In Minnesota — as in similar battles in other states — opponents of gay marriage want to wage their fight to outlaw same-sex marriage from under cover, in this case by cloaking the identities of campaign contributors. A Minnesota panel has said contributions must be disclosed. By contrast, supporters of keeping gay marriage legal in Minnesota say they aren’t concerned about their names being associated with the cause.
The same phenomenon was noted in California — and to a lesser extent in Arkansas in the gay adoption fight — with complaints by supporters of measures to discriminate against gay people that their names had been publicly disclosed. They argued, as people in Minnesota are arguing now, that there was risk of harassment and that they feared retribution. These fears were pretty much groundless, apart from some free speech criticism of those who support discriminatory laws. It is particularly disingenuous given that bullying and harassment of gay people, particularly children, remains a scourge. I’ve never heard of a straight person staying “in the closet” for fear of fallout from public knowledge of his or her heterosexuality.
I’d like to think the desire for secrecy reflects not just cowardice, but a touch of embarrassment. I’d like to think it indicates recognition of the growing majority feeling that it’s time to stop discriminating against people on account of their sexual orientation. It’s reminiscent of the evolution of racial politics. I know there are many people who still think in racial epithets, but they don’t speak that way, at least not in public. The key difference is that the law prohibits racial discrimination. We’re not there yet on sexual rights.