But strongly opposing gay marriage doesn’t mean I don’t understand why many people just as strongly favor it. I can sympathize with committed gay and lesbian couples who feel demeaned by the law’s rejection of same-sex marriage or who crave the proof of societal acceptance, the cloak of normalcy, that a marriage license would provide. I don’t regard the redefinition of marriage as a civil rights issue; nor do I buy the argument that laws barring same-sex marriage are comparable to the laws that once barred interracial marriage. But I recognize that many people – sincere and decent people – do. By my lights they are mistaken, not evil.

Why do so many same-sex marriage advocates find it so hard to see marriage traditionalists in the same light?

In a recent paper for the Heritage Foundation, Thomas Messner surveys the “naked animus’’ that was directed against supporters of Proposition 8, the California marriage amendment that voters approved last year. His meticulously footnoted study makes chilling reading, with example after example of the blacklisting, vandalism, intimidation, loss of employment, anti-religious hostility, and even death threats to which backers of Prop. 8 were subjected.