A possibly large number of people seem to be convinced that discovery of opposition to or mere lack of unqualifiedly enthusiastic support for same sex marriage must always justify charges of bigotry, a finding that in contemporary American political culture is meant to require ostracism at least. This phenomenon would count as dismaying if history had given us any reason to nurture higher expectations for ourselves. To avoid further disappointment, one may prefer to presume the unlikelihood of being heard any further, or at all, by the self-styled enemies of bigotry. They will continue to believe, or choose to believe, what they prefer to believe, or remain invincibly non-cognizant of any belief other than the one expressed by a blog commenter at Ordinary Times: “No matter how much anti-marriage views are dressed up as simple political or religious differences, at the core it boils down to the belief that gay people are evil or gay people are insane.”
Heard and accepted or not, to maintain or to have maintained, or strongly to suspect, rightly or wrongly, that the costs of marriage equality legislation and jurisprudence are or may be or must someday be revealed to have been unacceptably high does not inherently require or reflect any prejudice or aggressive animus, in short any bigotry at all, in regard to anyone. Nor does belief that the traditional or gender complementarist or so-called natural or procreative marriage concept deserves a unique place in custom and therefore in law inherently require or necessarily reflect animus toward or judgment of anyone. Nor does belief that a different and in some respects more inclusive concept must, in displacing the former concept, produce likely harmful consequences, inherently require or necessarily reflect animus toward or judgment of anyone.
Such positions neither judge nor refer directly to the personal desires, character, or conduct of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, or transgender individuals, or of anyone else or of anyone at all, even if insistence on one regime of marital customs necessarily precludes acceptance of an alternative regime, and even if insistence on the traditional regime also tends to imply an inherently subjective lower estimation, as morally diminishable, of the personal fulfillment, acceptance, and simple and very real greater conveniences offered to same sex couples and their families under the new regime.
The recognition that no one wishes to accept in a liberal society is that “pursuit of happiness” is not and never has been absolutely “inalienable”: Everyone’s heart’s desire and everyone’s absolute “created” equality is subject to compromise and “alienation” from the moment social life commences, from the crib forward. That bigots as well as the normally selfishly indifferent are grouped together on the other side of SSM has been a problem, perhaps the decisive concrete political problem, for the socially conservative position on marriage. It has meant that to support SSM and the larger gay rights agenda equates with rebuking “the bigots.” It also has provided the element of truth in the charges made against SSM opponents. The potential for a parallel syndrome to appear in relation to the pro-SSM side has always been latent, and the political fortunes of the SSM movement may be overdue for market correction.