Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

“Anti-gay”: Rights, wrongs and everything in between

Posted by Ron Coleman on November 23, 2008

Instapundit:

THOUGHTS ON gay rights and the G.O.P.’s future: “It’s not that we’re likely to crack more than 35% of the gay vote (well, maybe 40%). But, to win back the suburbs, Republicans can’t alienate suburbanites. And anti-gay attitudes don’t resonate with families who have known gay people in college –and maybe even in the workplace–and even in their own families.” Sounds right to me.

Yeah sounds right, unless you think about it.. even a little.  Then it sounds absolutely chilling, even if Gay Patriot himself doesn’t put chillingly.

Guess what:  Notwithstanding the antique Jerry Falwell image of cultural conservatives painted in the media — including the libertarian blogosphere — the vast majority of cultural conservatives are not “anti-gay” any more than they’re “anti-black.”  We know homosexuals … gays, yes… and blacks.  We’re friends with gays and blacks.  And regarding gays In the 21st century, few but the most hopeless paleoconservatives, fundamentalists of mainly non-Judeo-Christian stripes, and, well, weirdos have any interest in busting into bedrooms and getting any bit involved in what goes on behind closed doors.

But this is not the issue.  Conservatives are labeled “anti-gay” because people don’t know that some of our best friends — really — are gay.  And here Glenn Reynolds is not writing like a law professor, but like, well, a libertarian blogger.  But, in fact:

Regarding civil rights of blacks, it was not enough to say that they could be “tolerated” for being black.  It was and is a moral imperative to ensure that blacks received every legal right and benefit under the law that any other American received.  Beyond that, we can agree to disagree as to specific policies and goals to address America’s legacy of racism, but on fundamentals, in our time there is no disagreement.

It’s different for gays.  Yes, it is.  Gays are not asking for the same rights as everyone else, no matter how much they jump up and down and threaten to hold their breath till they turn blue.  It is not mere semantics to say “we want the same right to marry whom we love as straights have”; it is a fundamentally different, new, radical, revolutionary right that they want — the right to change the word very concept of marriage to include “marrying whomever they love,” whereas until just right now it has meant, semantically and legally, the right to join in matrimony with a person of the opposite sex.

This is not an argument about whether they should be entitled to that right.  If Instapundit and the rest of the decidedly irreligious rightosphere believes that gays should be entitled to a new right — the right to same-sex marriage — let them say so, as many do.  But conservatives are entitled to insist that this right be acknowledged, debated and addressed as new, radical and different, not — as its advocates insist in utter disregard of intellectual honesty — the axiomatically, morally-mandated extension of basic civil rights to gays comparable to ending the ban on miscegenation.  It is not that.

Don’t call me anti-gay because I refuse to cede the basic right to call a radical shift in meaning, morals and law what it is when evaluating it as a prospective policy.  Don’t tell me that you’re defriending me because I refuse to hop on the PC bandwagon and pretend that black is not only white, but never was anything but, and that democracy has nothing to say about how this change in policy must come about.

Don’t tell me on the one hand that Sarah Palin represents the know-nothing wing within conservatism, and that to survive politically we have to nonetheless know nothing, say nothing and see nothing about a politically-orchestrated campaign to corner the moral market, as was attempted with less success on abortion, on a controversial topic that is controversial, that is entitled to controversy and about which reasonable men of every inclination are entitled to disagree.

Don’t tell me it sounds right to you if you’re getting behind refusing to acknowledge that there are real issues here; that conservatives who don’t “get it” are to be painted as the Nazis of our time; that those urbanites and college kids are going to teach me a thing or two about tolerance by refusing to tolerate my right to have a view and advocate it and stand on principal and the last vestiges of a once-great culture.

That sounds pretty bad to me.

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21 Responses to ““Anti-gay”: Rights, wrongs and everything in between”

  1. Josh said

    I’ll be honest. I still don’t understand why this protection of a word matters. Or how this right is so radical. I really don’t.

