Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Discourse, Not Disrespect

After reading some of the comments on my recent Huffington Post article about same-sex marriage, I am both encouraged and concerned.

It’s gratifying to see that people have very strong, passionate opinions about same-sex marriage. Their support is what will usher in marriage equality.

However, with strong feelings on any issue, there is also a chance to push too far too quickly and inadvertently contribute to the opposite of the desired goal or effect.

For example, some readers took issue with my cousin and friend’s father because of their position on marriage. Of course, I took issue with their position too, which is why I wrote the article. And I presented their point of view from my own perspective. But my intention was to lay out a nuanced argument that encourages deeper thought and conversation, not finger pointing and name calling.

People with ideas that are different than ours can be dangerous because their vote might bind us to a terrible policy we don’t deserve. This can make us feel vulnerable and scared, which can lead to a strike-them-before-they-strike-us attitude. But if we point fingers, yell and name call, all we do is alienate those people further from ourselves without opening an honest dialogue to encourage them to think differently. This principle applies to many issues, not just same-sex marriage.

Disagreement and disrespect personified?
We cannot champion our causes without passion and conviction. But increasingly in almost all issues across the political spectrum, passion and conviction have led many people to extreme, unyielding positions. More and more we engage in mudslinging than achieving compromise that ensures effective governance.

To be clear, I do not in any way encourage compromise that would allow for a victory of a homophobic position. I do not believe civil unions are the answer to the same-sex marriage question. I believe that both straight and gay couple should be allowed to marry across the 50 states. With that said, I also do not encourage passionate insults that do little to advocate or educate.

I hope I do not sound disrespectful, for that is not my intention. I am very grateful that people took the time to read, think about and comment on my point of view. My words in this article are meant to elaborate on a larger issue of how Americans discuss their politics today.