HomoQuotable - John Corvino
"I have long advocated using the term 'bigot' sparingly when referring to gay-rights opponents. It’s not that I don’t think bigotry is a serious problem. On the contrary, it’s vital to identify bigotry for what it is and to expose its tragic effects. It’s also important to learn the lessons of history, including the ways in which bigotry can hide behind religion, concern for children’s welfare, and other seemingly benign motives.
"But there’s a difference between identifying bigotry, on the one hand, and labeling any and all people who disagree with us as bigots, on the other. Such labeling tends to function as a conversation-stopper, cutting us off from the 'moveable middle' and ultimately harming our progress. It’s also unfair to the many decent people who genuinely strive to understand us even where, for sincere and complex reasons, they cannot accept our position. [snip]
"Many of our opponents are fundamentally decent people. For both principled and pragmatic reasons, we don’t want to saddle them with an identity that suggests their being beyond redemption. In other words, we don’t want to label them 'bigots' prematurely. At the same time, we don’t want to shrink from identifying the evil of anti-gay bigotry, wherever and whenever it occurs. And so, we can distinguish. We can point out the sin of bigotry forcefully while using the epithet of 'bigot' sparingly (though that epithet, too, has its uses). Because, in the end, we do know it when we see it." - John Corvino, writing for Independent Gay Forum.