the picture is completely flipped…”[xx] Yet while reading this story on LGBT persecution, on the right pane of the same page was a link to, “Gay? Fired for It? Sue Your Employer Today!” This second article says President Obama’s executive order to forbid workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation is “unnecessary” because “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids sex discrimination, which the Supreme Court has interpreted to include irrational sex stereotyping. And both anti-gay and anti-trans discrimination, at bottom, are really nothing more than sex discrimination.” More surprising than the conflicting nature of the two articles was that they were written by the same author, and published only seven days apart.[xxi]

Groupthink is supporting your cause so strongly that when you come across any information that might challenge to the cause, it has to be eliminated. Answering the information is “wasting space” because it presumes the challenge is valid. But information that supports your cause is readily welcomed without much scrutiny. It supports your view, therefore it must be true! Human reasoning is always susceptible to this pattern, what psychologists call “confirmation bias,” and it has made fools out of experts, Presidents and entire nations.

When intolerance is enforced in the name of tolerance, the foundation itself is compromised.

In a comment on the Slate article[xxii], mc5552968, fittingly says, “Oh, are the poor cultists crying that I am a bigot for having no tolerance for bigots?  Get over it!”

“Right side” = famous last words; passion > principle

At least for some champions of “equality,” the passion has overcome the principle. The movement turns into a monster. Claiming to be on “the right side of history” can often be famous last words.

In striking down Pennsylvania’s marriage law, Judge John E. Jones III concluded his ruling by declaring, “We are a better people than what these [marriage] laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”[xxiii]

How similar this sounds to another declaration: “Therefore, you are doing the right thing as you, at this midnight hour, surrender to the flames the evil spirit of the past.”

This was said by Dr. Joseph Goebbels on May 10, 1933 as books were being burned by university students in Berlin.

When we toss ideas into the fire we invite reprisal. But groupthink does not see reprisal coming.

When groupthink is at work major miscalculations are made. When one side is so completely right any other perspectives are dismissed. When the pressure to conform is great, people who see the emperor wearing no clothes keep their mouths shut.

Errors are made

One example of an error made in a groupthink vacuum is when studies are conducted with fabricated data and the results are published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The December 2014 issue of Science published an article that showed personal contact with gay people increased people’s long-term support for same-sex marriage. The study received widespread media attention, including from This American Life, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Science Friday, Vox, and Huffington Post.

On May 19, 2015, Columbia University professor Donald P. Green retracted the study paper he co-authored. The article titled, “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality,” was written by Green and Michael LaCour, a graduate student at UCLA. What happened?

Some of the data “seemed to be too perfect” according to a pair of graduate students at University of California – Berkeley who were impressed by the study and wanted to expand on it. Instead, they found the evidence sketchy enough to contact Green, who had joined the study after the data had been collected. Green examined the data more closely and followed up with his co-author. Eventually he told The Huffington Post that he was shocked and dismayed by the revelations about the data set. “There was a mountain of fabrication,” he said. “Graphs and charts and anecdotes and stories of every possible sort about these surveys. So it didn’t occur to me that the whole thing was fabricated because every time I had a question, it seemed as though [LaCour] had an answer.”

As the Huffington Post article reports, “It seemed increasingly clear to Green that no follow-up surveys had ever been conducted and that LaCour may have taken data from existing studies and manipulated the numbers to achieve the results he wanted.” [xxiv]

When the rightness of the cause is so assured, lines will be crossed to promote the cause.

Another example of errors made in a groupthink vacuum is a convicted pedophile priest being released because jurors heard testimony that may have blurred homosexuality with pedophilia.

