Meet Michael Kinsley. He is the current editor-at-large of The New Republic, a former host of Crossfire and has been a political commentator since the 1970s. He also believes that he invented the concept of gay marriage and that opposing it doesn't necessarily make you a homophobe.
In a new piece on The New Republic, Kinsley surmises that opposing gay marriage doesn't necessarily make someone a homophobe, because some people just don't know better. The answer is simply to create positive public representations of sexual minorities and use logical, rational arguments to — oh, wait, apparently the answer is to wait it out and let hindsight validate our positions for us.
The first known mention of gay marriage is an article (“Here Comes the Groom” by Andrew Sullivan) commissioned by me and published in this magazine in 1989. And I would bet that there is no one born before 1989, gay or straight, who didn’t, when he or she first heard the idea, go, whaaa? Many on reflection got used to the idea, and a majority of Americans now support it. The day will come, probably next Tuesday at the rate things are going, when previous opposition to the idea of same-sex marriage will seem bizarre and require explaining, like membership in the Ku Klux Klan in the youths of some old Southerners—are there any left?—on Capitol Hill. But we’re not quite there yet.
In all fairness, "Here Comes the Groom" is still considered a landmark print piece for its support of gay marriage, but the idea that gay marriage didn't really register on anyone's minds until he commissioned it . . . I don't think that's how that works. Especially when you consider that Denmark became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage that same year.
But back to the main point here. I get the basic gist of what he's trying to say here: we have to show an appropriate measure of compassion even to those we don't necessarily agree with. That being said, letting it slide because "they don't know any better" is something of an overcorrection. At this point, people SHOULD know better. People SHOULD be basing their opinions on scientific evidence. You don't make the world a better place by pretending nothing's wrong, or by refusing to correct something you know can be fixed. But Kinsley does make a point: you attract more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.
Or as Wil Wheaton says, don't be a dick.
[Image via dontbeadickday.com]