In a Fox News opinion piece, Penny Young Nance, the head of the ultra-conservative Concerned Women for America, responded to my essay calling on President Obama to make an even more strong statement in support of marriage equality. I want to take a few moments to respond to Ms. Nance’s critiques.
1. Comparing opposition to inter-racial marriage to opposition to gay marriage NOT same as comparing race & sexuality
Ms. Nance writes, “Sexual behavior and race are not the same thing.” I agree. I never said that they were. However, I do believe that hateful vitriol and opposition to equal rights often springs from the same well. And that was my point in making the comparison. Whether it was to preserve slavery or deny women the right to vote, opponents of equality and justice have always manipulated religion and science to try and rationalize their irrational discrimination. This time around, while the issues are very different, the objections are eerily similar.
2. Hate breeds hate.
I applaud Ms. Nance for writing, “As a mother of two, and a strong supporter of traditional marriage, I would be the first to stand up against any kid being bullied. For any reason. Period… The problem of bullying in schools is real and we must swiftly deal with it, regardless of how marriage is defined.” She’s 100% right. But saying that denying marriage equality to same-sex couples, sending a resounding message to gay and straight kids alike that the former are morally and legally inferior to the latter, is not “exploiting” the subject but rather stating facts. Bullying is bullying, whether it takes the form of constitutional amendments or name calling or scissors. Let’s not pretend that our political discourse and laws don’t create the climate for bullying and suicide.
3. Who cares if most Americans support marriage equality?
Ms. Nance argues that polls showing majority support for marriage equality are clearly baseless because, in ballot measure after ballot measure, voters have struck down marriage equality. First of all, we know that anti-marriage equality measures tend to draw more opponents to the polls than supporters, so they’re not exactly reliable bellwethers of public opinion. But Penny misses my larger point: Who cares? Fundamental rights should not be subject to public opinion and popular will. See, e.g., the United States Constitution which safeguards against such tyranny of the majority.
4. Condemning bigotry is not the same as calling people bigots.
Bigotry: “stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own”. Seems to me that imposing one’s own personal beliefs about marriage to cut off the legal rights of other families is precisely the definition of bigotry. But that said, I don’t condemn anyone who struggles with the question of gay marriage. That is a personal decision between you and your own conscience. I hold the word “bigot” in a special place for those who send me hatemail about how I’m going to burn in hell and destroy civilization because I’m shacked up with a woman… but for those people who are loving and decent but genuinely uncomfortable with gay marriage, for whatever reason, I have nothing but compassion. That said, let’s make a deal: I won’t deny you any rights or liberties in spite of your opposition to marriage equality if you don’t deny me any rights and liberties for being gay. Deal?
My question back to Ms. Nance is simple: I understand that you are personally opposed to same-sex marriage and I respect that. How do you justify denying legal recognition and basic benefits to millions of loving couples in our country on the basis of your personal beliefs?
Politico has a story about Right wing activists complaining that Fox News is moving to the left. Apparently, my hire is evidence:
The grumblers were picking up on a strategy that has been under way for some time — a “course correction,” as Fox chief Roger Ailes put it last fall — with the network distancing itself from the tea party cheerleading that characterized the first two years of President Barack Obama’s presidency. Lately, Fox has increasingly promoted its straight-news talent in the press and conducted some of the toughest interviews and debates of the Republican primary season. Just last week, it hired the openly gay liberal activist Sally Kohn as a contributor.
You can read the full piece here.
Apparently, folks are passing out fliers at the annual Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference in which Glenn Beck is pictured, followed by me. According to reports, not only am I funded by George Soros (again… show me the money!!??!) but I am “the new face of Fox News”. How d’ya like them rotten apples?
Read the Mother Jones article about the conspiracy theory here.
The incredible Nicole Rodgers, founder and head of the visionary Role/Reboot site examining gender roles and norms in our society, interviewed me about my new role as a Fox News Contributor. You can read the entire interview here.
This is my favorite excerpt:
Nicole Rodgers: Some on the right are organizing campaigns to smear you, and attack Fox News for hiring you. Does that kind of thing bother you, or is having a thick skin part and parcel of being the lone liberal on a conservative news network? Do you ever feel threatened in any way?
Sally Kohn: Usually it cracks me up. Who knew I was so powerful? Most of it I find fascinating more than anything—the smear pieces about me that point out I was once at a meeting with so-and-so and allege that I must agree with everything that person has ever done. It’s bizarre.
Then some of the hate mail is more disconcerting. The sheer amount of it that isn’t just critiquing my ideas but me as a person—laden with sexism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism—is shocking. Anyone who thinks discrimination is dead in America should read my inbox! But I assume that for every one hateful person out there, there are at least a hundred more reasonable people who appreciate my points.
Read the entire interview, including a fun piece about what my daughter thinks about me being on TV, at the Role/Reboot site here.
The incredible and admirable Karoli wrote a piece about my first official appearance as a Fox News contributor yesterday for the homepage of the blog Crooks & Liars. Here’s an excerpt:
I want to note that I found it interesting that Fox News has brought on someone who isn’t a liberal in name only as a contributor. Kohn’s background is not the usual Fox News centrist Conservadem fare: she’s got ties to the OWS movement, she has strong organizing credentials, and she’s decidedly liberal. Does this mean Fox News is responding to their tanking ratings, or trying to bring someone on they think the conservatives can score points on? If the latter, they may be surprised. Kohn definitely held her own in the segment and gently, but firmly, made her points.
It was refreshing to have someone representing the liberal side of things who was well-spoken, assertive, and made her points clearly. I’ll be interested to see if Fox News brings her on more often for some extra fairness and balance. Go Sally, go!
Karoli also offers some color commentary on this clip from yesterday, when my contributor-ship was announced:
You can read the full piece here.
My latest piece for the FoxNews.com opinion page, honoring great public school teachers everywhere — who are the solution to our education woes, not the problem!
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