Bigots Come Out Of The Closet

Sam Wilkinson

According to a faithful reader, I'm Ordinary Times's "least thoughtful writer." So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

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281 Responses

  1. North says:

    I generally agree that this video is basically an ink cloud being sprayed in a desperate attempt to muddy the matters so there’s not a lot to say on that. That said I’m gonna amuse myself by putting out some bullet points.
    -I don’t think people who oppose SSM should be hounded from their jobs.
    -I don’t think that churches that oppose SSM should be forced to perform SSM ceremonies.
    -I don’t think that churches that oppose SSM should lose their tax exempt status.
    -I don’t think that privately funded religious schools that oppose SSM should lose their accreditation (or at least not for that reason).
    -I don’t think that gay business owners should be forced to offer service to people who express that they don’t support SSM.

    I am, however, bemused that I got to throw out that list. I wish I could mail it back to myself in 2004.Report

    • Sam Wilkinson in reply to North says:

      -Considering that gays can be fired simply for being gay, I have no problem with high-profile bigots being chased out of their jobs by companies that don’t want to be associated with such a monstrous position. However, does anybody really believe that anti-gay advocates would be willing to negotiate some sort of peace?

      -Not going to happen.

      -Sadly not going to happen.

      -Schools that receive public funds should be expected to observe public norms. What private institutions do is their own business, although they are not free from criticism.

      -I’m not entirely certain that I understand this claim. Hasn’t the issue been bakers/photographers/pizzerias that DON’T want to provide service?Report

      • North in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

        I’m a reluctant supporter of at will employment only because, looking at Europe, I see the alternatives spawn a horror show of discriminatory hiring practices that nail minorities right in the tender vittles. So granted any employer has the right to fire any employee for any reason.

        What I was asking, however, was if you think it would be right for SSM supporters to, on identifying an opponent, track down their employee and pressure them to fire them. I gather you’re tentatively in favor of that; I am not.

        -Not gonna happen is true. I don’t think, even if it were possible, that it should.
        -I less emphatically think that while it isn’t going to happen that it shouldn’t even if it could.

        We’re agreed on schools.

        Yes. It’s been the other way around on businesses. I’m pretty cold on the idea of regulating businesses to force em to provide gay marriage services. I’d also be cold on the idea of forcing gay owned businesses to offer services to SSM opposing Christians.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

      How many people believe these things?Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

      “I don’t think people who oppose SSM should be hounded from their jobs.”

      I will concede that this one is the most plausible but only if the SSM opponent refuses to shut-up about a gay employee’s SSM or some such. It would also end in a clusetfuck of litigation with an argument about religious discrimination or not.Report

      • greginak in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        The issue about anti-SSM married people being hounded isn’t about marriage or gays or unicorns. It’s about right to work rules. People can be fired for being democrat or republican or having shifty eyes. Talking about it only in terms of SSM is a red herring.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to greginak says:


          You are correct that there is no employment protection for political ideology. I often wonder whether there should be though. I am generally not fond of at-will employment.

          However, there is protection from employment discrimination because of religious beliefs. You can bet that some deep pocketed wingnut lawyers would find a way to turn this into a religious discrimination suit if Mary gets fired for objecting loudly to William and Peter’s wedding.Report

        • zic in reply to greginak says:

          It has occurred to me that right-to-work might come back and bite the right in the ass here. If an employer can fire without cause, if employment is at will, then demanding a right to discriminate because you’re Christian and want to use RFRA to discriminate seems fair game for employers who don’t want to discriminate against LGBT customers, patrons, business partners, and friends.Report

          • aaron david in reply to zic says:

            As could the opposite.Report

          • greginak in reply to zic says:

            Yeah. My guess is that very little will happen in terms of people being fired for being anti-ssm. But what does happen will end up being very loud and also never reach the level of the crap gay people had to put up with.Report

            • North in reply to greginak says:

              Regardless of whether their suffering is nothing compared to what gays have suffered (it won’t be), I really really do not want to see SSM groups holding the whip hand on this subject.

              Every revolution stands in the shadow of the guillotine; I want our victory on SSM to be lasting which means our movement’s overreaching and illiberal vengeance seeking impulses need to be tempered and controlled. We should never indulge in the hubris of thinking the worm can’t turn, especially if our actions turn it.Report

          • zic in reply to zic says:

            Just as fears of getting fired are the flip side of right-to-work laws, this is the flip side of RFRA laws. The ACLU filed a suit in Elkhart, IN on behalf of two men on a sex-offender registry who want to attend church, claiming their placement on a sex-offender registry bans them from attending their churches.

            ACLU of Indiana legal director Ken Falk says the state’s sex offender ban places a substantial burden on the men’s ability to worship that goes beyond what is allowed under the religious objections law that took effect Wednesday.


        • North in reply to greginak says:

          My question was not so much as to whether people can be fired for whatever. They can, it sucks but I suspect from examining the alternatives that it sucks less than the other options.

          My question was whether people being fired for not supporting SSM should be something gay marriage supporters should be affirmatively seeking- you find out Steve opposes SSM, you google Steve’s employer and then contact them and request that they fire him or otherwise agitate for his termination. I think it should, emphatically, not be something SSM supporters should be indulging in.Report

          • gregiank in reply to North says:

            Oh i agree. Searching out people who disagree to go after them is ugly and will only get worse. Witch hunts will not be productive in the long run.Report

  2. greginak says:

    My guess is this is less “this is how we will win” and more “look at this twist…it’s like a Shyamalan movie.” It’s also made for people who already agree with them to make them feel better, not to change minds.Report

    • Sam Wilkinson in reply to greginak says:

      I’m super impressed by the intellectual standard that goes no farther than, “We’re not bigots even though we want substantively different treatment for straights and gays, just because.”Report

      • greginak in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

        Yeah. Related to Alan’s comment below, what the people in the video and anti gay marriage folks in general, never really explain is how they justify gays getting less and non-equal treatment. Like most people they can frame their argument in terms of their values and how they feel and what they believe is important. But they never complete the argument by justifying how and why gays should get less as it relates to the gay persons life. Speak to the person getting less to convince them why they should be content with unequal treatment.Report

    • Mr. Blue in reply to greginak says:

      It’s also made for people who already agree with them to make them feel better, not to change minds.

      Sort of like this post?Report

      • greginak in reply to Mr. Blue says:

        Well CV put a lot more money and effort into their video that Sam into this post. I think Sam is going for a harder edge then the maudlin twist and pity party of the video. But people get their kicks in all sorts of ways.Report

      • Sam in reply to Mr. Blue says:

        How soft do the gloves have to be when writing of rank bigotry?Report

        • Mr. Blue in reply to Sam says:

          It’s all in what, if anything, one is trying to accomplish. If one is trying to establish their self-righteousness, then basically saying “Bigots. BIGOTS. Yeah, I said it! YEAH I SAID IT!!!!” is really quite effective. BOOM. Someone has to wield the hammer if JUSTICE and TRUTH, and it’s fortunate that we have you around to do it. You can thump your chest in pride now. The shameful have been shamed! Justice done! You told it like it is, man! Like it is!

          Mission accomplished, if that was your mission. It’s not clear what other mission you might have had. So, good work.Report

          • greginak in reply to Mr. Blue says:

            Meh. Sam is writing a blog post. People right blog posts about stuff they think are important. Don’t hate the blogger hate the internet.Report

            • Guy in reply to greginak says:

              The sneering gloat and unwillingness to believe that opponents are anything other than the vilest sort of scum to walk the Earth is unbecoming of any person speaking in a public place, much less on this normally pleasant and thoughtful blog. I thought this might be something interesting when I clicked on it, but instead it’s just someone yelling about people I’m not allowed to associate with.Report

              • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Guy says:


                Please explain for me what gay marriage’s opponents really are, accounting for the fact that gay marriage’s opponents want gays and their relationships to be treated as legally second class. I get that you disagree with me, and that’s fine, but it would be awfully helpful if you would spell out what it is if if it isn’t bigotry that’s motivating opposition to equality here.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to Mr. Blue says:

            I don’t think people like Rod Dreher are going to except homosexuality and homosexuals any time soon.

            What is the optimal response do you think pro-SSM and pro-LGBT rights people can get out of die-hard social conservatives with authoritarian tendencies?Report

            • Mr. Blue in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              The optimal response from die-hard social conservatives? You’re looking at it, brother. Wallowing in self-pity. There’s is not a winning position, and they don’t win it by saying “woe is me.”

              This is you winning. A victory that happened because of people like North and not people like Sam. You’re not going to convince everybody, but if none of the bigots had been convinced, progress wouldn’t have been made. Progress to the point that opponents can only whine about “poor me poor me.” That’s victory.

              Call it bigotry if you want. I don’t really disagree. Or mock them, if you can be entertaining or insightful. In absence of those things, just yell and wave your hammer around if it makes you feel any better. Which it evidently does, for some people.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Mr. Blue says:

                Edit: eh, the original comment I wrote here wasn’t helpful.

                Anyway, I think that this is a better opportunity to be happy for people who can get married than to be happy that people are sad that people can get married.Report

              • zic in reply to Jaybird says:

                If we were in the same room, I’d probably hug you after you said this.

                So consider yourself hugged, @jaybird

                That is a very sweet outlook.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to zic says:

                Thank you, Zic.

                But please try to keep in mind that my first intuition was to write something so awful that I felt I had to take it back.Report

              • zic in reply to Jaybird says:

                Which makes it even sweeter.

                We don’t have to first intuitions (impulses?), we can take time to reconsider them and think what we really mean to say. I failed at that down thread, and I have to go fess up to it; I can’t take it back, so it will live as evidence of my pathetic impulses in the archives.Report

            • CK MacLeod in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              Saul Degraw: What is the optimal response do you think pro-SSM and pro-LGBT rights people can get out of die-hard social conservatives with authoritarian tendencies?

              Determining the “optimal response” by social conservatives, with or without authoritarian tendencies, for “pro-SSM and pro-LGBT rights people” would depend upon what you view the main objective of “pro-SSM and pro-LGBT rights people” to be or who you think they are. If you conceive of them as vindictive anti-bigot bigots in love with the image of their own righteousness, desperate to retain access to a particular type of “narcissistic supply,” then they probably would prefer that their mirror image counterparts on the other side remain more prominent than the kind of people depicted in the video.

              On the other hand, if you perceive “pro-SSM and pro-LGBT rights people” to have something else in mind, or to be something other than vicious self-adulating closed-minded hypocrites, then the “optimal response” from social conservatives, with or without authoritarian tendencies*, would also be something very different – such as statements of openness to continued dialogue and mutual respect. To whatever extent the “pro-SSM and pro-LGBT rights people” possess intellectual humility, self-critical capacity, and even some regard for their own longer term interests, they might even welcome the notion that the whole truth is unlikely to lie entirely on one side of a political fight, and that there may be something valuable and even irreplaceable to be gained from those who oppose them on the particular issue or who insist on nurturing alternative perspectives.