It was Catholic priest Michael Fugee. He admitted to and was convicted of fondling a teenage boy in 2003, but had his conviction overturned because part of his testimony heard by jurors appeared to blur the distinction between homosexuality and pedophilia. In 2006, an appellate panel vacated the guilty verdict because a portion of his confession, in which Fugee described himself as bisexual or homosexual, should have been withheld from jurors because they might have drawn “an unfounded association between homosexuality and pedophilia.” Fugee’s appeal led to his release because, “The admission of this statement injected into this case the specter of a jury deciding defendants’ guilt on the unfounded association between homosexuality and pedophilia,” the court wrote. Fugee subsequently reinstated in 2009 and appointed to many positions where he would have contact with children, causing a major scandal in the New Jersey Catholic churches. One parishioner, Paul Franklin, a deacon whose children were associated with Fugee’s youth group, said he knew the priest had been convicted of criminal sexual contact and that the verdict had been subsequently overturned. He thought that was the end of it. [xxv]

The fear of associating homosexuality with pedophilia is strong enough to exonerate a self-admitted child predator whose testimony linked the two into a mess of aberrant sexual desires.

Other opinions are unacceptable

“Until recently, gay rights groups accepted some exceptions,” according to an editorial. Now that public opinion has shifted towards marriage equality, “Gay advocates say broad carve-outs perpetuate the very discrimination they had been working to end.”[xxvi] In other words, it is becoming intolerable that anyone should be opposed to same-sex unions for any reason.

“Religion is going to be the final holdout and most stubborn refuge for homophobia,” writes Frank Bruni in a New York Times OP-ED. “It will give license to discrimination. It will cause gay and lesbian teenagers in fundamentalist households to agonize needlessly.”[xxvii]

With religion being the hiding place for homophobia, religious exemption is beginning to show erosion.

In Canada, on January 10, 2011, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled marriage commissioners cannot refuse to perform same-sex marriage on religious grounds.

In Great Britain, the religious exemptions didn’t matter. The same-sex marriage law approved by the Queen on July 17, 2013, one day after it was passed by Parliament, was built with a “quadruple lock” in order to protect religious institutions from being forced to perform same-sex marriages against their faith. Nevertheless, just weeks after the legislation was passed, Barrie Drewitt-Barlow and his civil-union partner, Tony, wish to “test” this protection in court. The couple claim to be practicing Christians and want their children to see them married in the church. In an interview with the Essex Chronicle, they said they “need to convince the church that it is the right thing for our community for them to recognise [sic] as practicing Christians.”

Religious beliefs and values of individuals are being required by law to literally “compromise” their beliefs as the price of U.S. citizenship. New Mexico’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled on August 22, 2013 in Elane Photography, LLC v. Willock that a photographer cannot refuse to photograph a lesbian wedding even on religious convictions. Such refusal violated the state Human Rights Act. Justice Richard Bosson said photographers with such beliefs are “now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives. …it is the price of citizenship.”

When pressure explodes

Of those who call for tolerance, equality and fair treatment of LGBT persons who have been treated as second class citizens, should we expect some sort of example to be set? Can those who call for tolerance from others show tolerance themselves?

On July 3, 2012 the mother of famous actor Brad Pitt had an editorial in the Springfield News-Leader, which published her letter supporting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney because President Obama “is a liberal who supports the killing of unborn babies and same-sex marriage.” The response on Twitter was not only ugly but even frightening:
sandy kownacka @sandy_dollx Brad Pitt’s mom, die 6 Jul 12
karengeier @karengeier  f— you, brad pitt’s mom. the gay community made your kid a star, you whacko. 6 Jul 12
@PatrikSandberg Brad Pitt’s mother can go f— herself.— PΛTRIK SΛNDBERG 6 Jul 12
Charles Veselsky @Charlito18 So, Brad Pitt’s mom is a real c— eh? 6 Jul 12
Tumock N @Kokomoko77 Brad Pitt’s mother…what a brainless old b—-… 6 Jul 12
Lee Young @odysseus94 Brad Pitt’s Mom Slams Obama, Gays. That stand makes her a deluded, dumba– Fascist Repuke b—-.…   5 Jul 12
@o_Osab Brad Pitt’s mom is a dumb c— — Sabrina 5 Jul 12
Shayne @Zoocritter    @ddsnorth I hope Brad Pitt has been supporting his mother and decides to cut her off. What a b—-.   6 Jul 12
c Cameron @Mattvcameron    Hey, Brad Pitt! Your mom is a f—ing c—!   6 Jul 12
@FormerlyM Brad Pitt’s mom should try eating a d—. Judgmental b—-. — Mimzay 6 Jul 12

If inhumanity has been shown to LGBT persons in the past, the inhumanity has not vanished. It is only shifting sides. Viciousness is being exhibited by those who have prided themselves of being accepting and tolerant.