  2. James H said

    Ron:

    I strongly disagree with your characterization of same-sex marriage as something other than a civil-rights issue. When I look at marriage and rights bundled therein, I see treatment conferred on one portion of the population that is not conferred on another. My own sense of fairness demands that those rights be granted generally.

    That said, however, I believe the gay-rights movement has erred tactically in trying to attain its goal. Running matters through the judiciary merely builds resentment among the more general populace. As we’ve seen in California and elsewhere, that populace responds negatively — and strongly — to srong-arm tactics assayed through the judiciary.

    I would prefer to see the issue pressed strongly through the legislatures; that kind of tactic is essential to building a favorable consensus around the issue without arousing the three decades of acrimony that resulted from Roe v. Wade.

  3. I’m going to try and write a bit more about this on my own blog tomorrow, but for now:

    As long as you’re willing to let them marry, I’m sure the gays will let you tell yourself that it’s a radical new step…

  4. Jason said

    What is so radically “different, new, radical” about what we want? Time to stop pretending that love and marriage are a zero-sum game, or that some people have a lock on morality.

    Jason

  5. Josh, if it doesn’t matter, why is your side doing so much heavy lifting? Just say: “We want to change the meaning of marriage to include same-sex marriage.” What I hear is, “How dare you deny that ‘marriage’ includes same-sex marriage by definition?” It’s not a fight over the word. It’s a fight over the “right” to call a policy change what it is — a policy change. It’s a right to have policy debates in honest, transparent terms. And that is fundamental to conservatism because it is premised, not on demagoguery or rule by judicial fiat, but in trust of the institutions by which we make governing decisions.

    James, at bottom I believe you agree with my narrow point.

    Pundit, I am talking about what’s going on now, and the nature of the dialogue now. And I don’t believe that what you say fairly captures that present reality.

    Jason, if you can’t recognize that it is a radical departure in human history for the institutions charged with solemnization of monogamous relationships to do so for members of the same sex, you’re right, we have nothing to discuss — you have already proved my point.

  6. Jeff said

    This seems to be about two things:

    1) Money. Gays in committed relationships would like benefits for their loved one. This is completely understandable, **and is just,** if the commitment is true, and not a farce put on for personal financial gain. Fine; however, gays don’t help the cause by being perceived as promiscuous, and flaunting “the life” in straights’ faces. Appearances mean a lot to those who are looking in from the outside, and to those who don’t understand, and don’t care to, the difference is off-putting. If gays want to be taken seriously, act grown up. Really. And that also means, as the man said, respect for those who disagree with you. People can agree to disagree and not hate or discriminate. I can tolerate, but I don’t have to, and will not be forced to, accept. If you want people to play your game, you gotta play nice, otherwise, the other team will just go home. Naturally, this behavior needs to go both ways. Pardon the pun.

    2) Being (THE word) “Married”. I believe marriage is a church-related function. I don’t believe the state should be in the business of marriage – I fail to understand how Government got involved in sanctioning a religious rite, unless it was to tax it, which calls to question the separation of church and state. If gays find a church in which to be “married,” there you go.

    If the state wishes to sanction a union irrespective of or without RELIGIOUS sanction, then civil unions are the way to go. The civil union establishes a unit in which benefits may be awarded and all *civil* matters (child custody, health care, inheritance, etc.) may be addressed. Thus, married persons, or persons who wish to be “joined” without benefit of religion, wishing to have the benefits of legal protections, would get a civil union and be recognized by the state; everybody’s happy, end of problem. Since this is a civil procedure, it must be voted upon, and enacted into law. End runs around the will of (the majority of) the people, i.e., prompting hoped-for judicial activism, will only engender resentment from those whose will has been circumvented. Please see #1 above.

    A logical extension of the idea of union is multiples of any sort, which will be the next can of worms, to be opened another day….

