Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Woman to woman: Be nice, but never give up fight

Perez Hilton

Perez Hilton

I’m afraid that I join gay rights activists in being confused as to just what “great opportunity” they forgo in not publicly defending Miss California against Miss USA judge Perez Hilton.

Ah, what the heck – I’m feeling tolerant, so let me state this unequivocally: Carrie Prejean has every right to voice her views on both gay marriage and, in her words, “opposite marriage.”

Let’s be clear that although this didn’t cost her the crown (Miss North Carolina was already ahead in two competitions), Prejean was subject to some awfully crass treatment by Hilton in the days following this low-rent ripoff of the Miss America pageant.

Of course, anyone familiar with “The Queen of All Media” expected the ensuing drama.

Mario Lavandeira, aka Perez Hilton, is an outrageous blogger who uses photos, captions and drawings to savagely rip on celebrities of all persuasions on a daily basis.

Being mean? Name-calling? Honey, that’s his bread and butter and the Miss USA folks were perfectly aware of that when they gave him the job.

Once more, pageant co-owner Donald Trump pulled America’s strings, and we did our little marionette dance. I’ve got to hand it to that guy.

Most serious activists for any cause are not going to lose their hard-won credibility by commenting on a made-for-TV blowup generated by a publicity-seeking provocateur like Lavandeira.

They’re also well aware that few Americans opposed to their viewpoint will be won over by any outlandish rant, agreeing instead that civil discourse does get you further.

On the other hand, sometimes an issue can stir within you such a passionate response that passionate words are required. “AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals,” the Rev. Jerry Falwell once declared. “It is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.”

Cruel, alienating language usually backfires. Falwell’s horrific bigotry is now seen as such by the majority of Americans, whether or not they approve of gay marriage.

We’ve come a long way, and tolerance of one another’s viewpoints is a huge part of that. So I, too, encourage folks in the gay marriage movement to stay respectful and resist name-calling.

Yet know this: They’ll never stop fighting for all citizens to have equal protection and status under the law. Tolerate that, America.

Andrea Sarvady (w2wcolumn@gmail.com) is a writer and educator specializing in counseling and a married mother of three.

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