Responding to the ‘gathering storm’

RESPONDING TO THE ‘GATHERING STORM’…. I’ve long hoped for a coherent explanation from conservatives about why anyone should care whether two consenting adults, who happen to be gay, get married. The National Organization for Marriage believes it has an answer to that question, and have a slick new ad out this week as part of a new national campaign.

One of the actors featured in the ad says gays intend to bring the issue into his life. How? He doesn’t say. Another actor insists, “My freedom will be taken away.” Which freedom? She doesn’t say. Another argues that advocates of marriage equality “want to change the way I live.” How? She doesn’t say. One actor goes so far as to say, “I will have no choice,” as if gay marriage will be some sort of mandate, whether you’re gay or not.

But the ad isn’t just silly and hollow platitudes; the National Organization for Marriage tries to bolster its point with some specifics. The ad shows one actor saying, “I’m a California doctor who must choose between my faith and my job.” Yet another actor says, “I’m part of a New Jersey church group punished by the government because we can’t support same-sex marriage.” A third actor explains, “I’m a Massachusetts parent hopelessly watching public schools teach my son that gay marriage is okay.”

If this is the best the right can do, it’s no wonder they’re losing this debate. A doctor has to choose between faith and work if he or she has a gay patient? What kind of medicine does she practice, exactly? What kind of professional ethics standards would empower a licensed physician to deny treatment to gay people in need of medical care anyway?

A public school in Massachusetts teaches children that marriage between loving couples is acceptable? Well, sure, that sounds pretty normal. As Matt explained, “We not only don’t have Jim Crow anymore, but we teach people that racism is wrong. This is, it’s true, a big imposition on racists. And people who don’t like gay people can be legitimately concerned that the spread of gay equality will create an environment in which their children are less likely to share their own prejudices.”

And what about the New Jersey church group? It turns out, the group rents out a pavilion to the public, but refused to let civil union ceremonies be held at the facility. Officials didn’t try to change the church group’s beliefs, but they concluded the group couldn’t discriminate — either the pavilion would be available to the public or it wouldn’t.

OK, so the National Organization for Marriage doesn’t have any good examples explaining why consenting adults shouldn’t be allowed to get married. And they can’t explain why marriage between same-sex couples would necessarily be a burden and imposition on man-woman couples, better yet why conservatives’ “freedom” would be “taken away.”

The NOM has, however, learned how to use a green screen effectively, so the ad isn’t a total waste of time.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.