Five and a half years ago, over seven million people in the state of California voted for Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that (temporarily) eliminated the right of same-sex couples in the state to marry. An influential faction of the pro-gay marriage movement now apparently believes that those seven million should be barred from positions of power and influence in the United States.
That may be an exaggeration. Brendan Eich — who resigned as chief executive of Mozilla, a company he helped found, after OKCupid launched a boycott against the company for placing him in a senior position — did more than vote for Prop 8. He donated $1,000 to the cause. So maybe that's where the activists draw the line.
Or maybe not, at least in the "progressive" city of Portland, Oregon, where a woman named Chauncy Childs who personally opposes gay marriage and is attempting to open a premium food store has reportedly found herself the target of her own boycott. As has another business owner who supports gay marriage but dared to criticize the Childs boycott.
Who could possibly have predicted that the drive for equal marriage rights for homosexuals would take a turn into bigotry and intolerance? Oh, that's right: I did.
In response, numerous critics denied it would ever happen — and then implied that if it did, the homophobic bastards would deserve it anyway.
Let me be perfectly clear about where I stand. I support gay marriage and am cheered to see it becoming so widely accepted around the country so quickly. I also think that as a matter of law, many (though not all) institutions and private businesses, including those run by defenders of traditional marriage, will have to conform with the new pro-gay marriage consensus.
But what's going on in the Eich and Portland cases isn't about law. It's about social mores and the insistence on the part of a loud, influential faction of so-called liberals that every single American not only tolerate gay marriages, but also recognize and positively affirm the legitimacy and goodness of gay marriages. The punishment for refusing to give in to this non-negotiable demand won't be jail time or other legal punishment — so again, the issue isn't the law. Rather, the punishment will be a social media–fueled witch hunt, ritual humiliation, excommunication from civilized life, and exclusion from prominent positions of power in leading industries.
The most common — and laziest — response by those leading the charge (or cheering it on from the sidelines) is to say: But these opponents of gay marriage are just like opponents of interracial marriage! No one throws a pity party for these and other racists when they're marginalized, so why should it be different with those who reject gay marriage for religious or other conservative reasons?
For the umpteenth time: Our response should be different because the issues are different. Yes, it's possible to find justification for racism in the Bible — as it's possible to find justification for nearly anything in its many hundreds of pages. But racism — along with opposition to interracial marriage — received its primary historical validation from ideas, prejudices, and economic circumstances that have nothing directly to do with the message of Judeo-Christian scripture.
The same cannot be said about Judeo-Christianity's normative teaching on sexuality, which is rooted in both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. It is deeply intertwined with the authoritative dogmas and doctrines of churches followed by hundreds of millions of people throughout the world, and has also been repeatedly reaffirmed and elaborated on at great length and with considerable theological sophistication throughout a nearly 2,000-year tradition of thinking that runs right down to the present.
I'm willing to wager a good amount of money that the vast majority those who are applauding Eich's firing and the Portlandia boycott frenzy think that Judeo-Christianity's normative teaching on sexuality is utter nonsense. That's perfectly fine. I don't buy much of it either.
But what is not perfectly fine — what is, in fact, stridently illiberal — is the belief that every person found on the other side of the divide deserves to be ostracized from mainstream American life as punishment for deviance from The Correct Position.
That's not liberalism. That's not tolerance. That's certainly not the much-vaunted progressive value of "diversity."
It's "the hounding of a heretic," as Andrew Sullivan aptly describes it.
In a powerful follow up post, Sullivan rightly asserts that "if we cannot live and work alongside people with whom we deeply disagree, we are finished as a liberal society." Exactly.
One of these days, our proselytizers for sexual liberalism are going to look in the mirror and realize that they've become precisely what they so loathe and fear in others: narrow-minded commissars patrolling the boundaries of acceptable thought and using intimidation to enforce comprehensive social and cultural conformity.
The reckoning won't come a day too soon for me.
(Editor's note: This article originally misstated the reason for Brendon Eich's departure from Mozilla. It has since been corrected.)