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October 15, 2006

A Very Bad Idea

Shakes here…

Looking at a new HRC poll centered around the fall-out of the Mark Foley scandal, I find some rather curious results: 80% say that “making sure that gays and lesbians receive the same rights and protections under the law as other Americans” is either Very Important (47%), Fairly Important (14%), or Somewhat Important (19%). But only 66% of the total group polled support gay marriage (21%) or civil unions or some approximation (45%). Huh? That seems odd.

Especially when 66% also say that “protecting our traditional family values from the gay lifestyle” is either Very Important (42%), Fairly Important (9%), or Somewhat Important (15%). But only 31% of the total group polled believe “there should be no legal recognition of a relationship between gay or lesbian couples.”

So basically, 80% of people want to make sure gays and lesbians have equal rights, but a bunch of them don’t support legalized gay marriage or civil unions. And 66% of people want to protect “traditional values from the gay lifestyle,” but a bunch of them do support legalized gay marriage of civil unions. And, clearly, some people who say that gays and lesbians should receive the same rights and protections under the law also say that we need to protect our traditional family values from the gay lifestyle. That’s just bizarre.

This proves two things: 1) Americans are a very schizophrenic lot. 2) Allowing such a collection of mixed-up birdbrains to vote on the rights of other people is A Very Bad Idea. They can’t even be trusted to make any bloody sense, and yet we’ve conferred upon them the unprecedented entitlement of deciding whether to extend civil rights to others.

Here’s the big problem: Whether or not those rights are granted, it makes not a modicum of practical difference to the lives of the heterosexual majority (in spite of what Daddy Dobson or like-minded doomsayers who equate gay marriage with the fall of civilization would have us believe). And that’s decidedly problematic when human nature dictates that we vote primarily out of self-interest. If you have no vested interest in the outcome of that on which you’re voting, you’ve no incentive to explore beyond your aesthetic preference, which could be rooted in religious beliefs or visceral hatred or any number of other things that have nothing to do with the legal merits of the issue.

In other words, it’s no wonder many straight voters are ill-informed and hold completely illogical positions about LGBT equality. Worse yet, one of our political parties is glad of the fact, and the other can’t be bothered to question the wisdom of leaving an important civil rights issue in the hands of a populace whose vast majority won’t be affected by the outcome.

Civil rights shouldn’t be put to a ballot in the first place, because equality isn’t meant to be predicated on the good will of the majority. Had we waited until America was “ready” for interracial marriage, it wouldn’t have been legalized until 1991, 23 years after Virginia v. Loving. But as long as we’re going to take this stupid approach, someone ought to make clear to the people given the undeserved opportunity to vote on someone else’s civil rights that it’s not a referendum on whether they think boys kissing is icky, but on whether they believe that we are indeed one nation with liberty and justice for all.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister, with some additional thoughts on the poll.)

October 15, 2006 | Permalink

Comments

Here's something even more interesting is that the DNC (www.dnc.org) doesn't have "homosexual rights" in their agenda or even on their website. I even did a search for the word "gay" and found nothing.
Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this the party that you say champions queer rights?

Only two explanaions for this. A) They do, indeed, support queer rights but don't want the voters to know it or B) They don't suupport it at all and all of you here are simply not mainstream Democrats but are, instead, the wacko left.

For me, it's a pickums.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Oct 15, 2006 5:33:16 PM

queer rights

Another stellar post from the resident bigot.

Posted by: Seitz | Oct 15, 2006 5:36:59 PM

One sometimes hears conservatives say that they are in favor of equal rights, but not "special rights" like gay rights. Maybe that sort of thinking may explain the discrepency.

Posted by: Gary | Oct 15, 2006 5:45:22 PM

There's also the contagion theory. If you are afraid that gays out there "on the lose" are going to recruit impressionable youngsters (not sure how this works, maybe some form of viral DNA thing developed by the CIA), then you definitely want to get them locked up in a marriage / civil union or some such.

I'm willing to bet that the numbers for "equal rights" plus "protect the family from gays" numbers adding up to more than 100% goes away if you have the first as, "equal rights, including the child custody rights and the right to adopt".

