Jonathan Rauch explains why gays and lesbians need to be more, well, nice:
[W]e—gay Americans and our straight allies—have won the central argument for gay rights. As a result, we must change. Much of what the gay rights movement has taken for granted until now, and much that has worked for us in the past, is now wrong and will hurt us. The turn we now need to execute will be the hardest maneuver the movement has ever had to make, because it will require us to deliberately leave room for homophobia in American society. We need to allow some discrimination and relinquish the “zero tolerance” mind-set. Paradoxical but true: We need to give our opponents the time and space they need to let us win.
In other words, while it was wise for gays to argue strenuously and never give their opponents the benefit of the doubt, gays can now be kind and gracious to their opponents—and they should be. If gays can keep the high ground, they will be able to win the argument with their opponents while maintaining influence as a cohesive group.
If, on the other hand, gays and their allies shout down their opponents, they may end up winning the argument—gay marriage is coming, like it or not—even as they dissolve into meaninglessness.
Two questions, though, for Mr. Rauch:
- In the end, does it matter whether gays are “nice” to their opponents? After all, as he pointed out, gays are likely to win the argument based on numbers alone. (The young favor gay rights more than the elderly. The elderly die and the young rise with their views ascendant. Ergo, the gays win.)
- And if the central argument of gay rights is to be treated the same—to be allowed to be normal, to be treated as normal middle-class citizens—won’t the movement have a hard time maintaining cohesion anyway?
H/t Eugene Volokh.