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Tilting at Windmills

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December 28, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

GAY MARRIAGE IN CALIFORNIA....Californians got some good news today, but it came with an ambiguous lesson:

Infighting, voter fatigue and a slow fundraising start appear to have plagued efforts by conservatives to place a measure on the 2006 ballot banning same-sex marriage in California.

....One group, ProtectMarriage.com, gathered fewer than half the 598,000 signatures required by Tuesday's deadline. Organizers said they might still decide to press ahead for the ballot next November, but a confluence of events has made it unlikely.

While the battle against same-sex marriage was an issue to conservatives this summer, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's September veto of a bill to legalize such unions defused the issue for the time being.

...."Everything we need to educate voters about the need for such a measure has been temporarily taken away," said ProtectMarriage.com's legal counsel, Andrew Pugno. "I think it is very unlikely there will be any measure on the ballot this coming year."

Even the initiative's supporters concede that Arnold's veto which I mocked earlier this year is the main reason they can't drum up support for a complete ban on gay marriage. In the end, Arnold's political cowardice may deserve the bulk of the credit for the failure of gay marriage opponents to make further inroads in California.

So does this mean that keeping a slightly lower profile and relying instead on multi-decade trends running in our favor would actually help the gay marriage cause in the long run? It's not an argument I'm very comfortable with, but news like this suggests it might. Hmmph.

Kevin Drum 12:54 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (59)

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I don't think so. The best advertisement for the legality of gay marriage is the normalcy of gay marriage. When gays get married and the effect on society is so trivial that nobody bothers to measure it, then gay marriage wins.

But as long as it's illegal, then its opponents can raise the boogeyman of all the dire things that will happen IF it's legalized, and gay marriage loses.

Posted by: RT on December 28, 2005 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

You need to provide some contours on the terms "lower profile" and "long run." By the way, welcome back.

Posted by: SavageView on December 28, 2005 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Savage: I'm not really back. Just "popping in." I'll be on vacation for the rest of the week, though I might blog occasionally depending on my mood.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on December 28, 2005 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

So, your argument is that Arnold's action that prevented gay marriage from being recognized in California is a setback for opponents of gay marriage because it took the steam out of an initiative measure that would have...prevented gay marriage from being recognized in California.

This is not a setback for "opponents of gay marriage". Its a setback for cynical right-wing politicians that want to use the threat that gay marriage might become legal as a lever to turn out opponents of gay marriage to the polls to vote against it, and get them to vote for other causes and candidates while they are there.

People actually motivated by opposition to gay marriage won with Arnold's veto; the absence of any pressing need to do something more to secure that win is a victory, not a loss, for them.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 28, 2005 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Anything keeping the wingnut fear-mongering machine quiet while allowing incremental advances in normalizing gays is a victory. It's applying the the Alito strategy to gay rights: slow, steady, incremental advances tend to be more permanent than sudden and dramatic changes.

Posted by: RepubAnon on December 28, 2005 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, do you know the meaning of the word 'vacation'? Sheesh :)

Steve's doing fine, BTW...Hitting all the flash points (Education, Abortion, Intelligent Design, Immigration, Torture, and Republican Hypocrisy) just in time for the New Year.

As for your question of whether gay rights (hey! another flash point) need to keep a low profile to help the cause in the long run: I'm split on that one...

If it helps to get less homophobic legislation and legislators accepted, it might be a good thing in the longer term.

On the other hand...

Political consultants for the right-wingers will use it to throw red meat to the fundies anyway, so I don't really see the point in shying away from supporting equal rights for all Americans.

So far this issue, like reproductive rights, has been used to force liberals and moderates alike into a reactive role; as a way for extreme conservatives to define their political opponents in an unflattering and false light. What is the strategy for countering attacks of this nature?

Posted by: grape_crush on December 28, 2005 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

The best way to beat the politically religious is to introduce schism between competing like organizations. Religious leaders are motivated by exerting authority over their flock. Religious leaders have a difficult time compromising with their co-religionists because it diminishes their individual power, which is where the power and money of the organization flow. Those fearful of political religion should infiltrate the chruches they fear the most and help introduce more crazy dogma into their platforms.

"One nation under God" could be changed to 'One nation under Christ,' introducing conflict between competing religious orgs. One of the best ways to fight against the churches is to bring up the Trinity, this creates a lot of schism between different religions, which is what we need to do to stop them from interferring with our lives. It is much better if churches fight amongst themselves over their goofy dogmas than have them united in authoritarian righteousness.

Posted by: Hostile on December 28, 2005 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Kevin has returned - now we can return to union bashing.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on December 28, 2005 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, any rights gay people have today were fought for by gay people. We rioted, we protested, we elected our own to political offices, we sued. We would have nothing if we kept a lower profile, kept out of the faces of our enemies. And we know from history what keeping a lower profile and relying on our straight "friends" has accomplished: nothing. Straight people have never gone to battle for gay people. They have never done anything for us. We can't rely on them.

Jeffery

Posted by: Jeffery on December 28, 2005 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

So does this mean that keeping a slightly lower profile and relying instead on multi-decade trends running in our favor would actually help the gay marriage cause in the long run?

I'm not even sure it's worth saying "duh".