"Next of kin rights at the hospital", that kind of thing, those will fall into the 'can't infect the already infected' theory.

Posted by: BruceMcF | Oct 15, 2006 6:01:47 PM

It is pretty simple. Right now, the definition of marriage is one man and one woman.

If you allow one man and one man or one woman and one woman to marry, you have to allow one man and two women or one woman and two men to marry, or one mother and one son(who is over 18 yrs old) to marry, or one father and one daughter(who is over 18 yrs old) to marry, or one brother and one sister(who are both over 18 yrs old) to marry, etc.

I mean, after all, they are consenting adults. Who are you to judge?

Those who believe two men should be allowed to marry but not a father and his 18 yr old daughter is just a bigot.

Posted by: Captain Toke | Oct 15, 2006 6:15:38 PM

Well, this is what people have been saying about economic rights for years.

Posted by: dan | Oct 15, 2006 6:19:30 PM

"Americans are a very schizophrenic lot. 2) Allowing such a collection of mixed-up birdbrains to vote on the rights of other people is A Very Bad Idea."

I see you're filling in nicely for Ezra. He's an intelligent analyst but he, too, is quick to blame the Great Unwashed. Why analyze an issue when you can call Americans stupid, especially when commentators like Fred Jones seem to support your case? The truth is, the views of Americans have come a long way in a short time. Civil unions for gays, a hugely controversial issue when Vermont passed its law, are now widely accepted, and marriage will be too within ten years. This despite an extraordinary effort by a political movement, including thouands of preachers, to scare and confuse people--an effort that relies on Scripture and sexual insecurity.

If you ask me, Americans deserve some credit, not your elistist scorn.

Posted by: davidmizner | Oct 15, 2006 6:22:51 PM

Whether or not those rights are granted, it makes not a modicum of practical difference to the lives of the heterosexual majority

True but not true. More and more people know same-sex couples who want to marry, or who at least feel discriminated against. This is an important mind changer for many.

But as long as we’re going to take this stupid approach, someone ought to make clear to the people given the undeserved opportunity to vote on someone else’s civil rights that it’s not a referendum on whether they think boys kissing is icky, but on whether they believe that we are indeed one nation with liberty and justice for all.

I don't think we are going to take this approach in any way that matters. That is, people will keep voting on this, but it's the courts that will make the difference, as with miscegenation laws, and as in Massachusetts. More state courts will overturn such things as unconstitutional, I expect, since they clearly are in any state that guarantees equal treatment under the law.

Fred, the Democratic party sees this as a political hot potato, which it is. But they aren't out trying to divide the country over it.

Posted by: Sanpete | Oct 15, 2006 6:24:24 PM

If you allow one man and one man or one woman and one woman to marry, you have to allow one man and two women or one woman and two men to marry, or one mother and one son(who is over 18 yrs old) to marry, or one father and one daughter(who is over 18 yrs old) to marry, or one brother and one sister(who are both over 18 yrs old) to marry, etc.

While there is something to this argument, you take it too far. Incestual unions can be refused marriage rights on solid grounds relating to increased genetic risks to their children, not to mention the way this, unlike same-sex marriage, might actually have a negative impact on family life (for reasons of sexaulizing relations best left just familial). The only real threat is the overturning of the prohibition against polygamy/polyandry. (It's already legal for the same man to marry both a woman and her daughter, just not at the same time.) Polygamy isn't an ideal form of marriage, but it might work better to have it more out in the open than it is now.

Posted by: Sanpete | Oct 15, 2006 6:35:20 PM

"While there is something to this argument, you take it too far. Incestual unions can be refused marriage rights on solid grounds relating to increased genetic risks to their children,"

If we allow married gays to adopt, it would have profound psychological affects on these adopted children.

"not to mention the way this, unlike same-sex marriage, might actually have a negative impact on family life (for reasons of sexaulizing relations best left just familial)."

