The Unlikely Turning Point in the Same Sex Marriage Battle
This past weekend has been heady one for our friends on the soft-core left. Without ever attending a meeting, let alone a march, or even making a donation, they got to celebrate Obergefell v. Hodges as if it were V-J day.
These are the same people, of course, who protested not a peep in 1996 when Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law, the same people who voted giddily for Barack Obama in 2008 despite his avowed support for traditional marriage, the same people who cannot wait until their next water cooler encounter to dress down some hapless co-worker as a “bigot.” Moral hauteur has never come so cheaply.
So immune are our friends to history, they likely do not know who it is they have to thank for the accelerated transmutation of this highly unlikely idea into law. As I note in my forthcoming book, Scarlet Letters, if there were a Che Guevara in this movement, it was his hysterical homeboy, Perez Hilton.
Born Mario Armando Lavandeira in Miami, Hilton had rechristened himself in homage to airhead celebrity Paris Hilton and gossiped his way to fame, if not fortune, through his supremely catty blog. Well before he turned thirty, Hilton emerged as what one gay rival called the media’s “bad-boy darling go-to gay.”
A natural neo-puritan, Hilton prided himself on “outing” those celebrities who chose not to share their sexual inclinations with the world. In 2006, he had scored a media hit when he forced former Doogie Howser star Neil Patrick Harris to admit his homosexuality.
“We are so proud (despite the nay-sayers) in having a hand in bringing about change,” Hilton boasted at the time. “We’ve said it before and we will say it again: the closet no longer exists if you are a celebrity or a politician!”
The bully boy tactics of this self-styled “gossip gangsta” did not thrill everyone in the gay community. Many had problems with the ethics of forcing private individuals to reveal their sexuality. “What purpose does it serve?” asked gay comedy writer Bruce Vilanch. Hilton and other “gay people for a living” seemed to forget, said Vilanch, that most homosexuals had day jobs and did not appreciate having their privacy rights shredded.
Writing in Salon, Japhy Grant believed the straight media cottoned to Hilton because he fulfilled the stereotype of “the bitchy gay man who has all the dish,” a homosexual equivalent of “Stepin Fetchit.” Grant missed Hilton’s real value: he was doing the neo-puritan’s dirty work in advancing the gay agenda.
Hilton got his best chance to advance that agenda on April 19, 2009, Patriot’s Day. The site was Las Vegas. The occasion was the Miss USA pageant, at which Hilton held forth as a celebrity judge.
“Next, let’s have California, Carrie Prejean,” said Billy Bush, host of the Miss USA 2009 pageant. The tall, twenty-one year-old blond strode nervously to the center stage. One of five finalists, she hoped to avoid the kind of embarrassment that befell many a would-be beauty queen on the Q & A portion of such contests.
Prejean reached into the bowl of questions hoping to acquit herself well. In 2009, no celebrity judge in America save Hilton would have dared to ask the question that Prejean drew: “Vermont recently became the 4th state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit. Why or why not?"
Indeed, just a few months before the 2008 election, Senator Barack Obama told California pastor Rick Warren, “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.” With Obama at the top of the ticket, black and Latino voters turned out in record numbers and helped pass Proposition 8 in California defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Hollywood was still fuming when Prejean answered Perez’s question innocently, if a bit awkwardly, “Well I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one way or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. You know what, in my country, in my family, I think I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that’s how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman.”
As soon as she gave her answer, Prejean could tell from the reaction of the judges, especially Perez, that this was not what they wanted to hear. “He looked absolutely devastated,” Prejean remembered. Although her answer mirrored the president’s on that same question, the judges were not hearing Barack Obama. They were hearing George Wallace. The fitting had already begun for Prejean’s Scarlet H.
Firebrand Hilton took the lead. He reportedly gave Prejean a “zero” vote on her answer, which likely cost her the Miss USA crown. She would be judged first runner-up. “If that girl would have won Miss USA I would have gone up on stage, I sh** you not,” Hilton boasted on his blog, “and snatched that tiara off her head.” Hilton’s rants grew progressively more obscene because no one of consequence in his world objected.
Hollywood’s anger was directed instead at Prejean. “A lot of people are mad at you,” her gay manager texted her in discouraging her from attending the coronation ball. “I’m afraid of what might happen to you. You really shouldn’t come.” He apologized not to Prejean for the invectives his allies hurled at her -- Nazi, bigot, b****, c*** -- but to Perez for Prejean’s answer. Her female coach meanwhile apologized to the sponsors.
Over the next several months Prejean would suffer any number of insults and indignities culminating in the loss of her Miss California crown. The pretext for this anti-Christian tiara snatch was Prejean’s alleged failure to cooperate with the Miss California executives then scheming to take her crown away.
After her bushwhacking at the Miss USA contest, the media dug into Prejean’s virtual dumpster almost as eagerly as they had dug into Sarah Palin’s literal one. They delighted in shocking themselves with the prurient tidbits they unearthed -- photos of her modeling lingerie, reports of a breast enhancement, a graphic home video. These were the kind of discoveries that usually advance an actress’s career, but not Prejean’s. Reporters saw in Prejean what the lions saw huddled before them in the Colosseum -- fresh Christian meat.
The leaders of the other cults in the neo-puritan synod held their tongues. Nary a feminist anywhere protested the shameful, sexist treatment of Prejean. God was no longer so much “in the mix” that Obama saw fit to defend Prejean or chastise her persecutors. And, as always, the Muslims and their supporters laid low.
The memo had been sent and received. There would be no negative consequences for defaming a Christian. The tumbrils were rolling.