FRC president Tony Perkins was on CNN last month and found himself between a rock and a hard place when Brooke Baldwin asked the following question, “Everyone has the right to opine, but my question is more on a personal level to you: Have you ever been to the home of a married, same-sex couple?” Perkins responded by saying, “I have not been to the home of a married, same-sex couple, no.” Then Baldwin asked, “If you were ever to do so and you were sitting across from them over dinner, how would you convince them that their life together — either two men, two women — hurts straight couples?”, Perkins danced around the question by saying “That’s not how we make public policy, certainly there are some same-sex couples that are probably great parents, but that’s not what the overwhelming amount of social science shows us. And we’ve got some great single moms that are doing great jobs and we applaud them and encouraged them, but we still know that the best environment for a child is with a mom and a dad.” Finally, when asked why LGBT people bother him so much, he came back with this, “They don’t bother me, I’m not going to be silent while they try to redefine marriage in this country, change policy, what my children are taught in schools and what religious organizations can do. I’m not going to be silent, nor are millions of other Christians across this country.” Gay people don’t bother him? To paraphrase William Shakespeare (from Hamlet, Act III, scene II), “The fellow doth protest too much, methinks.”
For me, the key question/answer sequence occurred when Perkins said he’d never spent any time with gay people. That’s where the picture of Neil Patrick Harris and Stephen Colbert come in. Yes, I know Colbert is first and foremost a comedian; but, along with Jon Stewart, he uses satire and comedy for social commentary. Many times, they are able to take on subjects that straight news wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole and start a dialogue. In this case, Colbert uses his uber-right wing personality to comment on the absurdity that is conservative thought on same-sex issue, pointing the silly, unreasonable fear that’s behind it all. I wonder how Perkins would feel sitting across from Harris. And, what he’d have to say.
Once upon a time, a very smart fellow told me “It’s a lot harder to hate someone once you get to know them”. While that adage may not always hold true (let’s face it, some people are assholes to the core), it works well enough and often enough that it’s always worth a try. So, my idea for a new forward is to start getting gay people together with the straight people who would deny them basic civil rights, who want to put them in concentration camps or have the state execute them. I’m saying it would work with everyone, but if only one person changed their view because of it, would that be worth something?