The story has been circulating on the web for a day or two, but during last weekend's Miss USA competition, Miss California drew the ire of gay, Hollywood blogger Perez Hilton (Mario Armando Lavandeira, Jr.) when she voiced her opposition to same-sex marriage. In the interview portion of the competition, Mr. Lavandeira asked Miss California:
"Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalise same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit. Why or why not?"
Miss California responded:
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.
She continued: '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.
Mr. Lavandeira later admitted to penalizing Miss California for her answer- an action that cost her the crown. Displaying the truly tolerant perspective, he then called Miss California a 'dumb bitch' on his blog, arguing that Miss California should have taken a state's rights approach to the answer, rather than 'alienating' people by speaking her mind.
Such outbursts are no mystery. People tend to view the matter of gay marriage with more than a slight case of myopia. Though the right may fail to recognize the fairness arguments put forward by the left, gay marriage advocates fails to apprehend the issue's implications for religious tolerance. But unlike many a beauty pageant, Miss California's answer was neither 'dumb' nor 'bitchy'. It was a perfectly reasonable response made, and qualified on the basis of her personal values. Mr. Lavandeira simply disagreed with these values and punished Miss California accordingly. But make no mistake - Miss California lost the competition precisely because she disagreed with Mr. Lavandeira on the issue of gay marriage. Hence, the state of our unions.
The commentary is a sad one because in a country, as large, and diverse as ours, it is a simple reality that people on both sides of the issue make judgments about policy on the basis of their personal values. To say that such values have no place in the public discourse, as Mr. Lavandeira suggests, is a proposition utterly inconsistent with leftist paeans toward diversity. It communicates the notion that we do not welcome an individual's perspective on gay marriage when it is rooted in political or religious opposition. It forces one to conclude that leftists are only interested in perspectives that tend to agree with their own. All others are encouraged to move to the back of the bus.
Mr. Lavandeira will never read this post. But more a thoughtful response to gay marriage than his, that is actually true to our Founding Father's intent (Mr. Lavandeira mentions the founders in his video fulmination), would be to allow the debate to occur, and to allow the people to decide the issue. No perspective should be off the table simply because one disagrees with it. The efforts of advocates on both sides should be made an eye toward persuasion, rather than engaging in personal attacks.
The beauty of democracy is that the people have a funny way of hearing both sides of an issue, and making a rational decision. Oddly, it is exactly this sort of conversation that Mr. Lavandeira would forestall. If giving both side of an issue a fair hearing means one is a 'dumb bitch,' then count me among the few and the proud.