In response to a question last week, Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson professed a personal opinion about gay marriage but refused to advocate his position and made clear he accepted alternate viewpoints. And now, because he waded into an issue where many see no middle ground, he has generated a national news story.
I think that's too bad, not just for Peterson but for civil discussion and democracy.
In case you missed it, Peterson was discussing the release of former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, a well-known proponent for gay marriage, during a radio interview last week. Asked about the topic itself, Peterson said: "To each his own, [but] I'm not with it. I have relatives who are gay. I'm not biased towards them. I still treat them the same. I love 'em. But again, I'm not with that. That's not something I believe in. But to each his own."
The headline, of course, was predictable: "Adrian Peterson says he is against gay marriage."
Surely, Peterson could have provided a more neutral answer, if not one that was more tolerant. But I guess you'll have to call me a pessimist. In a nation of diverse people and thought, I think it's more realistic and constructive to find common ground than to expect everyone to convert to a single point of view.
Peterson's comments meet the standard for coexisting in a country of binary beliefs. He stated his opinion with civility. You haven't seen Peterson advocating against gay marriage in a political or policy sense. You haven't heard him say that he thinks others should convert their opinions to his. He sounds perfectly willing to live and thrive alongside those who think and act differently. Isn't that a fair common ground in a world of uncompromising positions?
A few years ago, Peterson spoke flippantly about "modern-day slavery," a mistake for which he apologized and took measures to rectify. I don't think his comments on gay marriage fall into the same category. It would be easier if everyone agreed on everything. They don't, but accepting differences is the next-best thing.