May 15, 2012

The Gay Marriage "Distraction"

It is a well travelled Republican talking point that the gay marriage issue is a distraction from President Obama's economic record. It's true of course, but the Republicans are as much to blame for said distraction as the Democrats.

A friend from suburban Wichita, Kansas emails a link to this story about a public school teacher posting his views against gay marriage on his Facebook page. He has every right to his beliefs, of course, and to speak them publicly. But by continuing to oppose legal recognition of same-sex marriage we allow him to become the face of our conservative party. I will not stand silently by. How many of us have wished we could have been present in the face of an incident of racial discrimination in the segregated south and that we would have had the courage to say, "No, that is wrong?" Same story, different age.

My Kansas friend sent the link with the note "Need your comments here" to both me and my brother. What follows is my response, which rebutted my brother's.

[Brother] writes that it is "nonsense" that established law denies a right for same-sex marriage, then declares there is "no defined right for same sex couples to "marry." Which is it?

[Brother] writes that "The majority of the country does not care what people do in their own bedrooms or whom they decide to 'love'" but then proclaims homosexuality "abnormal" and that he doesn't support homosexual weddings because that would "redefine something that has been a pillar of communities for 5000+ years" and "the more we break down the institution of marriage to simply be a whim, the more our society will continue to degrade." So you, and "the majority of the country" are fine with homosexuality, you just don't want to acknowledge it in law?

[Brother] faults Conkling, the Hutchinson teacher, for "taking the cause backwards" and "fuel[ing] the opposition" by opposing gay marriage on religious grounds. I say [brother] is no different by attempting to oppose this individual liberty on non-religious grounds, whatever those might be. Until he clarifies his contradictions there's no way to know what objective basis he claims.

Conkling's "logic" is even more fallacious: Homosexuality is wrong because it is a sin, equal in God's eyes to all other sins, and we are ALL sinners. He says all sins are equal in God's eyes so homosexuality is equal to murder, but it's also equal to lying. Do you agree that lying is as wrong as murder? I don't. Conkling says he condemns gay marriage "because those who embrace it will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven." First of all, doesn't the bible teach man to "judge not?" Secondly, there are other beliefs about heaven and sin and for one man to impose his own upon all other men is just as wrong as Sharia law.

Would it not be better to simply allow civil unions, conferring all the legal rights of marriage while witholding the term "marriage" than to continue to allow this issue to divide Americans and distract from issues that actually matter to all of us, like whether or not America will be a socialist country? And even if they aren't satisfied with civil unions and come back next year demanding "marriage" who cares? Whatever it is called it will still be a minority behavior. Unlike drug legalization nobody makes a legitimate case that legal homosexual marriage will cause more homosexuality. (But so what if it did? Will that affect you? Your children? Anyone who is not "abnormal?")

The cause of western laissez-faire capitalism is a cause of individual liberty. Individual liberty in commerce is a human birthright, as is individual liberty in social relations. Individuals are, by their nature, free to join a commune or establish a nuclear family; free to love another of the same gender or of the opposite gender. If you want to live free of oppressive taxation and wealth redistribution your only argument is individual liberty as a human birthright. But you weaken that argument by denying others a liberty of which you disapprove. Stop it. Admit your mistake and strengthen your position in the debate that really matters - that really affects you and your family's lives - by abandoning a debate that doesn't matter. Don't insist that your beliefs hold dominion over the beliefs of others lest they turn your logic back on you and insist that you are your brother's keeper.

2012 Election Elevator Talk Freedom on the March Gay Rights Philosophy Rant Shameless Self Promotion Posted by JohnGalt at May 15, 2012 4:23 PM

Agreed and well said. There are quite a few things which may be defined as sinful which we do not elevate to statute. "Coveting thy neighbor's ass" is still okay in Weld County, as far as I know.

I allowed a many-years-old subscription to National Review elapse when they demanded -- on the cover -- a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage. I wasn't petulant about it, still respect NR, and have slid a little money their way since.

But I basically reached the same conclusion, that I could not employ the supremacy clause for a personal matter and expect others to defend my economic liberty. I suspect that would not have happened under WFB's more libertarian hand but I have no empirical proof.

On the pragmatic side, I think it remains a killer. Trying to attract somebody younger than 30 to the table of liberty is difficult in the wake of North Carolina's vote and now Colorado's lack of vote.