              *And what about the social conservatives who do not have “authoritarian tendencies”? What about the non-social conservatives who do have “authoritarian tendencies”? Why add that particular phrase to your question, if not to attach an element to the political agenda that has nothing intrinsically to do with the question of the particular marriage proposal adopted by the movement and now accepted on behalf of all Americans by the Supreme Court?Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                What a silly question, though. The optimal response would be for Social Conservatives to happily embrace same-sex marriage. Why must the choice be between an open and bitter disagreement and a pretense of respect that masks a bitter disagreement?Report

              • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Alan Scott says:

                Because a pretense of respect that masks disagreement is what is expected of everybody else?Report

              • CK MacLeod in reply to Alan Scott says:

                He seems to define opposition to same-sex marriage as definitional for “Social Conservative.” In other words, “to happily embrace same-sex marriage” and to remain a social conservative would be, for Saul, impossible. I don’t think that would be necessarily true, but for our political discussion ca. 2015, I think it counts as effectively true. So, your “optimal solution” would be, by Saul’s definition and for all practical purposes, for them to cease being social conservatives – not too far from the another sometimes offered optimal and final solution, which is for social conservatives to cease to exist at all, perhaps by dying off, since they’re all elderly Fox News viewers, right?

                Saul is presuming, realistically I think, that individuals unhappy with and resistant to the particular marriage solution we have reached will continue to exist, and that “social conservatism” will remain their main political camp. So the question is what’s the best that “pro-SSM and pro-LGBT rights people” can hope for in that circumstance.Report

              • Sam Wilkinson in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                I’m not going to speak for Saul, but isn’t at least possible to imagine a social conservative who disagrees with gays marrying one another and who then attempts to do the work of convincing them not to marry himself? Rather than using the state as a cudgel against a foe, they make a good faith effort to talk those two guys down the street from loving one another? Yes, he might be to pound sand, but he’d be making a non-violent attempt at creating the outcome that he seeks? (The state, meanwhile, would continue to sanction the marriages of those couples that approached them.)Report

              • I’ll probably have to re-watch the video or re-read your synopsis of it, but did anyone in the video actually advocate for outlawing gay marriage? They seemed to be pleading, “I don’t believe in gay marriage, don’t persecute me.”

                I do admit it’s impossible to ignore the context in which ssm so recently has become legal on the national level. So making such a plea smacks of “we don’t think gays should be allowed to marry.” But someone simply holding the view that marriage ought to be between a man and a woman does not necessarily mean that person believes it’s right to outlaw ssm, especially if said person stresses marriage’s supposed “pre-political” nature, as some on that side of the debate have.Report

              • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

                I suppose that Catholic Vote (the organization behind the video) might only be opposed to alleged persecution, but you wouldn’t know it from what is voluntarily published on the organization’s blog.Report

              • I won’t look at the blog (life’s too short) but I’ll stipulate to your point.Report

              • First of all, the objective of a third party who believed that the two guys down the street shouldn’t seek a legal marriage would be to persuade them not to seek a legal marriage. The objective of a third party who believed they should not “lov[e] one another” would be to persuade them not to love one another. The presumption that one must always imply the other is not a good one, in my experience: I have seen and have been involved (believe it or not) in relationships involving declarations of and ardent belief in shared feelings of love that did not involve marriage (or legal marriage), and I have seen many marriages that survived a complete lack of any evidence of such feelings.

                To the two different objectives would belong two different possibly somewhat overlapping arguments or strategies – not that I consider either objective a likely reasonable objective, or likely well-received either by the two subjects of the experiment or by most observers. Still, as a thought experiment or dramatic predicament, or even a literary or philosophical exercise in the old style, it might be interesting to consider the two different objectives, as well as perhaps a third, that of attempting to persuade two other individuals neither to marry nor to love each other.Report

              • Lenoxus in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

                This “it should be legal in every state but I’m personally against it” possibility is one that we basically never saw when it was politically plausible to ban SSM, and we’ll probably see it more and more now.

                Here’s a slogan they can try out: “Gay marriage should be safe, legal, and rare.”Report

          • Lenoxus in reply to Mr. Blue says:

            An additional reason to yell “Bigots!” in this particular case, rather than in response to other instances of bigotry, is that this video is passive-aggressively telling people not to do that. “You wouldn’t dare call me a bigot, would you, because if you did YOU’D be the real bigot.”

            And the payoff for Catholic Vote is: If for whatever people are sufficiently afraid of looking rude that they don’t label something as bigotry, then obviously that something Isn’t So Bad After All. (The assumption is that a genuinely bigoted position will be scorned as such regardless of the puppy-dog eyes its advocates make, so therefore you can’t accuse someone of “unfairly” shielding themselves from the bigotry accusation by making puppy-dog eyes).

            Of course, this is a variation of what anti-gay people have long accused gay people of doing — of winning, in part, by raising the social cost of objection. Regardless of whether that’s true or not, insofar as anti-gay folks think it’s true, this is the logical turnaround.Report

            • Murali in reply to Lenoxus says:

              of winning, in part, by raising the social cost of objection

              Isn’t this trivially true of just any view which was previously minority but later became widespread?

              The civil rights movement won because it raised the social cost of objection. The abolitionists won because it raised the social cost of being a confederate.
              I’m sure somewhere, the movement for the non-consumption of people won by raising the social cost of being a cannibal…Report

              • Lenoxus in reply to Murali says:

                Well, presumably the “fair” or “non-dirty” way to win is solely by presenting compelling arguments. Of course the actual process of convincing humans of something doesn’t work that way (at least, not only that way), but that might be the thinking behind making that accusation.

                There’s an interesting post and discussion at the blog Crooked Timber on the question of how racism (at least in certain explicit forms) came to lose the culture war so soundly. Both “shaming of racists” and “compelling argument” are considered as possible contributors, among others.

                By the way, I’m sorry I missed this reply until now, I somehow failed to catch it in email monitoring.Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to Lenoxus says:

                The fundamental problem with compelling arguments is that there’s no real cue as to when it’s time to stop arguing and move on.

                I mean, I’ve been making arguments in favor of gay marriage for over a decade–indeed, for longer than I’ve been aware of my own sexuality. And others who participated in the fight have been arguing their position for many times that long.

                Everyone in my life whose opinion I care about would support me If my boyfriend and I got married. My city, state, and country all approve of same-sex marriage. The US president and the Supreme Court approve of same-sex marriage.

                And yet, when I’m not willing to debate same sex marriage further, @ck-macleod objects and says that I’m being unfair or irrational. He wants to keep the debate open, even though he doesn’t necessarily agree with the anti-SSM position.

                There needs to be a mechanism to say “Okay, enough, the argument phase is done”. It’s necessary for the sanity of everyone who has been asked to justify their existence or their dignity to to dominant society–not just gays and lesbians, but people of color, women, and religious minorities.

                Shaming ignorance and bigotry is far from a perfect solution, but I’m not sure that there’s a better one.Report

          • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Mr. Blue says:

            The mission is simple – to continue the project of pointing out just how little gay marriage’s opponents substantively have to say about the issue. All they have is their hatred of gays. It is never about anything more than that.Report

    • Lenoxus in reply to greginak says:

      Regarding the twist, it tries way too hard at the start, making the existence of some sort of twist obvious. Why would anyone in 2015 make such a generic video that gay people like you are not alone?

      A better approach would make you think it’s about the troubles of coming out as gay in some previously-undressed specific context, like construction work or something. Interviews with people in hardhats, cranes and pulleys in the background. Then, BAM, it turns out that construction crews have become unspeakably intolerant… of traditional-marriage supporters. Just when you thought you were safe! The mind staggers.Report

  3. alanstorm says:

    “Well, except that those opposed to gay marriage are bigots motivated by their hatred of gays.”

    Begging the question, as is the whole article.

    Try again.Report

    • Sam Wilkinson in reply to alanstorm says:

      You’re welcome to explain what they’re really motivated by.Report

      • Guy in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

        I don’t know. I’m not one of them, and I don’t really understand the opinion. But bigotry and hate are strong words. Words I’m unwilling to apply to anyone not advocating total societal exile for those they oppose. I know at least one person opposed to legal gay marriage. I’ll take the “side” of my gay friends over his should it ever come up, but I don’t expect it to because we’re intelligent people capable of functioning in a society where we don’t all agree. It isn’t necessary for me that my opinion be the only valid one, without which a person is unworthy of participation in society. Let them dislike it. Let them not enjoy weddings. We’ve won. Let’s go home.Report

      • Sam Wilkinson:
        You’re welcome to explain what they’re really motivated by.

        To which Sam Wilkinson would he be expected to offer that explanation, the one who has declared those who disagree with him to be, without exception, “monstrous” “bigots” undeserving of even the slightest sympathy, such as upon loss of employment or other punishment, or the one who is implicitly offering to give those other views, and necessarily whoever dares to put them forward, a fair and non-prejudicial hearing?Report

        • Sam Wilkinson in reply to CK MacLeod says:

          Either’s fine with me CK, as I genuinely do not believe there is anything in the opposition to gay marriage beyond simple animus. I await the day when a consistent and substantive answer is offered though, one that punishes straight couples for the same reasons that underpin punishing gay couples. Hasn’t happened yet though. Maybe Guy has one. I’d love to hear it.Report

          • Sam Wilkinson: one that punishes straight couples for the same reasons that underpin punishing gay couples.

            Leaving aside my own extensive and extensively unsatisfying experience attempting to discuss this topic non-prejudicially at this site or with regulars at this site, if I were Guy or alanstorm or any lurking observer, I would remain reluctant to debate this question in these circumstances: with someone who is openly committed to stigmatizing his opponents and, in short, making them pay in pain and suffering for the actions of others, and who is not alone in that view, and whose position, rhetorical tactics aside, is already the dominant position at the site.

            I’m not sure why “punishment” is now the issue, but what are the “reasons that underpin punishing gay couples” that you believe would have to result in “punishing straight couples”?Report

            • Sam Wilkinson in reply to CK MacLeod says:

              I sincerely hope that the people suffering the “pain and suffering” of their opposition to gay marriage can recover. Perhaps an Aleve? As for me, what more can I do but offer an open ear to their explanations. Let us read the as-of-yet-unearthed argument for why gay marriage should be forsaken and straight marriage allowed that does not hold gays to a separate standard than it does straight.

              As for the reasons, I’m sure you know them, but:

              1. If gay marriage is for children, why are straight couples that don’t procreate allowed to be married?

              2. If marriage is religious, why are godless couples allowed to be married?

              3. If marriage is about commitment, why are adulterers and the divorced allowed to be married?

              All of these arguments are routinely trotted out by gay marriage’s opponents as reasons to exclude gays from the institution, and yet none of them are applied equally to the straight couples that fall entirely within the proposed limitation. That is surely telling of what’s really going on.Report

              • As for me, what more can I do but offer an open ear to their explanations.

                Someone who italicizes, boldfaces, capitalizes, and exclaims the word “bigots,” then speculates about employing a larger font-size, as you do at the beginning of your post, is not credibly “offer[-ing] an open ear,” or cannot do so until he has retracted.