Gay marriages sexualize relationships between two people of the same sex! Most people (as the referendums have demonstrated over and over) find that digusting.

sanpete is a bigot. Who are you to judge Cletus and Brandine(brother and sister) if they love each other sexually.

HATE CRIME! HATE CRIME!

Posted by: Captain Toke | Oct 15, 2006 6:50:39 PM

If we allow married gays to adopt, it would have profound psychological affects on these adopted children.

That might seem likely to you, but in fact the research supports the opposite conclusion. Just FYI, about 25% of same-sex couples are already involved in raising children, and it's legal for at least one parent to adopt in almost every state, because there's no data to show it's more dangerous for the children than, say, single people adopting, or divorced people raising their own kids.

Gay marriages sexualize relationships between two people of the same sex! Most people (as the referendums have demonstrated over and over) find that digusting.

You're flailing here. Whether it's disgusting to many people has nothing to do with whether it's actually harmful. I think you know that.

Who are you to judge Cletus and Brandine(brother and sister) if they love each other sexually.

I already gave two reasons that have nothing to do with judging them. The reasons relate to the effects of their union, on their children, and on the institution of the family, should this option be made acceptable.

Toke, if you're not careful, you're going to see that you have no point here.

Posted by: Sanpete | Oct 15, 2006 7:18:30 PM

This is a coalescing thought, so forgive me if it's muddled but: In order to get a handle on gay marriage, we need to differentiate between marriage as a religious concept, and marriage as a secular concept.

Marriage through a church depends upon approval of that church, and prohibition of gay marriage by that church would be protected by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Even with a state constitutional amendment, the state could not compel church recognition of such a marriage.

On the other hand, secular marriage, involving state licensing requirements and a simple ceremony before a state sanctioned official (justice of the peace,etc.), would seem to have constitutional implications. It would seem that the state should not discriminate.

Proponents of gay marriage seem to take offense to suggestions that the state should recognize only "civil unions" but not "gay marriage" as though civil unions are insufficient state recognition. But isn't their gripe really with various constitutionally protected religious prohibitions? If the Baptists refuse to let you get married in their church, what are you going to do about it? Is the state even empowered to recognize anything other than civil unions?

When you parse it out, the "civil union"/"gay marriage" argument is really a matter of semantics. It may even be possible to sell civil unions to its opponents if we quit calling it what it's not(gay marriage), and made sure they understood they could still oppose it in their churches.

Or am I just spouting what everybody else figured out a long time ago?

Posted by: Paul | Oct 15, 2006 7:20:20 PM

sanpete, I just pointed out to you why gays would have a horrible affect on a child they chose to adopt. You just refuse to accept that it is true. A child raised in traditional household will be better adjusted than in a gay household. That is just a fact.

Posted by: Captain Toke | Oct 15, 2006 7:23:40 PM

"Gay marriages sexualize relationships between two people of the same sex! Most people (as the referendums have demonstrated over and over) find that digusting."

Toke, I suppose that you are willing then to limit the ability of heterosexual couples to adopt or marry if they have sexual habits that "most people" find disgusting? Perhaps that this is the same standard that we should use if people find interracial marriage disgusting as well.

"If you allow one man and one man or one woman and one woman to marry, you have to allow one man and two women or one woman and two men to marry"

I get a kick out of this argument. No one serious is suggesting that anyone should get greater benefits than anyone else, only equal benefits. Government validation of polygamy grants additional financial benefits to one group of people (those willing to engage in polygamy) over the rest of society.

Posted by: JMack | Oct 15, 2006 7:33:59 PM

Had we waited until America was “ready” for interracial marriage, it wouldn’t have been legalized until 1991, 23 years after Virginia v. Loving.

Hell, probably longer than that. The courts can and do lead society in progressive change---until interracial marriage was legalized by the courts, the ban on it was kind of self-perpetuating. People thought it was bad because there was a ban, if you will, so until the ban was off and society didn't fall apart, people were more likely to fall for arguments about the sky falling.

Posted by: Amanda Marcotte | Oct 15, 2006 7:42:00 PM

"If you ask me, Americans deserve some credit, not your elistist scorn."

