The Racism Analogy:

Various comments on my post below have raised the racism analogy -- if we wouldn't worry about the burdens that the civil rights movement have imposed on racists (or anti-Semites or what have you), why should we worry about the burdens that the successes of the gay rights movement may impose on those who are anti-gay?

Well, as I mentioned in my earlier post, one can certainly conclude that the burdens are justified; if that's so, then my point is still relevant, but only as a way to better "understand why those who do not value gay rights highly -- because, for instance, they believe that homosexual behavior is immoral and harmful to society -- would fight hard against expansions in gay rights, and resist claims of the 'It's none of your business whom I have sex with, so why are you objection to various gay rights proposals?' variety."

On the other hand, while I (as I said) support a good deal of gay rights claims, I'm far from convinced that opposition to homosexuality is quite comparable to racism. I hope to have somewhat more on this later (though not a vast amount, since I'm not sure how much beyond the obvious I can add to that debate). But it's not clear to me that, for instance, the Catholic Church should be viewed as tantamount to the Church of the Creator, or even to considerably less militant racist groups. It's likewise not clear to me that the Boy Scouts should be viewed as tantamount to a "whites-only Scouts." (I'm also pretty sure that many people, including those who, like me, oppose laws that would make homosexuality into a crime, oppose the exclusion of gays from the military, and support same-sex marriage, would say something similar.)

Perhaps, even if I'm right on this, the reason for this isn't some logical distinction between hostility to homosexuality and racial hostility, but rather just cultural history: Because the big battles over racism happened some decades before the big battles over gay rights, many otherwise decent groups and individuals still have a blind spot about homosexuality. Then, even if hostility to homosexuality and racial hostility are morally equivalent, those who are hostile to homosexuality may often be decent people who haven't yet caught up to the truth on gay rights, while racists are likely to be generally bad people altogether. Nonetheless, even if that's so, we might still be more concerned about burdening (even in constitutionally permissible ways) these often-decent-but-on-this-wrongheaded people's speech and religious practice than about burdening racist's speech and religious practice.

On the other hand, perhaps my tentative judgment on this is wrong; perhaps the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts really are morally tantamount to racist organizations. But if that's so, then that just further explains the intensity with which many traditionalists are fighting the gay rights movement: If the essence of that movement is to suggest that traditionalist religious and social groups are morally tantamount to racists, those traditionalist groups have a great deal to lose (whether rightly or wrongly) in this particular culture war.