Actor Harvey Fierstein (The Good Wife, Nurse Jackie, Mulan, Independence Day) uses some frightening words: “The next time someone dares to say, ‘Just because I don’t approve of homosexuality doesn’t make me a bigot,’ we must all answer back, ‘Yes, it does. Not only does it make you a bigot, it makes you a criminal, a danger to me, my family, my community, my city and my country.’ Intolerance is not a matter of opinion. It is a call to violence.”[xxviii] Unfortunately, for all viewpoints, the violence is not an empty threat.

In July 2013, a Seattle gay pride event turned violent when a two people with Christian messages showed up. One carried a sign that said “Jesus saves from sin” on one side and “Repent or else” on the other. A second man wore a t-shirt that read “Trust Jesus” and was holding a Bible. All caught on camera and posted on YouTube, the Christians were harassed and attacked.[xxix]

Yes, Christians and traditional marriage advocates can be jerks also.

Why sue a bakery for not writing “God hates gays” on a cake? Who makes a request like that in the first place? [xxx]

Why harass and give death threats to a Wichita minister who conducted same-sex ceremonies? Did anyone actually think that scaring her would stop her instead of winning sympathy for her and her work? [xxxi]

Why blast Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who is gay, for issuing subpoenas to five prominent pastors who had opposed a new anti-discrimination law, saying, “These people are terrorists, they’re radicals, and they’re extremists”? What does this accomplish?

“Right side of history” = license to kill

Whenever there is belief that “we” are on the “right side of history,” people start to get ugly. History has plenty of examples of ideologies that claimed history as their ally only to have history make them examples of what not to do.

Communism on the right side of history

For the majority of the 20th century many intellectuals and political leaders were convinced that history was culminating in a grand rejection of the rich-poor gap and the poor proletariats would stand together against the middle class bourgeoisie to create a place where workers were treated fairly and everyone had food in their stomachs and happiness in their hearts. From Hegel’s notion that history is a sequence of humanity’s building and improving of itself, and Karl Marx’s belief that the next improvements for humanity were for workers to rise up together against the atrocious working conditions of the 1800s, came this full blown worldview of Communism. By the close of the 20th century, it was evident to most of the world that communism was a humanitarian disaster. The massive body counts and disastrous economic experiments in communist nations like the Soviet Union, Mao Tse Tung’s China and Pol Pot’s Cambodia are vivid examples that this ideology has failed the human race.

Nazism on the right side of history

National Socialism (a.k.a. Nazism) in Hitler’s Germany carried the premise that “we,” the Aryan race, are inherently superior to all other races. Therefore, in this thinking, the world would be so much better off if it was run by the superiors. Other races such as Jews or Roma (Gypsies) are “life unworthy of life.” Those “sub-humans” use air and food that could be given to superiors who will make the world a better place. Eliminating them would only be doing the world a favor.

Ends justify the means

History shows humans believe the ends justify the means when you are on the right side of history. Being fundamentally in the right, achieve the goal at any cost. Dissent is dismissed as ludicrous. Other opinions are simply silenced. Questions are met with ridicule and left unanswered. And where such intellectual immaturity could be said to have been present on the “traditional” side of the same-sex marriage debate at one time, the immaturity has now shifted.

