The Return Of Mr. Nice Gay

Jonathan Rauch argues that the gay rights movement has gone mainstream and therefore needs to abandon some of its minority movement tactics:

In a messy world where rights often collide, we can’t avoid arguing about where legitimate dissent ends and intolerable discrimination begins. What we can do is avoid a trap the other side has set for us. Incidents of rage against “haters,” verbal abuse of opponents, boycotts of small-business owners, absolutist enforcement of antidiscrimination laws: Those and other “zero-tolerance” tactics play into the “homosexual bullies” narrative, which is why our adversaries publicize them so energetically.

The other side, in short, is counting on us to hand them the victimhood weapon. Our task is to deny it to them.

There is a dynamic here. The more we advance the arguments for equality, the more intolerable inequality becomes, and the more unfathomable opposition seems. And so, even as solid, substantive change is obviously occurring (national opinion polls now reveal over 50 percent support for marriage equality and far higher levels for non-discrimination more generally), we feel as if we are losing terribly, and so adopt a posture and rhetoric more extreme than necessary and potentially counter-productive. At this stage in a civil rights movement, we have to keep the conviction behind change, while allowing the losers some time to save face and come around.

One simple word of advice: when you are tempted to use the word "hate", substitute "fear" or "bias". It's usually more true and dials down the temperature a notch - where the rational advantage held by the case for gay equality still holds.