Posted by: TWAndrews on December 28, 2005 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Gay marriage will be approved by California voters within the next decade.

Count on it, unless it comes about by the legislature, in which case an attempt to overturn it by initiative will fail.

Posted by: hopeless pedant on December 28, 2005 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Not allowing gay marriage is unconstitutional. I believe this issue will be decided in the courts, not at the ballot box. I don't believe straight Californians will choose to jeopardize their access to special social status by voting to make marriage open to gay people, although they will continue to cloak their elitism in "family values" rhetoric.

Jeffery

Posted by: Jeffery on December 28, 2005 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Jeffrey presents a false choice--that a lower profile means remaining silent and thus we must either speak up or get nowhere.
No one is suggesting we remain silent, but to pretend that gay marriage is not a golden gift to the right wing is to bury one's head in the sand. Newsom's idiotic and illegal actions handed at least a few percentage points to the GOP in the next election: not only do the conservative red-staters have to fear gay rights being advanced by the courts or legislatures, but now they have to fear elected executives defying the law and just doing what they "feel is right," regardless of their own authority to do so.
When we still have many states that allow firing and other discriminations based on orientation, why are we fighting this marriage fight so loudly and so belligerently? I want the right to marry as much as any gay man, but I believe that the political ear of some of the gay rights organizations is at least half tin.

Posted by: torrentprime on December 28, 2005 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

When we still have many states that allow firing and other discriminations based on orientation, why are we fighting this marriage fight so loudly and so belligerently? I want the right to marry as much as any gay man, but I believe that the political ear of some of the gay rights organizations is at least half tin.

The reality is that sitting down and shutting up won't change a damn thing at this point, it's too late, the fight is already on. At this point it is up to us to figure out how to win, to pursue multiple strategies, to be prepared to win some and lose some. It's up to us to educate the public, to counter the lies where they are spread, to stand up and show others that we're not what they've been told. They only thing we have to lose is everything we've gained.

There are different strategies for different states. Fighting for gay marriage in Alabama is futile. But in California? It's close, real close. A few other states aren't far behind either. There is no one group running this thing, it's a movement that cannot stop moving.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on December 28, 2005 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

How exactly does a minority group get anywhere regarding civil rights without speaking up? There's no such thing as speaking "softly" when it comes to civil rights.

If gay marriage is a golden gift to the right wing, it is because bigotry and discrimination are still okay, even socially binding, in America. And you don't make those things not okay by keeping quiet.

I think you are overstating the effect of Newsom's PR stunt. The objective was to get actual gay couples into the mainstream media, where they have no representation whatsoever, so that straight people could see that, hey, we are your neighbors, we experience romance like you do, we have lives together, we have kids, too. And it successfully accomplished that. Newsom never had a legal leg to stand on, and he knew it.

I couldn't care less about the alleged fears of conservative Red Staters. Accommodating their bigotry and hatred by taking a "go-slow" approach only makes them stronger.

I do agree that it seems silly to be fighting for gay marriage rights when gay people can still be fired, denied medical care, evicted, and discriminated against in many other ways solely for being gay.

Jeffery


Posted by: Jeffery on December 28, 2005 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

I do agree that it seems silly to be fighting for gay marriage rights when gay people can still be fired, denied medical care, evicted, and discriminated against in many other ways solely for being gay.

Um, silly? Should we wait until all of the deeply redstates catch up with the rest before we go ahead in gay-friendly blue states? In that case should all those gay people in MA give back their licenses until Texas catches up in 20+ years?

As I stated already, we need to work on multiple fronts, recognize that there isn't one national strategy when it comes to fighting for glbt rights-- there are (at least) 50 fronts to this battle.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on December 28, 2005 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Well that's what you did for interracial marriage. It went more slowly state by state.

Posted by: MNPundit on December 28, 2005 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

That's an awfully strange way to phrase that-- "that's what you did for interracial marriage."

While there are some similarities between the two-- fighting for the fundamental equality/equal treatment of families and so on-- the battles themselves don't compare. It's not the same fight, not the same era, it predated the civil rights era so there wasn't a recent history to draw upon.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on December 28, 2005 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

I've been out of California for several years now, and the number of needed sigs (598,000) is higher than I remember. Has the threshold for getting ballot initiatives changed recently?

Posted by: JR on December 28, 2005 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK
I've been out of California for several years now, and the number of needed sigs (598,000) is higher than I remember. Has the threshold for getting ballot initiatives changed recently?

It's based on the turnout of the last gubernatorial election, IIRC, and that includes the statewide special election. Since that election had unusually high turnout, the threshold for statewide ballot initiatives is higher, as well.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 28, 2005 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

The data only APPEAR to be open to interpretation.
I think the whole history of the movement makes it clear: the more you demand, the more you get -- and its corollary, the less you demand, the less you get is also true. The way the right has advanced its causes over the last several decades affirms this truth.
Even GWBush is on record as favoring civil unions! Could that have happened in a million years if we had not been demanding marriage rights for all?
We need to learn what the right knows all too well -- making the greatest demands is NOT over-reaching; it moves the goalposts, redifnes the field, and makes ALL goals -- lesser and greater -- more achievable.
We need to apply this recognition not only to the GLBT-equal-rights movement, but to EVERY progressive goal.

