Saturday, May 19, 2012

When Political Issues Become Personal Attacks

Last night, the television show “What Would You Do?” featured a scenario involving a gay man proposing to his partner.  An actor present at the restaurant was making negative comments to the proposing man and the couple about the marriage not being “real”, etc. (I’m sure you can imagine the kind of comments).  The purpose of the segment was to see how other patrons would react to the scenario, would they stand up for the gay couple or join in the harassment. 

One of the people at the restaurant agreed with the actor that he opposed gay marriage (in an appropriate way, he was not outwardly rude about it, he did not say anything specifically to the couple) and he was lambasted by the TV show as being homophobic (those exact words weren’t said, but it was strongly implied).  According to the show, it is inappropriate and politically incorrect to express opposition to same-sex marriage.  I was very disappointed with this interpretation.  (You can see the entire segment here, click on “Gay Marriage Proposal Stirs Emotions” and judge for yourself).  It was brought to my attention by Elia of Conservamom that perhaps even more disconcerting than the disdain for his opinion is that this man is identified in the segment not only by name, but also by the name of his boat and where it is docked, which seems to be singling him out for retaliation for his views.

Of course I don’t advocate harassing a same-sex couple for any reason; however, people who disagree with the legalization of same-sex attraction should be able to express their opinions without being automatically written off as a small, backward group of bigots.  Opposing same-sex marriage is not synonymous with homophobia.  Same-sex marriage is a political issue.  Opposing that issue does not mean that one harbors ill will toward people with same-sex attraction.  (Just as all religious Americans shouldn’t be portrayed as ignorant and dim-witted simply for having faith.) It’s time that the media portrays those on both sides of the issue fairly and with respect.  After all, opponents of same-sex marriage make up approximately half of the population of the United States*. 

It’s not politically correct to make assumptions about others, to judge them based on how they feel about one issue.  Unless, of course, you are the media and the position on the issue is traditional and conservative.  If that’s the case, judge away. 

Or, I propose a different approach.  I’ll listen to you.  You’ll listen to me.  I’ll respect you.  You’ll respect me.  We’ll put forth our differing political positions and we’ll let our political system work how it’s supposed to, with all sides presented equally and fairly.  And in the meantime, I’ll continue to treat the members of our community with same-sex attraction with the love and respect they deserve because they too are my brothers and sisters in Christ.

*A few recent articles from a variety of sources that support this statistice: Half of Americans Support Legal Gay Marriage from GALLUP Politics (also of interest in this article is the breakdown of support/opposition by faith – Protestants and Catholics – with the statistic that 51% of Catholics support same-sex marriage), Fox News poll: Majority opposes gay marriage, doesn't want constitutional amendment, Obama’s Switch on Same-Sex Marriage Stirs Skepticism from The New York Times.


  1. Great article...was listening to a radio show discussing the issue. Do people who support marriage for any couple feel the same way about brothers and sisters marrying. Equality for everyone isnt always ok anf thats why we have rules.

  2. Mandi, I think you have a good take on this. Thank you for pointing it out. I used to watch this show a lot, but have not in a while.
    It is annoying (to say the least) how shallow and illogical many of the arguments shown on the show are, and that they are trying to portray conservatives as this very rude and obnoxious stereotype. I would have enjoyed being there so that I could A) speak up and say that it is neither the time or place to engage in this debate, but B) when interviewed by the host and if asked say that, while I do not consider it marriage, I do not approve of the guy making a scene about it. For us, the point is not do we approve of gay marriage, it is do we approve of that man's behavior (regardless of our view about marriage). But of course, ABC's point is "if you disagree with gay marriage, you are this man." Appalling, really.

  3. Yes, I really started out loving the show, but recently I feel like many of the situations are very politically motivated and trying to make a point about issues.  And they sneak them in between other segments where there is a clear wrong/right (like a drunk parent trying to make their young child drive them home) so that the overall idea is that there is a clear wrong and right about this issue too - and it's always obvious which side is supposed to be right.


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