What Elizabeth Warren missed in her answer to that gay marriage question

I confess I enjoyed her zinger of a reply. A lot. But at the same time, I recognize that it may hurt some people where they already feel weakened and ridiculed when they express opinions informed by their faith.

Allow me to offer an alternative.

The question was: how would she answer someone who told her “I’m old-fashioned, and my faith teaches me that marriage is between one man and one woman?”

The question, by the way, was asked by a gay-rights activist, not an old-fashioned religious fellow. But I don’t think that matters. The phrasing of the question is pretty reflective of what old-fashioned religious folks think.

Her answer: “Well, I’m going to assume it’s a guy who said that,” (pause – and yes, she’s most likely right about that assumption, at least in my experience it’s men who express such things). “And I’m going to say, ‘Then just marry one woman – I’m cool with that.’” (Another pause) “ ‘Assuming you can find one.’ ”

If you wanted to answer that question with love and compassion you could do without the last line. Yes, it made me laugh. Maybe I need to work on my own love and compassion.

The important thing here, the thing I think Warren missed, is this. The question was about a person’s faith informing their view on marriage. It’s important to acknowledge and respect that. Here’s what I think she ought to have answered instead: “Your faith, sir, informs your opinion. That’s fine. It’s your right. However, people who believe otherwise have rights, too, including to marry whoever they choose. Nobody can force you to believe in gay marriage. But by the same token, you can’t force anyone else to live under your interpretation of religions edicts.”

It wouldn’t have gone viral, and wouldn’t have made people clap and cheer and laugh. But it would have been a kinder, gentler, and more loving answer.

Writer | Ottawa. Books include Épître aux tartempions, Le national-syndicalisme, Down the Road Never Travelled, Not Just for Kicks, Le livre Uber (upcoming).

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store