Posted by: smartalek on December 28, 2005 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

And again Jeffrey presents a false choice, or at least a strawman in the argument. NO ONE here is advocating staying quiet. But there is a big difference between staying quiet and fighting the battle incorrectly/unwisely.
I agree that we don't move one state forward and freeze on that state until the other 49 catch up. But just because CA, for example, leads the nation in anti-discrimination laws doesn't mean it's ready for gay marriage, and so far our marriage battles across the country have won us victories in a few states but carved discrimination in granite in others--many of them. Do you know how hard it is going to be to overturn all those state constitutional amendments? Unless SCOTUS does it (not likely, for reasons both good and bad), it is going to be a state by state issue, and by handing the GOP an issue to drum up votes and scare red-staters, those constitutional amendments took the power away from the courts and the legislatures in those states and locked it up in the state constitutions. Now, we can't even wait for a progressive court or legislature in those states to normalize marriage--we have to change their constitutions to do it, an act which will require a 50% majority (at least). So those "alleged fears of conservative Red Staters" you dismiss so easily will be huge barriers for us to overcome, and I believe Newsom's shenanigans made the day we overcome those barriers much longer in coming.

Posted by: torrentprime on December 28, 2005 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely -- thanks.

Posted by: JR on December 28, 2005 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK
But just because CA, for example, leads the nation in anti-discrimination laws doesn't mean it's ready for gay marriage, and so far our marriage battles across the country have won us victories in a few states but carved discrimination in granite in others--many of them. Do you know how hard it is going to be to overturn all those state constitutional amendments?

Actually, as acceptance of gay marriage and homosexuality in general increases, as it is and there is no reason to expect it will stop, it will likely be very easy; most states have fairly simple amendment processes, which is how those amendments got their in the first place, and the fact that they have been written so inflexibly makes it more likely, not less, that when there is pressure rising against them, they will break rather than be "bent" by compromises that more conservative states would be likely to enact if the only prohibitions were in statute that could be tinkered with more trivially.

The far right ideological leadership is desperate because they knew once same-sex families gained acceptance as real families anywhere in the country, universal acceptance was nearly inevitable as a matter of time. The lies they told their constituents have no durability when reality is all around them. The specter of gay marriage being used to frighten people can't last through the reality of gay marriage.

Unless SCOTUS does it (not likely, for reasons both good and bad),

I think its quite likely that eventually, SCOTUS will do just what it did for race discrimination in marriage with Loving for sex discrimination in marriage. It probably won't happen, though, until after a substantial number of states have already reached that conclusion on their own.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 28, 2005 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

What predated the civil rights era? Interracial marriage wasn't made legal on a Federal level, i.e., in all 50 states, until the end of the 1960s.

Okay, Torrent. Let's retreat while we try to convince straight people that they should like us, let's accommodate their completely irrational fears and stupid rationalizations, let's internalize all of the self-hatred such a stance will entail. How exactly do we sell gay marriage? What is in it for straight people? What hook will get them to bite?

There is no hook, no way to sell gay marriage to straight people. They have too much invested in their special social status, and they are not about to give that up. Straight and/or white Americans always have to be better than someone else---that's competitive capitalism in action on a social level. Seeing gay couples in the mass media wakes them up a bit, but only for a little while. They have to be told prohibiting gay marriage is wrong, it is bigoted and promotes inequality, and those things are not okay in American. How do we do that if we're busy accommodating their fears, worried about stepping on their poor tender toesies?

Jeffery

Posted by: Jeffery on December 28, 2005 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

One more thing, Torrent: It will take the SCOTUS to make gay marriage legal across the board in the U.S., and SCOTUS will do it. It is inevitable. Opposing gay marriage, prohibiting it, is so blatantly unconstitutional (I'm talking about the U.S. Constitution here, not the piddly state constitutions, and there is no way that all 50 state legislatures will independently legalize gay marriage locally), so against the American ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that gay marriage will have to be legalized. I think gay right advocates are far better off fighting for equal rights in courts rather than trying to figure out go-slow strategies to defuse the Red Staters' hatred.

Jeffery

Posted by: Jeffery on December 28, 2005 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Jeffrey,
Your sarcasm is misplaced (and juvenile), but I'll try to respond to your points.
* No one said to retreat, so you're just making that shit up.
* No one asked to accomodate their fears, so you're making that up too. Most of your post is straw men, things no one is asking you or the gay rights movement to do. Your entire post betrays your anger and approach to dealing with religious conservatives, and it explains the problems we're having now.
Let's try another tack: Did you watch the "30 Days" episode with the conservative Christian sent to live in the Castro? Did you notice the progression of the show over the weeks of the visit? Self-righteous, angry gay men accusing this kid of things he never did, equating his religion with hatred, saying that his faith was the cause of their persecution, etc. Didn't make a dent in his faith or his convictions, cause all that was happening was he was being attacked for things he had no connection to, and therefore the concept of "your religion is wrong because someone guy you don't know tried to kill me when I was 12" didn't resonate with him. And why would it? Their anger was no different than when people condemn all Muslims for the actions of a few religious fanatics. So what did change his mind? A few minutes with a PFLAG father, who explained to the kid not "you're bigoted and evil!" but "I love my daughter, and she deserves the same rights and responsibilities of any other citizen." You see the difference? One tack accuses of him of being close-minded, and bigoted, and homophobic. The other shows him the path of acceptance and love and Christian charity. Guess what worked?
Now, with this in mind, let's look at your post: "they have to be told prohibiting gay marriage is wrong, it is bigoted and promotes inequality, and those things are not okay in American" No. That's not what we have to do. We have to tell them allowing gay marriage is right, it is loving and acceptable, it promotes equality, and those things are what America is all about.

