Sullivan on Free Speech and Gay Rights

A recent trip to Los Angeles and other projects have prevented me from keeping up with this blog in the past week, but I want to take a moment to give Andrew Sullivan credit on this post, in which he takes gay rights groups to task for challenging the free speech and free association rights of those who are hostile toward homosexuality. He says, in part:

It seems to me that gay groups need to end their silence about this and rigorously defend the free speech rights of our opponents, as well as their right to practice their religious faith in any way they see fit, and to proselytize within the law as aggressively as they want. We need to defend the free association rights of groups like the St Patrick’s Day parade organizers and even the Boy Scouts, however repugnant their views of gay people. Words cannot harm people; in fact, because those in favor of gay equality are telling the truth, we have every incentive to magnify and extend the debate. Silencing opponents is a sign of weakness, doubt and intolerance. Gay groups can and should do better.

I addressed this topic myself in an article I wrote about a decision by California’s Supreme Court to force a private golf club to extend marriage discounts to same-sex partners. Because of my belief in limited government, I side with gay rights groups in my opposition to sodomy laws and support for gay marriage. But gay rights groups can’t have it both ways. If they want the government to stay out of their lives, they shouldn’t use it to bully individuals and private institutions into accepting their lifestyle. I’m happy that Sullivan can acknowledge this distinction, and wish more gay rights advocates would join him.