An Evans-Manning Award to the reader who posts as “philosopher”, for this analysis of the standoff over SSM and religious freedom:

This last exchange between Rod and adrian perhaps illustrates what I had in mind earlier in noting that hate is just a big red herring here. I think that adrian is expressing a very standard view here when he writes, “It doesn’t matter where their beliefs come from, whether it’s the Bible or their own imaginations – they’re still bigots if they refuse to provide the same services to gay people that they offer to everyone else.” I would _strongly_ advise against using the word “bigot” in these contexts, because it is a maximal case of a more-heat-than-light word. But note that what adrian has done is precisely to sever the _content_ of the action (discriminating against SSM couples) from the _motives or reasons_ for the action (be it hatred or calm & sound theological reasoning or anything else). There is a really, really unfortunate tendency across the political spectrum to lump these things together — to assume that immoral discrimination and hate are constant concomitants of each other. And so the discourse around these areas (as around race, etc.) end up spending an inordinate amount of time _very unhelpfully_ talking in terms of hatred or bigotry and the like. But I’m pretty sure it’s the perception of immoral discrimination that is driving people’s reactions, and not the attributions of hate. (Indeed, the perception of immoral discrimination is what is driving the attribution of hate, most often.)

This will be very, very important to anyone looking to take Rod’s warnings seriously here. If I am right, then it will not help you one lick to try to persuade people that your views are not held out of hate — because the folks on the other side from you really just couldn’t care less, when push comes to shove, about whether you hold them out of hate. What they care about is that your views in question here are ones they find very substantially at odds with their own considered moral views. You’re not being opposed because people think you’re _hateful_ — you’re being opposed because people think that _your theory of marriage is immoral_. (I trust that this aspect of the situation is perfectly symmetrical: the pro-SSM people think that the anti-SSM people have a morally wicked view on the nature of marriage, and the anti-SSM people think the same about the pro-SSM people.)

And, consequently, those looking for a trad-protecting bargain here need to understand that what you’re asking for, from the other side’s view, is a special form of state _support_ for views that we find immoral. We are of course on the whole very committed to the state _permitting_ those views, and your celebration and promulgation of them in accord with the 1st Amendment. (And we hope & trust that most of you feel the same about us, and our views which seem wicked to you!) But if you’re looking to strike a bargain here, you’d do well to recognize just how big your ask is going to look, to your intended counterparties in that bargain. And a good first step to doing so would be to try to avoid framing these disagreement in terms of “hate”. That frame will, I fear, _understate_ the differences at play. If the concern here really was about hate, then you could hold out the hope that you could persuade the pro-SSM folks that the anti-SSM view need not be held only out of hate. That would indeed be a sincere & legitimate hope, since I absolutely agree that it is _true_ that the anti-SSM view need not be held only out of hate, and moreover that that is a fact that can be learned easily by sufficient discussion with or reading of the right subset of anti-SSM folks. Yet, if I am right (a big if!), then spreading that truth, while it might have many positive social effects of easing some of the strain of these deep differences, will nonetheless do precious little to make most pro-SSM folks at all interested in helping set up special protections for actual anti-SSM discrimination in the public sphere.

I hadn’t quite thought of it that way before, but this seems correct to me. What he, or she, is saying is that use of the word “hate” is distracting. The way pro-SSM people deploy it in this debate makes it seem that if only social and religious conservatives could convince them that their views on homosexuality do not come from “hate” (= irrational animus), then the pro-SSM people might be willing to grant some space for the trads to do what they want to do, even if it is objectionable to the pro-SSMers. This is not going to happen, says philosopher, because even if anti-SSM views are held dispassionately and rationally, they are still considered to me immoral by pro-SSM people, and not only immoral, but intolerably so. That is, we all tolerate certain things and practices we find immoral, because we agree that not everything that’s immoral should be illegal. But to pro-SSM people, the issue is so important and so clear that those who disagree must not be tolerated, and will not be tolerated. Therefore, the use of the word “hate,” and the concept of hatred, in the public arguments is misleading.