Ross Douthat wrote his New York Times piece, “The Terms of Our Surrender,” after Arizona Governor Jan Brewer announced that she has vetoed the “religious freedom bill.” Douthat writes, “We are not really having an argument about same-sex marriage anymore, and on the evidence of Arizona, we’re not having a negotiation. Instead, all that’s left is the timing of the final victory — and for the defeated to find out what settlement the victors will impose.”

Mark Joseph Stern, writing in Slate, denounced Douthat for daring to suggest that opponents of gay marriage deserve anything but contempt for their hateful views, which must be understood as expressions of “raw hatred” and “base bigotry.” The Atlantic‘s Conor Friedersdorf mounted a defense, which provoked a sharp response by Henry Farrell at Crooked Timber, a political theory blog.

Even marriage equality advocates are concerned

Even some open supporters of same-sex marriage are expressing concern about the viciousness exhibited in the name of equality.

“What I remain most concerned about is how the current winner-take-all battle between evangelical Christians and the LGBT community is actually doing a tremendous disservice to both sides of the debate…” writes Ron Snyder, the President Emeritus of the Young Democrats of America and a “gay evangelical Christian.” [xxxii]

Sullivan, one of the first to advocate for marriage equality, writes, “When people’s lives and careers are subject to litmus tests, and fired if they do not publicly renounce what may well be their sincere conviction, we have crossed a line. This is McCarthyism applied by civil actors.”[xxxiii]

Damon Linker has “made clear repeatedly” that he supports gay marriage, and yet he is “troubled by the equally stunning lack of charity, magnanimity, and tolerance displayed by many gay marriage advocates.” The problem is that certain “equality” proponents “don’t just want to win the legal right to marry. They don’t just want most Americans to recognize and affirm the equal dignity of their relationships. They appear to want and expect all Americans to recognize and affirm that equal dignity, under penalty of ostracism from civilized life.”[xxxiv]

But for anyone on the “right side of history” under the influence of groupthink, no explanation is needed. Disagreeing is simply wrong and offensive. As Mary Cheney posted to her sister, “This isn’t just an issue on which we disagree, you’re just wrong – and on the wrong side of history.”

Linker observes how being on the “right side of history” brings out the worst in people. It always has, no matter what “side” you’re on. This is true for all humanity throughout history, even Christians.

This certainly includes National Socialism of Germany, the Bolshevism of the Soviet Union, and the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia, but also for Christians as well. Unbelievable atrocities have been committed by professing Christians in the crusades, by Catholics during the Inquisition, by Lutherans and Calvinists against the Anabaptists, and more recently by (at least nominal) Catholic Croats and (at least nominal) Orthodox Serbs in Bosnia. All are done with a mindset that “we” are in the “right” and even have a “divine right.”

As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn so wisely said, “If only there were evil people somewhere committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”[xxxv]

Rev. Aaron Vriesman is Pastor at North Blendon Christian Reformed Church (CRC) in Hudsonville, Mich.


[i] published May 1, 2013 (retrieved August 13, 2014).
– “Fresh off his Piers Morgan confrontation, Ryan Anderson explains his ‘un-American’ views on marriage” by Jamie Weinstein, The Daily Caller; 03/30/2013 3:24 AM (retrieved August 13, 2014)

[ii] “’I know I walk on the right side of history’” By James Obergefell; Cincinnati Enquirer; 9:55 a.m. EDT August 3, 2014 (retrieved Monday, August 11, 2014)

[iii] Mark Regnerus, “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study,” Social Science Research, Volume 41, Issue 4, July 2012, Pages 752–770.

[iv] A positive take on the research see “‘Gold standard’ study’s striking findings: children of heterosexual parents happier, healthier,”, Mon Jun 11, 2012, 6:42 pm EST (retrieved July 2, 2014)

[v] DeBoer v. Snyder, 12-10285, Page 12 (E.D. Mich. March 21, 2014).

[vi] DeBoer v. Snyder, 12-10285, Page 13 (E.D. Mich. March 21, 2014).

