True Colors

Sponsors of anti-gay legislation and proponents of measures to “save marriage” nearly always deny that they are homophobic. They just love their gay friends, and care deeply about the welfare of their gay neighbors. In a phrase I’ve heard so often it makes me want to upchuck, they “hate the sin, but love the sinner.”

Sure they do.

As gay equality becomes ever more inevitable, and these bigots become more hysterical, the mask of goodwill–never very persuasive–slips further. Two recent, glaring examples come from Wisconsin and Michigan.

In Wisconsin, demonstrably crazy Governor Scott Walker has evidently taken a break from demonizing public sector employees and harassing public school teachers, in order to pursue his latest “policy” initiative: reversing laws that grant hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners. Walker claims that allowing such visits violates language in the Wisconsin Constitution.(Interestingly, the language Walker is relying on is exactly the same as the language Republicans are trying to add to the Indiana Constitution–language denying same-sex couples not only the right to marry, but the right to any benefit “substantially similar” to marriage.)

In Michigan, the House of Representatives–with the strong endorsement of Rick Snyder, Michigan’s Governor (and strong contender for America’s Nuttiest Chief Executive)– has approved an amendment to that state’s education budget that would impose a five-percent penalty on colleges and universities that offer domestic partnership benefits to same-sex partners.

The only reason to deny hospital visitation rights is to hurt people at their most vulnerable. Such a measure serves no other purpose. The effort to “punish” universities makes it more difficult for them to offer a high-quality education–not just because of the lost revenue, but because an anti-gay message coupled with an inability to offer partner benefits is a huge roadblock to recruitment of good faculty–gay or straight.

These measures, and others like them, are desperate, last-gasp efforts to deny cultural change. They will undoubtedly be reversed, if they become law at all. But they offer us a very valuable look at the real face of anti-gay activism–a face contorted by hate and fear.

Whatever else they may be, when the mask comes off, these are small, mean-spirited people.