To the Silent Southern Moderate

It is with some trepidation that I write about Erick Erickson. My hesitation does not stem from a lack of courage in my convictions. Rather, its source is rooted in knowing that many good people with whom I interact on a regular basis, whose blogs and editorials I read, and who wield significant power in Georgia, know Mr. Erickson personally and like him. Among these people are elected officials, political pundits and, yes, openly gay personal friends. Some I have superficial relationships with, while others I have deeply personal relationships with, but they have in common the fact that they all hold my utmost respect.

So I preface these remarks with one statement of fundamental importance. It is because of that respect, and not in spite of any ideology, party affiliation, or religious beliefs, that I speak directly to them against Mr. Erickson's recklessness. It is to their good sense and sound notions of fairness and civility that I appeal. It is in the hope that our politics are not so broken and our discourse so lowbrow that those with power throughout the South will give serious contemplation to my words and heed my plea.

It is not newsworthy, much less headline-grabbing, to say LGBT rights in the South are a difficult struggle. With a political landscape dominated by social conservatives who are more religious than the average American, there is certainly greater resistance to our equality -- a substantial, but temporary, hurdle.

I understand the South. I call it home. Her very best schools have educated me. I have traveled throughout her amazing cities and small towns. I have a profound love for her people. I also understand through these experiences that there are many good Southerners from every part of the political spectrum who are moderates, if not all-out supporters, on issues of LGBT equality.

But when the worst of anti-gay politics come to the fore from someone who holds considerable gravitas in the South, and indeed the entire nation, those moderates are nowhere to be found.

To those reasonable moderates, I ask:

When someone with a following like Mr. Erickson writes that he is "worried about my son living in a world that doesn't think homosexual practice is a sin" or fears that gay and lesbian Americans will be seen as "another form of normal," where are you?

When Mr. Erickson uses a journalist's sexual orientation as weapon of impeachment, where are you?

When Mr. Erickson compares committed same-sex relationships to incest, where are you?

When Mr. Erickson rejects the social science community and rejects the conclusions of every major American professional health association on homosexuality as "mythological," where are you?

When Mr. Erickson labels the leader of the Episcopal Church as a non-Christian because she speaks on behalf of gays and lesbians and against their vulnerability, where are you?

When GLAAD highlights the danger of Mr. Erickson's anti-gay commentary for children, and he calls it funny, where are you?

When he says gay children must repent, where are you?

The time to stop the spread of this cancer is long past due. The time for reasonable Southerners to speak out against Mr. Erickson and others like him is now.

I especially hope that Southern moderates will understand, despite any disagreements about how LGBT equality should be codified in law, that there is a fundamental injustice in demeaning gays and lesbian Americans' existence. I hope that they will come to understand that when they fail to speak truth to anti-science, false, and irrational statements dripping with unadulterated bigotry, it has real consequences. I hope that they will realize their silence is heart-wrenching for their friends and neighbors. I hope they realize that while many of us can defend ourselves from anti-gay animus, there are children exposed to it who cannot -- and that exposure has profound negative mental health impacts.

Such self-promoting, willfully ignorant commentary is unworthy to be called political discourse. It is time that moderates openly engage in conversation to reject base politics of anti-gay and strip it of credibility.