Posted by: jk at May 15, 2012 6:45 PM

JK drops his subscription to the National Review and I drop out of the Republican party. I struggled for several weeks about attending our caucuses, knowing that Party of God types would choose Rick Santorum and that a majority of the evening would be spent pushing an amendment to our state constitution limiting marriage to one man and one woman. Even before Obama weighed in the strategy was to generate voter turnout based on opposition to gays. I cant possibly vote for Obama but I will not be in a party or campaign that seeks to benefit from an assault on the dignity and liberty of my brothers and sisters. And I won't be alone. Republicans are on the wrong side of history when it comes to Gay rights and they will pay a price for decades to come. Fifty years from now nobody will remember the Bidden gaffes or Obama's fundraising predicament; people will remember the first black president was the first to run for office as a supporter of gay marriage. Democrats enjoy almost unanimous suppport in the African American community based on Kennedy/Johnson era civil rights legislation and if Republicans don't wake up they will lose another voting block.

JK and John Galt, as always, provide a reasoned argument rooted in the Constitution and I appreciate that but this has become something more visceral for me. A couple of weeks ago a little girl in a town next to ours hung herself after being bullied for a year over her mother's sexual orientation. Last night I went to a funeral for one of my daughter's classmates. He climbed onto an overpass and jumped onto the highway below. He was bullied to death for being Gay. I am sickened and heartbroken. I will not be in a party that would deny the basic human dignity and equallity due every man and woman. I wont be part of a political movent that would deny the choice of marriage, the most important, valuable and meaningful decision I've ever made, to others. Bob Marley sings of "forwardin' this generation triumphantly," though in my case it is our younger generation that has been "forwarding" me. Henceforth I intend to help them "sing songs of freedom" and if the Republican party wants to block freedom's way I intend to roll right over them.

Posted by: sugarchuck at May 16, 2012 9:55 AM

JK is correct about established attitudes, and I think my brother's beliefs reflect his environment more than his heart. The Kansas friend I mentioned lives near Wichita, more evangelical even than Colorado Springs and yet he replied to me, "in my world in Kansas USA I could care less what the corn-****ers do, just don't interfere with me or my family." A libertarian position that, if a bit intemperately stated.

I can't cite examples of friends or neighbors who've been affected by discrimination, and dagny observed that my attitude has *ahem* evolved. I can say I was profoundly ashamed when my neighbors and fellow delegates loudly booed the speaker from Colorado Log Cabin Republicans when he suggested the Colorado civil unions bill should be supported. When I said, fairly loudly and to no one in particular, "Hey, be nice" the woman next to me turned around incredulously. The rest of the conversation was unspoken but I do believe I impressed upon her that her attitude was something upon which she should reflect.

I had a similar experience at the Romney rally last week. A woman asked me if I wanted to sign her pro-life petition, ubiquitious at GOP events. I shook my head and asked her if she was aware that over two-thirds of Republican delegates to the state convention approved a resolution that abortion and pregnancy are personal, private matters and not the business of government. She was speechless but a man nearby blurted out, "Well they are wrong!"

In the first case I pleaded for civility, and in the second merely cited a fact. The reaction from those who heard me was reflexive, but shallow and unsupported. There was no furher debate or discussion, the respondents merely drifted away silently. These are simply ideas which they've never considered. None has dared utter them in such settings, in all likelihood.

Ayn Rand said that silence in the presence of ideas which you find abhorrent is tacit approval of them. Simply say, "I disagree" she advised in 'Philosophy, Who Needs It?' I hope that brother Sugarchuck, or any of the rest of us, will not abandon the Republican party when it most needs a voice for liberty. Our country's present state of divisivness and the failed leadership of the president present an opportunity to discredit the idea of socialism, but the left is not the only source of discredited ideas - the unchallenged dogma of social "norms" on the right should be confronted at the very same time.

To those who say that gay marriage or even civil unions are just a "drip, drip, drip of liberalism" I give the following reply:

Liberalism was established for the promotion of liberty. Thomas Jefferson was a "liberal." George Washington was a "liberal." Modern leftists co-opted the term and it has come to mean socialist or communist. I'm all for liberalism, but not socialism or communism. I understand the difference. Do you?
Posted by: johngalt at May 16, 2012 12:27 PM | What do you think? [3]