When did "vinegar vs. honey" become a lost concept among gay people? This disagreement is about tactics, not goals.

Posted by: torrentprime on December 28, 2005 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Jeffrey
RE: SCOTUS
God, I hope so. And I see arguments for and against it, from a federalism perspective. I just don't want to wait 30-40 years for it to happen, and this Court and it's likely make-up for the next couple decades believes in federalism a bit too much to override state laws, I am afraid.

Posted by: torrentprime on December 28, 2005 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK
And I see arguments for and against it, from a federalism perspective.

I don't see any that weren't resolved by Loving. What are you referring to?

I just don't want to wait 30-40 years for it to happen, and this Court and it's likely make-up for the next couple decades believes in federalism a bit too much to override state laws, I am afraid.

A slow, state by state campaign of trying to get incremental progress toward gay marriage through legislation, if it works at all, is going to take at least that long, I would expect. Pushing hard, everywhere, and using the few initial successes (even if its only 1) as a lever to show the reality and undermine the lies in opposition elsewhere is probably the fastest tactic, the most effective, and, frankly, the only one that gets the Supreme Court to act faster against the whatever the holdouts end up being (and there certainly will be some, just as with interracial marriage.)

Posted by: cmdicely on December 28, 2005 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Torrent, the Human Rights Campaign spent millions of dollars in 2004 trying to convince middle America that gay marriage is "loving" and "acceptable." That was its approach to stemming the flood of anti-gay-marriage amendments. And what happened? Straight people across the country stood up for equality, love and acceptability---by spitting right in our faces. The approach failed. There is no reason to believe that it will not continue to fail.

Two things need to happen in order for gay marriage to become palatable to straight Americans. First of all, gay rights organizations need to make it crystal clear that legal marriage and church marriage are completely different things---which they are. The fight for gay marriage is about legal marriage. No one is going to force their precious churches to perform gay marriage ceremonies, which seems to be their biggest fear.

And second, a straight, national politician needs to stand up and show some leadership on this issue. Which will never happen.

Jeffery

Posted by: Jeffery on December 28, 2005 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Straight and/or white Americans always have to be better than someone else...

And men. Don't forget men.

heh.

zoe nails it: As I stated already, we need to work on multiple fronts, recognize that there isn't one national strategy when it comes to fighting for glbt rights-- there are (at least) 50 fronts to this battle.

Posted by: shortstop on December 28, 2005 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Torrent-- I'm not sure which episode of "30 Days" you're referring to, torrent, but I do not remember the one you describe. at all. I remember the Christian guy meeting with the lesbian pastor and him being awfully hostile to her. I also remember him going to his gay roommate's family's house and seeing first-hand how a family accepted their gay son. I also remember the young Christian guy getting drunk in a gay bar, dancing around and then getting dressed-down by his roommate for being foolish and asking for trouble. It's hardly the point, though, as that episode hardly got much MSM press.

What you do seem to be arguing is how *nice* we should be when we "push" to get equal rights for our families. I'm not sure why you think we're the assholes for being angry, for rejecting those that judge us, for wanting to fight to win. I'm sorry, but I don't lie down and respect bigotry. I don't care if it's wrapped up in religion or cultural traditions, it's still bigotry. If we don't call it what it is how are people supposed to learn?

Posted by: zoe kentucky on December 28, 2005 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Shortstop, after the 2004 election, when Democrat losses were blamed on gay people allegedly pushing for gay marriage and asking for too much, too soon (which is what happened here in California), someone said something to me that I will never, ever forget: America needs a nigger. Without a nigger, there is no America. And today, gay people are it.

Jeffery

Posted by: Jeffery on December 28, 2005 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK
Two things need to happen in order for gay marriage to become palatable to straight Americans.

The one you left out is that gay activists need to stop acting like, and perhaps actually being, simple minded bigots and treating "straight people" as if they were an single group marching in lockstep. Your blanket comments about "straight people" are a perfect example of the problem.

A sizable minority of straight people in the US support same sex marriage already; the right is fighting a rear-guard action.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 28, 2005 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

First of all, gay rights organizations need to make it crystal clear that legal marriage and church marriage are completely different things---which they are. The fight for gay marriage is about legal marriage. No one is going to force their precious churches to perform gay marriage ceremonies, which seems to be their biggest fear.

Second, we need to show that gay people *do* get married in churches and synagogues. That there are people of faith who support same-sex marriage, that there are religous people-- even conservatives! -- who have come to accept and embrace their gay family members. (cough, Mary Cheney & Heather Poe, cough)

Thirdly, we need to get people other than gay people to help us fight this battle for that is what will ultimately, fundamentally change things. The only way that is going to happen is in the face of some ugly backlash-- which is what we're looking at now.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on December 28, 2005 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, isn't it ironic that, today, gay people can and do get "married" in churches---it just isn't legal. Even in the 1980s, in my smallish hometown, there was an MCC branch that performed gay wedding ceremonies.

