Hard core gay activists or homosexualists or gay fundamentalists or what you will have threateded to out opponents of SSM. They’ve accused a couple of staffers of keeping their homosexuality in the closet and now they’ve accused Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who has only tepidly supported SSM.
In the debates on this board, some have expressed a concern that the Federal Marriage Amendment will inflame homophobic passion. Although I’ve disagreed with the contention that every expression of unease with homosexuality or even with unexpressed homosexual tendencies is irrational prejudice, we have agreed that most fear and loathing of the homosexually afflicted and even of active, proud gays is unwelcome. Our main disagreement is over the extent to which such a prejudice actually exists. Some of you felt that a broad pool of homophobic prejudice exists in this country, which the efforts to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment will incite. I felt that this broad pool of prejudice is no more real than the broad pool of latent antisemitism that Mel Gibsons’ Passion was supposed to tap into (or else, methinks, the FMA would be getting more traction than is has). None of us really knew. We were all talking through our hats.
I don’t know how much one should trust the judgment of fundamentalist gays in these matters. For activists of all stripes (I speak as one who knows) the two modes of being are always either triumphalism or embattlement. So for what the judgment’s worth, this outing campaign at first glance would suggest a judgment that American voters do indeed dislike the homosexually-inclined and that outing homosexually inclined politicians will lead the voters to punish them at the polls.
On the other hand, for outing to make sense politically as a threat, one must think that voters are tepid enough about homosexuality that they won’t vote against supporters of SSM on the suspicion that they are closet homosexuals who given way to threats. Either the activists haven’t thought their outing campaign through, or, as I fear, they don’t care. They don’t care because they’re not acting for political motives at all.
One of the most pernicious effects of the campaign to make sodomy and same-sex into a civil rights issue is the feeling among many that being gay is one’s identity and one’s essence. If a homosexually-inclined politician to waffle on SSM isn’t just a political problem, its treason to her natural community and to her own self. Outing her is, in many ways, for her own good. Only fools would think they could be a Mormon or a Marylander.
That must be the explanation. Viewed politically, the move is unwise. It opens politicians who vote for SSM to whispering campaigns about their motives–’what are they trying to hide?”. Worse, it’s divisive. The public doesn’t like SSM but they like fuss and confrontation less. The movement to protect traditional marriage through the FMA has only gotten traction because overweening activists have overstretched themselves in the courts. And FMA will only succeed if fundamentalists gays, not fundamentalist Christians, continue to be seen as the source of the problem, the ones who won’t just let the issue drop. This outing campaign helps. Perhaps we should modify Burke’s call to action into a defense of the open society: All that is necessary for good to triumph is that evil, witting or not, be given enough rope.