Fred Clark at Slacktivist makes an important point about the way in which arguments about gay and lesbian equality are often framed. It comes in response to Haley Grey Scott at Christianity Today who wants us all to know that, even though she's opposed to fully legal equality for gays and lesbians, she's actually a very nice person:
Scott wants you to understand that she’s not at all like the infamous homophobic preacher Worley. She’s totally different.
Worley wants to deny LGBT people their basic civil rights and legal equality because he hates them. Scott wants to deny LGBT people their basic civil rights and legal equality for other reasons.
See? See how very different they are? Same result. Same vote. Same fundamental discrimination enshrined in law. But Worley is mean. Scott is nice. ...
Scott shares Worley’s hateful goals, but not his hateful sentiments, so how dareanyone compare them? ...
That sort of assumption — lumping her in with people like Charles Worley just because she wants the same legal outcome as they do — is hurtful. It wounds her feelings. Being compared to people like that is not nice.
And people should be nice to her, just as she’s being so nice to all the LGBT citizens whose legal equality she wants to nicely deny.
“I’m not asking for anyone to approve or accept my views,” Scott writes, magnanimously.
And it’s true. She doesn’t want anyone else to approve or accept her religious perspective. All she asks is that they allow her to write it into law.
And this really is the point: This isn't merely a theoretical discussion or a late-night college bull-session. It's about actual people's actual lives, and the laws that society enshrines in order to protect those rights -- or the laws it uses to deny them.
It doesn't really matter whether you discriminate nicely or rudely, whether you express yourself viciously or mildly. The effect of what you're doing remains the same. And as Fred notes, being unfair nicely is no less unfair than being unfair in a mean or cruel way. Being fair, being just is far more important than being nice.