There will come a time in your life when you have to make a choice: when one group wants to be acknowledged as people, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and another group thinks that the first group’s rights are up for debate, you can’t accommodate both. You just can’t. Sorry. When someone’s rights are up for debate, those rights are not inalienable. If you find yourself saying “We need to have a grand debate and discus whether or not Group A are human beings, deserving of the full rights granted all human beings,” you have already answered the question: you have already decided that, no, their rights are not guaranteed them as mine are to me, because my rights are not up for debate. You’ve already decided that they aren’t quite people — they’re conditional people; people who may or may not count, depending on how this debate goes.
You can have an argument about whether or not marriage is a right, but I think it’s a pretty short one. You can have an argument over the definition of marriage, which is how some bigots are trying to frame it, but their reasons ultimately boil down to some combination of “Because God said so.” and “I think anal sex is icky.” But what they’re doing, for the most part, is pretending to be debating rationally, and then not arguing in good faith. All those groups that the SPLC just listed as hate groups for spreading anti-QUILTBAG hatred? One of the reasons the SPLC labeled them that way was because those groups continue to use discredited studies, and have a pattern of twisting science, doing bad science, ignoring facts, and just flat-out lying. Those people also do not deserve to be listened to or argued with, because they’re not arguing in good faith.
All of these reasons together mean that people who want to debate same-sex marriage should be allowed to speak in pluralistic spaces, just as they should have to listen to me in pluralistic spaces, but that those spaces are inherently unsafe for the people whose very humanity and rights are being debated.
I can’t grow a thicker skin that will make it not hurt when people say that hospitals should be allowed to let me die rather than give me lifesaving treatment or even transferring me to another hospital. QUILTBAG folks can’t grow a thicker skin that will make it not hurt when people say that they’re not fully human and don’t have equal rights. We can, and do, wear some armor that helps us deal with it, but it’s a fight. And sometimes, we need to be able to come back off the front line – which is everywhere – and sit down, take off the damn chestplate, and breathe freely. That’s what safe space is about.