OpEd: Same-Sex Marriage Foes Join Flat Earthers, Birthers

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(CNN) -- Remember the birthers?

Those people who would appear on national television claiming President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. They didn't have any facts to support their claims, just a gut feeling. And even in the face of more and more facts that proved the contrary, media continued to validate birthers by allowing them to occupy the same space reserved for people taking part in intelligent debate.

Then one day, the madness stopped.

That's not to say all the birthers went away. Only that their brand of irrational thinking had been escorted to the same space we put other silly debates. Like whether women are intelligent enough to vote or if the Earth is flat. You may laugh but for a time, those opinions were the basis of policies and their merits housed in the same space reserved for intelligent debate. Then the public was presented with facts, and the madness stopped.

It's hard to remember, but there was a time when well-meaning politicians warned that the military would collapse if gay people were allowed to serve openly. That hasn't happened, and people have stopped saying it.

We thought big-time sports was not ready for an openly gay male player, and then the Brooklyn Nets signed Jason Collins and life went on. The latest scare tactic is to try to blame gay people for the country's falling birthrate.

True there has been five consecutive years of decline. But it is also true we're coming out of the greatest turmoil in our economy since the Great Depression.

According to Pew research, the recession contributed to more than a third of people 18-34 going back to school and nearly one in four moving back in with their parents. Neither situation is ideal for having a lot of children.

Also, women are waiting longer to start a family. In 1960, more than 80% of new mothers had a high school diploma or less. By 2011, only 34 had a baby before college. I guess women's desire to pursue a college education is also gay people's fault.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear recently filed an appeal in federal court, attempting to defend his state's ban on same-sex marriages by repeating Utah Gov. Gary Herbert's rationale citing the importance of a stable birthrate. But neither Beshear nor Herbert presented facts that showed causality.

Only fear-mongering -- and more and more Americans are saying enough already.

Whether it's HGTV canceling the Benham Brothers show or the NFL fining players for tweeting negative remarks regarding Michael Sam's kiss, what we're witnessing is not a liberal assault on freedom of speech, religious intolerance or political correctness run amok. It's just people saying the world isn't flat.

Again, facts alone are not enough to stop silly people from having an audience.

Missouri Republican Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin said, "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down" and two months later some people still voted for him. But as with the birther phenomenon, there comes a point at which stupid ceases to occupy the same space reserved for intelligence and the need to hear a so-called other side yields to facts.

There wasn't a need to talk to members of the KKK to hear their thoughts on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington because we now recognize racism is an argument that falls short in the face of facts. As does sexism. And day-by-day, the irrational fear that is homophobia loses its grip on society, much to the chagrin of those who believe same-sex marriages cause Category 5 hurricanes.

Perhaps one day, when all of this silliness is behind us, the public will be ready to talk about what actually does cause Category 5 hurricanes. Until then, I guess we'll continue to allow science-deniers to call reports of a rising ocean a distraction as Antarctica melts right before our eyes.

Editor's note: LZ Granderson is a CNN contributor, a senior writer for ESPN and lecturer at Northwestern University. Commentary by the former Hechinger Institute fellow has been recognized by the Online News Association, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Follow him on Twitter @locs_n_laughs. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.


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