Like anyone who enjoys good writing from a sensible person, I am looking forward to reading Tod’s dispatch from the “Values Voters Summit.” With the possible exception of the late David Foster Wallace, I can’t think of another person whose perspective I would more want to get on the whole shebang. I’m glad he’s there (and I’m sorry I couldn’t join everyone for drinks.)
For my part, I’ve already said essentially everything I have to say about the gathering. The people who would identify as a “Values Voter” stand on the other side of a vast gulf from me with regard to issues of particular importance to my family, and there’s really nothing served by my belaboring that point.
But since I’m always happy to stumble upon good news, it felt worthwhile to share a few thoughts after reading David Weigel’s report in Slate:
Bryan Fischer is surrounded by shiny, happy people. Rep. Paul Ryan has just finished speaking to the annual Values Voter Summit, the final pre-election conference of social conservatives. He smiled through two ineffective hecklings—Ryan is quite good at turning those into applause breaks—and got the audience cheering for Mitt Romney, for the “moral clarity” of his foreign policy, for the threatened “religious liberty” of churches.
Everybody else swooned, then filed out of the room to grab lunch. Fischer, whose American Family Association co-sponsors this event, wasn’t swooning.
“He didn’t say one single word about marriage,” says Fischer. “This is the safest environment in the United States of America to talk about marriage. I’ve got to believe that that came from on top. Marriage won 61-39 in North Carolina—in 2012! That’s in a state that President Obama won in 2008. Marriage is a winner. It’s just a mystery to me that they won’t touch this thing.”
This makes me smile a big, fat grin. First of all, anything that makes Bryan Fischer unhappy is like a warm, cozy blanket wrapped around me on a chilly day. In this case, I’ll take my schadenfreude straight up with no chaser, thanks. That other attendees quoted in the article seem to be treating the Romney candidacy with all the enthusiasm you’d expect from serving them a dirt sandwich makes me similarly pleased.
For years I’ve said that gays were the last group of people it was still socially acceptable to publicly hate. This no longer seems to be true for a couple of reasons. “Illegal immigrant” is the new “homosexual” in the “detested other” hit parade, with “Muslim” making a strong showing in certain quarters. Lest you think I am celebrating the shift in animus towards either of these groups, let me make perfectly plain that bigotry in all forms is a nauseous blight on society, and I no more welcome vicious demagoguery against those people than I do against myself. This is also not to say that plenty of people don’t still hate blacks, Jews, women, etc in their secret hearts or within like-minded groups. But it has become taboo to say so in polite company, and certainly if you aspired to national office. For gays until quite recently? Bring on the Two Minutes Hate, and don’t anybody bother paying attention to the clock.
If it is now too toxic for the darling of the “Values Voters” to even mention the topic of same-sex marriage in front of a crowd that is positively yearning for it, then something has changed in the public’s perception of the issue. Rejoice or lament at this change, clearly one has occurred. How proximately this will affect marriage equality referendums is a different story, and I don’t think anyone does my side any favors by hitting the “inevitability” note too hard for too long. These things come in fits and starts, gradually over a long, long period of time, and we’re a long way from home just now.
But I think it’s undeniable that a shift has happened, and I tend to think shifts of this kind are unidirectional. Thus, I take pleasure in the notion of an unhappy Bryan Fischer, not merely as an end unto itself, but also as an indicator of things to come.