Thursday, August 19, 2010
Gay rights are gaining traction even within the ranks of social conservatives. WorldNetDaily has kicked my friend Ann Coulter off the agenda at their "Taking America Back National Conference" because she is speaking at "HOMOCON," a gathering of gay conservatives. Ann took the occasion to wonder why "all gays aren't Republican," and to tell WorldNetDaily (which distributes her column) that they are "nuts on the birther thing."
Yup. When you're to the right of Ann, you need to ask yourself whether you are a nut. No. Really. You do.
And Republicans should capitalize on Ann's advice and take it further. (Ann is not, as far as I know, a supporter of gay marriage. Yet.) While the social conservatives (with whom I only occasionally agree on the substance) do not generally offend me because I usually see merit in their arguments even when I disagree with their conclusions, their opposition to gay rights bothers me because it strikes me as simply cruel. To me, equal rights for homosexuals is a much simpler issue than, for example, abortion, about which any thoughtful person should at least be ambivalent.
How about we achieve equality by ceasing all government subsidies and special legal status for heterosexual couples?
I don't think government belongs in this area, and I find it sad that government has anything at all to say about personal relationships.
Do not necessarily disagree with the foregoing, but I ask two questions, and then simply follow the implications.
FIRST, does government belong in marriage? You can make a tenable argument not.
But then unless we have a true flat tax, there will be inherent unfairness from progressive rates. Compare three couples. Two unrelated each making 50k. Two living together each making 50k. Two living together and specializing; on at 100k the other managing the household to enable the partner. On what grounds to we tax any of those three differently? That in itself is a clear distortion.
Besides, there are no longer grounds to ban plural marriage or incest.
And if the government does not belong in marriage, then it clearly does not belong in the day-care subsidy business, however “unfair” that is to oppressed working mothers.
Likewise we must ask why the does government belong in education? Why should a childless person be taxed to subsidize a breeder?
Here we are just confirming that we all agree how small government should be. And that precludes all last-ditch claims about “a well-educated citizenry,” etc. Pure libertarian.
SECOND, can we enforce equal protection WITHOUT proliferating all sorts of protected classes? Clearly we have failed at that.
From 1957 to 1964 (Eisenhower is vastly underappreciated) America moved to rectify the wrongs of slavery, the incomplete work of the Civil War, and the prolonged “insurgency” of Jim Crow. In order to do that, we explicitly gave up the right of association WITH REGARD TO RACE. Arguably the only solution.
But now we are faced with a situation where protected classes proliferate. In this blog post specifically, the historical wrongs against homosexuals do not rise to the level of the evils of slavery, and do not deserve the same protected class status, the same forfeiture of the right of association.
Yes we want to tolerate, de-criminalize, remove government barriers to homosexuality. Fine.
But the heavy hand of government has only two setting. As with quantum mechanics, “If it is not forbidden, it is compulsory.”
It is not enough simply to tolerate. No, now the government must forcibly coerce endorse. Mutual tolerance is not enough. Homosexual self-esteem (in the form of identical marriage rights, 3% of all characters in children’s schoolbooks, mandatory “diversity” in workforce composition etc.) must always trump free markets and the Constitutional right of association. All sorts of free speech and religious belief must be suppressed as “hateful.”
For the libertarian, there is only one internally consistent platform:
• Government out of marriage, day-care, public education.
• Flat tax in order NOT to distort the marketplace of household alternatives.
• Demographic demise of Social Security and indeed all inter-generational transfers, all of which are untenable, since the government has no interest in procuring the next generation.
• Merely decriminalize; no special protected classes.
We can all agree government has a role in property ownership, sales and inheritance and marriage is a nice, neat way of organizing many of those functions in connection with family law.
To the extant gay couples want to take advantage of those functions, particularly in tax advantaged ways, they need to use marriage. That's why I'm OK with gay marriage. I know a fellow whose 45 year relationship ended just a couple of years ago in the death of his partner (the household provider), and now he's destitute because he can't inherit his partner's pension. Ugly.
So from my first hand experience, this is a problem that needs to be solved. Anyone who prefers civil union, and that's OK with me too if that's the way society goes, needs to make sure it is identical to marriage in all respects in it's tax and property benefits. To my mind it's easier to use marriage, but I'm really indifferent. But then I'm not gay.
I just can't see this as an "endorsement" of gay marriage. Must I endorse the practice of Islam in order to tolerate those who practice it? Rather, it questions whether the State has a compelling interest in discriminating against gay couples who would otherwise chose to marry.