  7. Jonathan said

    Calling it marriage is changing the rules. Marriage evolved over many generations in response to differences between the sexes and to the needs of children. Calling a same-sex relationship, whether it is legally sanctioned or not, “marriage” does not make it morally equivalent to or — the big point — deserving of the same legal definitions and protections as is traditional marriage. Use of the term “marriage” in regard to homosexual relationships results either from confusion or is an attempt to assert a conclusion about an issue that deserves more open discussion that it receives.

  8. Jonathan said

    S/B: “…than it receives.”

  9. Robert Arvanitis said

    I take strong issue with the claim gay marriage is about money.

    It is manifestly not about the economics. For in that case, the pressure would be for a flat tax. Doubt that? Then tell me how much total tax the government ought to extract from three different situations:
    a. Two unrelated individuals, each making 50k.
    b. A married couple, each making 50k.
    c. A married couple, one making 100k, the other at home.

    A flat tax solves this. Or else an IRS reg allowing any two people to file jointly without reference to the “M” word. NOT a bitter and uncompromising debate over the nomenclature of “civil union” as not quite good enough.

    ******

    So it’s not economics of marriage “perks.” It is instead a demand by homosexual activists for more than just tolerance — it is a demand for unreserved approval. And that last is deadly to the freedoms of others.

    For once government accepts gay marriage, it cannot stop there. The full weight of government swings into protection mode. Not only is gay marriage allowed, it is a “hate” crime to call it immoral, and it must enjoy complete representation in all areas, including speech codes, government funding, quotas, school curricula and all the rest of intrusive social engineering schemes.

    For gay activists, it’s like the David Merrick quote: “It’s not enough to succeed. Others must fail.”

    ******

    There is, however, an economic factor here. It is the uneven incidence of the enormous burden of child-rearing. Parents bear the cost of producing new citizens, but society as a whole enjoys the benefits, a “reverse tragedy of the commons.” Note that I explicitly place a positive value on each new person, unlike the eco-extremists who see people as an awful cost to Gaia. With that reverse tragedy, it grows too costly to have children, and we enter the demographic death spiral of the Europeans.

  10. I strongly disagree with your characterization of same-sex marriage as something other than a civil-rights issue.

    Good for you. That doesn’t make it a civil rights issue. No one’s civil rights are being violated if everyone is treated exactly the same. I can’t marry a man any more than a homosexual man can. I can’t marry exactly whomever I choose any more than a lesbian can. We all have the same exact restrictions on our ability to marry, no one is treated any differently.

    And to be honest, yet again the effort to insist on one position without first defending or convincing people of it is being applied here. If you want a massive cultural shift in morality that violates the ethical principles of thousands of years of human history and every major religion on earth, you have to convince people, not merely stamp your foot and insist it is so. Want me to agree? Convince me, don’t insist your position and insult everyone who disagrees.

  11. Alex said

    I think there’s another point here as well, and it’s related to what James wrote in his second paragraph.

    There is a general consensus that religious functionaries (rabbis, priests, ministers, imams, etc.) are not required to solemnize any and all marriages. No one, to the best of my knowledge, has ever taken a rabbi to court for refusing to officiate at the wedding of a Jew and a gentile, even though that is unequivocally a valid marriage in the eyes of American law. Similarly, a Catholic priest can require both members of the couple to have undergone baptism, confirmation, etc. In all cases, the couple are free to seek another church that doesn’t impose such prerequisites.

    So far so good. For whatever reason, though, the rules seem to be different for gay couples. If you provide a service to straights, you are now obligated to do the same for gays, even if it is against your religious beliefs (cf. eHarmony). If you preach a sermon about the Biblical view of homosexual behavior, you can be fined and ordered to never publish any such statements again (cf. Stephen Boissoin).

    So frankly, as I see it, if gay marriage is made official, the next thing will be a flood of civil-rights lawsuits, making a conscientious objector of any religious functionary who wants nothing more than to render to G-d and to Caesar, without Caesar telling him how to practice his religion.

