Defender of the Faith William B. May of Catholics for the Common Good has some advice for Thanksgiving conversations:

The question becomes, do we need a civil institution
that specifically unites kids with their moms and dads? Yes or no? And,
if no, why not? This is the fundamental question and don’t get

The answer to that question is simply “Yes and that is one of the reasons that I support marriage equality.” Don’t say another word.

What May is trying to do is what these folks have done in courtrooms around the country which is to limit marriage to procreation. The strategy has failed because the limitation to cranking out kids is an artificial construct that does not exist. People marry who cannot have children. People marry who choose not to have children. Marriage creates a marital estate. That is its primary purpose. The marital estate provides for the spouse and any children in the event that the union dissolves or one spouse dies. This applies equally to same-sex and opposite sex couples. Marriage has been about property for hundreds of years. For most of that time the bride was property passed from father (who gives away the bride) to the husband.

May goes on to explain how to confront gay people about their sins. He has resolved to call a gay person “a person who has adopted a gay or lesbian identity.” At that point, the best thing to do with these windbags is to politely listen and then ask someone to please pass the gravy. Arguing only gives them more air time and you cannot win an argument with an ignoramus who thinks that sexual orientation is a choice.

Some of Hart’s rules for civil discourse:

  1. Never interrupt anyone — even when  they interrupt you. When someone stops talking, mentally count to two to ensure that they are finished before you speak.
  2. Listen to what people say. Actually listening helps you formulate the most persuasive reply which you can do after the person stops talking.
  3. Never say  “Yes, but.” The more skillful approach is “Yes,” [pause].
  4. Try to turn disagreement into an open1 question. Most controversies can be turned into a question in the form: Do the benefits of [same-sex marriage, etc.] outweigh your concerns over [      ]? If one is skillful and really listens they understand what the concerns are.
  5. Use an empathy cushion: “I appreciate your concern. Others have said that.”
  6. To answer the question let us first consider the benefits of same-sex marriage. These include … Don’t forget that we become a fairer, more American, society.

Yes there are ball breakers who won’t let you get a word in edgewise. I would rather let the blowhards let the air out (while I smile) than to try to talk over them. If they ever come up for air you can try “May I ask your courtesy in not interrupting me?”

Never lose your temper. It’s not worth it.

1 An open question is one that encourages dialog. It demonstrates confidence. This is in contrast to May’s closed yes or no question which is manipulative.

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.