                Whatever possible doubt as to your position and to the extent it is prejudiced rather than “open” is removed when you sign on to the common assertion, now heard and approved repeatedly on this thread, that opposition to marriage equality invariably and necessarily originates in such “bigotry,” or, if you prefer


                : not in error, not in an alternative concept, mistaken or not, of the purpose of marriage as institution or of the state’s or society’s interest in the institution, but solely, exclusively, inherently, and culpably in irrational disrespect or indecent prejudice or, now using your words, “animus” or “monstrous” “hatred.” You sum up your stance as follows:

                [T]hose opposed to gay marriage are bigots motivated by their hatred of gays. Principled opposition to gay marriage is always revealed to be nothing more than an expression of the individual’s discomfort with gay people…

                According to you, apparently even “principled” opposition must “always” originate in culpable, morally intolerable bias.

                So, there are two questions here. One concerns the underlying issue, about which anyone with an open mind – a condition that obviously does not include you and that may exclude the majority of discussants here – has had plentiful opportunity to read and reflect. If so inclined, as you obviously are not and as most here also may not be, you can find arguments against re-definition of marriage, or, alternatively, arguments against re-definition of marriage in a particular way or on a particular legal or conceptual basis, that do not rely on any position or attitude regarding homosexuals or homosexuality at all, or (my own preference) would not even exclude admission of gay and lesbian couples to an otherwise conceptually and essentially unchanged institution.

                Much more typically, of course, wherever these views are encountered, such as in right-wing websites or Supreme Court dissents or deep down in the unread threads, partisans on the other side immediately set to attacking their authors and sensationalizing content, rather than engaging arguments on their own terms as arguments.

                At this point, we turn naturally to the second issue: your rhetoric, which even those who generally agree with your positions, even including your assumptions about the simple irrationality and immorality of any anti-SSM position, find excessive and counterproductive. I would put my own disapproval of it in stronger terms, but I doubt it would make an impression on you or on the majority of users at this site, among other things because they are biased in your favor. They would be, I suspect, rather less forgiving of someone who posted here arguing the counter-position while offering some mirror-image tirade on the inherent and necessary depravity of SSM proponents, and claiming a license to engage in name-calling.

                In this connection, you or your allies might even wish to consider that an actually convincing show of compassion and of honest interest in the views of others would serve other purposes. For me, simple intellectual humility and an interest in the truth rather than in winning a political fight (that has minimal personal meaning to me) is already sufficient to justify interest in all sides on this issue. If you need a practical justification, you may wish to consider the possibility that gays and pro-SSM activitists may be disproportionately and very unfairly blamed in the future, as problems with the institution and related norms continue to worsen or are seen to do so, or reach some new critical stage, perhaps some years from now. In short, the self-righteous pitilessness of today’s winners in their moment of triumph may be recalled during a backlash cycle – which latter some may view as inevitable, and which a reading of history and a realistic appreciation of human nature at least suggests is a strong possibility.

                In my view, the way in which this issue has been argued, decided, and exploited increases that danger, an observation that I will attempt to develop further in connection with the (allegedly unjust) “reasons” for what you call “punishment” that you present.

                Now, it’s hard for me to understand what you think you’re saying with your numbers 3 and 2 above, or who you imagine is making what specific arguments relating to commitment and religion. I think on number 1 you did not mean to include the word “gay,” but here at least seem to be making an argument that’s understandable, in reference to a widely heard argument, rather a cliche in marriage equality discussions.

                That accepting “non-procreative” marriages into the institution somehow invalidates the state’s interest as an interest in procreation has been, in my view completely unnecessarily, conceded even by the likes of Justice Scalia. Yet since ancient times and the origins of political philosophy, this matter of the actual physical constitution of the state in its citizens or subjects has been taken to be a primary and initial, indeed obviously primary and initial consideration for any theory of the state.

                If we presume, contra Scalia and many of his colleagues, and against the insistence of numerous SSM proponents, that the valid state and societal interest in the institution of marriage inherently begins and ends with reproduction (sexual and social) of society itself – i.e., the people who make society up along with their lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness – then the question is simply what set of laws and other measures best serve that end. If state and society establish and ordain the cultivation and protection of stable monogamous marriages with a high likelihood of producing children who will grow up to become contributing citizens, then, under different prevailing conditions, differing rules governing the resultant institution might be adopted, including more or less strict “eligibility requirements.”

                I have long believed that an argument in favor of same sex marriages could have been made along these lines, as in fact it has been at times by some SSM proponents. I think that we may even have backed into this solution, but have not recognized it yet, and are instead somewhat trapped by justifications based on an unsustainable and undesirable, actually quite radical pure transactionalization of the marriage bond – as typified by elements of the Kennedy opinion, for example, and as leading to the typical confusion and unrealism of the polyamorists on this thread.

                Social conservatives have, in general, not been able to articulate their marriage concept very well in my opinion, but it will be among them, mostly, that you would find the remnant basis for a more durable and coherent marriage solution – if, indeed, we wanted one or knew we should. Instead we have committed to a principle of the further devaluation and erosion of the institution – which, given the central (or “nuclear”) role of the institution in society must have very broad effects. We have done so, it seems, not because it was the only way to address the needs and aspirations of gay citizens, but because our dysfunctional public discourse left us no other option.Report

              • zic in reply to CK MacLeod says:


                Social conservatives have, in general, not been able to articulate their marriage concept very well in my opinion, but it will be among them, mostly, that you would find the remnant basis for a more durable and coherent marriage solution – if, indeed, we wanted one or knew we should.

                Isn’t that a bit assumption? I’d question that social conservatism promotes ‘more durable and coherent marriage solutions.’ (What are marriage solutions?)

                Right now, it’s elite liberal marriages between partners of similar educational attainment that are durable; right now many of the barriers to marriage are economic, poverty is a primary barrier to both forming and maintaining marriage.Report

              • CK MacLeod in reply to zic says:


                “Solution”: to the identified “marriage problem” – i.e., the public dispute regarding the “institution” and all related matters (which, given the centrality of “family,” eventually means all matters).

                “Durable”: for society as a whole, probably also for diverse participants across social and economic sectors.

                I didn’t say that “social conservatism promotes ‘more durable and coherent marriage solutions.’” I said what I said, and not as an assumption, but as a claim based in part on the foregoing discussion, and open to further discussion, potentially.Report

    • CK MacLeod in reply to alanstorm says:

      @alanstorm ,

      “Bigots come out of the closet,” indeed.Report

  4. Saul Degraw says:

    1. The Left has clearly won in the PR fight. No one wants to be seen as bigoted in anyway shape or form.

    2. Humans being humans are not willing to examine whether they are being bigoted or not or change deeply held beliefs.

    3. Hence stuff like this video.Report

  5. aaron david says:

    Well, now that we have opened the door to other non traditional marriages*, I for one await the day that we can hound out of work the people who are against inter-family unions.

    As a side note, I totally support poly and incestuous marriages, as I am not a bigot.**

    **Not joking in the slightest here.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to aaron david says:


      So, if I understand that comment, you’d have no problem with your dad divorcing your mom and marrying your sister? Having bebbies and all that? If they loved each other, acourse. Is that right?Report

    • Lenoxus in reply to aaron david says:

      I’m going to operate on the assumption that you actually are trolling, as despite your apparent sincerity, one can never be too sure, and in any case stuff like this is fodder for homophobes.

      My standard point has become: even if the set of possible justifications for legal incestuous marriage is identical to the set of justifications for legal same-sex marriage (not actually true, but granted for sake of argument), and even if we still cannot ever have incestuous marriage happen because eww… that’s not a point against gay marriage.

      This is because taboos, whatever their justification, do not get to hold completely unrelated sets of rights hostage. Otherwise, it would also be exactly as legitimate an argument against mixed-race marriage — “Oh, really, any adult should be allowed to marry any adult? Well, how about incest? Checkmate, I win and miscegenation remains a crime.”

      But if you’re sincere (which you probably are), my point doesn’t apply. It’s a defense of gay marriage, not an attack on incest. I don’t feel like actually dissecting the pros/cons of losing the incest taboo, except to say that it would be much more of a minefield than even growing acceptance of polyamory is.Report

      • aaron david in reply to Lenoxus says:

        I am being sincere, and this is no attack on SSM. I have believed in SSM for a good 20+ years at this point, long before I became a Libertarian. And as I thought more and more about marriage equality, I came to the conclusion that it cannot be some sort of Chinese menu system. No “I want one from menu A and menu B, but nothing from C or D thank you.” At that point you are just playing favorites and really are no better than people who are against SSM. The only logical conclusion is any two or more people who want to be married, should get to do so. I will admit that this has been one (of many, to be sure) reasons I could no longer support Democrats and became a Libertarian. The result I would have most preferred would be to remove Gov’t from marriage altogether, but that seems to cause a bigger shit storm on the left than proposing SSM on the right.Report

        • Sam Wilkinson in reply to aaron david says:

          Getting the government out of marriage allows all of the old cruelty to return, because yes, two men or two women can get married, but if the state is no longer backing those marriages as being the equal of a man and a woman getting married, business go back to treating them are separate, different things.Report

          • aaron david in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

            So, @sam-wilkinson right now, gov’t marriage is blocking inner family and poly marriages. As you support gov’t marriage, I can assume you are OK with that level of bigotry? Removing gov’t from marriage means no matter what the gov’t does you are still married. And I assume that that is the important part, no?Report

        • Kazzy in reply to aaron david says:


          I’m on board with further expansion of marriage rights, though poly marriage presents unique logistical issues that need addressing. Not unsolvable but work is required (and it need not fall solely on the polygamy folks).Report

    • North in reply to aaron david says:

      For the record I haven’t seen a poly-marriage proposal yet that I find plausible enough to support though my opposition is practical and anecdotally based and thus is respectively addressable and soft.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to North says:

        I’m much the same way. If you can untangle the gordian knot of legalities and make it boilerplate, I’ve got no other objections.

        Marriage as an institution has evolved to be an equitable exchange of rights, and it’s hard-to-impossible to do ‘equitable’ between more than two people. Maybe someone will figure it out. You could certainly hire a lawyer and run down the lengthy list of stuff and probably make decisions, although it wouldn’t be directly equitable. It’d be bargaining and such, and you’d have to cover everything from property to potential children (and custody thereof) to medical decision making. And it’d have to be revisited every time someone new entered.

        SSM was — as was interracial marriage — somewhat of a slam dunk case. The mechanics didn’t differ. For interracial, you just removed a restriction on race. For SSM, you just removed a restriction on gender. Same idea of two adults, exchanging rights and vows.

        Poly adds complexity that isn’t there now. And given the legal rights and other bits and pieces of marriage are all built around two people, it might not be really possible to extend it.

        I’m perfectly open to solutions though.Report

        • North in reply to Morat20 says:

          Yes we’re on the same page on practicalities. On the anecdotes I have known a lot of poly people and I haven’t seen a poly relationship last very long at all before some people bail other people jump in (never past a year in fact). It just seems too… dynamic… to be a good fit for something as straight jacketed as state sanction.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to North says:

            In a world where marriage is easily divorced from making kids or rearing them, poly marriage is an obvious next step.

