Hanks, exercising his Constitutional right of free speech, blasted members of a major U.S. religion who supported "Proposition 8" -- a successful effort in California to codify into law the prevailing discrimination against homosexuals by barring them from acquiring for their intimate relationships the same legal protections afforded non-homosexuals.
The basic idea of marriage -- even the marriage of an infertile couple, which is legal everywhere marriage is otherwise legal -- is that certain protections are given. Typically, a spouse can give consent to medical procedures when the other is incapacitated, inherits some property by default in the absence of a will, can share the legal protection afforded a homestead owned by either spouse, and so on. Some homosexuals have children from prior non-homosexual marriage, and children raised primarily in such households might benefit from their other effective parent being afforded the legal right to give consent for educational and medical issues.
Proposition 8 is lawful; the United States Supreme Court has not declared sexual orientation to lie among the especially protected classifications like religion or race, and defining marriage to discriminate against homosexuals does not offend current notions of nationally-guaranteed rights. However, the fact that something is legal does not make it good. The fact that "gay" and "faggot" are ordinarily considered unmistakable insults in middle-school locker rooms is unlikely to be ameliorated by laws that cement ongoing discrimination.
Homosexuality may not be your bag, but think about it this way: for every pair of gay men allowed to live together without aid of a beard, you get two unmarried women available for dating. And what straight man doesn't have fond thoughts about lesbian chicks? And getting back to the law, the United States Supreme Court has made it crystal clear that states haven't got any legitimate interest in the voluntary sexual practices of competent, consenting, adults who aren't sent to the hospital by their games. So let's be serious: who is their conduct hurting?
Tom Hanks, duly chastized by Mormons who point out that speaking your mind is always American, has published what has been publicly taken for an apology. And it is always American to speak our minds, crazy as our minds may be. But Tom had it right the first time. Speaking for Proposition 8 might not be un-American, but favoring it in the first place may require more hate and divisiveness than leaves room for American-ness in one's heart. Undermining individual liberty and the equality of every free person is hardly American, and after the 13th Amendment, we're all supposed to be free, so we should all be equal before the law. So it's not un-American to speak your mind, but it can be un-American to want to preach hate in the first place.
Government doesn't give married couples a cash bonus, and government goesn't pay for marriages. It costs the public nothing to let people live their gay lives in peace. It just rubs raw the pride of bigots.
Are we really such bigots?