By Conor Friedersdorf
A half-dozen years ago, Brendan Eich donated $1,000 to the campaign for Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that set out to ban same-sex marriage. It passed with 52 percent of the vote, but was later overturned by the courts.
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I hated and opposed that ballot initiative. That same year, in fact, I spent more time arguing in favor of gay marriage than any other issue. In private, I tried to persuade various family members and acquaintances that they ought to cast ballots against Proposition 8. At Culture11, a now-defunct web magazine where I worked, my boss Joe Carter and I went countless rounds during spirited intra-office debates about whether there was, in fact, a strong conservative case for gay marriage, a position that I maintained and that he rejected. And I published a lot of pro-gay marriage commentary for public consumption.
Discussing the issue with such frequency, in public and private, as far back as 2003 or 2004, I've had many occasions to observe that an individual's position on the policy question turns out to be a flawed proxy for his or her attitude toward gays and lesbians. Gay-marriage supporters may have been more likely to be tolerant of gays. But I encountered people who'd say things like, "Look, I don't want gays looking at me in the shower at the gym, but why should I care if they want to marry each other?" And I also encountered gay-marriage opponents who were, apart from opposing marriage equality, model parents to gay sons or daughters, exceptionally supportive to gay friends, and wonderful bosses to gay subordinates. This will seem perfectly rational to some readers and weirdly inconsistent to others. (For the latter, note that people are often weirdly inconsistent.)