How Far Will They Go?

Would Conservatives Riot to Stop Same-Sex Marriage?

by Kai MacTane

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California’s inimitable Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has recently predicted that there would be profound civil unrest and disturbance if same-sex marriages are allowed to continue. He says, “All of a sudden, we see riots, we see protests, we see people clashing. The next thing we know, there is injured or dead people.” Those of us in San Francisco, who look around in confusion and see none of those things occurring, can take at least a bit of relief in the Governator’s next words: “We don’t want it to get to that extent.”

Would conservatives really stoop to actual violence, just to keep a pair of loving people from getting married? And what would happen to their cause if they did?

Well, it’s good to know that Schwarzenegger isn’t hallucinating. A spokeswoman for the state attorney general’s office has pointed out that “We are not aware of any riots or any threat to public safety in San Francisco... At this point we see peaceful acts of civil disobedience on both sides.”

But will it stay this way?

Some might see the Governor’s prediction as potentially self-fulfilling: by claiming that it’s likely to occur, he sends the subtle message to would-be violent reactionaries that they’ve got a green light to carry out their worst fantasies. The Governor’s office won’t be too harsh on them — after all, they’ve just lent weight to his words by proving them true.

All we can do now is hope that the number of violent reactionaries in California is too low for them to pull off anything really nasty.

Would conservatives really stoop to actual violence, just to keep a pair of loving people from getting married? And what would happen to their cause if they did?

That might just be the best possible thing for the pro-marriage folks. Can you imagine the spectacle of people breaking out in fisticuffs, just to stop a pair of men or a pair of women from saying “I do” to each other? Much like the hippie peace demonstrators who joyfully plopped flowers into soldiers’ gun barrels back in the ’60s, people who are simply trying to get married have the unique moral high ground of being completely peaceful. You might disagree with their position, you might even think they’re sinful... but it’s impossible to see their actual behavior as any kind of physical threat.

“They were gazing lovingly at each other, officer. I felt threatened. And they were smiling and holding hands! I had to hit them.” Doesn’t really work as an excuse, does it? If the anti-marriage homophobes are clearly the ones who initiate the fracas, it will be very hard for the middle-of-the-road types, the ones who are now saying “I don’t mind if they’re in love with each other, as long as they don’t call it ‘marriage’”, to continue having much sympathy for the idea of a constitutional amendment. At least, not without looking like they condone violence against peaceful lovers.

Maybe one of the best things the same-sex marriage camp can do right now is to invest in a lot of nonviolence training. Just as the ’60s civil rights movement found one of its greatest allies in the racist authorities’ propensity for using violence, tear gas, and firehoses on peaceful demonstrators, the current drive for marriage may find its greatest ally in a few homophobic yahoos who take Governor Schwarzenegger’s words to heart.

Kai MacTane is the Freak Nation’s webmaster. He’s not married yet, and isn’t ready to be, but he and his girlfriend spent a day volunteering at San Francisco’s City Hall just after Valentine’s Day, playing usher and gopher for 800 weddings in one day.