[vii] The challenge to Dr. Regnerus came not from another scholar but an LGBT blogger who sent a letter to the university president accusing Regnerus of scientific misconduct (“Open Letter to University of Texas Regarding Professor Mark Regnerus’ Alleged Unethical Anti-Gay Study,” by Scott Rose on June 24, 2012 retrieved June 18, 2014). The university immediately conducted an inquiry in response to the allegations. The University of Texas at Austin is an academically competitive school. U.S. News and World Report’s annual Best Graduate Schools report in 2013 showed in its sociology category University of Texas-Austin ranked #14, tied with Duke University, and surpassing other notable schools: Cornell University (#17), Yale University (#20), Brown University (#25), Johns Hopkins University (#27), and others. With a reputation to uphold and a controversial study published by one of its professors, the university would have every reason to appropriately address any threats to its reputation. The university hired Dr. Alan Price, a private consultant and former associate director of the Office of Research Integrity in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to ensure that the inquiry was conducted appropriately and fairly. One month after the charge of academic dishonesty, the university determined in August that there was insufficient evidence to warrant an investigation. Consulting with a four-member advisory panel composed of senior university faculty members, the Office of the Vice President for Research concluded in its report that there was insufficient evidence to warrant an investigation. Dr. Price observed the inquiry to be in keeping with university policy and “also consistent with federal regulatory requirements of inquiries into research misconduct.” The Provost and Executive Vice President accepted the report and “deemed the matter closed from an institutional perspective.” Though it anticipated further discussion and additional research as scholars “continue to evaluate and report on the findings of the Regnerus article and [the University of Texas at Austin] supports such discussion” (“University of Texas at Austin Completes Inquiry into Allegations of Scientific Misconduct,” University of Texas news release, August 29, 2012 retrieved July 2, 2014).

[viii] DeBoer v. Snyder, 12-10285, Page 17 (E.D. Mich. March 21, 2014).

[ix] “A SOCIAL SCIENTIFIC RESPONSE TO THE REGNERUS CONTROVERSY,” June 20, 2012; posted on the Baylor University Institute for Studies of Religion website; (retrieved July 2, 2014)

[x] DeBoer v. Snyder, 12-10285, Page 17 (E.D. Mich. March 21, 2014).

[xi] “Love Wins: The Shifting Landscape on LGBT Issues in the Evangelical Church,” by Rod Snyder; Huffington Post; Posted: 07/22/2014 4:43 pm EDT Updated: 07/23/2014 10:59 am EDT. (retrieved Tuesday, September 09, 2014)

[xii] “Sexually Inclusive Christians” Celebrate Victories, Push for More” by Mark Tooley, August 22, 2003 | Institute on Religion and Democracy | Posted on 8/30/2003 8:48:16 PM by xzins (retrieved June 13, 2014)

[xiii] “Life After ‘Sex’” By ALEX WITCHEL; New York Times, published: January 19, 2012. (accessed May 11, 2014)

[xiv] On April 19, 2009, 21-year-old Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean (Miss California) gives a traditional marriage answer to a question on same-sex marriage from openly gay celebrity blogger and pageant judge Perez Hilton, and lost the competition as first runner up.
Prejean: “I think it’s great Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.”
The answer sparked arguments in the lobby. “It’s ugly,” said Scott Ihrig, a gay man, who attended the pageant with his partner. “I think it’s ridiculous that she got first runner-up. That is not the value of 95 percent of the people in this audience. Look around this audience and tell me how many gay men there are.” Charmaine Koonce, the mother of Miss New Mexico USA Bianca Matamoros-Koonce, argued back: “In the Bible it says marriage is between Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!”
The winner was Miss North Carolina Kristen Dalton.
Hilton, who is gay, took to his blog and posted a video in which he says, “She gave the worst answer in pageant history. She lost because she’s a dumb b—-, okay?” He also said that if she won the pageant, he would’ve jumped on the stage and snatched the crown from her head. He later apologized for the name-calling but added, “We were/are just soooo angry, hurt, frustrated by her answer. Perez would love to take Miss California out for coffee and ‘talk’!”[xiv] Hilton told ABC News: “She lost it because of that question. She was definitely the front-runner before that.” Keith Lewis, who runs the Miss California competition, released a statement condemning Prejean’s comments. “As co-director of the Miss California USA, I am personally saddened and hurt that Miss California believes marriage rights belong only to a man and a woman.”
The next day, Prejean told Billy Bush, who hosted Miss USA, on his radio talk show on Monday: “It did cost me my crown.” … “It is a very touchy subject and [Hilton] is a homosexual, and I see where he was coming from and I see the audience would’ve wanted me to be more politically correct. But I was raised in a way that you can never compromise your beliefs and your opinions for anything.”
(“Carrie Prejean Says Answer to Gay Marriage Question Cost Her Miss USA Crown” Published April 20, 2009 | (retrieved June 7, 2014)