Should we start with the Americans in 11 states who passed bigoted anti-gay-marriage laws?

"I just pointed out to you why gays would have a horrible affect on a child they chose to adopt. You just refuse to accept that it is true. A child raised in traditional household will be better adjusted than in a gay household. That is just a fact."

Please to provide any evidence in support of any of this? While your at it, find the data that shows that sexual preference has any connection to the ability to parent, too.

Posted by: JMack | Oct 15, 2006 7:45:01 PM

"Is the state even empowered to recognize anything other than civil unions?"

This is an excellent question. If we are serious about "protecting marriage" then shouldn't the government take an active roll in making it harder to get divorced? Or criminalize behavior that is antithetical to a happy marriage? When it comes down to it, government recognition of a "civil union" or "marriage" amounts to little more than the rights and privileges afforded "married" people and little else.

Posted by: JMack | Oct 15, 2006 7:49:47 PM

"Should we start with the Americans in 11 states who passed bigoted anti-gay-marriage laws?"

Well, opponents weren't organized and now that we are, the push for anti-gay laws has been slowed if not stopped. We can't cede the fight, then blame people for not voting the right way. People will get it if we give them a chance.

Posted by: davidmizner | Oct 15, 2006 8:06:34 PM

Posted by: Captain Toke | Oct 15, 2006 3:50:39 PM Gay marriages sexualize relationships between two people of the same sex!

Good grief, Captain. I hadn't realized that you were single. And actually, I am not sure I wanted to know.

Posted by: BruceMcF | Oct 15, 2006 8:10:51 PM

One more thing: It's a little strange to blame people in general when the Democratic Party hasn't even taken a stand. In 2008 the Democratic nominee for president will almost certainly oppose gay marriage. They're following polls, but leaders are supposed to, you know, lead. A pro gay marrige position by the Democratic candidate for president would do a lot more than a court decision would.

Posted by: davidmizner | Oct 15, 2006 8:18:33 PM

But isn't their gripe really with various constitutionally protected religious prohibitions? If the Baptists refuse to let you get married in their church, what are you going to do about it? Is the state even empowered to recognize anything other than civil unions?

Paul, I can only speak for some proponents of same-sex marriage (the ones who agree with me). "No" to the first question, "nothing" to the second, and "yes" to the third. Marriage as it currently exists, and has for a long time, isn't simply a religious thing. It can be purely secular. Civil unions are an attempt to satisfy everyone at least some by creating a separate but equal arrangement. Even though the difference is in some cases only semantic, it's an important difference in its social implications. There are proponents and opponents of same-sex marriage who agree with your line of thought, but I think it isn't just to give marriage to the religious only, when it currently belongs to us all, just to prevent same-sex marriage or the pollution of marriage or whatever.

Toke, you haven't pointed out why same-sex couples raising children, including adopted children, is any worse than single or divorced parents doing the same. And you won't be able to point it out because the data shows it works just as well. That's just a fact. If your argument is to work, you'll have to oppose divorce and single parenting as much as you oppose same-sex couples adopting and raising kids. Good luck making that fly.

Government validation of polygamy grants additional financial benefits to one group of people (those willing to engage in polygamy) over the rest of society.

How so, JMack? Not sure what you have in mind.

Please to provide any evidence in support of any of this?

Part of what Toke said (ignoring the fact that it didn't refute what I said at all) is correct, at least according to current data. Children raised by same-sex couples aren't as well adjusted as children raised in stable two-parent homes, according to the measures usually taken as most important. However, they are as well adjusted as children raised by single or divorced parents. The reasons for this could be merely that the kids have to put up with prejudice against their parents, though some same-sex couples do bring in opposite-sex mentors or adult friends for their kids in some cases, like single parents do, thinking it might help. These are only statistical points. It's important to keep in mind that many children raised by same-sex or single/divorced parents are just as well adapted as any others.

A pro gay marrige position by the Democratic candidate for president would do a lot more than a court decision would.

I don't know, David. I think the main effect would be to elect a Republican president.

