Gay rights

2010 08 19
Howard Dean on Park51

Howard Dean says of the community center proposed at Park51:

I think another site would be a better idea.

(Actually, he said it would be a “better i-deer,” but being from New England, I find this endearing.)

In response to criticism from Glenn Greenwald, Dean writes (in part):

My argument is simple. This Center may be intended as a bridge or a healing gesture but it will not be perceived that way unless a dialogue with a real attempt to understand each other happens. That means the builders have to be willing to go beyond what is their right and be willing to talk about feelings whether the feelings are “justified” or not. No doubt the Republic will survive if this center is built on its current site or not. But I think this is a missed opportunity to try to have an open discussion about why this is a big deal because it is a big deal to a lot of Americans who are not just right wing politicians pushing the hate button again. I think those people need to be heard respectfully whether they are right or whether they are wrong.

What I’d like to ask Dean, proud defender of civil unions for homosexual couples, is this: couldn’t this same argument be made in favor of asking those pesky lesbians to refrain exercising their right to attend their high school prom?

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2005 10 28
Bizzaro World Belle on SSM

I find opposition to same-sex marriage so infuriating that I usually just want to walk away from a debate about the issue before I punch someone in the nose. (See here and here, for slightly more restrained statements of my opinion.) Still, I think Belle Waring’s exercise of attempting to develop as sympathetic as possible a view of the anti-SSM position is a very helpful one. If I weren’t so pressed for time, I would actually address the points she makes. Since I am pressed for time, let me just make this far more modest point: She really has nothing at all to apologize for. A really important part of thinking about an issue is sympathetically reconstructing various positions you disagree with. And I think the way she engaged in the exercise was spirited, but it wasn’t flip or casual or mean-spirited.

Indeed, I think the blogosphere would be a better place if everyone were obliged to write at least one bizzaro world post for every five regular posts on any given subject.

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2005 08 10

Mining the comedy gold in Dobson’s view of homosexuality.

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2005 07 18
Support for same-sex marriage in Canada

The Globe and Mail: Same-sex marriage bill must stand, majority say:

In a new poll conducted for The Globe and Mail/CTV, 55 per cent of Canadians surveyed say the next government should let same-sex legislation stand, while 39 per cent would like to see an attempt made to repeal it. A further 6 per cent said they did not know.

I’d like support to be even higher, but the fact is, in a few years, when people notice that the sky still hasn’t fallen, support for it will be much higher than 55%.

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2005 06 28
It’s about time

Canada Parliament set to approve same sex marriage – Yahoo! News

Canada’s Parliament was set to approve legislation on Tuesday that will allow same sex marriages across the country, despite fierce opposition from conservative legislators and religious groups.

A majority of parliamentarians support the bill, which would make Canada only the third country after Belgium and the Netherlands to allow gay marriages.

Officials said Parliament’s House of Commons would vote on the bill at around 8 p.m. EDT (midnight GMT) on Tuesday.

A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2005 06 14
Congratulations, etc.

Air base hosts 1st military gay wedding

Howls of outrage (2)

2004 12 02
Gay book ban

Posted by in: Gay rights


A bill by Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale [AL], would prohibit the use of public funds for “the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.” Allen said he filed the bill to protect children from the “homosexual agenda.”

Allen said that if his bill passes, novels with gay protagonists and college textbooks that suggest homosexuality is natural would have to be removed from library shelves and destroyed.

“I guess we dig a big hole and dump them in and bury them,” he said.

I would have thought that depositing the material in a big brown hole would have been just the sort of imagery he’d want to avoid.

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2004 11 30
Bush loses in Court

Good news for the reasonable. WaPo:

A federal appeals court yesterday prohibited the government from withholding funds from colleges and universities that refuse to cooperate with military recruiters because of the Pentagon’s discrimination against gays in the armed forces.

In a 2 to 1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia blocked the government from enforcing a law known as the Solomon Amendment, which punishes universities that refuse to allow military recruiters on campus. The law was originally passed by Congress in 1996 but was not actively enforced before the beginning of President Bush’s administration.

The court ruled that the Solomon Amendment violated the free-speech rights of schools that restricted on-campus recruiting in response to the military’s ban on gays. By threatening to withdraw federal funds from schools that refused to cooperate with military recruiters, the court wrote, the government was compelling them “to express a message that is incompatible with their educational objectives.”

Yesterday’s ruling in a case originally brought by New Jersey law schools overturned a decision by a lower court judge and marked the first time an appeals court had blocked the government from enforcing the law.