            Children muddy up the obviousness, though. Which is not to say “WE SHOULDN’T ALLOW IT!” but most of the discussions seem to be downright libertarian in their lack of children.Report

            • North in reply to Jaybird says:

              To heck with the kids, who gets the cats when a polyamorous sixsome splits up into a threesome, a twosome and a single unlucky fellow?Report

            • Road Scholar in reply to Jaybird says:


              Exactly. Of the three big taboos remaining, all have children at their core. Which means that we’re no longer in territory where libertarian arguments are dispositive.Report

              • Cathy Young has argued, I think quite persuasively, that any movement towards recognition of polygamy has much steeper hurdles before it – in short, based on the self-interest of the vast majority of married couples -than the SSM movement has had. I think the ethical questions are deeper, but she makes a good argument while avoiding discussion that few readers will be prepared for.


                We can, however, imagine decades or generations of continued erosion in the institution of marriage and of monogamy as recognized and understood ethical concept. I think it’s also true that the basis of the marriage equality victory – a total reduction of “marriage” to individual choice or transaction, and an obligation of the state and of all citizens to approve of the results without differentiation – would remove the theoretical or conceptual barrier to legalized (meaning state-affirmed and -protected) polygamy, as well as to incest and to other practices and inclinations.

                In the past, as soon as anyone said as much – and usually it would fall to one of those evil authoritarian social conservatives to do so – he or she would be laughed out of court. It’s hard to maintain that approach, however, when the laughable position is taken seriously as the natural and necessary next step not by Rick Santorum, but, for instance, by pre-OT League alumnus Freddie deBoer or by some of the voices appearing on this thread.

                So the movement, such as it is, might have to decide on its position: Is saying that SSM points inexorably to further “widening” or “loosening” of standards an assertion typical of evil bigots or of valued allies in the great true freedom struggle?

                Another possibility is that a decision directly affecting an estimated 0.5% of marriages is not objectively important enough to sustain a significant social movement over time and that, now that the seemingly nearly costless “feelgood” assent has been received, the larger culture will move on, perhaps while more quietly re-considering the traditional marriage concept in a less politicized manner.Report

              • North in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                That’s a good article CK, and it definitely sounds accurate to me, especially with regards to the sociological challenges confronting State sanctioned Poly marriage*.

                I don’t know what the Poly community’s numbers are, doubtlessly they’re a minority like the same sex marriage community is so they have to persuade a lot of people and frankly that’s gonna be really hard; much harder than for gay marriage because so far you can barely get Poly marriage proponents to even lay out a general sketch of how Poly marriage would work and since such a reform would impact every existing marriage (gay or straight) it would be of considerable interest to every person they were making the pitch to.

                Couple that with an exponentially weaker emotional claim (I am not emotionally or sexually satisfied with just one spouse, I need more) and that equates to a mightily steep hill to clamber up.

                I think in the language of rights and principles Poly marriage can make a pretty solid argument but that really only serves to discourage people from trying to stomp informal Poly marriage out via state power rather than convincing them that state affirmation is needed. The narrative is also missing the pain element. “My second husband was hospitalized but because there’s no state recognized Poly marriage only one of his wives were able to be at his side”?

                Long story short, poly advocates have a lot of homework to do before they can realistically expect to achieve state sanctioned multiple marriage.

                *of course unsanctioned poly marriage exists right now and power to emReport

          • Road Scholar in reply to North says:

            North: Yes we’re on the same page on practicalities.

            Count me in as well. My reticence towards Polyamory! mirrors my reluctance to jump aboard the Get Government Out of Marriage! bandwagon. Neither is so much an actual proposal as they are bumper sticker slogans. They’re both under-defined to the point that I can’t really support or object to either since I don’t really know what it is that I’m supporting or objecting to.

            Until these things are fleshed out a bit more I’m standing here in a clown costume, holding a hundred dollar bill, and Monty Hall is asking me if I want to trade it for whatever’s behind door #3.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to Morat20 says:

          SSM was somewhat of a slam dunk case. The mechanics didn’t differ.

          Okay, who’s going to have the talk with Morat?Report

  6. Freeman says:

    Somebody should parody that video as pedophile priests. “You’re not alone. You’re not alone. You’re not alone.” Now there’s some Truth!Report

  7. tc says:

    I find your snarling ness, especially in comments section to be degrading. You can’t even fathom how job discrimination for not supporting SSM could even occur. What world do you live in?

    Let me illustrate a simple couple of examples. The back story: you are a manager who doesn’t believe in SSM and work for a public company that has added sexual orientation to its discrimination policy. You are perfectly fine with that policy and have no problem hiring someone with ssa because to you it is not a factor in whether they can do a job or not. Example one: You are invited by one of your staff who is unmarried to their SSM ceremony. You choose not to go, but previously had went previously to another one of your staff’s heterosexual wedding. The unmarried SSM staff member reports your what you call bigotry to HR and you are terminated because you did not go against your religious beliefs. Example Two: You as manager are asked to march in your companies gay pride parade and hold a banner in support of SSM and you decline because of your religious belief. Because of this, you are terminated.

    How do you respond? I hope is is like Andrew Sullivan in the Elon Musk case that the company’s termination of someone I cases like this is wrong. Do you fight for all peoples’ freedom or just those who think like you regarding SSM.

    There are those of us who take that marriage involves more than just two people who love each other and want to make a permanent commitment to each other. We do not believe, because of religious up bringing that marriage is simply jus because two people love each other. There was a article and book that asked the question “What is marriage?” While it had its gaps and errors, the title gets the question wrong. The question should be “Why marriage?” I would state this to heterosexual couples also. Outside of religious reasons, and especially given if the couple doesn’t plan on children, then why do you want to even get married? Is it because you are like Andrew Sullivan whose main argument boiled done to envy? Sullivan’s basic argument under his wonderful prose was he wanted what his heterosexual friends had and to call someone else his husband. I essence, he wanted to “own” the exclusive relationship with the other person. Yet, I his more recent writings, he also supported more Dan Savage’s open relationship model when it came to sex.

    Just a couple clarifications: I am not Catholic and was raised in mainline church (UCC). As far as the manager example, managers need to set a policy to not attend any of their staff’s weddings or attend all. As far as the pride parade example, as manager you may need to try to offer an alternative support (March in parade but not holding banner or support outside parade), or know that you need to accept the consequences of your belief.Report

    • greginak in reply to tc says:

      If people are being fired for not attending employee weddings or marching in parades then those are Right to Work law issues. They are also pretty far fetched it seems. How many companies have gay pride floats? And would’t marching in parades be a personal time thing unless you are a professional float driver or blimp rope holder.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to greginak says:


        Having recently attended the NYC Pride parade and talked with a friend who knew more about it than I did, my sense is that certain companies opt to put floats in and then reach out to employees en masse asking if they want to be on them. I can tell you, it seemed like everyone who was on a float (or in the parade) sure as hell wanted to be there. And most floats were overflowing with people! So if someone didn’t want to be in the parade for ANY reason, I think most companies response would be, “We probably didn’t have room for you anyway.”

        Now, it is possible that certain companies might have “street teams” who are in charge of promoting the brand in less traditional ways. It wouldn’t shock me to learn that Chipotle operated in this fashion, firing t-shirts into the crowd from those air gun thingies. How would Chipotle have responded if a member of their street team — who previously worked the Puerto Rican Day Parade and St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Thanksgiving Day Parade — suddenly drew the line at the Gay Pride Parade? I don’t know.

        But what would be the religious objection to a pride parade? “My religion tells me I can fire t-shirts at the crowd for Puerto Rican pride and Irish pride and Fat American pride but not gay pride?” That seems far fetched.

        Then again, our apparent willingness to let anyone say, “Because religion!” seems to say otherwise which is deeply, deeply troubling.Report

    • Sam Wilkinson in reply to tc says:


      Gay people can be fired simply for being gay. In other words, a boss who sees his employee kissing his husband goodbye in the parking lot can FIRE that employee and can say while doing so, “I am doing this because you are gay.” When that starts happening to all of socially conservative bigots that you’re so weirdly worried about, let me know, and we can talk about whether or not its appropriate.

      And I simply could not care less about what church you’re a member of. The issue is whether couples have the right to marry. You’re clearly in opposition for couples that don’t pass whatever absurd religious tests you’ve created in your mind, and if you want to think that those religious tests should matter in some sort of substantive, legal way, have at it. Hell, if you want to sit there thinking that you own marriage, have at that, although god only knows what is informing that belief. But let’s not pretend that this isn’t the substantive difference between the two of us. I’ve never considered the possibility of keeping you from receiving legal recognition for the person you love. You have apparently routinely sat around figuring out whose love for one another shouldn’t receive legal recognition.Report

  8. Jaybird says:

    They didn’t have any youtube videos like this where the sample picture was of a white guy?Report

    • Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

      This video is about a voice for minorities.Report

      • CK MacLeod in reply to Glyph says:

        This video is about a voice for minorities.

        Actually, it is, in multiple senses. Among other things, the video makers are likely well aware that African American resistance to SSM is stronger than among European Americans, in general – as represented in the to my knowledge unchanged anti-SSM (and generally anti-gay) stance of the very church where Obama was speaking (and singing) on the day the decision was announced.Report

        • Alan Scott in reply to CK MacLeod says:

          Dude, can we not, please? Especially when there’s a post about multicollinearity still sitting on the front page?

          Actual honest-to-god Black Christians are welcome to air their views about same-sex marriage, positive or negative, here or elsewhere. But you are absolutely unqualified to do it for them.Report

  9. zic says:

    Sam, you’re title is backward. Should be, Bigots fear being locked in the closet. Don’t think it’s that same closet LGTB folk have spent years busting out of, however. It’s a different closet.Report

  10. Tod Kelly says:

    I’m going to disagree here, at least somewhat.

    As I’ve said repeatedly in the wake of overwhelming victory, what was the ultimate goal of this fight? Was it equal rights and privilege under the law and eventual social acceptance, or was it sticking it to the conservatives?

    SSM is but one battlefield in this fight. I think it’s well worth asking of the others are worth sacrificing because our tone gets to a point where even publicly admitting you are still not comfortable with SSM makes it easier for everyone else to train the inevitable. The ultimate battle, I would argue, is to get everyone to recognize that everyone deserves basic dignity, not that we are reshuffling the deck and reassigning who should and shouldn’t be allowed it. Prodigal sons and all.

