Towleroad has learned that a religious group called the Becket Fund may be planning a second-round editorial assault on gays and the fight for marriage equality, condemning what they see as a “campaign of violence” following the passage of Proposition 8. What I’ve heard, from a fairly reliable source, is that they’re calling around trying to get organizations to sign on to a full-page newspaper ad to run in major papers (more specifically, the New York Times), citing disruptions of worship and the singular isolated incident of white powder sent to churches (see last item) (the source of which has never been proven – it could have been the Mormons themselves). In any case, this type of slanderous attack has been known in the past to sway both our allies and folks undecided on the issue, so it’s something to be wary of, and prepared for.
Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg writes a column in the L.A. Times today that bears all the hallmarks of this kind of attack, meant to make the victim look like the aggressor. He writes:
“At a pro-gay-marriage rally in Los Angeles after the vote, chants of ‘Mormon scum!’ were reported. Envelopes containing white powder have been sent to Mormon temples in California and Utah; vandals hit other temples. Lists of businesses to boycott — essentially Mormon blacklists — have sprung up on the Internet. The artistic director of the California Musical Theatre resigned because of pressure after it was revealed he gave $1,000 to a pro-Proposition 8 group.
“It’s amazing. Hollywood liberals, who shout ‘McCarthyism!’ as a first resort, see nothing wrong with this. If Jews were attacked in this way for giving too much money to a political cause, Barbra Streisand would already have a French passport.
“Never mind that Proposition 8 carried nearly every demographic slice of voters. Put aside the fact that the Catholic Church and scores of other Christian churches supported it too. Discount the inconvenient truth that bans on gay marriage have now passed in 30 states. It’s all the Mormons’ fault.
“The argument is that Mormons used illegitimate power, in this case money, beyond their numerical standing in the population to secure victory for the measure. Golly, wealthy gay liberals would never do anything like that! I bet they’re not giving a dime to the legal effort to overturn Proposition 8.
“No, it’s just that Mormons are the most vulnerable of the culturally conservative religious denominations and therefore the easiest targets for an organized campaign against religious freedom of conscience.”
Goldberg calls the gays ‘the aggressors in the cultural war’ while the Mormons funded Proposition 8 to the tune of more than $20 million. Millions of Californians lost their civil rights. Those are the spoils of a cultural war and the religious right fought tooth and nail to rip them from Americans, severing families and hurting children in the process.
Dan Savage, in a column published just before Thanksgiving, wrote, regarding the resignation of L.A. Film fest director Richard Raddon:
“Bill Condon, the gay guy who directed Dreamgirls, attempted to get Raddon’s back: ‘Someone has lost his job and possibly his livelihood because of privately held religious beliefs.’ No. No. No. Raddon lost his job due to criticism of his public political actions, not his private religious beliefs, and his public political actions were a part of the public record. If Raddon wanted to go to church and pray his little heart out against same-sex marriage, or proselytize on street corners against gay marriage, or counsel gay men to leave their husbands and marry nice Mormon girls instead, that could be viewed as an expression of his ‘privately held religious beliefs.’ Instead he helped fund a political campaign to strip a vulnerable minority group of its civil rights.”
And that is the real aggression in the cultural war. If the whispers I am hearing about the mounting campaign to smear gays publicly in major newspapers is true, we should be ready to defend it.