Although I do not choose the word "homosexual" as a label for myself, others do, and many of them hate me for it. More common than overt hate, though, is subtle hate. Discomfort. The "Not-that-there's-anything-wrong-with-that-but-just-don't-try-to-cram-your-gay-philosophy-down-my-throat" set; the set that pretends to themselves that passive hatred of "homosexuals" is better than active bashing.
This election is a huge disappointment to me.
The gay-marriage thing was never important to me per se. I am a thinker; I see the gay-marriage amendment as thoroughly over-politicized on both sides. Bush's Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage was never even close to becoming a reality, and this was known by all (educated) parties from day one. Bush put it forth for political and symbolic reasons, and it became a "wedge issue," forcing politicians to take a stand on a subject whose eventual implications were, and for the foreseeable future, always will be, only political, not legal. It affects very few people, it's an emotional issue, it exposes deep philosophical differences-in-approach of the American population, and yet it isn't nearly as important as many other things on the national agenda. It's a lot like flag burning in that regard. It is a red herring; a tool to get people angry, excited, and politically vocal. It probably encouraged a lot of Presidential votes on both sides; (which is ironic, since both Bush and Kerry had the exact same position on the matter of gay marriage, even though only Bush "supported" a Constitutional Amendment to prevent it. . .) And nonetheless, a President's position on gay marriage doesn't have any important effect on the legal bottom line; at least not right now. Of course, gay-marriage referenda are a different story, though. Those do have the potential to affect daily life for same-sex couples.
All of the above is to preface what I ultimately have to say about the matter. I just want to make it clear that I am not blindly and reactively angry, and I don't see the political field as one in which 'only homophobes vote for Bush, and if you don't hate 'homosexuals', then you must vote for Kerry, period.' It isn't like that. It's worse.
It's worse because the simple-mindedness by which many Americans approach the issue of gay marriage is the same simple-mindedness by which they approach the War in Iraq, abortion, gun control, International relations, France, taxes, education, social security, medicare, and anything else I can think of. I have yet to be pleasantly surprised by the amount of thought the 'average American' puts in to any issue. Of course, I must rush to add that I don't necessarily know any 'average Americans,' and I am not in any position to evalute this matter objectively. I have only anecdotes, and the plural of anecdote is not data. But shit, man. My fears are not data-driven. All I HAVE to go on when it comes to my future in this country is the information I've derived from my experience. So in my estimation, the average American voter is not an independently-thoughtful, principled, compassionate person with deep personal convictions and love in his or her heart.
The average American voter, as far as I can tell, believes that disagreeing with official government policies is unpatriotic and even deserves punishment. The average American voter, as far as I can tell, is driven not by love for all people, (or even all Americans), but rather by hate for those who disagree with him. The average American voter has made up his mind on every important issue long before any discussion ever started. The average American voter thinks God likes them more than He likes me, even if they SAY that "God loves all people equally." Sure, He may LOVE us all equally, but I mean, hey, He'd rather go get a beer (but not get drunk, of course) with the Methodists. God, says the average American voter of my understanding, would prefer to love 'homosexuals' from a distance.
Insofar as Bush's proposed anti-gay-marriage Amendment motivated Americans to vote for Bush, this year's election serves as a startling symbolic, public, humiliating reprimand of we Americans who have chosen to partner with persons of our own biological sex.
The average American, it would seem, is afraid of what same-sex couples will do to American values.
To be sure, that fear is mutual.