    If someone says, “I still feel scared/worried/anxious,” I don’t know what’s to be gained by pulling out the chainsaw rather than engaging them and making the next few battles easier to achieve victory.Report

    • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Social conservatives have conflated legal recognition of those that they disapprove of with having had it stuck to them. If they feel that they’ve had it stuck to them because they can’t keep those two dudes down the street from receiving the state’s legal recognition, that’s their own problem and they can figure out a solution. I’ve seen it said that just having lost the ability to oppress is punishment enough – and in fact, that we have to take the pain social conservatives feel quite seriously, as they’ve been dealt a serious blow – but I (for myself mind you) grant them none of that. That’s like telling a bully that it’s okay to feel sad because he isn’t allowed to punch the other kids anymore.Report

      • Guy in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

        And you think punching the bully is a better solution? You’re not fighting back against oppression here. That already happened. You’re just kicking people for having an opinion.Report

        • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Guy says:

          If you’re going to define “not apologizing to the bully because he’s no longer allowed to punch the other children” as “punching the bully” then I frankly have no idea what we’re even talking about. Nobody anywhere has proposed punishing those opposed to gay marriage, although those opponents will tell you that they’re being punished because their’s is no longer a cost-free position to take. That isn’t punishment though. That’s them being leveled off with everybody else.Report

          • Stillwater in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

            I have to admit, I’m with Sam here. I don’t think he’s advocating kicking the bully when he’s down (ie., bullying the bully). I think he’s saying that claiming victim status when a bully’s bullying privileges have been revoked is just a bullshit tactic. One he’s quite right – in my view – to laugh at. Or sneer even!Report

    • LWA in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Allow me to channel my younger, more George Will/ Patrick Moynihan self.

      We aren’t talking about government laws against anti-SSM people. What this video and much of the anguish from conservatives is about, is finding their viewpoint on the unpopular side of things.

      We are talking about social ostracization- parties they will not be invited to, gatherings at which they feel excluded, clubs where they will be politely told, “you don’t fit in”.

      We talk a lot about not wanting government to be a nanny molding our opinions, where we prefer that nongovernmental institutions enforce social norms voluntarily.

      This is what that looks like.
      Anti SSM people are free to live and work and play but they will increasingly be unpopular, and yeah, that hurts, it really does.

      They are just going to have to learn to live with this feeling.Report

      • North in reply to LWA says:

        Well sure no one is calling for the state to go after SSM opponents and making SSM opposition socially uncomfortable is something I’m not concerned with. Where we affirmatively start taking steps to make SSM’s opponents lives difficult- pressuring for them to lose their jobs and otherwise “persecuting” them I worry we’re stepping into our fallen foes shoes. My objection is only one part principle (I don’t want gays to become the new moral scolds) and ten parts pragmatism (this, of all the things, is something I could see turning on us and setting us back if we overindulge)*.

        *And one part spite; persecution is what social conservatives want to suffer if they can’t win. The very last thing the Rod’s of the world want is to simply be ignored.Report

    • InMD in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      I agree with @tod-kelly that posts of this nature are baffling. When same-sex marriage was put to the vote in Maryland I voted in favor. I’m ambivalent on the idea of state-sanctioned marriage generally but I understand it’s something we have and if we’re going to have it then I see no reason not to extend it to same sex couples. If we can extend equality and the ability for people to live happily without doing harm to others (expanding the pluralistic society tent as I call it) then I’m all for it.

      The reality this post fails to acknowledge is that opponents of same sex marriage had already lost. The Supreme Court only sped up what would have inevitably happened, state by state. However, if opponents of same sex marriage playing the victim card is eye-rolling weak sauce then this type of triumphalism only feeds the paranoia that once made laws against same sex marriage a big winner at the ballot box.

      Those who would use opposition to same sex marriage to ostracize need to be very careful about what they wish for, because this isn’t the country they think it is. Same sex marriage is one of very few issues in which something that was considered radically liberal only a couple decades ago has now become the norm. Are supporters of same sex marriage ready for people to be fired for being caught donating to Planned Parenthood? Or taking part in a demonstration against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank? Or any number of liberal causes? The reason that same sex marriage has won out is because the argument for a more inclusive society and to allow others the freedom to express love as they see fit is compelling.

      The goal should be to make opponents of same sex marriage wonder what it is they were so concerned about in the first place. Scorched earth, on the other hand, will make progress on other important political problems even more difficult.Report

    • Zac in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      “As I’ve said repeatedly in the wake of overwhelming victory, what was the ultimate goal of this fight? Was it equal rights and privilege under the law and eventual social acceptance, or was it sticking it to the conservatives?”

      I don’t see why we can’t do both.Report

  11. LWA says:

    Zic is right- the “right to discriminate” is going to produce some rather awkward results for conservatives.

    Maybe there will be a day when anti-SSM people have to meet in special bars, where they identify each other with special neckerchiefs or something.Report

  12. Damon says:

    This topic came up today in the news and I found this tidbit curious.

    “A significant majority of Americans disagree with the argument that religious institutions or clergy should be required to perform same-sex marriages against their beliefs; only one-fifth of Americans (19%) say they should be required to do so.”

    19% think the clergy should be forced to marry gays even if they oppose it. Jeebus!Report

  13. Francis says:

    “You’ve lost that loving feeling oohoh that loooving feeeling …”

    Dreher in particular is one to argue that the loss of cultural superiority for his team will lead inevitably to persecution. That point of view for now gets a hanky and not much respect.

    As many commenters of his have pointed out, if social conservatives are really that concerned about being persecuted there are plenty of minority groups in this country who might be willing to make common cause with the SoCons to limit the power of employers to fire people for expressing their beliefs when not on company time. One such group is, of course,

    the gay community.

    Isn’t it ironic?Report

  14. Sam says:

    “How dare we have to pay any price for what we believe?” demand people who had no problem making others pay a significant price for who they were as recently as last Friday morning.Report

  15. Chris says:

    I don’t feel the need to watch the video, much less to comment on it. They’ve lost this particular culture war, and I feel no need to run it in. Let them wallow in their ressentiment.

    I did enjoy the YouTube video that mocks it, though, but only because it sounds a lot like stuff people actually say, even around here. Like:

    “I feel like the best way to break down these barriers is to just listen to me.”Report

    • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

      So I’ve been trying to figure out the difference between ressentiment, and plain old resentment.

      Is the difference that resentment is not automatically invalid (I can resent someone or something for good reason), but ressentiment implies that my resentment is misplaced?Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Glyph says:

        Resentiment is French 🙂

        From wikipedia:

        “The sense of weakness or inferiority and perhaps jealousy in the face of the “cause” generates a rejecting/justifying value system, or morality, which attacks or denies the perceived source of one’s frustration. This value system is then used as a means of justifying one’s own weaknesses by identifying the source of envy as objectively inferior, serving as a defense mechanism that prevents the resentful individual from addressing and overcoming their insecurities and flaws. The ego creates an enemy in order to insulate itself from culpability.”

        So it seems entirely connected to culture and politics and is more about the group or tribe or the individual. You resent the guy in class for getting your crush. The Far Right have ressentiment against “coastal elites”* for being the dominant culture that the media and everyone else tries to cater to. Why do people like Hip-Hop more than country? Why were/is Seinfeld, Girls, Veep talked about in the media by critics more than Walker, Texas Ranger? Why do TV shows make New York and Los Angeles look like desirable locations instead of encouraging kids to stay close to home? Etc.

        There seems to be a sense of being written off as irrelevant.

        *Whenever I hear a Republican complain against “coastal elites”, I translate “coastal elite” to mean a middle to upper-middle class professional who lives in or near a desirable metro area (except for academics who can live anywhere), listens to NPR, and is left-of-center politically. Notice how Romney and Trump and the Koch Brothers are always absent from Republican definitions of the elite despite their millions or billions of dollars. A professor of anthropology at the University of Vermont who makes a modest 70,000 a year or so and wears birkenstocks with socks is elitist because he or she rejects the values and aspirations of the GOP base.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Glyph says:

        If you read Rick Perlstein, there is a long history of the farther right Republicans having chips on their shoulders about the Northeast and/or anyone who does not value the same things.

        This included a hatred of the old GOP elite (aka Rockefeller Republicans) who were seen as too wordly and not churchy enough. The original backers of people like Goldwater hated everything about the Northeast Republicans especially the idea of “effortless ease”. In Before The Storm, Perlstein writes about how conservative midwesterns were grinds in university and they disliked how their Northeast counterparts believed in effortless ease and the Gentleman’s C. Some of these Midwestern Conservatives were the sons of factory owners (like the Kohler factory). Others came from modest circumstances. Both times there was an incomprehension that turned to rage at the urbanity of their East Coast counterparts including the old WASP tendency to wear comfortable and old tweeds and cords over the Sunday Best.

        People love or hate Donald Trump for the same reasons because of his vulgarity, brash showiness, etc. For some reason, it really gets under the skin of Republicans that inner-suburb liberals dislike Donald Trump and they feel judged whenever he is mocked by the Daily Show. Perhaps their feeling is that Donald Trump is how you should act when wealthy?Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Glyph says:

        The double-s in “ressentiment” makes me think of “rotisserie”, so I picture it as people who can’t escape the cycle of resentment: they just go round and round, stewing in their own juices.Report

      • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        I use the word because I mean resentment in the specifically Nietzschean sense: overly briefly, the projection of one’s own sense of inferiority onto those who trigger it, resulting in hate for and disgust at the triggerers, and an evaluation of them and that associated with them born largely of that hate and disgust.Report

  16. Principled Gay Marriage Opponent says:

    I used to have a tech job on Rt. 128. Then Massachusetts legalized SSM, and pretty soon I discovered I couldn’t live with that, so I moved to Silicon Valley. That was fine for a few years, till the state Court ruling. I started looking for places to go, but Prop. 8 restored sanity. Then that damned gay judge overturned it, so I moved to the Research Triangle. I mean, if North Carolina wasn’t safe, no place was. And now no place is. Any state or the District of Columbia, eventually the subject is going to turn to marriage. I might as well go back to dating women.Report

  17. zic says:

    So trads fear they might be ostracized; maybe lose their jobs, not get invited to parties if they express their religious view. It makes the uncomfortable.

    But how do they act, how do they comport their own business? Last year, Hobby Lobby seems to have added a rule to it’s employee handbook requiring non-married employees to practice abstinence..

    In April, they fired a woman for divorcing her husband.

    So they can fire their employees for having sex out of wedlock or getting a divorce.

    It’s no wonder the right fears a backlash; they’re imagining the things they’ve already been doing being done to them. Measure them by their own yardsticks.Report

    • North in reply to zic says:

      Indeed Zic my dear Lady I agree. What I think is being lost in this discussion is a question of consequences. We have seen how the religious right have behaved. We have seen the harvest they have reaped: youth alienated and abandoning their ideologies in droves; moderates fleeing; empty pews; political weakening; centuries of cultural dominance crumbling.

      Now here gays and their allies stand, victorious (at least on this front) or at least with a victory under our belt and we are considering if we should emulate the tone and behavior of the defeated. Considering the consequences we have seen of that behavior why on God(ess?)’s green earth would we ape it?!? Why would we want to?? Every angle I look at it from I see naught but downsides:
      -It proves our most vehement enemies right; we will become like them.
      -It will poison us making us small, venal, angry and petty.
      -It will give religious fundamentalists the one thing they crave most (other than cultural dominance): a position as victims and martyrs. This is a position that, I hasten to add, the religious in general and Christianity specifically is designed to endure and embrace and indeed rejoice in enduring and embracing.
      -And most consequentially it invites us reaping the same consequences. Do we think we cannot slide back? Do we think that the arch of history bends unerringly in our favor? Have we forgotten the lessons we only just barely learned about persuading the persuadable and being the reasonable party in the conflict? If (God[ess?] forfend) I find myself 20 years from now watching a new generation turned against us by this behavior capering with renewed religious fervor on the burning wreckage of gay rights I would expect that the reason would be this kind of overreach and tone and I will curse those indulgences through my tears.

