phobia - (n) - a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it.
There are several things things I am afraid of. For instance, I have a moderate fear of heights. I get a bit jittery when I cross over a bridge driving at high speeds, worried the driver will sneeze and somehow jerk the wheel and send us plummeting to our death. When I was a kid, I used to be petrified of bumblebees. I understand fear. However, I am not and never have been morally opposed to any of these things. I would never want to outlaw being high up, or driving over a bridge, etc. These are perfectly reasonable activities, and I do not find them objectionable.
There are, however, many things which I am morally opposed to or disagree with. For instance, murder. Or theft. Or cheating on a test in high school. These are things I do not tolerate, and things I think should be illegal (they all are, thankfully). But they are not necessarily things I am afraid of. I do not fear the act of cheating on a test. In fact, I see it every day. It is quite commonplace and poses no danger to me, so it would be silly for me to fear it.
Thus, it appears obvious to me, and I would imagine to most people, that there is a huge difference between having a moral objection to an activity and being afraid of that activity. And there is an even greater distinction between being morally opposed to something and having a phobia of that something. So it annoys me to no end when a liberal accuses anybody who has a moral objection to homosexuality as being "homophobic."
The practice is widespread. If you ask a typical liberal what are the largest social problems facing America today, "homophobia" will be right in there with racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination. But one of these things is not like the other. If democrats feel these people are intolerant of homosexuals, that's fine, and in some instances they are correct: homosexist may be a more suitable term, or even just anti-gay. But a phobia of a group of people or the activities they partake in is very different from that line of view. In fact, it's possible to be a homophobic who supports gay marriage and full gay rights, but the thought of it just scares the ba'jeezus out of him! Very many people, many polls put it at over half the country, oppose gay marriage. It is absurd to claim that half the country has "a compelling, irrational fear" of homosexuality, just as it would be absurd to claim that over half the country has arachnophobia or other common phobias. These are mental disorders, not political opinions.
This represents a larger, more troublesome trend within the democratic party. When Republicans encounter someone who disagrees, their first instinct is to tell them why they're wrong. But when Democrats encounter someone who disagrees, their first instinct is to discover what is wrong with them. Because the democrats have taken up the mantle of the "intellectual" or "progressive" party, they often convince themselves that anybody who disagrees with them must not be as intelligent or rational as they are. We see this when they label everyone who opposes affirmative action as racist, or everyone who opposes forced maternity leave coverage as sexist, or everyone who opposes evolution or global warming as ignorant and uninformed. We saw it most recently in the healthcare debate, when Democrats (led most noticeably by president Obama in his September 09 address to the nation) blamed overwhelming public opposition to ObamaCare squarely on Republican "misinformation" or "fear-mongering". No way was it because people opposed what they were trying to do, it was because people just couldn't understand what they were trying to do! It's as if it's impossible for Obama to recognize that reasonable, informed, intelligent people can disagree with his liberal agenda. By labeling everyone who opposes homosexuality, gay marriage, or similar causes as homophobic, Democrats insinuate that they only disagree because they have an irrational fear, not because they have a rational argument.
I spent much of yesterday's post on homosexuality talking about why traditional republicans are wrong to treat LGBT's differently under the law others. But many democrats also err in attacking those republicans as "homophobic" when most are nothing of the sort. Unless they can medically confirm that the reason the individual opposes homosexuality is because he has a persistent, driving fear of it, they should use a more accurate insult. Or, better yet, attack his argument instead of disparaging his person.