[xv] “An open letter to the homophobic doctor and florist who humiliate LGBT families,” by Rob Watson, LGBTQ Nation blogger; Thursday, March 12, 2015 (retrieved Wednesday, May 13, 2015)

[xvi] “OKCupid seeks to block Mozilla Firefox over gay rights” (accessed April 7, 2014)

[xvii] “Eich sought to make clear that he would not and has not let his political feelings influence his working practices, but stopped short of apologising [sic]. As a result, anger and hurt grew, both within Mozilla and outside it.
“Eich took his views out of the realm of the theoretical when he donated to Prop 8, to Pat Buchanan, Tom McClintock, and Linda Smith. Rather than some shadowy coalition, it was a group of Mozilla’s employees and associates, gay and straight, who do not want to work with or for someone who has actively worked to hurt them, their friends and their families.” — Mary Hamilton, “Brendan Eich has the right to fight gay rights, but not to be Mozilla’s CEO”, Monday 7 April 2014 01.15 EDT retrieved June 7, 2014.

[xviii] On April 3, 2014, after less than a month on the job, Brendan Eich steps down as CEO of Mozilla, the company he co-founded, amid a firestorm of criticism because he donated $1,000 in 2008 supporting California’s Proposition 8. The departure came a day after Eich insisted he would not leave the company over his support for Proposition 8. “I don’t believe they’re relevant.” When the announcement of Mr Eich’s appointment was made on 24 March, angry users voiced their opinions on social media. Creator of the JavaScript scripting language, he also stepped down from the board of the Mozilla Foundation, the non-profit organization which owns the for-profit Mozilla Corporation. On March 31, when Mozilla users went to OkCupid dating website, a special message read, “Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience. Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.” Ok Cupid is owned by media conglomerate IAC/InterActive Corp, which owns 50 brands across 40 countries, including, the Daily Beast, and
(“Mozilla boss Brendan Eich resigns after gay marriage storm” by Dave Lee | BBC News, 4 April 2014 Last updated at 07:02 ET retrieved April 7, 2014.
“Mozilla CEO steps down amid protest over gay marriage views,” published April 03, 2014, retrieved June 7, 2014).
Mozilla’s executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker apologizes to those offended by hiring him:
“Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.
“We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.
“Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.
“Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.
“Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all.
“We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public. This is meant to distinguish Mozilla from most organizations and hold us to a higher standard. But this time we failed to listen, to engage, and to be guided by our community.
While painful, the events of the last week show exactly why we need the web. So all of us can engage freely in the tough conversations we need to make the world better.
“We need to put our focus back on protecting that Web. And doing so in a way that will make you proud to support Mozilla.
“What’s next for Mozilla’s leadership is still being discussed. We want to be open about where we are in deciding the future of the organization and will have more information next week. However, our mission will always be to make the Web more open so that humanity is stronger, more inclusive and more just: that’s what it means to protect the open Web.
“We will emerge from this with a renewed understanding and humility — our large, global, and diverse community is what makes Mozilla special, and what will help us fulfill our mission. We are stronger with you involved.” ( retrieved April 7, 2014)

