Liberals have transformed the debate about gay marriage in recent years from one about the definition of marriage to one about intolerance. That shift seems to have won general acceptance throughout the country and even the courts. But as we saw in the forced resignation of the CEO of Mozilla for his contribution to California’s Proposition 8 campaign and in the reaction to the passage of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana, the cutting edge of the issue now is not so much to rally support for a cause that has already won its case in the court of public opinion but to silence opponents. The latest example of the left’s impulse to mob rule comes in an even more ironic form. A gay businessman who hosted an event for Senator Ted Cruz has been so abused by fellow gays and other liberals for the crime of allowing a conservative presidential candidate a hearing at his home that he has now been forced to publicly abase himself and apologize lest the hotels he owns be boycotted by the same gay community to which he caters. Once again, despite their claims that religious conservatives seek to persecute them, the only people being bullied or silenced on this issue lately are the few who dare to either question the newly minted liberal consensus about gay marriage or even offer a platform to those who do.
The statement issued by Ian Reisner in an effort to get the gay community to call of the dogs on their boycott effort reads like something a victim of a Communist regime’s “reeducation” labor camp might be forced to recite. According to the New York Times Reisner issued the following statement:
I am shaken to my bones by the e-mails, texts, postings and phone calls of the past few days. I made a terrible mistake.”
I was ignorant, naive and much too quick in accepting a request to co-host a dinner with Cruz at my home without taking the time to completely understand all of his positions on gay rights.
I’ve spent the past 24 hours reviewing videos of Cruz’ statements on gay marriage and I am shocked and angry. I sincerely apologize for hurting the gay community and so many of our friends, family, allies, customers and employees. I will try my best to make up for my poor judgment. Again, I am deeply sorry.
Reisner is apparently a conservative on issues other than gay marriage and seems to have thought Cruz’s economic and foreign-policy stands amenable to his worldview. In particular, the hotelier is a big supporter of Israel, which happens to be one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world. But the Texas senator’s belief that states should be allowed to make up his or her own minds about allowing gay marriage and his evangelical beliefs place him beyond the pale for liberal gays. Thus, to the liberal thought police, anyone who hosts Cruz or presumably anyone who holds opinions or religious convictions that were shared by both President Obama or Hillary Clinton only a couple of years ago must be publicly humiliated and forced to recant lest they be exposed to economic boycotts.
You don’t have to oppose gay marriage to be disgusted by this incident.
Gays have every right to express their views about Cruz or anyone else. But their point is not just to pursue their campaign for gay marriage but to silence opponents. The bullying of Reisner is an attempt to send a message to gays and others than no other issue, not the future of the country’s economy or the security of Israel, can be allowed to interfere with efforts to not just defeat religious conservative efforts to oppose gay marriage but also to make it impossible for anyone to try to defend their own views about the issue.
Whether or not you agree with Cruz, the spectacle of Reisner’s apology for daring to think he could back a candidate in spite of their differences on gay marriage bodes ill for any effort to preserve a tone of civility in our political culture. Indeed, his statement seems to bear a greater resemblance to a victim of the Spanish Inquisition issuing a ritual recantation of heresy in order to avoid being burned at the stake.
The irony of so-called liberals, who routinely denounce conservatives for being both intolerant and debasing the political culture with incivility, orchestrating such an intolerant and undemocratic response to an individual’s behavior is lost on the left. Free speech for me but not for thee is now liberal orthodoxy. So, too, is their effort to shame anyone who doesn’t agree with them on gay marriage or even associates with anyone who dissents. As we saw with Mozilla and Indiana, mob rule is ugly but often effective, especially in the corporate world. That may comfort some gays, but it should cause all of us, whether we are gay or straight, religious or irreligious, who support democracy to tremble.