Had I known gay marriage advocates would react with vitriol and venom to the passage of California’s Proposition 8 (amending the state constitution to limit the definition of marriage to its traditional meaning: one man and one woman), I might have left my ballot blank on that issue and not voted “no,” as I had. No sooner did it become clear that a majority of voters in the Golden State approved the initiative than angry activists, mostly in Los Angeles, took to the streets to protest the popular result.
More than just blowing off steam from their understandable frustration at the loss, the protesters vilified those on the winning side of the issue. They demonized Mormons, marching from West Hollywood to their temple in Westwood, carrying placards slandering the church and hurling slogans demeaning its members, labeling them “scum” and calling them “vile.” All because Mormons were among the most generous supporters of the campaign to pass Prop 8.
Bill Rosendahl, an openly gay L.A. city councilman, called the faith a “perversion of Christianity.” The name-calling didn’t stop there. The disappointed opponents of Proposition 8 referred to the successful initiatives as “Prop H8″ or “Prop Hate.”
As they called their adversaries haters, they acted out their own hate on proponents of the measure. Other activists defaced a church in Chino Hills, California. When an elderly woman in Palm Springs tried to demonstrate her satisfaction with the election result, opponents harassed her, pulling the cross she was carrying out of her hands, throwing it to the ground, and stomping on it.
Even the New York Times took notice: “Some donors to groups supporting the measure have received death threats and envelopes containing a powdery white substance, and their businesses have been boycotted.”
Camille Paglia, a pro-gay, left-of-center scholar and cultural commentator, faulted those activists for launching a “program of open confrontation with and intimidation of religious believers, mainly Mormons,” comparing their behavior to an “adolescent tantrum.”
I did not want to be associated with such hatred, hence my consideration that maybe I shouldn’t have voted the same way on the initiative as I had. But then I realized that most of those who joined me in opposition to Proposition 8 did not support such public vilification of supporters. They did not leap to label them as “vile” individuals practicing a “perverted” faith.
The animus of various gay marriage advocates extended beyond the immediate aftermath of the election. Accepting an Oscar for his performance as pioneering gay politician Harvey Milk, Sean Penn said those who voted for Proposition 8 should be ashamed of their actions.
Thus, it was nothing new when celebrity blogger Perez Hilton slurred Carrie Prejean, Miss California, calling her a “bitch” for stating her belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. Hilton was just continuing a practice begun at least six months previously; he was just another prominent gay marriage advocate publicly slandering supporters of traditional marriage.
At the Miss USA pageant where he was a judge, Hilton asked Miss Prejean if she thought states should follow Vermont’s lead in recognizing same-sex marriage. Her civil response was not to his liking:
Well I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think it should be between a man and a woman. Thank you very much.
Miss Prejean lost the title to Kristen Dalton, Miss North Carolina. Hilton said, “She lost it because of that question. … She was definitely the front-runner before that.” On his ballot, he gave her a zero for that answer.