For [anti-gay-marriage Christians], the issue isn’t one of civil rights, because the term implies something inherent in the individual--being black, say, or a woman--and they deny that homosexuality is inherent. It can’t be, because that would mean God had created some people who are damned from birth, morally blackened.
As a commenter at the Tin Man's blog notes, this belief contradicts the Calvinist doctrine of predestination that supposedly lies at the heart of modern American evangelical Christianity. This is a good sign. But then, Shorto interviews various people opposed to gay marriage and any recognition of same-sex couples who just don't seem to be clueing onto the reality that
Later, [Pastor Brian] Racer was working for a greenhouse and got to know a lot of florists. "You'd be amazed how many people in the floral industry are homosexuals," he said. "And that's where I became curious. How do you put it together, that they've chosen to do something that I have such an aversion to, yet I'm finding I can see them as real people? As a Christian, that was a welcome development. Around the same time, a close friend told me he was struggling because he was attracted to men. Over the next two years, I had two other people confide the same thing to me. For some reason, God was putting it in my path."
As polonius wrote, "[m]ost people's neurotic aversion to homosexuality doesn't survive becoming good friends with someone who's gay. It takes a special kind of egomania to make a conscious decision to allow one's own ignorant prejudices to override knowledge, experience, and reality."
I'm tempted to agree with Ludwig Lewisohn, writing in the 1920s about a previous generations of American idiots. "What will you say to a man who believes in hell, or that the Pope of Rome wants to run this country, or that the Jews caused the war? How would you argue with a Methodist minister from an Arkansas village, with a Kleagle of the Klan, with a 'this-is-a-white-man's-country' politician from central Georgia?" What's the point in arguing with bigots who've built such a self-consistent universe for themselves? Is it even worth the effort?
One answer is that this particular sub-species of bigot doesn't represent all bigots. Most people really are more flexible once you've given them demonstrable proof that their beliefs are mistaken. There are some people who will firmly insist that, say, gay sex demons exist; there are also some people who write in their 20th century history tests that Hitler was the first man on the moon and that Nazis were victims of concentration camps. Some people don't get reality, but they're only some people. Most others can be persuaded by reality.