Louis J. Marinelli, a long-time opponent of same-sex marriage, and the man behind the National Organization for Marriage's 2010 "Summer for Marriage" Tour, has examined his conscience and come to the conclusion that he is in support of marriage equality.
Not only that, he is man enough to 'come out' (if I may be so bold) and state this for the record, while apologizing to those he has hurt during his fight to oppose marriage equality - the gays and lesbians (and their families) - counter-protesters whom he encountered along the path of his travels across the country.
Is he still conservative?
As I have said many times, there are conservatives out there who are good-hearted, honest people trying the very best they know how to do what is right. While I don't agree with their ideas of what is right, I do not think they are bad people or stupid people. They are good people who seem to be wired diferently from me and my way of thinking. These are my dear family members and friends. I reserve my disapproval and condemnation for the amoral greedsters and sociopaths who know how to take advantage of the conservative desire for authority, and are no more conservative than my cat. They talk conservative because that's how they appeal to conservatives. But they have no moral compass - merely a barometer that tells them where best to apply pressure.
Real liberals and real conservatives have much in common at heart - way more, in fact, than either type has in common with the amoral greedster that has thrown all of us to the wolves in search of the last dollar that can be squeezed out of the economy and transferred up, up and away - away from the rest of us. Deep down, we share the same values, but the wiring that directs how those values are expressed can be very different.
So when I see an instance of a conservative truly looking within and, more than that, finds it within himself to nut up and acts upon what he finds there - according to his own moral compass, not 'adopting' a liberal viewpoint - I think it's important to acknowledge, applaud and appreciate this.
The reason he changed his views? Because he met and got to know gays and lesbians face to face - as real people, real Americans, not 'faceless political opponents' - not 'the other', the bad and wicked bogey-men (and -women) of his imagination. And because he has the character to act on that knowledge instead of trying to deny or ignore these realities.
Dr. Bob Altemeyer, the author ot "The Authoritarians", asserts that authoritarianism (and authoritarians, who generally self-identify as conservative) is most often strengthened by isolation from and lessened by exposure to other people, ideologies and cultures. This is why diversity is so crucial to our society.
The more that we get to know people who are not exactly like ourselves on the surface, the more that we realize that they are just like us - on the inside, where it counts.
So, conservative Louis J. Marinelli -
I salute you.