In a column today, the NRO's inimitable Kathryn Lopez claims that the country is really against gay marriage, by quoting a young woman named Carrie Prejean — have you heard of her? — and a new voice: Valentino.

See, even after Proposition 8, all the outstanding defenders of marriage were so sad because the gays were still winning. Then they were rescued! Behold:

The sea change just may have happened when a pretty, empathetic face came onto the national scene. A young competitor in a beauty contest was asked about her position on gay marriage, and she answered honestly (and, as it turns out, bravely): "I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman." She added: "No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."

Lopez writes,

unlike those strident advocates of gay marriage who spent the time during and after the Proposition 8 campaign in California intimidating and punishing those who supported the measure, most of us who oppose gay marriage are not looking to exclude anyone from any kind of happiness.

Carrie Prejean is now a face of that kind of tolerance.

But "that kind of tolerance" also has another, oranger face. Lopez quotes designer Valentino, who says,

For myself, all these years, I never thought about it in terms of changing the laws. [My partner] Giammetti and I found our own way - nothing conventional - and it was always friendship first, always the most important thing: the friendship. I am neither for it legally, nor against it, so I have no personal agenda here.

When a fashion designer with no political involvement says something non-committal about gay marriage, to Lopez this means,

There is something transparently different between two men who decide to spend their lives together, and a marriage.

I could make fun of Kathryn Lopez and her questionable source material — she also quotes her friend Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) — all day, but her editorial does bring up a disturbing issue. While there are still plenty of unrepentant gay-bashers out there, it's becoming less accepted to say you oppose gay marriage because gays are gross and evil. It's now more popular — and maybe more insidious — to talk about "difference," about "protecting marriage" while "not excluding anyone from any kind of happiness." Of course, keeping gay people who want to get married from doing so is excluding them from a kind of happiness, but the new kinder, gentler anti-gay marriage rhetoric aims to conceal this fact. Kathryn Lopez, Carrie Prejean, and others of their ilk swear they aren't bigoted, and that being against gay marriage is different from being a racist, a sexist, or an anti-Semite. But their arguments for the necessity of maintaining a special legal status for heterosexual unions are so uncompelling that it's hard to see them as anything but a smokescreen for prejudice.

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Carrie In Valentino Red [National Review Online]