Friday, November 14, 2008

How To Promote Gay Marriage (Not That I Support It)

One of the most watched elections this year was the vote deciding whether to pass Proposition 8, which would amend California’s constitution to explicitly ban gay marriage. California is one of the most liberal states in the country, and the debate over same-sex marriage is one of the most controversial social issues. The election was seen as a measure of public opposition to same-sex marriage.

The measure passed, which reassured social conservatives and angered and frustrated gay activists. Two groups were largely responsible for the passage of the amendment—Mormons, who flooded the state with anti-gay marriage ads, and blacks, who were out in force supporting Obama but opposing gay marriage.

Angry gay activists decided that the proper way to build support for gay marriage was to take their frustration out on both groups. Some California gays have announced plans to boycott Utah to protest the Mormon church’s opposition to gay marriage (although it’s hard to see exactly what they would boycott—Utah wasn’t exactly a gay mecca in the first place). Gays also took out their anger on blacks—according to some reports, gay protesters called black passerby (and some black fellow protesters) “n*ggers” and blamed them for the proposition’s passage.

(It should be noted that not all, in fact not even most, gay protesters acted in this disgraceful way. But many did, and fairly or not, they became the face of the post-Proposition 8 protests).

I don’t have a great deal of sympathy for those disappointed gay marriage advocates. A constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage may represent governmental overreach—but then, it was passed in order to prevent federal courts from subverting the will of the people from the bench. I don’t support the recognition of gay marriage, so the result (if not the means) of the California ban is in line with my ideology.

That being said, I do have a little sympathy for same-sex marriage activists. Considering that homosexuality (at least according to Roman Catholic teachings) is a relatively minor (though still mortal) sin, and that allowing gay marriage would affect such a tiny part of the population (possibly two percent, and even that’s a bit high), it’s hard to deny that homosexuals are a convenient scapegoat for the erosion of the institution of marriage over the past half century. (If you don’t think that our ideas of marriage have fundamentally altered over the latter part of the past century, consider that over half of U.S. marriages end in divorce, and over a third of U.S. children are born out of wedlock). Gay marriage would redefine marriage, and not for the better, but could hardly weaken it more than it is now.

Given that fact, I can find it within myself to feel rather sorry that the California gay community is handling their loss so badly. Granted, it must have been a real disappointment to gays—but there are at least three things gays could be doing more productive than protesting and boycotting.

1. Find What Went Wrong. The anti-Prop 8 campaign was well-funded, well organized, and media savvy. That wasn’t enough. Gay marriage advocates might want to find out why, instead of trying to threaten those who voted against it.

Anyhow, gays don’t have much influence with their targets—Mormons don’t really care to have gays buy from them anyway, and while hearing “n*gger” is undoubtedly hurtful to blacks (and offensive to whites), it does lose some of its menace factor when coming from a skinny hairdresser in tight jeans.

Anger may be understandable, but it’s counterproductive. I’ve read some screeds by angry gays responding to Prop 8. None have made me feel a bit sympathetic. In fact, after reading 600 words about how anyone who opposed this proposition is hateful and bigoted and basically racist and probably in the closet themselves, I go from mildly glad the proposition was passed to feeling relieved at what a narrow escape we had.

2. Try To Be Normal. Gays suffer from the (correct) perception that they don’t see the world the way most people do. Most people aren’t comfortable with that. So in order to win acceptance, gay activists must combat that image. That probably means that whole “interior decorator” image has to go, replaced by a more wholesome “couple next door” vibe.

An example: when TV comedy Will and Grace was casting, the part of gay character Will Truman came down to actors John Barrowman and Eric McCormack. McCormack got the part—Barrowman was “too straight.” If gays want to see gay marriages recognized, they will have to change that popular image. (Ironically, McCormack is straight, while Barrowman is gay).

3. Establish Relationship With Social Conservatives. It’s a stretch to expect evangelicals, Mormons, or conservative Catholics to support gay marriage (I certainly wouldn’t), but it is conceivable to conceive of a scenario in which these groups just aren’t all that concerned. Gay activists should stress that gays can be pro-life (though come to think of it, I suppose unplanned pregnancies aren’t a big problem for homosexuals) and pro-gun, and can be friendly to religion. It would, perhaps, be productive to send pro-gay marriage preachers to evangelical churches—they probably wouldn’t change many minds, but they might lessen anti-gay marriage fervor.

I don’t know if these ideas would work, and given that I oppose gay marriage, I hope that the gay community don’t try them. But I do know that they would have to be more effective than what gay activists are doing.

(Some might wonder why, if I don’t support gay marriage, I wrote a 900 word essay giving my best ideas how to promote it. Good question—I really don’t know. It may have been a waste of time—but then, political junkies love thinking about this sort of stuff).

9 Comments:

At November 15, 2008 at 4:28 AM , Blogger Bob said...