Posted by: Sanpete | Oct 15, 2006 8:43:36 PM

It's not multiple personalities, it's hypocracy mixed in with a bit of a little bit of our old buddy- dictatorship by the majority.

The irony is that the census has shown that marriage is now 49 percent of the population. When polls are done of how many people (straight people) have cheated in marriage- the numbers have been staggeringly high. Getting married and divorce is as easy as a drunk weekend in Vegas (ask Britney).

The highest divorce rates are in the states that are the most socially conservative. Probably a lot of the state with bans or contenplating bans on gay marriage.

Both parties are weak on this issue because it's about a minority group. Protecting the rights of a minority group isn't something a majority historically has been good at. Hence the "elitist" of those crazy founders who set up the independent judiciary to periodically handle such prickly issues as making sure that the rule of the majority doesn't squash the ideas of the minority. Whatever the number, gays are clearly a minority in this society and are clearly deserving of the same Constitutional protections rather than the evident discrimination.

It's almost goes against common sense to expect the majority to be good at it because well- it is about protecting the right of the minority group. Let's say we believe in roughed individualize- why would the majority ever protect the minority?

All of this muddled mess, plus prejudice, plus a confusion of what the Bible does and does not say on the issue, plus a general lack of understanding of what our legal system is or what the laws are designed to do- and you get this mess that we have in terms of public opinion.

And yes, as a lawyer, I am being elist when I judge the publics general lack of understanding of what equal protection under the law means. It's appalling to hear other African Americans who are non-lawyers say shit that frankly indicate they have no clue what the civil rights movement was based on legally. If the S Ct had taken their tact about rights- that it is based on bibilical teachings we as AA would have been screwed because Brown v Board was a paradimatic shift that wasn't based on faith. If people don't know this, there were biblical arguments as to why the races should be separate and should not be allowed to marry. I think this part,however, hints at the fact Americans dont understand just how much this is repeated history. Does anyone know that back in the 1910s they tried to pass a Constitutional amendment to ban marriage between the races in part because God said it was wrong for the races to meet?

My point is that none of this is surprising, but I would also like to add, all of it is meaningless. The pandoras box has been opened, and like most social issues, social conservatives are whisling slowly but surely pass their own graves.

Posted by: akaison | Oct 15, 2006 8:48:55 PM

Sanpete:

I am going to struggle to control myself because you just posted a falee statement. The data on children raised by same sex couples is that they come out just as adjusted as children raised by straight couples. I wish I had the links to the NY Times or the Yahoo News reports that came out just in the last 6 months on the issue, or the many other non idealogically driven studies that were based on science rather than the voodoo y'all are spouting here, but I don't, and frankly, I am not going to bother looking it up. All I will say is that anyone who believes this line from Sanpete is wanting to believe him. I know this because one of the two issues I follow on gay issues are in the areas of pscyhological studies (of the long term form), and I have been reading the various studies for a while. The other is biological studies on the nature of sexual orientation- but that's not the topic of this discussion.

Posted by: akaison | Oct 15, 2006 8:54:53 PM

Akaison, I'm familiar with the data from the last six months, and am basing what I say on the word of experts who strongly favor same-sex marriage and are at great pains not to twist the data. If you separate out the heterosexual married couples who have never been divorced (what I called "stable"), their kids are significantly better adjusted, statistically, than those of any other group, including, as I've heard and seen it reported, stable same-sex couples. As I pointed out, and as the experts have pointed out, this might simply be an artifact of prejudice, which might disappear when prejudice abates. I realize this is a sensitive topic, but I'm being careful to stick to the facts that I've received from the most reliable sources.

If you can show where I'm mistaken, I'll be all the happier.

Posted by: Sanpete | Oct 15, 2006 9:19:02 PM

In 2008 the Democratic nominee for president will almost certainly oppose gay marriage


davidmizner is correct. Didn't Kerry oppose it?This statement pretty much shows that the people on here that champion queer marriage are, indeed, not mainstream. They are, instead, the wacked left. Even their own party won't support this.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Oct 15, 2006 9:23:58 PM

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