Can we deprive citizens of an otherwise fundamental right to marry that everyone else can "enjoy", simply because a majority of voters are intolerant or bigoted? What other bigoted viewpoints can be used to discriminate among citizens' fundamental rights? What is the state interest in telling a gay man that he can only marry a woman?
Here's the deal. I'm a gay Episcopal chaplain working in not-for-profit healthcare, so you can imagine that I tend to be fairly liberal. The thing is, there are several issues that are curious to me that, I believe, conservative politics tend to emphasize -- size of government, liberty, bloated unions...things like this. I've not ever voted for a conservative candidate and probably won't in the future on account of this social conservative crap (read: being assholes). I think there are probably lots of liberals out there like myself who might very well enjoy conversation with conservative candidates (though I think Ann Coulter is pure theater and GOProud vote against their own best interests) about substantive governing issues if they would stop being such douchebags to the gays. I read this blog almost every day because I am interested in the content, and I don't feel like Mr. Tigerhawk is a gay-hating fucktard. It should also probably be noted that my parents were probably the only two people in the US who voted for Mondale.
"Equal rights" for homosexuals? Marriage is a "right"? Really? Or do you mean real rights that are actually called out in the constitution restricted from them?
When people like you use language like that you sound like morons. Gays live together openly, go anywhere they want, etc. Gay couples make more than married couples statistically. And you go around moaning how they are downtrodden with their rights restricted.
The vast majority of gays don't want to be married, and you condemn those who want to keep the status quo of the past few thousand years so you can feel a little better about yourself while making no improvement to society.
I think it's just fine if societies decide, through government, do do things that guarantee the successful and healthy propagation of their members.
Forbidding incest isn't just a biblical thing (although if you strictly read Genesis, we are all incestuous bastards); it is a means to prevent the transmission of genetic defects that are recessive.
Getting tested for veneral disease before marriage is quaint, but you can see why it was done.
The concept of a family unit isn't just Dick and Jane stuff, it is to define the roles of parents in the incorporation of their progeny itno society.
So, hell yeah, I think one of the most VALID roles of a democratic governemnt is to police marriage and changes to the marriage contract should be as difficult as changing the constitution.
WE HAVE TOO MUCH TO LOSE if it becomes compliant to the sway of social fads and sexual mores.
Having said that, if you are gay and find a life partner, I thin kyou have every right to form a legal relationship that gives you all of the benefits of marriage. I think stable adult replationships are good for society and the economy.
Why the 'War on Poverty" declared war (successfully) on such relationships is the hate crime of the century, but I digress.
So give if gays, lesbians..or any tow adults want a monogamous life long committment, society should accomodate for it's own good.
But if you involve children...STOP, LOOK and LISTEN!!! WE know nuclear families work (when allowed) because we have thousands of years of data to prove it.
Two adults who want to get together, share income and life, furniture and food and grow old together is fine. Putting children into that mix is an unknown and potentially very dangerous thing to do...and we should all think long and hard before allowing it.
To me, equal rights for homosexuals is a much simpler issue than, for example, abortion, about which any thoughtful person should at least be ambivalent.
Not sure what there is to be ambivalent about...either a fetus is a human being, or it isn't.
If it isn't, then a woman has as much right to remove it as any other part of her body (i.e., plastic surgery, piercing, etc)
But if it IS a human being, then abortion is murder.
I guess the question is, does an "not-yet-born" human have rights, such as a right to live?
Cas, you have given several different scenarios above which sounds rather....ambivalent.
JPMcT, I know quite a few gay couples of both genders; most of them don't express an interest in having children (via adoption or medical means) although I have seen plenty of examples of them being loving aunts and uncles to their kin. One female couple I know, however, has a kid. I am not sure if it is the biological kid of one or the other but all I can say is that the kid seems happy, the two moms are loving, they take responsibility for the kid. This does not seem like the biggest threat to society to me, nor does gay marriage. These are acts of love. It would seem that the bigger problem we face (in addition to prejudice) is parents (male or female) who abandon or abuse their kids.
Assume with me for a moment that the following assertion is true: marriage, by it's definition in both secular legal and religious contexts the world around, is a sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman. If this is true, then the inability of a man to lawfully marry another man is not a deprivation of "equal rights" - the gay male has precisely the same rights to marriage everyone else has: he can marry any member of the opposite sex he choses, so long as she is not underage, already married, or too closely related. Many gays and lesbians have chosen to marry in this fashion. The fact that a man seeks societal sanction to marry within his own sex means he seeks to alter the nature and definition of the institution of marriage to suit his personal desires, namely to marry the person of his choice who happens to be outside the group of people he may lawfully marry by virtue of the definition of marriage. This is a very different matter than seeking to enforce equal rights. Society may choose to grant his request by changing the definition of marriage, or it may deny the request by declining to do so, but it is in no way a question of granting or denying "equal rights". It sounds harsh, but gays and lesbians now have and have always had the same rights to marry as heterosexuals do - namely, to marry a member of the opposite sex. Marrying whoever you want to, odd as it may sound, is not a right that any of us have unless and until society decides to change the definition of marriage.
