Wow. Could there even BE a better way to handle this? I was really surprised--how many of us would have just let the topic lie once McCain did his "we have a respectful disagreement on that issue" song and dance?
I sat in front of my TV swelled with admiration for this woman. Because there were two alternate ways this could have gone.
One is the road I feel is the one most traveled--taking McCain's "respectful disagreement" as the end of the discussion. The problem with this is, beside the fact that Ellen's views wouldn't be heard, it also carries with it an undertone of "well, fine, you're an idiot, and will never see sense, so we'll end it here you homophobe." It is, in my view, a passive-aggressive copout.
The second was to come back at McCain with a bit too much zeal. Which, of course, would have painted Ellen as a rabid, man-hating lesbian and only pour gasoline on the Right's fire. But Ellen took the road less-traveled. Instead of tripping over the possible pitfalls, Ellen chose to stand her ground but did so with respect and grace--without mitigating the truth for one second.
But it goes further than that. Because many of Ellen's viewers--as I mentioned before, the Conservative hausfrau contingent like my stepmother--are the ones who need to hear this point. Shouting about gay rights and gay marriage at a rally is preaching to the choir. Painting placards and dancing at a gay pride parade is preaching to the choir.
But calmly, cogently expressing your view on a platform that is rarely political and has a sweeping coverage of many demographics, some of whom "don't agree with her lifestyle" but watch her show anyway because "she's just so funny!"? That's reaching out to the ones who NEED to hear the truth from someone they've grown to trust.
I'll go to the sanctimonious place: I'm proud of her and inspired by her.
THIS is the way to engage the debate. THIS is the way to make people see the heart of the matter. THIS is the way, hopefully, to change things. For good.