Jeremy Hooper has the goods on this amazing story. Louis Marinelli, who became quite influential within the National Organization for Marriage over the past couple years, even spearheading their national bus tour, has come out in support of full marriage equality, and he credits his experience working for NOM with changing his mind. Jeremy has the full interview with him, and points out that Marinelli still has some issues of confusion that he needs to work out [viewing homosexuality itself as a health risk, for one], but here are some key statements, starting with some harsh words for Peter LaBarbera:
Any support or endorsement of what Peter LaBarbera does I retract. I have been reading via Twitter and his website what this guy has to say, and it is clear that he is just a hateful man and I would be embarrassed and ashamed to be associated with him.
Furthermore, the issues Peter takes on, even if they were true, are not in themselves valid reasons for denying same-sex couples access to civil marriage. I am aware how he was upset by my public support for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in December. His reasoning for such seemed to be something along the lines of “in order to protect marriage, you have to oppose everything homosexuals do”. If that were the case, Peter, how far should we go in restricting homosexuals’ lives?
Expressing the fact that he still “disagrees” with homosexuality, but yet realizes that it’s not his place to advocate against equal protection for gay people based on his personal belief:
On multiple occasions I have said something to the effect of “homosexuality is wrong”. And in my opinion it is. My transition from an opponent of same-sex marriage to a supporter does not mean I suddenly think homosexuality is a good thing. ?
?I personally disagree with it. The same way I disagree with many other things other people do with their lives. That doesn’t give me or anyone else the right to prevent homosexuals from being homosexuals or to take away their constitutionally protected civil rights as American citizens.
On what changed his mind:
In short, if there is an issue of disbelief surrounding my newfound support for civil marriage equality, it is disbelief from those who surround me. If there is an issue of shame, it is a result of acknowledging the number of people I have targeted, hurt and oppressed. And if there is an issue of embarrassment, its roots lie in the face-to-face encounters I have had and expect to have with those with whom I once toiled over this very contentious issue.
Ironically, one of the last tour stops added to the itinerary was Atlanta and I bring this site up because it was in Atlanta that I can remember that I questioned what I was doing for the first time. The NOM showing in the heart of the Bible-belt was dismal and the hundreds of counter-protesters who showed up were nothing short of inspiring.
Even though I had been confronted by the counter-protesters throughout the marriage tour, the lesbian and gay people whom I made a profession out of opposing became real people for me almost instantly. For the first time I had empathy for them and remember asking myself what I was doing.
Recognizing that the “religious-based opposition” to homosexuality really is rooted in hate:
Having done that, I had to pick up where they left off. I was largely taken aback by the fact that the page I created had become such a hateful place. My comments are rhetoric paled in comparison to what that place had turned into. I began to understand why the gay community was out there claiming opposition to same-sex civil marriage was all about hate.
I soon realized that there I was surrounded by hateful people; propping up a cause I created five years ago, a cause which I had begun starting to question.
There is so much more that I left out, so please hop over to Jeremy’s place and read this marvelous story in full.