Oppressed oppressors, part 2


Maggie Gallagher appearing on one of the news shows

Lots of places have been running similar headlines this week, about how Maggie Gallagher, who for many years was the president of the anti-gay National Organization of Marriage, has announced their surrender.

Except that isn’t what she had done, at all.

For a little background, for many years she pulled in a six-figure salary from this group while she went around the country, explaining how letting gay people have either civil unions or get married would destroy families, would harm children, would cause irrepairable harm to non-gay people’s marriages, and so forth. She raised and spent (every year) tens of millions of dollars putting advertisements onto local radio and television filled with lies and distortions about how immoral, unhealthy, et cetera, et cetera gay people were. She sent people into churches to rally the faithful. She repeated the lies on local and national “news” shows, and so forth.

Then, when it became clear that the battle had been lost on civil unions, she and her organization started insisting that they only meant to protect traditional marriage, and they claimed to stop opposing civil unions (though they did keep more quietly funneling money into campaigns opposing those), and asserted they were only against marriage.

She kept repeating the same lies, demonizing gay and lesbian people, quoting all those debunked studies and so forth. They fought tooth an nail, mounting speaking tours, spending large amounts of money on ads to defeat judges and legislators who helped civil unions and marriage equality move forward.

Then, she resigned as president of the organization, letting her longtime friend and ally Brian Brown take over. She still pulls in a healthy, six-figure salary as chairperson of their board of directors. And they still spread the same lies. But now, they spend as much of their time and money trying to block gay adoptions, trying to block transgender rights laws, trying to repeal school policies against bullying gay and trans children, and so forth.

And recently, Maggie has started going on conservative radio shows and the like saying things that, when quoted out of context, sound like she’s surrendering. “Gay marriage is inevitable, now,” and “we’ve lost that fight.” And everyone who has been blogging about and covering the struggle for marriage equality, are repeating those quotes, slapping a “she’s surrendered!” headline on them, and sometimes wondering why she’s going around admitting that they’ve lost.

Here’s what they all misunderstand: admitting that they have lost the marriage argument is not the same thing as surrendering. And if you listen to the rest of what she says in these interviews or go read all of her blog, instead of stopping as everyone seems to assume as a consequence of the admission of loss, you find a different story:

“The rapid collapse of opposition to gay marriage we are witnessing did not just happen, and it was not inevitable. But it is.

“The question now on the table is: will orthodox Christianity (and other traditional faiths), be stigmatized and marginalized as the equivalent of racism in the American public square? Will Biblical morality be wiped out as an acceptable public position in America?

“Or will we regroup, rebuild as a subculture, and survive to become the possibility of a new foundation in the future?”

—Maggie Gallagher

She goes on to lament that “version of America we were born into is no more,” and she talks a lot about how faithful Christians and Jews and Muslims are being intimidated into silence. There are two flaws with this claim. She believes that anyone who doesn’t feel the same as she does about gay rights are not faithful or true Christians, et cetera. And she also believes that not everyone who claims to support our legal rights really do support us.

She then segues to something that may seem a little bizarre and disconnected:

“7 percent of the American people believe contraception—while legally acceptable—is not morally acceptable.”—Maggie Gallagher

This betrays another secret of the anti-gay movement that lots of people don’t understand: they aren’t just anti-gay, they think that birth control (all forms) is immoral. Rick Santorum originally got is name turned into a gross sexual slang term not because he opposed gay marriage, but because he was campaigning for re-election to the Senate on a platform of restricting access to birth control for everyone (including married people), and wanting to impose laws against kinky sex on everyone (including married people), in addition to outlawing all abortions, re-criminalizing gay sex, banning gay marriage, and repealing sex discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination laws.

(Psssst! All of those things were part of his platform for the 2012 presidential nomination, too!)

Maggie quotes that 7 percent statistic for another reason, she goes on to describe how the battle for marriage equality that has been won in the hearts and minds of Americans was pushed by a mere 2 percent of the population. Because she things that only 2 percent of the population is gay and lesbian. From my study of the methodologies of all the studies that have tried to pin that number down, I think it’s closer to 6 percent. But the more important thing Maggie doesn’t understand is the studies conducted by the CDC in the 80s and 90s that concluded that merely 45% of adults have sex with some regularity with members of both genders (the other thing that study found was that Americans, at least, would rather admit to being heroin addicts than label themselves bisexual).

So, while she soothes herself thinking that only 2 percent of the population is non-heterosexual, and therefore if 2 percent of the population can bamboozle a big majority of Americans to decide that gay people are human and deserve the same rights as other humans, her 7 percent will be able to reverse all of that. She also soothes herself by believing (and until just the last week ago, continuing to insist) that the vast majority of Americans agree with her, they just aren’t speaking up.

She’s also using all these things to prepare to keep up the fight. To look for new ways to take away our rights:

the first struggle we now face is internal and spiritual: Will we accept the newly dominant culture’s view of our views—of ourselves—as hateful and bigoted and stand down?”—Maggie Gallagher

She is not surrendering, by any means. She’s saying that they have lost this battle, but the war goes on. Which is best caught by this line from the middle of her most recent blog post:

“There is no line we can draw that pushes gay people “outside” and leaves us free “inside” to be angry, foot-stomping, and morally “pure.”—Maggie Gallagher

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About fontfolly

I've loved reading for as long as I can remember. I write fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and nonfiction. For more than 20 years I edited and published an anthropomorphic sci-fi/space opera literary fanzine. I attend and work on the staff for several anthropormorphics, anime, and science fiction conventions. I live near Seattle with my wonderful husband, still completely amazed that he puts up with me at all.

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