"They take responsibility for the kid"
Same here. My gay friends and associates just want legal protection for a long term, committed relationship. They certainly deserve it.
The only difference I see between a civil union and marriage is the intent to raise children, depending, of course, on how the civil union is structured.
My point (perhaps badly espressed)is that the long term effects of various family types on the development of a child is pretty well known, EXCEPT for the effect of raising children in a gay home. It may have no deleterious effect at all. Right now, who knows? But the privelege of raising a child should not be casually dispensed to anyone who asks.
The people who seem LEAST capable of making that decision are politicians.
I'd love to see some data on gay households and child rearing. If it's out there, it should be used in crafting policy. If it's not out there, it should be studied BEFORE allowing adoption or other means of planned pregnancy.
Our current society has enough problems visited upon nuclear families from Washington. Finding out in a generation or two that kids are comprimised by gay parenthood, in the same way that kids are often comprimised by single parenthood or divorce or abuse is my concern.
We need to be cautious and fair.
Marriage is about family. Gay marriage is about the couple. Society depends on men and women having kids and supporting them. If a couple is childless, their relationship concerns only them. Smug moralism does not change reality.
In many ways that train has already left the station, JPMcT. If you look at the state of the traditional nuclear family, it has eroded considerably with 30 to 50 of marriages estimated as eventually ending in divorce (depending on one's age bracket) and with 40% (!) of kids being born out of wedlock.
I agree that anyone looking to adopt should have to meet some rigorous standards, although it also is true that just about any knucklehead can have a kid whether they should or not. There is no parenting equivalent of the written exam for a driver's license, never mind the road test.
JPMcT - what licensing or other requirements are there for straight parents?
A buddy of mine was talking earlier this week about how his 2-1/2 year old (he and his partner adopted), after seeing some Valentine's Day show on TV, asked "are you and Daddy married?" Having "the word" IS important if you want equality. Besides, as Ted Olsen recently pointed out on his interview with Chris Wallace, we are't talking about Gay Marriage, we are talking about Marriage and what citizens can or can't have it.
Of topic, but concerning Ann Coulter, the fashionably lefty-ish Daily Beast has a complimentary blurb about her today, called Surprise! The Ann Coulter You Don't Know. Those who appreciate her might enjoy it.
"what licensing or other requirements are there for straight parents?"
As our society has developed, I think we can all agree that we have not "risen to the occasion" as caretakers of the institution of marriage.
Marriage has suffered the blows of the sexual revolution, the War on Poverty (alias the War on Black Nuclear Families), the general acceptance of divorce and the creeping onslaught of moral relativism.
It simply doesn't mean as much to be "married" today as it did even 75 years ago.
Much of it is the fault of government, but it doesn't matter...it's BAD, whatever the reason.
So before we all allow our gay brothers and sisters to jump on the party wagon, doesn't ANYBODY think we should repair the process for everybody...especially the products of marriage???
I'm not sayin' how...I'm just sayin'.
Our society's attitudes toward homosexuality has changed remarkably in my lifetime---much as its attitudes toward racial differences have changed. Gays have achieved recognition, respect, and legal protections that my parents in their youth never would have imagined. For the most part the battle is not over losing rights, there were essentially none to start with, but over gaining rights.
Or, yielding privilege.
As far as legal rights such as employment, health care, pensions, contracts, etc. go, the horse is pretty much out of the barn. There are inequities, but the country has come to accept equality in those areas mostly, and it is only a matter of time for the remaining old standards to be replaced with more forgiving standards. Not much time I think.
About the only big remaining point of contention I hear is the application of the term "marriage." Personally, I'm ok sharing it. But I think it is better when dealing with a few issues that cleave the country into passionately disputing parts, that both sides should compromise a bit and if that is not possible, then the resolution should be deferred.
Although I am an atheist, I note that there are a lot of our countrymen who have a religious upbringing that hold homosexuality as fundamentally wrong or sinful. It is who they are and I share the country with them too even if I do not share their beliefs.
They are changing of course, some of their sons and daughters and wives and husbands find themselves in a gay frame of mind, or make valued friends who are. I think a good percentage of them have changed their attitudes like the rest of us.
But if I look at the scorecard today, they have pretty much only yielded. Yielded just about everything except one word. Marriage. Gays have achieved or soon will achieve all their key objectives, except one.