You know, I keep waiting for straight Christians who actually follow the teachings of Christ--rather than the nutty teachings of their rabid preachers--to stand up and say, "Whoa!," to their fundamentalist breatheren. Will that ever happen? I'm beginning to wonder.

I'm not sure gay rights advocates will ever get straight people on the gay marriage bandwagon. Even straight "liberals." They won't even do something like refuse to get married until gay people can do so. I'd love to see a straight marriage boycott, but left or right, straight people want their special rights and privileges! I don't blame them, but I am disappointed.

Jeffery

Posted by: Jeffery on December 28, 2005 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

'The one you left out is that gay activists need to stop acting like, and perhaps actually being, simple minded bigots and treating "straight people" as if they were an single group marching in lockstep. Your blanket comments about "straight people" are a perfect example of the problem.'

You know, I'm 40, and I've met a lot of people over the years, a lot of people interested in academics and politics and what have you, progressive people. And you know what? I have never, ever met a straight person who truly supports, in their heart of hearts, gay equal rights. There is always some sort of twinge, a slight discomfort, some sort of personal issue that is never overcome by grandiose thoughts about revolution or real equality, or trends in political hipness. When it comes down to really saying goodbye to straight privilege, they chicken out. By and large, straight liberals have never, ever stood up for gay people when the going has gotten tough, and I don't think they ever will. Sorry. I realize I am generalizing. But I would be thrilled to meet a truly radical straight person. And I suspect that person, if it exists, is more likely to be female.

Jeffery

Posted by: Jeffery on December 28, 2005 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK
You know, I keep waiting for straight Christians who actually follow the teachings of Christ--rather than the nutty teachings of their rabid preachers--to stand up and say, "Whoa!," to their fundamentalist breatheren. Will that ever happen?

Its happening everyday. If you don't see it, it might because your view is obstructed by that wall of stereotypes you've build around yourself; in fact, there are plenty of them in most of the churches that perform gay weddings that you talk about, and many outside of those Churches, as well.


I'm not sure gay rights advocates will ever get straight people on the gay marriage bandwagon.

Unless upwards of 20% of California is gay, there are more straight than gay supporters of gay marriage in California. Lots of straight people are on the gay marriage bandwagon, and more are getting on. Pretending this isn't happening is no way to encourage it.

They won't even do something like refuse to get married until gay people can do so. I'd love to see a straight marriage boycott, but left or right, straight people want their special rights and privileges!

What good do you imagine a "straight marriage boycott" would do? Anyhow, most of the straight supporters of gay marriage I know personally are, like myself, already married, so its hardly as if they could meaningfully participate in such a boycott.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 28, 2005 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK
And you know what? I have never, ever met a straight person who truly supports, in their heart of hearts, gay equal rights.

And you see what is in people's "heart of hearts" how? Most likely, what you are seeing is your own insecurity and prejudice.

But I would be thrilled to meet a truly radical straight person.

I've never thought of equality as being all that radical. But I've met plenty of straight people who wholeheartedly support equal rights for homosexuals.

And I suspect that person, if it exists, is more likely to be female.

There are quite a few people like that, and they are both male and female.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 28, 2005 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Um, every time a straight person marries and accesses those special rights and privileges, that person is eating the fruits of an unequal social arrangement, fruits offered only to straight people. If you don't support the inequality, you shouldn't eat the fruit.

A straight marriage boycott would make this fact crystal clear to straight people, such as youself, who allegedly support gay marriage while enjoying rights and privileges denied to gay people.

Jeffery


Posted by: Jeffery on December 28, 2005 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I love how straight liberals, when you start calling them on their shit, get really, really personal in response.

Equality really is radical, at least in the U.S. I mean, equality and competitive, free-market capitalism are mutally exclusive.

Jeffery

Posted by: Jeffery on December 28, 2005 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK
Um, every time a straight person marries and accesses those special rights and privileges, that person is eating the fruits of an unequal social arrangement, fruits offered only to straight people. If you don't support the inequality, you shouldn't eat the fruit.

I suppose that I shouldn't ever go to the doctor if I don't support the inequities in our health-care system, and shouldn't ever vote if I don't support the anti-democratic features of our electoral system, either.

Some of us prefer to work on solving problems, rather than entirely empty symbolic gestures; there are certainly times when symbolic gestures are useful components of an effort to drive a solution, though there is plenty of room, usually, for disagreement over whether they are and which such gestures are appropriate (and, of course, there are types of boycotts that directly punish the perpetrators of some injustice, which makes them substantive as well as symbolic).

There are very few cases where it is reasonable to argue that failure to participate in a particular symbolic act is a real indicator of lack of substantive commitment.

A straight marriage boycott would make this fact crystal clear to straight people, such as youself, who allegedly support gay marriage while enjoying rights and privileges denied to gay people.

Your personal ethical belief about abstention, which is tangential to the fundamental issue of the desirability of legal recognition of same-sex marriage rights, is not a "fact"; and, as you point out, a marriage boycott serves, at best, only to underline the tangential ethical principle you present, not to advance the cause of actual same-sex marriage. The failure of large numbers of straight couples to sign on for such a boycott is, therefore, not something that can be fairly read as indicator, in either direction, about support for same-sex marriage.

