And that brings me to the sloppy way the most strident gay-marriage proponents have been throwing around the term “bigotry.” A bigot is someone close-minded in some respects — someone who evaluates or judges certain groups of people on the basis of prejudice, or pre-judgment, about them, who does not greet all people and ways of life with complete and unbiased openness. Someone, in other words, who does not grant automatic recognition and unconditional affirmation to everyone.
I submit that, measured by this standard, virtually everyone involved in the gay marriage battle is a bigot. Someone who considers homosexuality an abomination that should be a criminal offense is certainly expressing bigotry. But so is a traditionalist religious believer who professes to hold no animus toward homosexuals and yet opposes gay marriage because she conceives of marriage (in Friedersdorf’s words) as “a religious sacrament with a procreative purpose.”
And so, also, is a gay-marriage supporter who can see no relevant moral distinction between these two positions — and is willing and eager to hurl insults as a means of bullying them both into submission.
Bigotry is endemic to social life, and it will be until there cease to be serious differences among conflicting goods and ways of living.