Now, tell me again how the Bush admin justified this policy in the face of their defence of the “freedoms” at stake when lefties decry the government funding of faith-based ministries. Oh, right, i forgot: It’s okay to tax the non-religious to pay for religious activities, but it’s not okay to direct tax dollars to secular institutions of learning who refuse to give their imprimatur to hatred and bigotry. Got it.

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2004 10 17
Mary Cheney and partisan politics

Many thanks, again, to helpful (and patient) commenters in this post for helping me to sort out my thoughts on the Mary Cheney flap. Truth be told, I don’t think there’s much intrinsic interest in the subject, and never really did, since in the worst case, it’s just one of those little incidents that makes you momentarily uncomfortable, but is insignificant when put in perspective. I wrote about it because I find it interesting to disagree with people I usually agree with and respect quite a bit. In the end, I do think that devoting too much time to the question plays into the hands of a vile crew of nutjobs who don’t want people talking about Iraq or the economy or whatever. That said, I want to draw a larger moral before I close off this discussion (as far as I’m concerned).
Continue Reading »

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2004 10 15
Cheney’s daughter

Well, an impressive and rapidly growing number of people I really respect are arguing that there’s nothing wrong with Kerry or Edwards pointing out that Cheney’s daughter is a lesbian. I noted earlier that their doing so made me a bit squeamish, for reasons I couldn’t really put my finger on. I’m still having trouble sorting how what I think about this, so let me make a few preliminary points:

1. Yes, of course this isn’t an outing. Of course Dick Cheney is a hypocrite. (As Rodger Payne, among others, points out Cheney didn’t say a damn word when Alan Keyes was slandering his daughter a month ago.) And of course the hypocrisy is politically relevant.

2. A distressing number of people – including a bunch I really respect – are claiming that anyone who is a bit squeamish about this tactic is only revealing his or her own homophobia. Bullshit. I’m not a homophobe, and neither are the friends I spoke to about this who also felt the way I did. Trust me on this, okay? I’m sure that many people are revealing their own homophobia when they complain that this is a smear. But I’m not complaining that this is a smear, and my sense that there’s something unsavoury about the tactic doesn’t rest on a feeling that there’s anything wrong with homosexuality.

3. My main worry is that there is something unethical about appealing to, or attempting to make use of, homophobia, for political purposes. When Kerry and Edwards seek to remind Republican voters that Mary Cheney is a lesbian, they are trying to play on the Republican base’s homophobia; they are trying to gain a political advantage from it. Homophobia is a base (excuse the pun) tendency, an intrinsically bad attitude. At the very least, attempting to play on it for political gain raises difficult ethical questions. To claim that this is simply an ethical no-brainer is false.

4. Now, I don’t think that this is the same as, or nearly as bad as, attempting to gain a political advantage from your own base’s homophobia. So I think it would be much worse if Kerry had a gay daughter and Bush repeatedly brought it up in order to excite disgust in his own base for Kerry. Perhaps the reason for this is partly that the connection between political gain and an intrinsically bad attitude is much tighter. It’s probably also partly because the rank hypocrisy in Cheney’s own position. I acknowledge the strong desire to say, “Fine. You live by the homophobic base, you die by the homophobic base.” I acknowledge that there is something a bit satisfying in seeing Cheney hoist with his own homophobic petard. (Not that all Republicans are homophobes, of course. But enough are to make Kerry and Edwards’ political strategy viable.)

5. But notice that Edwards and Kerry didn’t raise the point about hypocrisy, at least directly. They made the point that Cheney’s daughter is a lesbian, and I’m pretty sure they did it to chip away at the base. The Republican base is going to be disgusted at the sexual orientation, not at the hypocrisy.

6. I don’t see how anyone who notices and loathes Bush’s smirk could have failed to notice that Edwards had quite the smirk himself when he noted that Cheney’s daughter was a lesbian. Perhaps part of my own gut reaction to all this stems from the fact that Edwards just looked like a complete asshole when he said it. (Kerry managed to avoid this.)

7. Yes, I think I’m keeping all this in proportion. Even if it’s a bit low, it’s not terribly low.

8. And no, I haven’t made up my mind about this for once and for all. But something is holding me back from the liberal consensus on this one. If I figure out a compelling explanation for my attitude, I’ll let you know.

Many thanks to Anne, Aga, Rodger (in the comments and on his site) and Emily for helping me sort through this. If you think you can help unravel my confusion, either way, let me know in the comments.

