The Corner

Marjorie Christofferson’s Courage

Marjorie Christofferson is — or was — the manager of El Coyote a restaurant in LA founded by her Aunt. She gave $100 to Prop 8. Today Lisa Derrick of the Huffington Post is reporting she has resigned in the face of an ongoing onslaught of threats against the restaurant, which had nothing to do with her personal donation. 

Marjorie is just one of 89 people who work for El Coyote. No matter. El Coyote welcomes gay employees and customers, and did so long before that was cool. No matter. El Coyote has just sent $10,000 to gay organizations to atone for Marjorie’s sins. No matter. Marjorie has many gay friends whom she has helped over the years. ”When one of the guys died from AIDS, Marjorie paid for his mother to fly out for his funeral,” noted one restaurant patron. That doesn’t matter either.

You can see for yourself what kind of person Marjorie Christofferson is at a meeting with GLBT leaders on YouTube here

Marjorie tried to call on the American tradition of personal caring and respect for each other in the midst of moral disagreement. El Coyote she said was a “diverse community” in which “not everyone agrees with each other’s viewpoint but we all care about and respect one another not to let those differing views come between us. We work together as a team and truly love each other as a family.”

In the end, shaking and tearful, she expressed regret for the pain she had caused, but Marjorie also said, “ I cannot change a lifetime of faith in which I believe in very deeply.  I cannot and will not, no matter what, change my love and respect for you and your views.”  

Not good enough.   

Marjorie’s apparent resignation has only whetted the appetite of the anti-Prop 8 crowd. West Hollywood News is reporting, “In other boycott news, No On 8 activists are gathering lists of Yes On 8 donors to publish online in hopes of punishing those businesses for their support of the effort to strip fellow Californians of a civil right.”

This is a totally new tactic by the way. Boycotts against businesses who donate to a cause or mistreat their customers have long been an accepted part of the American democratic practice. But targeting an entire business because one person associated with it made (in their personal capacity) a donation to a cause is brand new. It’s essentially McCarthyite in spirit. Gay-marriage activists hope to make you unemployable if you publicly disagree with them.

I’m sure many ordinary gay-marriage supporters deplore what happened to Marjorie.  But this is now the face of their movement: agree with us, or we will hurt you. 

Many other people of all faiths are going to need some of Marjorie’s courage if and as powerful elites — including government – move towards adopting the view that orientation is like race. Because the thing about race is: American (quite rightly) don’t agree to disagree about racial equality. 

If the gay marriage leaders have their way, there apparently won’t be space in America to agree to disagree about gay marriage or about the nature, purpose and meaning of human sexual acts. (This is where the race analogy, contrary to the usually insightful Jon Meacham, just falls to the ground: Voluntary acts are rightly subject to moral reflection, inherently and always, in a way that skin color just is not.).

The clash is sadly tragic and I think unnecessary. There are many other ways to understand gay rights these do not lead to the use of power to silence moral opposition. But right now, gay-marriage leaders are going with the race analogy precisely because it uniquely licenses these kinds of extraordinary public acts of hatred aimed at punishing against those who disagree with them.

Best of luck to you Marjorie. Thank you for your courage and your decency in the aftermath of these attacks.  Very few of us in this country have had to pay any price at all for our religious beliefs, thank God (and our Founding Fathers). May your sacrifices lead us in the end to a more generous, kinder, and more typically American solution.

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