      I do not advocate temperance and thoughtful forbearance for the religious fundamentalists sakes. I bear the them no love; indeed my opposition to their causes, creeds and moors is as cold and intense as the Canadian arctic. I advocate what I do out of an desire to relinquish them to the cultural margins they so richly deserve. No martyrdom; no persecution; no great battle at the doors of their churches; just the bemused indifferent gaze of future generations turned irrevocably away from their curious medieval creeds. Just the sound of the dust settling on the pews and the burn of their own regrets to keep them company in the silence “if we had only been better people…”.

      And to secure that triumph, lasting and complete, WE must be the better people. For our own sakes if for nothing else.Report

    • StevetheCat in reply to zic says:

      Those articles actually say more about you than them.
      Try looking around those sites a bit.Report

    • aaron david in reply to zic says:

      You do know both those websites are parody sites, correct?

      ETA: I see you do.Report

  18. Hmmm….having read the comments, I think I agree with those who challenge what they call Sam’s triumphalist tone. But his OP does serve as one piece of evidence in support of a working hypothesis I have about bigotry:

    Bigotry believes itself aggrieved. The bigot believes himself/herself victimized. That believe is part of the lie that the bigot must tell themselves, but while it is a lie, they believe it on some level.

    That doesn’t mean that all people who feel themselves victims are bigots. It doesn’t mean that all people who feel themselves victims and lash out at their victimizers are victims, either. But to the extent my hypothesis is true, it should serve as a note of caution when it comes to claiming victim status. Even though I disagree with Sam’s triumphalism, which is eerily reminiscent of some religious and other conservatives I have known, I should admit that the video, if it can’t be ignored (which is better), deserves to be lampooned.

    At the same time, my hypothesis should also serve as a note of caution when it comes to calling out bigotry. One reason the bigot can often lie to him/herself so effectively is that there is often at least a superficial reason to do so. And sometimes the line that distinguishes between bigot and victim can be blurry indeed, so that the lie might turn into the truth.Report

  19. Will Truman says:

    As someone who has worked for anti-gay employers in the past, I am pretty much against the notion that “Screw them because we have the social advantage” because in some places, they have the advantage. They’ve had power over me. They might have power over me.

    Generating a norm where Employment-At-Will should be used to punish speech is not something I am generally in favor of. Freedom of Speech is not Freedom from Consequences, but consequences don’t always end up where we want them to.

    I am not enthusiastic about trying to make sure people pay a price for supporting the wrong policies. Especially when it’s a policy that has already been won.Report

    • zic in reply to Will Truman says:

      This is an extremely pleasant sentiment, @will-truman, and I mostly share it. Just be polite. Use the golden rule; treat others as you’d like to be treated. But that restraint falls out in different ways, because we’re discussing an confluence of events.

      First, restraint ought not be bilateral. I can understand why issuing a marriage license might perturb you; but if your job is to issue marriage licenses, think how you’d feel if you went to apply for one and the clerk refused to do it; refused to give you the legal document you need to have your marriage registered. You may not approve of someone else’s marriage, and I’ll suggest again: perhaps the appropriate response is to ask God to forgive you for issuing that license, not to refuse to issue it. That’s restraint, too. If we want to maintain religious expression here; to protect it in their churches and assemblies, believers need to also respect that others have different secular values, and what and how they conduct their lives is their moral burden, not yours.

      I am sure there are gay people planning weddings and finding shortages of providers right now. Sure that at least somewhere out there, one baker or florist or photographer who’s not comfortable will express that, and the couple will simply keep searching without filing a complaint. I’m sure there are people practicing restraint, and simply relieved to enter the sacred bonds of marriage, a sacrament that predates religion* and probably don’t want a sour vendor around to potentially ruin their nuptials. It bothers me that the meme is all couples looking to wed will sue you in the courts or social media; some might. Restraint, the very thing you’re calling for, is hard to see when it happens because it’s the norm we’re comfortable with. But like forgiveness, when we see it, we see its power.

      Firing under right to work laws suggests two different things; it’s also a social media problem, not just a problem of using the right to work as a form of social control. First, I suspect some couples looking to get married and some people discomforted by that marriage will, in fact, exercise restraint, and be victims of an outrage cascade that they didn’t initiate; marriages are public things, and typically, a lot of other people are involved in arranging them, and might be the cause of an outrage cascade (which are a common and much discussed thing on this blog).

      Second is our rights to jobs and to lose a job when we become a social pariah. Here, we get into something I have a growing fascination with: how corporate America is becoming a shaper of or social mores. Lots of examples in the SSM debate; lot of companies said they wanted state respect for their LGBT employees on many occasions. In South Carolina, it didn’t seem okay to discuss taking down that flag until WalMart said they’d prefer it, and removed it from their shelves. Right to work laws, too, invest a lot of responsibility for companies in deciding if an employee’s free speech, in some way, reflects on their business; another thing we’ve seen a lot of.

      Rod Dreher keeps freaking about the loss of church as the influence on mores; but I’m beginning to wonder if Neromancer’s happening, and multi-national corporations are replacing churches as the guide to polite society.

      *TAC post by Justin Raimondo ; an interesting read, and while I think I agree with the reasoning, but Raimondo discredits his argument with his close, his expected outcome is filled with spite and judgement. It would have been a stronger piece if he’d cut the last four paragraphs.Report

      • Gabriel Conroy in reply to zic says:

        “Firing under right to work laws suggests two different things; ”

        I know this is very nitpicky and in no way invalidates what you’re saying, but I’ve seen several here use “right to work” to mean “at will” employment. But “right to work” doesn’t mean “at will” employment. It means union-shop clauses are not enforceable. Conceivably, a state can be a “right to work” state and yet not have “at will” employment.

        Again, I know that’s nitpicky, but just pointing it out.Report

        • zic in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

          It’s not nitpicky, it’s valid; and I think I was responsible for entering up thread, and echoed wills echo, making it the vernacular here. That’s good editing, I appreciate the correction, @glyph

          Thank you, and let the record stand so corrected.Report

          • Gabriel Conroy in reply to zic says:

            Thanks. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if supporters of “at will” employment* would relabel their preferred policy to read something that sounds like “right to work.”

            *Although I tentatively support “for cause” employment laws, I share @north ‘s concerns, which he made in passing above.Report

        • zic in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

          That should be @gabriel-conroy , forgive @glyph (though you’re two-cents is welcomed!).Report

      • Will Truman in reply to zic says:

        @zic I have to confess that I really have very little patience for government employees trying to play the conscientious objector. Or at least doing so and trying to keep their jobs. I’m not opposed to trying to alter the arrangement so that they do have to do what they don’t want to do and everybody else can get what they want (as Alabama made moves to), but until or unless that happens in a particular jurisdiction, they need to do their damn job or quit so that they can be replaced by someone who will do the job.Report

  20. Guy says:

    Sam Wilkinson:
    Gay people can be fired simply for being gay. In other words, a boss who sees his employee kissing his husband goodbye in the parking lot can FIRE that employee and can say while doing so, “I am doing this because you are gay.”

    Yes, and that’s bad. The proper response is to stop that from happening, not to fire people who you dislike because some other people over there have the power to fire people you like.Report

  21. Sam Wilkinson says:

    Where have I advocated for firing the people that I dislike again?

    But nevermind that, a more potent question is perhaps this: how about a compromise agreement in which people aren’t getting fired for who they are? Would gay marriage’s opponents be willing to give up their legal right to fire gays simply for being gay if what they get in return is a promise not to have their own fired for hating gays? My guess is that isn’t an agreement they’d be willing to make, mostly because we have very little evidence of gay marriage’s opponents being fired for opposing gay marriage. In other words, this continues to be a case of them wanting for themselves what they’re not willing to extend to anybody else.Report

    • Where have I advocated for firing the people that I dislike again?

      Well, you did say above,

      Considering that gays can be fired simply for being gay, I have no problem with high-profile bigots being chased out of their jobs by companies that don’t want to be associated with such a monstrous position.

      That’s probably not an explicit endorsement of such firings, but it sounds like it implies such an endorsement.Report

      • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

        It is true that I do not have a problem with the public putting pressure upon a company when one of its higher-profile employees decides to take a public stance in opposition to his employees having equal rights. Think Brandon Eich.

        But there’s a second part of the position, which is the trade-off that I offered. If gay marriage’s opponents came to the table and said, “Look, we don’t want our own getting fired for opposing gay marriage, so maybe we need to ease up on the advocacy for laws which make it legal to fire gays for being gays,” that might be something, but we’re not seeing that at all. Nor do I expect that we’ll see anything like that. We’ll see gay marriage’s opponents insist that their numbers should continue to have the right to fire people for being gay, while simultaneously insisting that there should be no possible consequence for those who are opposed to gay marriage. They’ll demand the special rights they’ve always enjoyed and they’ll battle any attempt to extend that freedom.Report

        • I don’t agree with your predictions, but thanks for clarifying.Report

          • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

            You think that this is a trade-off that gay marriage’s opponents will soon offer? I certainly hope that you’re right but I don’t believe it in the slightest.Report

            • Well, I don’t know what you mean by “gay marriages opponents.” If you mean “all” of them, then, no, not all of them. There might be one or a thousand who don’t. But I’m hopeful that enough of them will come on board to endorse laws that forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation.

              As for “soon,” I don’t know. I hope it’s sooner than later, but I don’t know.

              Now, will the compromise will actually work in the quid-pro-quo way you suggest (“Look, we don’t want our own getting fired for opposing gay marriage, so maybe we need to ease up on the advocacy for laws which make it legal to fire gays for being gays…”)? Probably not, or at least not explicitly. (ETA: but it would make sense if they find that their viewpoint is increasingly in the minority.)

              Finally, I question whether all people who are ambivalent about or oppose gay marriage necessarily think it’s okay to fire someone for being gay. Some of them might believe an employer should have the right to fire people for that reason, but even those might not think it’s a good thing. And some might not even agree an employer ought to have that right in the first place.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

                For the record, what is being talked about here has passed in one of the most conservative states in the country.Report

              • True. I actually had that example in mind.

                ETA: the reason I didn’t mention it is because I didn’t want to assume that the new law necessarily represents a “compromise.” For all I know, the tide of opinion in Utah actually favors ssm (despite the state’s conservatism) and the people promoting the new law didn’t switch sides so much as just do what they wanted to do.Report

          • Stillwater in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

            I don’t agree with your predictions, but thanks for clarifying.


