I want the ‘RN&R’ to help chip away at the ‘us vs. them’ divide 

I recently went to a local restaurant for dinner with my husband. The menu was creative; the food was delicious; and the server was efficient, knowledgeable and congenial. But one thing gave me pause. 

As the server told us about the daily special, she noted that the vegetable was a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower. She lingered on the topic of the vegetable for a moment, stating in a couple of different ways that it was strange. She called it a “marriage,” as opposed to a “hybrid,” and then delivered what sounded like a well-practiced punchline: “They’ll let anybody marry anybody these days, am I right?” 

She moved seamlessly to the next subject—mashed potatoes, if you’re wondering—but I stayed stuck on the punchline, thinking, “Would you have cracked that joke to me if you’d been aware that I’m among the majority of Americans who don’t oppose gay marriage?” 

I have never been able to wrap my head around the notion of why gay marriage was ever considered problematic. If I ran the world—along with all of its taxonomies and nomenclatures—we would barely, if at all, recognize “gay,” “straight” or any other orientation as categories of people. I can think of endless criteria that I’d rather use to assess people. Are you a kind and generous person? A good neighbor? A loving parent? At least trying to be one of the above? 

I let the server’s punchline slide. I’ve been noodling for days over various retorts I could-have, should-have made. I haven’t come up with one that would have done much good. My main takeaway from the broccoli-cauliflower-hybrid quip does not involve me convincing her. It’s that it got me thinking about the issues on which we can rationally disagree—and which ones we can’t. 

Show me evidence or offer an informed perspective on a topic where we don’t see eye to eye, even a polarizing one—immigration, abortion, gun control—and I will hear you out and do my best to understand where you are coming from. My opinions are rarely set in stone, and even when I believe in something deeply, there’s room in my mind to acknowledge that there are different lenses and experiences through which we each see the world—and various sides to almost every issue. Our collective unwillingness to hear each other out is a big problem. Liberals and conservatives, I’m looking at both of you—at all of us

But when it comes to opposing gay marriage, the only defense I’ve ever heard is that god and/or a religious text disapproves. There’s a long list of atrocities committed in the name of god that have put us on the wrong side of history—and if the only rationale is “because god said,” we’re not having a fact-based argument; it’s a moral panic. 

A lot of people critique the RN&R for not showing more sides on certain issues. I think that’s a fair critique, and I would like for us to include more voices from across the political spectrum. If you disagree with the news and perspectives you’ve been reading in our pages, and you’d like an opportunity to discuss your take, please consider reaching out. We publish unpaid guest commentaries each month—and we welcome opinions that vary from mine and those of the RN&R’s other editors, as long as they are based on verifiable facts and informed perspectives. (“God disapproves” is not a verifiable fact.) 

We also have a spot open for a regular columnist—and that monthly columnist does not have to be a bleeding-heart liberal. We’re looking for someone who can discuss timely issues that are relevant to Reno and Northern Nevada; make clear, specific and well-reported points based on facts; cite those facts; and hand in reasonably clean copy on deadline. We won’t edit your opinion (but we do edit ruthlessly for clarity and accuracy—and we expect you to as well). The pay is modest, but we do pay. 

If you’re interested in submitting a guest commentary or becoming a columnist, drop me a line at [email protected]