Unless I'm missing something, in the 31 states in which voters had a say on whether or not gay marriage was going to be the law of the land, they all rejected it. Every single state.
. . .
[U]nless you're prepared to call more than half the country bigots -- and I have no doubt that many, perhaps most, gay marriage supporters are, and let that self-serving explanation suffice -- maybe, just maybe, you ought to ask yourself if there's something else going on here. And that maybe, just maybe, serious attention should be paid, instead of paying attention long enough to insult people who disagree with you as evil people who deserved to be excoriated and harassed.
Ta-Nehisi Coates responds:
I probably wouldn't use the word "bigot." I don't think, for instance, that half this country thinks hate crimes against gays is a good thing. But I have no problem believing that half the country--maybe more--is deeply prejudiced against gays. This generally fits into my view of all -isms. I think prejudice is part of who we are as humans, and thus as Americans. Following from that, I think prejudice is one of the many forces that influence how we vote. Hence the notion that half this country is deeply prejudiced against gays really doesn't shock me.
I'm sympathetic to Coates's argument. In my experience, people who strongly oppose gay marriage do tend to be animated by some form of prejudice. However, I think this debate is extremely counterproductive. Charging your opponents with bigotry -- or even the lesser offense of "prejudice" -- is a surefire way to lose the argument.
Even some social conservatives would admit that the secular case against gay marriage isn't very strong. Those of us who support marriage equality should be engaging with that argument and trying to expose its tortured logic, not hurling ad hominem attacks at our opponents.
We can accept prejudice as a given, but it doesn't serve our purpose to use it as a trump card when we're in the minority. Instead, why don't we just call on our opponents to defend their position?
It shouldn't be hard to point out the illegitimacy of that position.
(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)