I mean, equality and competitive, free-market capitalism are mutally exclusive.

Equality of civil, political, and economic rights is not only not incompatible with free-market capitalism, its a requirement for a genuinely free market economy. Its incompatible with the kind of corporatist totalitarianism that is growing in the United States today, but then, so are free markets, and capitalism as originally conceived (although a system which so selectively favors "capital" as the growing corporatist system does could more fairly be called "capitalism" if that name weren't already taken)

Posted by: cmdicely on December 28, 2005 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Well Jeffery (sorry it took me a few posts to catch the spelling of your name),
Based on your posts, you are clearly a telepathic progressive. You are one of those people who "knows" what all your enemies (and apparently even your allies!) are thinking, you "know" what they really mean, you can just tell by looking at them. All of your posts see inside the evil heart of the straight man, American needs someone to hate, etc. I can't argue with you because you're not arguing, you're postulating. Since you already know what every American secretly wants and needs, there's no convincing you of anything you don't already believe.
If it makes you feel better to think that everyone hates you, if it makes you feel better to "know" that the Man is out to get you, then peace be on you. A question: if all of the straight people who have been so helpful and supportive of our cause are just lying, then why would you even try to fight for our rights? We will never get those rights, according to you, since until the entire Supreme Court is gay, "they" will never help us, right?
I think you belittle and disrepect all of the hard work done by straight people over the decades to help afford us the rights we deserve.

Posted by: torrentprime on December 28, 2005 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

You know, as soon as someone equates gay equal rights with access to health care, I start to glaze over. I believe that health care in this country is a problem. But to equate not going to a doctor with being beaten up, killed, fired, or otherwise physically, mentally or legally harrassed---just for being who you are, having your entire life, your potential, limited just because of who you are---that's a leap of illogic I'm not willing to take.

Let me guess: Only YOU know how capitalism was originally conceived, so no one but YOU knows anything about the topic, and when REAL capitalism is finally implemented (through pro-capitalist revolution I presume), a miracle will happen, everyone will be equal, and competition will fly out the window and corporate crime will disappear and straight people will stop oppressing gay people and won't life be perfect? LOL. Keep dreaming.

Jeffery

Posted by: Jeffery on December 28, 2005 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Zoe:
"What you do seem to be arguing is how *nice* we should be when we "push" to get equal rights for our families. I'm not sure why you think we're the assholes for being angry, for rejecting those that judge us, for wanting to fight to win. "
Call me ctazy, but I'd like people to respond to something I actually said and not what they would like to argue with.
I am not arguing "nice." I am arguing tactics. I don't give a sh!t about how nice we are; I care whether or not we win! And this hard-sell doesn't seem to be working. And as for the "why I think you're assholes," you're just making that out of whole cloth. I don't care if you're angry; what I care about is when we approach a set-in-his-ways conservative Christian, one who firmly believes in his/her faith, but has no stomach for hate or intolerance, screaming that we are killing them or oppressing them doesn't work. I've seen it. They feel persecuted and attacked, and running around calling them all "Christian Taliban" make get you cool points on DU, but it only helps their extremist leaders point to us and say, "See? They're attacking your faith!" We need to show them why Christ wants them to walk the path of tolerance, not attack them for being assholes.
Most of these people we need to convince (think they) have never even met a gay person. It's not real to them. And so unless we have a plan to get a gay person in every family in the country, it won't be real to them unless we speak to them in a language they understand. Make it God's will (as I believe it is) that we have equal rights under the law and in this country, fight the fight the way MLK did.
I am terribly afraid that we are about to slide backwards, that some states are on the verge of horrible, draconian, anti-gay rights measures that truly will make us legally second-class citizens. We need the people to not want that to happen, not be name-called into submission.

Posted by: torrentprime on December 28, 2005 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Torrent, rest assured that I don't care one whit about what any straight person thinks about me, whether they hate me or are out to get me or whatever. I couldn't care less. All I want is for them and their behavior and their laws and their preachers to get out of the way of social progress.

Let's see: I can name one straight politician who, over the past 24 months, has been truly supportive of gay rights: Gavin Newsom. He stood up and was counted. And you disapprove of his behavior. So, can you name another?

Jeffery

P.S. What y0u ought to be thanking me for is not correcting your misspelling of my name. You would have corrected me if I had done the same with your name.

Posted by: Jeffery on December 28, 2005 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

Jeffery,
She didn't compare inequal health care to homophobia. She asked if the way to oppose a bad system is to refuse to partake in it, and posed several examples. So the only leap of illogic was your interpretation of her post.

Posted by: torrentprime on December 28, 2005 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to know how anything new can be accomplished other than by relying on long term trends. Like anything in the political sphere, you'll get the thing you want only when a critical mass of people are in favor of it. Single payer healthcare and every other good thing will come only when the people want it.

I think we are missing something important here. Because of Instant polling on every subject, the growing power of the bloggosphere, media dependence on public opinionwe may be witnessing the birth of the first pure democracy, where the will of the people goes over the heads of their supposed rulers and actually drives the process.