Here is my oppinion on this:
First off, gay people should be able to be as happy pr as miserable as straight married people.

This is an example of someone who doesn’t get it.. and that example is powerful. It doesn’t surprise me that the straight community is reluctant to embrace same-sex marriage. They fear gays will make a mockery of the institution of marriage. I don't believe that myself.. The gay community has a lot of work to do to counter that impression.

Also, I am sick and tired of judges creating rights out of whole cloth, because of the “need” to get out in front of the democratic process. The support for Prop 8 should not be seen exclusively through the prism of “anti-gay”.
Although I’m not convinced the civil rights banner is the right one for gay marriage.

 
At November 15, 2008 at 11:59 AM , Blogger libhom said...

If you don't support gay marriage, then there is no reason for supporters of gay marriage to trust your advice.

 
At November 15, 2008 at 12:26 PM , Blogger Beth said...

I think you wrote about it even though you don't personally support it because your viewpoint can really be applied to any issue and how people that support something can promote their ideas in a reasonable way.

 
At November 16, 2008 at 4:56 AM , Anonymous Robert said...

While a strong supporter of legalized abortion, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has long been critical of the court’s 1973 decision Roe v. Wade preventing states from banning abortion. She believes the ruling prevented the nation from reaching a consensus on abortion and contributed to societal divisions which continue today on the controversial issue.

Last month at Princeton University, she said that, in handing down Roe, the court “bit off more than it could chew.” She would have preferred a more incremental decision which “would have been an opportunity for a dialogue with the state legislators.” With more input from elected state representatives, we might have moved closer to a national consensus on abortion.

As it is with abortion, so too should it be with gay marriage. The issue will continue to divide us unless we bring the people, either directly or through their elected representatives, into the process.
Does Ginsburg not understand the language in the 10th Amendment? Yes, there is no consensus on the issue of abortion but the decision was wrongly decided because Roe flies in the face of federalism and attempts to find a right where none exists. The purpose of our legal system is not to find a national consensus and its responsibilities (whether to hear cases or defer to lower courts) should not be defined in such terms.

An incremental decision incrementing to what goal? This implies that Ginsburg agrees with abortion advocates, but that an incremental approach a la Saul Alinsky is preferable. That may be true with respect to the eventual enshrining of the non-existent right to abort (once we’ve reached that ‘national consensus’), but that doesn’t mean a majority is within the law or respects individual rights. What is a national consensus? 51%? Most states? A filibuster-proof Senate? Some vague atmosphere where the debate has died down enough that Ginsburg feels comfortable?

What’s next after Gay Marriage? The civil rights movement started out with a reasonable set of goals… voting rights and equal treatment under the law. Then it metastasized into Affirmative Action, Reparations, and Truth Commissions. Every activist movement moves the goalposts after they win what they set out to win. So, I wonder what’s beyond marriage… and frankly, it’s worrisome.

Once it’s the law of the land, there will be pressure on the United Nations and world courts to make same-sex marriages universally recognized. And those who now oppose it will then be likened to those such as conservatives in primarily Islamic countries who would oppose such measures to the death. There is no middle ground. Either you’re with us, or you’re with the Religious Right, in this scenario Earth’s Religious Right; either you agree with every one of ‘our’ issues (so the self-appointed spokespeople say) or you’re a bigoted homophobe and mean-spirited radical hater.

 
At November 16, 2008 at 7:02 AM , Blogger knowitall said...

This should be left to the people who still have values, and not the liberal illuminati who are going to say and vote anyway to make sure they're put back into office.

 
At November 16, 2008 at 9:12 AM , Blogger Napqueen said...

All human life comes from heterosexual unions. No human life comes from homosexual unions. Gay and straight are different. Changing a word and saying that they’re the same doesn’t make it so.

 
At November 19, 2008 at 9:38 AM , Blogger Z-man said...

I just blogged about this very gay marriage issue yesterday. Basically it's a cultural thing and opponents don't want a loss of masculine culture so I would amplify on Daniel's interior decorator comment (lol). Many many gays feed into their own stereotypes talking and acting like women if you will, not sure the reasons why this is so but it hardly helps to just pass it off as stereotyping...it's a cultural vibe thing and most people aren't comfortable with it.

 
At November 19, 2008 at 12:35 PM , Blogger road warrior said...

The interesting thing to me is that Obama was very quite on this issue the entire election. And the reason he was so quite is that much his constituency would disagree with him on the issue and showed it by voting for prop 8. The real test is going to come now that Obama is in office, what are his supporters going to do when Obama comes out in for for gay marriage? How will the illuminati spin this stance on this issues to appease his supporters. SHould be interesting to see.

 
At November 29, 2008 at 1:21 PM , Blogger knowitall said...

He was quiet on the subject, and that's why the illuminati media went after Palin so hard, because she didn't hide behind the issues, she spoke up.

 

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