This letter just arrived...
I'm not sure if you've written about something like this before—I guess you probably have, though. Consider Kathleen Parker, the right wing columnist who recently won the Pulitzer prize. She's been an opponent of gay marriage, and in one of her articles, she says:I figure I'm a fairly typical middle-of-the-road heterosexual married woman when I say: I love gays and, well, the whole gay thing. I love all my gay friends and relatives, not to mention my hairdresser; I love what gays do to urban neighborhoods; I love gay humor, gay style and whatshisname in My Best Friend's Wedding.
I was what we used to call a "fag hag" when you could still use the term affectionately without fear of offending—before most of today's gays were out of diapers (changed most likely by a mom or a dad, not by Heather's two mommies or Douggie's two daddies). Thanks to my very best friendship with my gay first cousin, I've had many a gay time as a token belle in the heart of San Francisco's Castro district.
In other words, no one who knows me would call me a homophobe. Nevertheless, I do not worship gayness, and I'm certain that society needn't be restructured in order to accommodate even my loveliest gay friends.
I think this is more repulsive than people like Pat Robertson, who are at least consistent in their bigotry. People like Kathleen want's all the 'benefits' of having gay friends, but still keeps on to her heterosexism. But my question is, why do gay people put up with people like this? Why exactly is her "gay cousin" even talking to her? When those in the LGBT community should send a clear message to same-sex marriage opponents in their lives that they are heterosexists and that we don't like them. Otherwise people like Kathleen think that gay marriage is a trivial issue for gays and lesbians.
Keep up the good work.
We put up with "people like this"—we hang out with them, drag them around the Castro, cut their hair, etc.—because exposure to us, to our families, to our neighborhoods, and to our lives can turn "people like this," well-intentioned people who don't want to think of themselves as haters, into people like this:
Columbus, Ohio: Ms. Parker, congratulations on the Pulitzer. I have to agree with the other posters who say they don't always agree with you, but always enjoy reading your thought-provoking columns. I remember several columns you wrote in the 2003-2004 timeframe where you said you love gays, gay humor, your gay hairdresser, gay cousin, gay neighbors, etc., but felt that allowing gay marriage would result in lawsuits against churches and was against the natural order because male/male and female/female orders don't match nature's intentions.
Do you still feel this way or have your feelings evolved over time? I find it hard to say that the relationships of the gay people in my life are not as worthy of legal recognition.
Kathleen Parker: Well, it sounds pretty goofy the way you've summarized, but I'll try to answer honestly. I have not favored same-sex marriage, but the reasons are complex. I care only about what kind of society we provide children; adults are on their own. But I have softened my views, partly as a result of studying this issue and having many long, open talks with my gay friends and family. For me, it has never been about rights for adults, but about the meaning and purpose of marriage as it benefits society and children. Given that perspective, however, I don't see how we can say that one child's family is more important or better than another's. I think David Brooks may be right that same-sex marriage is a conservative position. I think this is possibly breaking news.
Thanks to the gay friends and family members who were willing to put up with Parker's bullshit disconnect—she loved gay people and gay culture, but didn't think our relationships should be recognized or our families protected—Parker has come around. Parker supports marriage equality now because gay people were willing to put up with her. (That splat you just heard is Maggie Gallagher is shitting her pants.) If any of Kathleen Parker's gay friends or family members should happen to read this: thanks, you guys—thanks for not giving up on Kathleen, thanks for chipping away at her homophobia, thanks for the progress you helped to make.