We need to get used to government by poll numbers. Perhaps it is not be such a bad thing, after all.

Posted by: James of DC on December 28, 2005 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

"All I want is for them and their behavior and their laws and their preachers to get out of the way of social progress."
Then we want the same thing. What we disagree on is tactics. And if this thread with gay people is any indication of the decorum level of your approach to straight people, it's a wonder we aren't all in camps.

And as for your name; I placed my apology in my post to see if you would take the ingracious way out, take the bait, so to speak. Yup, you took it. And I would have corrected you, huh? More telepathy?

Posted by: torrentprime on December 28, 2005 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK
I am not arguing "nice." I am arguing tactics. I don't give a sh!t about how nice we are; I care whether or not we win! And this hard-sell doesn't seem to be working.

Really? Now compared to five years ago, more or less support for gay marriage? More or less places that allow it? More or less places that have something like civil unions or domestic partnerships?

Oh, sure, the other side is desperately trying to inhibit progress, that is to be expected, but in what sense is it not working? While I certainly don't think Jeffrey, in particular, has a good approach, the more general hard-sell approach in practice -- pushing for marriage equality openly and loudly and through every available route available -- is working.

I am terribly afraid that we are about to slide backwards, that some states are on the verge of horrible, draconian, anti-gay rights measures that truly will make us legally second-class citizens.

Horrible, draconian discrimination measures have often been passed because of the progress of liberation measures elsewhere, in every movement toward freedom. And no doubt some such measures will at least be attempted (God willing, none pass, but some may) if gay rights progress at all, whether fast or slow, whether the sales tactics are gentle or loud. Fear of change cannot be avoided, it can often only be conquered by getting the change in place somewhere that the people who fear it can see, by showing people that the things they fear do not come to pass, and gaining acceptance that way. And the best way to get that done when resistance is everywhere is to push everywhere, and winning as quickly and completely in as many places as possible.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 28, 2005 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK
You know, as soon as someone equates gay equal rights with access to health care, I start to glaze over. ... But to equate not going to a doctor with being beaten up, killed,...

I wasn't equating the two, I was questioning your devotion to the principle that one should abstain from a system that is unjust.

But, yeah, not having access to healthcare not infrequently equates, quite perfectly, with being killed.

Let me guess:

Sure.

Only YOU know how capitalism was originally conceived,

Wrong.

so no one but YOU knows anything about the topic,

Wrong.

and when REAL capitalism is finally implemented (through pro-capitalist revolution I presume),

I'd rather skip by even real capitalism entirely; I'm no capitalist.

a miracle will happen, everyone will be equal,

Wrong again. Real equality of political, economic, and civil rights is a prerequisite for, not effect of, a free market economy; inequality in those rights is a state imposed distortion of the market.

Equality beyond that is not a feature of capitalism, and of course the kind of equality required for free market capitalism can be present in other system. I tend to prefer a largely free-market labor-centric system favoring cooperative ownership of firms, personally, and state provision of services where the rational choice model underlying market theory is not a good approximation of reality such as, for example, most healthcare, and with a lot of other features that aren't really on topic for this discussion.

and competition will fly out the window

Competition is an inherent feature of capitalism, by design. I'd argue that, within limits, its also a good feature, too, but that seems to risk going far afield for this discussion. But, suffice it to say, your prediction here is wrong.

and corporate crime will disappear

Wrong. Corporate crime will still exist in any system in which corporations exist.

and straight people will stop oppressing gay people

Again, reversing cause and effect. See the above discussion of equality.

and won't life be perfect?

Nope, it won't.

LOL. Keep dreaming.

The thing you are laughing at is entirely your own fantasy, and it was wrong in every detail. It is you who are dreaming.


Posted by: cmdicely on December 28, 2005 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

Jeffery on December 28, 2005 at 6:02 PM:

I have never, ever met a straight person who truly supports, in their heart of hearts, gay equal rights.

I've met a few, and I also am a straight male who supports equal rights. Pleezta meetcha.

There is always some sort of twinge, a slight discomfort

True, but don't confuse conditioned reflex with lack of belief. It's going to take a few generations for that twinge to subside for most people. If anything, consider that person good in that their sense of social justice is strong enough to override their conditioning.

Not that there won't be homophobes in the future; they will just be unpopular extremists, like the modern day KKK is when it comes to race relations.

When it comes down to really saying goodbye to straight privilege, they chicken out.

Not sure what you mean by 'straight privilege'. Could you explain?

By and large, straight liberals have never, ever stood up for gay people when the going has gotten tough, and I don't think they ever will.

It's not hopeless. But equal rights for all isn't going to happen next week. If it's any consolation, look at the progress that has been made so far.

Sorry. I realize I am generalizing.

You are, but that's okay.

But I would be thrilled to meet a truly radical straight person.

I wouldn't consider myself radical, so I'll disqualify myself.

And I suspect that person, if it exists, is more likely to be female.

Probably. Lotta pressure on the guys to conform to some hetero stereotype...hence the twinge you sometimes observe.

Posted by: grape_crush on December 28, 2005 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

The gay marriage issue is a liberty fight for unmarried people, gay or not. The gays just lead the fight.

And the issue is not gay marriage, but the spread of domestic partnerships.