            I have to disagree here. The Hobby Lobby case constitutes one such expansion of the RFRA protections (to include for-profit corporations) and the recent barrage of state level RFRA actions – including the potential for, and even often explicitly invited, actions resulting in court cases to explicitly resolve the limits of competing claims – indicates to me that it isn’t a prediction as much as an observation. My two cents anyway.Report

            • And yet we have competing examples, such as Utah’s recent law, as Will pointed out.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

                Ummm. I agree?Report

              • zic in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

                It’s also important to put Utah’s law into historical perspective.

                First, the Temple reconsidered its position in light of the blowback triggered by their CA Prop 8 activism.

                Second, it pretty much excludes anyone who makes a claim of religious belief; so it sets a double standard — you can’t discriminate because you hate gays, unless you’re attributing it to your religious beliefs, then it’s A OK.

                But it’s really important to note that it didn’t appear out of kindness and acceptance and tolerance, (though it might foster tolerance,) it came out of the social condemnation Mormon’s received for supporting an obviously anti-gay legislation; the kind that’s illegal after the recent SCOTUS ruling.Report

              • Sam in reply to zic says:

                This is a very neat trick indeed, in that it prevents discrimination by people that the conservative majority of Utah already disapprove of (those who aren’t religious) while protecting the discriminatory rights of those that Utah does approve of (the religious, and presumably more specifically: Mormons) and then gives cover to social conservatives who want to say, “SEE, WE’RE NOT SO BAD!” despite what’s functionally happening. And of course, those who defend the bigotry point to this as if its evidence of social conservative decency when in fact it is plainly evidence of the other.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to zic says:

                There was a convergence of things that lead to its passage. Outside pressure was among them, but it had a carrot-stick and push-pull quality that this post, and the attitude behind it, utterly lacks. And there genuinely are quite a few Mormons out there who oppose such discrimination, even if they thing gay marriage should be banned. I’m not endorsing that viewpoint at all, but it speaks to the unhelpfulness of being completely incapable of understanding who “they” are and what “they” believe. (Different among them actually believe different things, as inconveniently complicated as that is.)

                No real objection to the term “bigot” or “bigotry.” As far as current opponents of SSM go, it’s either true or represents such an indifference to or lack of empathy to be a distinction without a difference. But grappling with different viewpoints – even if not honoring them or respecting them – is hard, and was completely avoided here.Report

              • zic in reply to Will Truman says:

                Conscientious objection is the standard missing from this discussion. One can object so SSM, can say that, can refuse to perform specific tasks or serve customers, etc.; it is an act of conscientious objection; potentially a form of civic disobedience.

                Which requires shouldering the repercussions of that objection; it doesn’t mean the objection is consequence free.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to zic says:

                For me, a lot of it depends on who is doing the conscientious objecting.

                A pastor? That’s one thing. A county clerk? Something else entirely. Most other things are in between.Report

              • zic in reply to Will Truman says:

                The pastor, in exercise of his duties to her congregation, is protected by the 1st amendment.

                The clerk, in exercising his job requirements, is informed by the due process clause of the constitution, or so the SCOTUS opinion instructs.

                That is the separation of church and state.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to zic says:

                I agree, Zic. See my 11:28 comment. My point is, though, that the context of conscientious objection matters. We can’t always give objectors the right to object (as with clerks), nor can we deny them that right (as with pastors). The question is where to draw lines.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:


                Can you explain the “Utah Compromise”? I tried Googling it but can’t find a quick-and-dirty summary. Every article is either hailing it as perfect or attacking it as awful.Report

              • zic in reply to Kazzy says:

                @kazzy read the link I posted in the proceeding comment; it’s a history of the compromise written by the LGBT advocate who helped negotiate it.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to zic says:

                Thanks, @zic

                What I’m gathering is that the law offers LGB(T?) folks protection with regards to employment and housing discrimination. That is to say, you can’t be fired/not hired or denied/removed from housing because of your sexual orientation (and maybe gender identity).

                However, it carves out exceptions for “religious institutions, organizations, associations and their affiliates”. It also includes the BSA in the list of excepted groups.

                And it says nothing on public accommodation law in Utah, which currently allows for discrimination.

                Do I have that right?

                If so, I don’t really know what to make of it. I tried reading the bill itself but it’s all legal gobbledly gook to me. I tried to find a reasonable definition of what “affiliate” meant and was directed to another page that seemed to use a bunch of words to say nothing that was determinate.

                If my understanding is correct, in Utah, all of the following is true:
                – You can’t be fired or refused a job by a non-excepted group because of your sexual orientation
                – You can’t be kicked out of or denied housing by a non-excepted group because of your sexual orientation
                – Businesses can still deny service based on sexual orientation

                I don’t know how much of a ‘win’ for LGB(T?) folks that is, especially given the vaguaries around what constitutes an affiliate. A bakery owned by a devout Mormon can refuse to make a wedding cake for a same sex couple, but can they refuse to hire a gay pastry chef under the argument that they are an affiliate of the LDS? What if they call themselves “Jesus Cakes”? These seem like really important questions to answer before determining how good this bill is.

                And while it would be easy to say, “Any progress is progress!” the same is true of the ‘other’ side. If we are allowing more and more folks to discriminate based on religious beliefs, than that side is ‘progressing’ as well and gaining a stronger foothold to justify even greater discrimination.Report

              • zic in reply to Kazzy says:

                An affiliate, so far as I can tell, is basically someone who has fiduciary responsibility for a business or non-profit; so owning 20% or more of shares of a company, an officer of that company, etc.; they would be the people, should a business, church, or other group be sued, who would be legally responsible for the corporations actions.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Kazzy says:


                And one thing we learned (???) from Hobby Lobby is that a privately owned for-profit corporation can have religious beliefs!Report

              • And one thing we learned (???) from Hobby Lobby is that a privately owned for-profit corporation can have religious beliefs!

                I had thought the ruling was about “closely held” corporations, too. Not all privately owned, for profit corporations are closely held.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

                The ruling was that a corporation can have religious beliefs. Which is effing bizarre on any understanding of the two relevant concepts in play.

                Adding: which constitutes an extension of RFRA protections (whatever they might be!) to certain types of privately owned for-profit businesses beyond the nonprofit, religiously-based institutions like churches and hospitals it initially covered.Report

              • I’m not sure that’s right, @stillwater . I had thought it was “closely held corporation.” For what it’s worth, this article suggests I’m right. But it’s only one article.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:


                Yes, the court used the words “closely held” in the opinion. That doesn’t change the fact that they extended religious freedom protections to corporations.Report

              • The argument is that a closely held corporation does represent its principals’ beliefs. Which makes more sense than Citizens United, which held that every company I hold stock in, possibly through multiple levels of indirection via mutual funds or corporate investments, represents mine.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Mike S and GC,

                Since I think there’s some confusion about what I’m saying here, I’ll just quote the All Knowing Wiki, emboldening added by me:

                Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 573 U.S. ___ (2014), is a landmark decision[1][2] by the United States Supreme Court allowing closely held for-profit corporations to be exempt from a law its owners religiously object to if there is a less restrictive means of furthering the law’s interest. It is the first time that the court has recognized a for-profit corporation’s claim of religious belief,[3] but it is limited to closely held corporations.

                So, unless there’s a disagreement about the bolded sentence, I think we’re actually on the same page. I’m highlighting that the case actually extended religious liberty protections while you guys are highlighting the limited scope of that extension.

                Or maybe not?Report

              • I’m not disagreeing with you, but adding that it makes no sense to strain at Hobby Lobby while swallowing Citizens United.

                Though both decisions make me wonder where all the people now horrified that the Court would cause such a big change by a mere 5-4 majority were at the time.Report

              • Stillwater,

                Thanks for clarifying what you meant. To me “closely held” makes it at least a somewhat different issue (not that I necessarily agree with the decision), but you’re right, it is a corporation “whose” beliefs are being recognized.Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to Kazzy says:

                I propose a three-pronged test to evaluate laws that attempt to balance protection for gay rights with religious freedoms or rights of conscience:

                First: It provides clear and substantial protections to LGBT individuals. The Utah Compromise bans discrimination in employment and housing on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity. To the extent that the law exempts organizations, those exemptions are clearly defined. Test passed.

                Second: Any exemptions to the law are neutral with regard to protected categories. A law that allows for generous conscience exceptions in the case of sexuality or gender identity but not race or religion is effectively sanctioning the former sort of discrimination. The Utah law treats all protected categories equally in this regard. Test passed.

                Third: The conscience exemptions are broadly written in a way that doesn’t privilege a certain viewpoint or a narrow class of people who are inclined to have specific views. And here’s where it falls down somewhat. While the laws protecting objectors who express their beliefs in the workplace includes non-moral religious beliefs and protects those who express pro-LGBT views just as it protects those who express anti-LGBT views, the section of the law that exempts specific organizations seems to be specifically tailored to apply to institutions of the LDS church–down to exempting the Boy Scouts by name. Partial pass at best.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Alan Scott says:

                This strikes me as a pretty fair appraisal. I myself have some issues with the compromise, but the employment-housing situation is sufficiently important to me that I am really glad it passed.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Alan Scott says:


                I’m not sure if it passes Test 1. Again, I’m having trouble understanding who is and is not exempted. That might be a reading comprehension fail on my part though.

                I’m not sure I understand what you are saying with regards to Test 2. My perusal of the law said that it should be construed as creating a new ‘protected class’ anywhere other than with regards to housing and employment. What do you mean when you say, “[t]he Utah law treats all protected categories equally in this regard”?

                More broadly, I struggle with the unique privilege we afford religion in our society and, more importantly, our legal code. I understand why that was done but in many ways that part of the 1st Amendment was a quirk of history… religion was a hot button issue at the time and a particular grievance of folks who were making the rules and as such the wrote rules to cater to that particular set of circumstances. So the idea that we offer religious views protections that we don’t offer non-religious views is troubling to me. But we do and that is that and will likely remain that for a very long time.

                So my compromise is to very narrowly define exceptions and to otherwise make all laws applicable to all people. This viewpoint is made much easier if we drastically reduce the number of laws we have (e.g., we don’t have to debate whether Rastafarians get an exception to existing drug law if we simply legalize drugs). Ideally, we could reach a point wherein even anti-discrimination laws can be struck down but we aren’t there yet. There is too much crap built into the system to simply say, “Well, we don’t have discriminatory laws anymore so we can do away with anti-discrimination laws as well.”

                So, in my world, churches could refuse to perform SSM ceremonies if they were so inclined. As could temples and mosques and whatever other formal religious institutions there are out there. But if you own a bakery — even one called “Jesus Died for Our Sins and Casts Scorn About Homosexuals… and Cupcakes!” — you have to accept all comers. And you can’t not hire someone just because they are gay or black or transgender or a furry or neo-Nazi or whathaveyou unless or until they engage in an overt act that interferes with their ability to perform the functions of their job.

                That last part is important. If the neo-Nazi wants to sit around at home and post vile stuff on StormFront, that has no bearing on his ability to make and sell cupcakes. If he carves a swastika into his forehead as does the Hitler salute as customers enter, driving away business, well, now you can fire him. Not because he is a neo-Nazi. But because he engaged in actions that harmed your business. Just like you could fire someone who greeted every patron with, “Good morning, asshole.”

