Welcome to the article that should not have to be written in the year 2013.
When I was in high school, the Westboro Baptist Church—otherwise known as the bigots who coined the term “God Hates Fags” and threatened to picket the funerals of those killed in the Boston Marathon—showed up in my hometown of Acton, Mass. My high school was putting on a production of The Laramie Project, which depicts the true story of the brutal murder of a 21-year-old gay man named Matthew Shepard.
Having caught wind of the production, WBC members made their way over from Topeka, Kansas to remind my community that God hated each and every one of us. It was a valiant enough effort, except for the part when counter-protesters outnumbered WBC members by such a large number that you could barely hear their “God Hates Fags” chants over the sound of the community singing “All You Need Is Love” in matching “Erase Hate” t-shirts.
The WBC looked like a bunch of heartless monsters in the end, yet weeks of town-wide anxiety led up to the protest as the WBC boasted their plans to visit our small town on their website. For the cast members as well as the LGBTQ population of my school, this was not just a speed bump that would turn into a random anecdote about the awkward high school days. This was a tangible threat that entered their comfort zone and turned it into a war zone, all on the basis of hate.
And now here we are at a top-rated university, anxiously awaiting the visit of a speaker eager to make A CASE AGAINST GAY MARRIAGE.
For the record, I do not aim to compare Ryan T. Anderson to the WBC. His appearance at Boston College serves to provide an academic perspective on the topic of marriage equality, a subject that he has approached in his scholarly work. As a graduate of Princeton with a master’s from Notre Dame (no comment), it is almost definite that this man has a brain full of knowledge. I just wish he would use it for something productive, like figuring out how to grow a human heart inside of his own body.
Mr. Anderson certainly does not fall on the same cruelty scale as the WBC members, but inviting him to speak at BC brings about the same cringe worthy, anxiety-provoking emotions as hearing that people will be carrying “God Hates Fags” signs around your hometown. Any “case against gay marriage” is grounded in outdated ideals of inequality that imply that a certain group of people deserves fewer rights than its peers.
Once again, welcome to the article that should not have to be written in the year 2013.
I also do not aim to stifle a dialogue that needs to happen on campus. Everyone has the right to his or her opinion, and since this event has already been created, we can embrace the fact that the student reaction has the power to be more valuable than the speaker’s point of view. As BC students, we should never fear a dialogue that can strengthen our understanding of our own perspectives. At the same time, given that Providence College recently cancelled a speaker who supports marriage equality due to his failure to comply with Catholic morals, the message being sent to LGBTQ members of religiously-affiliated universities will be one of exclusion until both sides have equal time to present their voices.
Luckily, there is a hint of opportunity here for Mr. Anderson to realize just how obsolete the anti-marriage equality movement is. The best offense is a good defense, and I have no doubt that Mr. Anderson will be put in his place. So, Mr. Anderson, bring it on.
And if you ever have children, I truly hope that they are all gay. Then we can chat about whether or not they have the right to marry the people who they love.