UPDATE: Over at Crooked Timber, Ted quotes Andrew Sullivan:

Some of the subtler arguments I�ve heard overnight say the following: it�s not that homosexuality is wrong; it�s just that many people believe that and Kerry therefore exploited their homophobia to gain a point. I don�t buy it, but let�s assume the worst in Kerry�s motives for the sake of argument. What these emailers are saying is that Kerry should hedge what he says in order to cater to the homophobia of Bush�s base. Why on earth should he? The truth here is obvious: Bush and Cheney are closet tolerants. They have no problem with gay people personally; but they use hostility to gay people for political purposes, even if it means attacking members of their own families. What they are currently objecting to is the fact that their hypocrisy has been exposed. To which the only answer is: if you don�t want to be exposed as a hypocrite, don�t be one.

To which I say: Absolutely. Cheney and Bush have no right to complain. That they’re raving hypocrites is beyond dispute. But the fact that your opponent is a hypocrite and has no right to complain of your treatment of him doesn’t rule out the possibility that your treatment of him is wrong in some way. The thing that makes me uneasy is that Kerry and Edwards are trying to use homophobia for their own political advantage, and this point doesn’t address that worry.

Howls of outrage (13)

2004 10 06
VP Debate blogging

Watched the debate over at a friend’s last night. No deep thoughts to share. I will say that I really thought Cheney’s head was going to explode when Edwards praised him for loving his lesbian daughter loyally. It might have been a bit more effective rhetorically if Edwards had been able to offer his words of praise without that little smirk. Then again, the smirk may have been what put Cheney over the top. I hope they had an ambulance waiting outside in case Dick’s heart conked out, cause Edwards was playing with fire. If you looked at the bottom of your screen when the camera was on Cheney afterwards, his thumb was working furiously on pen and he almost seemed to be shaking. The energy in the debate seemed different after that point. Cheney seemed more subdued and reflective, and he stopped going for the jugular so much. But Edwards also seemed a bit subdued in comparison with the beginning of the debate.

As for overall impressions, I think that if didn’t actually know that Cheney was lying through his teeth half the evening (the half when he was talking) I would have seen him as a sort of grumpy but tough grandpa figure – a bit crabby, sure, but he seems to know what he’s doing, and darn it, thank goodness for that. But I think I might have been a bit unsettled by grandpa’s refusal to answer any of the specific points that the smooth-talkin’ stranger raised about the wisdom of his plan. Perhaps, the unsettling thought my have arisen in the back of my mind, grandpa is really just completely bonkers.

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2004 05 17
Western Civilization takes it on the chin

Posted by in: Gay rights

The Medium Lobster explains why same-sex marriage spells the end for Western Civilization.

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2004 05 17
Same-sex marriage

Reason Magazine has a giggle-worthy response to right-wing complaints.

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2004 04 23
Ick and Natural

I’m a teaching assistant for a class called “Contemporary Moral Issues” this term. Last week we discussed same-sex marriage in section. A student raised his hand towards the beginning of the class and suggested that the fact that people still find homosexual sex icky even after all this activism from homosexuals might be an indication that it really was unnatural. I let a few students respond, and made a few points myself. Then I took a quick poll. It turns out that there wasn’t much enthusiasm in the room for hot Dad-on-Mom sex either. Go figure.

Kinda makes you wonder about the connection between ick and natural, eh?

A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2004 02 25
[Kerry on same-sex marriage]

Busy, sick, traveling. Probably won’t be posting much this week.

I would like to say, however, that Kerry’s response to Bush’s Federal Marriage Amendment is really lame. From the point of view of principle, I think Kerry’s position is bankrupt.

As a political matter, I’ve gone from thinking that this issue is a loser for Democrats to thinking that this is actually something that might on the whole be a winner for them. Yes, I understand the potential that this issue has to mobilize Bush’s base, something he badly needs with the economy and the war the way they are. But if Kerry had a bit of imagination, he might frame the issue in a way that makes Bush look very bad.

This is one line of attack, for example: “Bush isn’t just opposed to gay-marriage – by proposing to amend the constitution he wants to take the most extreme legal measure to oppose it. And yet, it obviously has no hope of passing. And he knows that. So it’s a cynical move to pander to a group who isn’t going to get what they want anyway.”

If Kerry pushed that line hard, taking every opportunity to rub it in the noses of Bush’s base that they aren’t going to get what they want anyway, and Bush knows it, he might do very well for himself on balance.

As it is, Kerry’s position is just a big damn disappointment.

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