I'd also leave them with a tough question.
To justify stigmatizing folks he disagrees with on gay marriage in a way he'd never stigmatize antagonists on "tax hikes or even the war in Afghanistan," Oremus claims he's identified a special case. He thinks gay-marriage opponents are different, because they believe "that some people do not deserve the same basic rights as others."
That's ostensibly his red line. And many on his side of the argument make similar claims. Yet I find their outrage curiously, unwittingly selective.
Proponents of drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen believe "that some people do not deserve the same basic rights as others." Advocates of deporting illegal immigrants believe "that some people do not deserve the same basic rights as others." Advocates of spying on Muslim Americans believe "that some people do not deserve the same rights as others." Indefinite-detention apologists believe "that some people do not deserve the same rights as others." On a weekly basis, I write about all sorts of civil-libertarian causes, foreign and domestic. Let me assure everyone that there is no end to policies implicitly or explicitly premised on the notion "that some people do not deserve the same rights as others." If that's the standard, why are gay-marriage opponents the only ones being stigmatized? How many members of the Mozilla community could I get on record calling Barack Obama or Michael Bloomberg a hateful bigot for doing orders of magnitude more to perpetrate rights violations than a CEO making a donation?
There is something amiss here, and while I don't think it's as simple and uncomplicated as the right-wing charge of willful leftist hypocrisy, I do think it's problematic. Stigma doesn't flow to rights violations according to its usefulness or their severity.
What I think, in fact, is that stigma is an overrated tool for effecting change, because once you've gotten to a threshold within a community where lots of powerful people will stigmatize a behavior, the point had already been reached where it would be defeated without stigma. Disagreements over Mozilla aside, it's wonderful that Silicon Valley is a place where large majorities demand the equal treatment of gay employees. The rightness of their doing so isn't diminished by the fact that it's relatively easy now to stand up for gay rights in the Bay Area, compared to attempts to stigmatize something that would implicate many colleagues.
Those who rely on stigma are tied to a tactic that is employed most when needed least, often against groups already marginalized within a community; no wonder stigma it is correlated more strongly with signaling self-righteousness than effecting change. That isn't to say stigma is never appropriate—just that engagement and persuasion is almost always the better option, as it is on gay marriage. It has succeeded, it will continue to succeed, it is consistent with liberal values, and it reinforces a norm that helps us cooperate in many areas of life even when we disagree about politics. Put all those together and this isn't even a close case.
* One thing I've noticed in this debate is how unfamiliar proponents of stigma are with thoughtful orthodox Christians—that is to say, they haven't interacted with them personally, critiqued the best version of their arguments, or even been exposed to the most sophisticated version of their reasoning, which I find to be obviously earnest, if ultimately unpersuasive. It's just the sort of thing Ira Glass critiques here.