[xix] “Dissents Of The Day” by Andrew Sullivan; The Dish, April 4 2014 @ 12:05pm (retrieved Wednesday, May 27, 2015)

[xx] “The Christian Persecution Complex Moves Into the Workplace,” By Mark Joseph Stern Slate; July 8 2014 12:43 PM (retrieved July 9, 2014)

[xxi] “Gay? Fired for It? Sue Your Employer Today!” By Mark Joseph Stern; Slate; July 1 2014 2:26 PM (retrieved July 19, 2014)

[xxii] “The Christian Persecution Complex Moves Into the Workplace,” By Mark Joseph Stern Slate; July 8 2014 12:43 PM (retrieved July 9, 2014)

[xxiii] Whitewood v Wolf (District Court docket 13-1861) Filed 05/20/14; page 39 (retrieved July 22, 2014)

[xxiv] “Groundbreaking Study On Gay Marriage Views May Have Been Faked,” by Lila Shapiro & Natalie Jackson; Huffington Post; Posted: 05/20/2015 5:13 pm EDT Updated: 05/20/2015 5:59 pm EDT (retrieved Thursday, May 21, 2015)
“Author retracts study of changing minds on same-sex marriage after colleague admits data were faked,” Retraction Watch (retrieved Thursday, May 21, 2015)

[xxv] “Newark archbishop allows priest who admitted groping boy to continue working with children” by Mark Mueller, The Star-Ledger; April 28, 2013.
“Archdiocese removes priest from hospital in Newark after learning of molestation history” by Jeff Diamant, The Star-Ledger; October 16, 2009.
“Priest who admitted groping boy appointed to high-profile position in Newark Archdiocese” by  Mark Mueller, The Star-Ledger; February 3, 2013

[xxvi] “Next Gay Marriage Fight: Religious Exemptions,” by Rachel Zoll; Associated Press – October 14, 2014 1:54 PM EDT (retrieved same day)

[xxvii] “Bigotry, the Bible and the Lessons of Indiana,” by Frank Bruni; New York Times OP-ED; Friday, April 3, 2015 (retrieved Wednesday, May 27, 2015)

[xxviii] “Don’t End the War on Terror” by actor Harvey Fierstein; | Posted: 05/28/2013 2:38 pm (retrieved June 13, 2014)

[xxix] “Video Shows Men attacking religious protesters at Pridefest,” by Michael Harthorne; KOMO News; Published: Jul 3, 2013 at 9:19 AM PDT (retrieved June 7, 2014)
“Street Preacher Brutally Beat Down During Seattle ‘Gay Pride’ Event,” by Heather Clark; Christian News Network; July 5, 2013 (retrieved June 7, 2014)

[xxx] “Denver baker sued for refusing to write anti-gay slogans on cake,” By Cristina Maza; Christian Science Monitor; Thursday, January 22, 2015 (retrieved same day)

[xxxi] “Minister reports threats after same-sex marriage ceremony: Rev. Jackie Carter performed ceremony for 15 couples,” KMBC 9 News Kansas City; Published 12:17 AM CST Dec 07, 2014  (retrieved Friday, December 12, 2014)

[xxxii] “Love Wins: The Shifting Landscape on LGBT Issues in the Evangelical Church,” by Rod Snyder; Huffington Post; Posted: 07/22/2014 4:43 pm EDT Updated: 07/23/2014 10:59 am EDT. (retrieved Tuesday, September 09, 2014)

[xxxiii] “Dissents Of The Day” by Andrew Sullivan; The Dish, April 4 2014 @ 12:05pm (retrieved Wednesday, May 27, 2015)

[xxxiv] Damon Linker, “Who are the real gay marriage bigots?” The Week; March 7, 2014 (emphasis Linker’s); (accessed May 6, 2014)

[xxxv] Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956, abridged by Edward E. Ericson, Jr. New York, NY: Harper & Row, 2002; pg.75.

[Editor’s note: One or more original URLs (links) referenced in this article are no longer valid; those links have been removed.]