I haven't wearied of the rhetorical battle that has engaged me over the past several days. I feel that I have come close to expressing the full sentiment and logic of my position, but I find that each exchange brings out more nuance and that in each challenge to my position or assumptions about my position yields even further insight. And so I offer, in the spirit of understanding, a excerpt from a brief private correspondence begun earlier this year.
In the context of America, I have come to the conclusion that there is some good and equilibrium to be found in keeping such struggles at a low roar - to keep them from becoming lethal. To the extent that we must suffer a lack of perfect understanding and domestic tranquility, it seems we are bound to thicken our skins and take hits for our tribes. It can be a rough trade even in a robust society such as ours. But we also have the fortunate option of relative solitude. We can carve some space in this great and free country where we might have peace from the great social machinations of the day and satisfy ourselves with our own ability to find comfort and strength in our families, neighbors and communities of faith.
Yet some communities of faith gain strength from pure hatred and bigotry. The franchise of those who are incapable of empathy of any sort cannot be revoked. It seems to me that we ought to find a way to reverse their strengths in the larger society by setting a better example and as you say, constantly pressing our cases against intolerance and injustice. The line between intolerance and injustice is one I am trying to brighten because the law is the most powerful and compelling tool we possess. The better part of my dog in the fight over gay marriage is precisely over where that line ought to be drawn. You see I think we should fight immorality such as bigotry and intolerance in our private lives with all the social power and conviction we possess. I think we should fight injustice with the full strengths of legal and government powers at the disposal of the state. These fights exist along a continuum of severity - not all immorality leads to injustice but all injustice is certainly immoral. As I see the law, it does not respect the differences we do in our communities of faith. And so we must be extremely careful not to give it license to suppress them based upon various definitions of immorality, especially those that don't constitute injustice.
As you may have concluded, I do not consider the discriminations of marriage of the traditional sort to comprise immorality or injustice. But it certainly is more than an inconvenience for many homosexuals to stand unrecognized in their exclusive and devoted loving relationships, and so I support civil unions to grant and defend all rights, privileges and immunities of marriage on an equivalent basis for same-sex couples. I am convinced that there is a component of the advocates in support of gay marriage that are less interested in those actual injustices inflicted upon same-sex couples to to be legally proscribed than they are in attempting to use the law to destroy intolerance. This not only goes against my political principles, but I think any reasonable person can see that it is impractical if not impossible. Beaten over the head with the law, certain extremist opponents will only retire to their own families, neighbors and communities of faith where their intolerance and even their immoral hatreds will find comfort and strength. How many of these people and institutions should be destroyed for the sake of that particular activist dream of destroying intolerance?
At any rate I have rambled on without a satisfactory close. I suppose this indicates that I don't find the matter resolved to either of our satisfactions. And yet I trust that we, as defenders of morality, justice and domestic tranquility will maintain what we must to see our ways through this. I sincerely hope that we find a way of securing blessings and standing for our same-sex fellows without doing injury to all communities of faith through the sorts of laws that seek to impose a specific consciousness upon the public. It remains our duty as members of society to see that all due respect is afforded such upstanding couples who would declare their undying love and commitment, one to the other, before God and man. Perhaps conversations such as ours may be a small beginning.
I hope I don't offend my correspondent by publishing this piece of our private conversation here, but I think it illustrative of the sort of thinking that can go on when the right tone of mutual respect is struck, something I often struggle with as a blogger and on-air personality. There is so much we in the demanding public want delivered to us conveniently. I am coming to recognize how little our abbreviated exchanges communicate.