You would think that if only about 10% of the population would want gay marriage, it would be dismissed and the gays left out, no one would care that much.

But, it is the 40% or so of unmarried people who want domestic partnerships of a generic variety that lets them form family arrangements and take advantage of all the family benefits in employment.

Posted by: Matt on December 28, 2005 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

Getting back to the original post, this is a practical victory in one important sense. Through the legislature, gay couples in California have won extensive civil union rights second only to Vermont in this country. It's marriage in all but name.

The amendment being circulated would not only have cemented the ban on marriage, but it also would have taken away those partnership rights. As we saw in Michigan and Ohio, people will vote for any ban on gay marriage, whether it's only about the name or whether it vindictively takes away rights of hospital visitation, contract rights, health benefits, and other basic needs of couples. We can try to fight on the field of "this ban is really bad, it's not just about marriage" but we haven't won yet in a referendum.

So I'm glad that California couples will keep their civil unions for many years to run, and probably permanently.

Posted by: Brittain33 on December 29, 2005 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

I too would like to add that I know a lot of wonderful hetero progressives who strongly support same-sex marriage-- heck, a lot of them attended my wedding several years go. I've also been to more than a few hetero weddings where a statement was made before, during or after the wedding about the unfairness of the ban on gay marriage. I also can't count how many hetero couples I know who use "partner" instead of wife or husband. There is quite a bit of solidarity out there and it's growing all the time.

I've personally found that one of the ways that gay people are changing minds is to get married even without the legal status-- I know it made a huge difference in my life. Even among my Republican family members we're considered "married" because we had a ceremony, a reception, a honeymoon. (Even if we did have a totally nontraditional ceremony-- so we had our cake and ate it too.) If you think about it most people wouldn't consider a hetero couple who never went throught the motions of *getting married* to *be married* so why is it any different for us? I think if we want the right to be married we have to show it. Before I got married some of my famiyl was pretty anti-gay before, now they're not. When they think of gay marriage they think of me and my wife, not some abstract gay couple they don't know.

The fact that I consider myself married also helps when meeting people for the first time because I never call my wife my "girlfriend," I call her my wife, spouse or partner. People usually ask if we went to Canada or MA, actually I've had a lot of educated people ask me if it is legal where I live. (It's not.) I think many gay folks take for granted that a lot of people even know/understand the unequal status of marriage. It's up to us to kindly educate them about what legal marriage means, what we are cut off from. A lot of them just don't know and once they do, many of them do care.

So, Jeffrey, while I understand your anger and frustration, I want you to know that is it getting better all the time. While there are plenty of anti-gay folks there are also a lot of people who can be brought on board once they are "in the know."

Posted by: zoe kentucky on December 29, 2005 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

The conservatives are playing it nice and steady
"multi-decade tend" - nice, and real lame.
The only thing certain about young people is they grow up...

18 states and growing....

Posted by: Fitz on December 29, 2005 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

zoe: I think many gay folks take for granted that a lot of people even know/understand the unequal status of marriage. It's up to us to kindly educate them about what legal marriage means, what we are cut off from. A lot of them just don't know and once they do, many of them do care.

This is exactly right. Many people simply do not get that in hundreds of specific legal situations, marriage has a precise legal meaning that is not duplicated or mirrored in a civil union. Once people understand this, a good chunk of the estimated one-third of Americans supporting civil unions suddenly becomes part of the one-third supporting equal marriage rights.

Posted by: shortstop on December 29, 2005 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, really nice and vigorous discussion without getting too polemical. Nothing much to add save to say bravo to cmdicely, torrentprime and especially zoe kentucky for a stellar set of rebuttals.

Jeffery (did I get that correctly?) I'm afraid has a classic persecution complex. No need to say more save to note that all his righteousness in the world doesn't prevent him from hurting the cause he cares so passionately about.

I'm a straight guy. I'm proud to call gay people close friends. I support gay marriage wholeheartedly, but think civil unions is the better way to go tactically in the short term.

And I support amending statutes to make civil unions functionally equivalent to legal marriage. Where I agree with Jeff is that civil and religious marriage are entirely separate institutions.

Nothing about the rights gay people could have threatens me or takes anything away from me whatsoever. The idea of "straight privilege" is a straw man; equal rights for all is an extremely powerful issue. I frickin' started choking up when I saw the Vermont law passed on the evening news and saw those longtime couples hugging each other after the ceremonies.

Jeff, it's the same with the racial civil rights struggle. You go nowhere if you don't build bridges of solidarity with the larger society. *We* *want* *to* *help* *you* if we can.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on December 29, 2005 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Many people simply do not get that in hundreds of specific legal situations, marriage has a precise legal meaning that is not duplicated or mirrored in a civil union"

You sort of hit something on the nail, indirectly.

I think if people knew all the legal ramifications of marriage, they would be a lot smarter about planning their pre-nup agreements.

It is more than the legal requirements of marriage. It is part real estate partnership, part sharing of employee benefits, part dealing with community, part dealing with children (yes even gay marriages sooner or later get involved with the community children), part transportation management (do not underestimate this).

Partnerships are a whole lot of things. The debate on gay marriage is quite helpful, actually, in getting more people aware of all the parts of a domestic partnership.


Posted by: Matt on December 30, 2005 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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