A group of 58 same-sex marriage supporters signed a public statement condemning the gay marriage activists who have sought to punish, rather than persuade, those who disagree with them.
"The test of our commitment to liberal principles is not our eagerness to hear ideas we share, but our willingness to consider seriously those we oppose," reads the statement, published Tuesday at RealClearPolitics.
The statement specifically mentions the recent forced resignation of Brendan Eich as CEO of Mozilla. Some same-sex marriage supporters successfully led a campaign to have him removed from that position because he donated $1,000 to the 2008 California campaign to define marriage as between one man and one woman. (That campaign was successful but later struck down by the courts.)
According to the statement, the signers support same-sex marriage, and many of them "have worked for it, in some cases for a large portion of our professional and personal lives." But, they "also affirm our unwavering commitment to the values of the open society and to vigorous public debate ...."
The statement notes that there is no evidence that Eich discriminated against LGBT employees at Mozilla. Rather, he was punished for his involvement in the political process, a process that, the signers say, should be cherished.
"We cannot wish away the objections of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith traditions, or browbeat them into submission. Even in our constitutional system, persuasion is a minority's first and best strategy. It has served us well and we should not be done with it," they wrote.
Everyone should have the freedom to express their views, even when they are unpopular, the statement says while noting that support for same-sex marriage was once the unpopular view: "The freedom -- not just legal but social -- to express even very unpopular views is the engine that propelled the gay-rights movement from its birth against almost hopeless odds two generations ago. A culture of free speech created the social space for us to criticize and demolish the arguments against gay marriage and LGBT equality. For us and our advocates to turn against that culture now would be a betrayal of the movement's deepest and most humane values."
Support for traditional marriage is not hate speech, the statement continues.
"It can be expressed hatefully, but it can also be expressed respectfully. We strongly believe that opposition to same-sex marriage is wrong, but the consequence of holding a wrong opinion should not be the loss of a job. Inflicting such consequences on others is sadly ironic in light of our movement's hard-won victory over a social order in which LGBT people were fired, harassed and socially marginalized for holding unorthodox opinions."
The statement was signed by Republicans, Democrats and independents who come from a wide range of ideological viewpoints, some of whom have already publicly condemned the actions that led to Eich's resignation.
They include: William Galston and Jonathan Rauch of The Brookings Institution; former Arizona congressman Jim Kolbe, the second openly gay Republican to serve in Congress; Ken Mehlman, the former chair of the Republican National Committee who later announced he was gay and who was instrumental in convincing President Barack Obama to publicly acknowledge his change in position on gay marriage; Charles Murray, Norm Ornstein and Christina Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute; Will Saletan, a writer for Slate; and Andrew Sullivan, a long time advocate of same-sex marriage.