I've been putting this off. Partly it's because I put everything off lately (not today, though, on which I somehow made a reasonable list and crossed everything off of it). But mostly it's because I really value what we're doing here, so the stakes are high and I want to get this exactly right.
I wonder where to begin in terms of responding to what you've written. I don't want to take every point in turn, because each one would require so much space to really deal with adequately and then you'd have to write something even more comprehensive in response and then we'd each wind up with way too much homework. So instead I want to say a few things about what I'm reading in between the lines, so to speak.
I have to say that I'm surprised in many ways by what you wrote. It's been so long since we've even broached this topic that I had no idea what your positions might be at this point. But the positions weren't what surprised me; it was the sense that you feel like you aren't entitled to your views, or that a sanctimonious opposition would draw ungenerous conclusions about you as a result of those views.
In some ways your sense is totally accurate. Some of what you wrote in your first letter would probably get you labeled certain ways in certain circles. What's interesting, though, is that the appeal to morality that seems to underpin a lot of what makes your head spin is the same appeal that would get you branded. In other words, you have a sense of right and wrong that leads you to your views; not the obvious, bumper sticker views like "don't be gay," but the more subtle "I have a right to my bumper sticker" view.
In other words, you feel that you should have the right to your position to the extent that taking it doesn't provoke moral outrage. But it COMES from moral outrage of some kind, right? So that's where we lock horns. I, for instance, think that something like gay rights is a complete no-brainer and that you can't say "you can't get married" at the same time as you say "I don't discriminate against you." Certainly you have the right to feel as you feel, write about it, go on the radio, etc etc. But I think that exercising the moral muscle, so to speak, works both ways and that outrage at that position is a result of the same kind of thinking.
The question at the core of this project is what to do with mutual moral outrage. I don't really have an answer for that one. But I'm hoping we can keep trying. I certainly don't think we have to surrender our senses of right and wrong. Maybe the first thing to note, though, is that I don't think that seeing the difference of opinion as morality vs amorality is helpful. It's not the case that one side has "values" and the other is running around being politically correct out of moral failing, out of an erosion of a sense of right and wrong.
So maybe a first step out of deadlock is to agree, first of all, that it IS in fact deadlock, that we're both making an appeal based on deeply held senses that we are in the right on moral, ethical grounds.
Know what I mean?