  12. Anonymous said

    Are people being treated exactly the same? You can marry a woman and so can a gay man, true. However, you might want and even prefer to marry the woman. However, we are denying the ability of gay people to marry those whom they want and prefer to marry. I don’t see how that is being treated equally.

    I don’t see how giving gay people the right to marry is a major cultural shift all on its own. This has been a process, and a long one, of there being incremental acceptance of homosexuals.

    Sadly, I feel that on this issue there is just too much divide to see each the other side’s point of view.

  13. Josh said

    Are people being treated exactly the same? You can marry a woman and so can a gay man, true. However, you might want and even prefer to marry the woman. However, we are denying the ability of gay people to marry those whom they want and prefer to marry. I don’t see how that is being treated equally.

    I don’t see how giving gay people the right to marry is a major cultural shift all on its own. This has been a process, and a long one, of there being incremental acceptance of homosexuals.

    Sadly, I feel that on this issue there is just too much divide to see each the other side’s point of view.

  14. Josh said

    Except that eHarmony is a business and not a church.

  15. zach said

    Josh,

    I’m generally on your side here, but re: eHarmony, so what that it’s a business? If they want to pass up profit, that’s their beef; and it’s then your right to exploit their shortsightedness and eat their market share as a result. One has the right to boycott a business, even express outrage in as vociferous terms as one cares to. But at the end of the day why should they be obligated to provide a service they don’t want to (and indeed may not be able to) provide?

  16. Josh said

    Upon a reread I think I was misunderstanding the post I was responding to. I thought that he was saying that churches may be forced to perform gay marriages such as eHarmony was and I was trying to point out the difference between the two things. Looking again, it seems like he had jumped on to something else. My final point being that forcing a church to do something and forcing a business to do something are two different levels of government intervention.

  17. EW said

    I think a lot of the members of the leftist illuminati enjoy disliking people who are different from them. This is best done by sterotyping the most extreme example and painting all that way. That’s how you convince yourself that people are evil

  18. James H said

    Laws prohibit any number of businesses from discriminating on certain grounds. Sexual orientation is occasionally one of them. That said, I have all kinds of problems with the eHarmony litigation and settlement.

  19. Jason said

    Your Comment: Jason, if you can’t recognize that it is a radical departure in human history for the institutions charged with solemnization of monogamous relationships to do so for members of the same sex, you’re right, we have nothing to discuss — you have already proved my point.

    My Comment: Absolute nonsense. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts for four years, and the world hasn’t come crumbling down (nor have heterosexual marriages or procreation). Civil unions have been legal in Vermont for eight years (and the know-nothing crowd proclaimed civil unions, too, as the end of the world), and they are now an unremarkable part of life there and in many other states. Same-sex marriage is legal in many Western countries; there has been no “radical change” except that 1 to 2 percent of the population has greater legal protection for their relationships and families. Indeed, we have nothing to discuss.

  20. I didn’t say anything about the world crumbling down or that same-sex marriages would lead to remarkable results. Maybe we’re completely speaking past each other. I’m saying that initiating a policy that has never existed in human history — giving state sanction to activity that was actually prosecutable in most jurisdictions in the world only a century ago, and remains so in many if not most to this day and calling it by a word, “marriage,” that until about ten years ago had a literal meaning that simply could not contain such a relationship — is a radical departure. That is objectively a radical change from preexisting moral, legal and political norms. The fact that you argue “It doesn’t really have much of an affect on the world; life goes on” may be a reason to support that change, but it does not make it not a change.

    That’s all I’m saying. And you and I have discussed enough in years past that I’d rather have you understand the meaning of my words than agree with me, or with them, Jason.

  21. […] tolerance, understanding, communicating, and open channels utterly don’t get it.  As I argued a couple of weeks ago, “we’re” not “anti-gay.”  We’re not against them.  We […]

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