                Now, you may get folks who will learn that the gal behind the counter is a lesbian and decide to shop elsewhere. Sorry, you can’t find her. Not if she performs her job in exactly the same manner as the straight dude one register over. She hasn’t engaged in an act harmful to the business. It is simply that she is a person who some people find objectionable and that is unfortunate but that is the way the world works. Just like you couldn’t fire a black dude because racists stopped buying your cookies.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                Kazzy, one thing to keep in mind is that this had the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but it does mean that they were satisfied with it. Which is pretty significant.

                The “religious affiliates” thing is (I believe) meant to apply to Deseret Industries, which is the Mormon equivalent to Goodwill. The LDS Church has a lot of such organizations.Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to Kazzy says:

                @kazzy , when I talk about “treating protected categories equally” I mean a law that allows exemptions for those that hold homophobic or transphobic views, but doesn’t include those same exceptions for those who hold racist, sexist, or anti-religious views.

                Because such laws basically put a stamp of government approval on homophobia and transphobia. Instead of treating LGBT citizens as deserving of equal dignity in law and society, they suggest that those bigotries are fine–but that whatever thing the law targets is just not the time or place to express them.

                In contrast, the conscience protections in the Utah law apply equally with regards to all categories of discrimination. So while the Utah law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race or sex, under that law it would be just as legal for a White church to refuse to rent to a Black tenant, or for a man in the workplace to proclaim that a woman’s place is in the home.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Alan Scott says:


                So the Utah Compromise WOULD allow a white Church to refuse to rent property to a Black person? I find that HIGHLY objectionable.Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to Kazzy says:

                It should be noted that such discrimination is still against federal law, which doesn’t have the same wide carve-outs for religion and conscience but also doesn’t (yet) cover sexual orientation or gender identity.Report

              • Gabriel Conroy in reply to Kazzy says:

                Now that you’ve read zic’s link, you know more than I do about the topic.Report

  22. zic says:

    Thinkprogress reports about Donna Carol Voss, a self-described devout Mormon, with a new gig writing about “the complex issues of gender, male-female relationships, parenting, and faith,” for The Federalist. Her second piece, Gay People Aren’t the Only Ones Hurting led with Leelah Alcorn. The piece she wrote referred to ‘Leelah’ and to ‘she.’ Here’s a sample of what the Federalist published:

    Our fellow suffering humans evoke natural compassion in us for all kinds of pain: sometimes concerning temporary teenage love, or a longsuffering battle with cancer, unfair discrimination, or the bitter loss of a child. It takes a pretty stony heart not to shudder at the suicide of 17-year-old Josh Alcorn last year, the transgender young man who threw himself in front of a moving semi to escape the anguish he felt trying to find his place in the world.

    According to Thinkprogress, Voss objected and was given two choices: leave the gender name or take the post down. Voss, doesn’t support SSM, opted to leave it up; and is, she says, working with the Federalist to find out if they will represent her voice accurately.

    And the point of this is that these conversations are difficult; made in small increments, and it’s extremely easy for both traditional media, social media, you, and me to misrepresent the people trying to talk.Report

  23. Kazzy says:

    When “The Golden Girls” lap you on being forward thinking, it’s time to look in the mirror.Report

  24. Lenoxus says:

    The call for tolerance of those who still oppose SSM is widespread. It is part of debate about actual laws, like whether providers of wedding-related services should be legally required to serve at same-sex unions. I have mixed feelings on that one.

    But the more interesting, deeper question is whether SSM opposition and its partisans generally deserve tolerance in the social sense of not being “othered” or labeled as bigots, and whether their opposition should be considered within the realm of acceptable viewpoints, or more like, say, white supremacism. (Or maybe some kind of halfway-okay version of white supremacism? I can’t think of a good comparison here. And here’s a third possibility, floated by essentially no one: Even white supremacists shouldn’t be othered the way they are. We shouldn’t stigmatize any perspective, ever. Hmm.)

    I see both sides of the issue. I won’t argue on the “tolerance side” because most of the good arguments have been made right here. But there’s a complicated counterpoint to them which been forming in my mind as I read, and I’ll try articulating it now.

    Basically, it’s this: when SSM opponents say they are personally against same-sex marriage but would like you to please respect them and not sneer or cry “bigot!”, then despite the apparent merits of their position, they are having things both ways. They are asking people to treat an inherently disrespectful viewpoint with respect. And as shown by the video, they are desperate to portray their situation as analogous to that of gay people living in a homophobic environment. At the same time they frame their ideas as essentially neutral (a la to-may-to, to-mah-to) and totally disconnected from homophobia. Their viewpoint that marriage should never have been extended to gay couples is “just a viewpoint”. The opposing view, saying that the former viewpoint is bigoted: that’s not “just a viewpoint” but is intolerance. (The nesting stops there; you can’t accuse them of being intolerant of your sincere, private belief that they are bigots).

    One reason they cannot see their complicated contradictions is that their ideas exist within heteronormative background noise. In this context, restricting marriage to straight couples is just normal. Anything else is weird. Think of those anti-gay-marriage political ads with confused children. Are those children bigots? Perhaps “social conservatives just don’t know any better than what they were taught” is the best argument that we’re not talking about simple bigotry. But whatever it is, it’s a colossally frustrating situation.

    The social conservatives asking to be tolerated are clearly aiming for a kind of societal compromise — an “I’m OK, you’re OK” situation. But they can’t manage half of that equation, more or less by definition — because so long as they oppose same-sex marriage, they are fundamentally saying gay people are not entirely okay. They’re saying that sure, they might be people, and they might form couples, but it’s not an okay thing. Gay couples are not sufficiently acceptable to warrant the societal approval that is marriage. They lack that je ne sais quoi.

    One of the most hurtful yet least invective things I have ever seen a homophobe write on the Internet is (paraphrasing here) that gay couples are like children playing house. They’re just pretending to have real relationships. Despite (or because of?) the homophobic source, that’s a perceptive analysis of some facets of homophobia.

    In a world where SSM opponents have their way, gay couples aren’t allowed to be married. That’s exactly the fight they waged from the start — not legal permission coupled with stern disapproval (“yes you’re allowed, but please reconsider, you’ll break your mother’s heart”). Just flat-out banning, and damn the consequences. If they were offered a magic button to nullify all those marriages (or at least to grandfather existing marriages but prevent future ones) most of them would press it.

    Meanwhile, if the least tolerant SSM supporters have their way (which may be the case as we speak, I dunno) SSM opponents… get to stay married. They get to go to church. And yes, they get to keep their jobs, much as some may itch for persecution. At worst, some liberals are supportive of the firing of an anti-SSM individual from time to time. The ethics of that support/approval are worthy of debate. But no one ever raised the idea of enshrining that sort of thing into law by legally requiring people to support SSM if they want a job.

    This is morphing into an oppression olympics argument, which isn’t originally what I had in mind. My point goes beyond adding up totals; it’s about frustration with the inability of the “other side” to grasp why people might call them bigots (in short: because their view, if implemented, has serious prejudicial consequences). And further frustration that if they really could see why, then they’d have to change their position, and thus this tolerate-or-call-em-bigots debate can never have a real resolution.

    Also, it’s not like everything ends here. Not only are many gay rights still contested, but also (as mentioned) transgender rights are a new key issue, and other battlegrounds are on the horizon. Now, it’s possible that if we turn off the shaming and work for compromise, social conservatives will shift their views on transgender people and accept their real identities. But I think the bigot-label could be just as effective if not more so.

    Partly this is because of incentivizing. If an ultimate narrative is that people can spend years fighting against a civil right, then pay zero social penalty (not even the mild penalty of feeling a tad ashamed) when they lose and that right is won, then they’ll just do it again. It’s like how Democrats couldn’t afford to give Republicans an inch during the shutdown, because if they did the lesson would be that those tactics can work.

    In 20 years after broad, fundamental social acceptance of transgender people, there will be select conservatives insistently misgendering others and whistfully longing for less transgender-tolerant times — but in quiet polite voices rather than the loud mockery of today. I want to pre-emptively keep the number of those conservatives as low as possible, and signaling the “We’ll call you a bigot” consequence could have positive subconscious effects in this direction.

    I guess to summarize, what I’m talking about is a frustrating consequence of straight privilege. There’s something annoying about how straight people — of all ideologies, myself included — are allowed to waltz into these fights, pick a side, litigate the rights of gay people, walk away unscathed — as if it’s just a game. “Why all the hate?” say the SSM opponents. “Why am I being so reviled?”

    Well, if you want to be seen as part of Team Decency… then you know what to do, both now and next time, don’t you?Report

    • Alan Scott in reply to Lenoxus says:

      I endorse everything you just wrote a million percent.Report

    • Road Scholar in reply to Lenoxus says:


      This is a fantastic comment.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Lenoxus says:

      There strikes me something odd about the attitude that says “people who believe what their grandparents believed are not members of Team Decency”.

      Not necessarily wrong, of course… but there’s an ahistoricity to a lot of our current moral certitude.

      I sing this song a lot, I know, and I apologize for singing it again.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:


        Who gets to decide what is and is not decent? Once upon, decency was defined as wearing the right hat for the right occasion and always knowing which fork to use. It didn’t matter if you owned slaves or subjugated women or rolled your eyes about anti-Semitism or vilified gays. If you had the right hat on your head and the right fork in your hand, you were decent goddamnit and that was that.

        Now, who is to say that our current definition of decency will be the one we accept fifty years from now? It’s impossible to tell. But that doesn’t mean we throw our hands up and say, “Well, if it was good enough for grandpa, it should be good enough for me.”Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

          David Brooks gets to decide. From his recent column on Robert E. Lee:

          The case for Lee begins with his personal character. It is almost impossible to imagine a finer and more considerate gentleman. As a general and public figure, he was a man of impeccable honesty, integrity and kindness.
          His wife inherited 196 slaves from her father. Her father’s will (somewhat impractically) said they were to be freed, but Lee didn’t free them. Lee didn’t enjoy owning slaves, but he was considered a hard taskmaster and he did sell some, breaking up families.

          You might think that there’s a contradiction between those two paragraphs, but that’s only because of your ahistorical definition of kindness.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

          Who gets to decide what is and is not decent?

          A vocal minority? Tastemakers? Reddit?

          Now, who is to say that our current definition of decency will be the one we accept fifty years from now? It’s impossible to tell.

          Not quite impossible. I am confident that, in 50 years, people who believe what you believe now will be seen as backwards, ignorant, and indecent.

          This is not me throwing my hands up, mind. This is me explaining why I’m not waving my little flag as vigorously as everyone else.Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to Jaybird says:

        My grandparents sat in the front row as their granddaughter married another woman. Their sixty-plus years of commitment to each other and to their many children and grandchildren is the single strongest argument for marriage, straight or gay, that I have ever encountered.

        Of course, they probably wouldn’t have been especially supportive if you asked them in 1950.

        But then, many parts of the nation felt differently about a whole lot of things in 1950, and our moral certainty about the attitudes that changed earlier than attitudes on LGBT rights has been pretty well borne out by history.

        If anything, though “I’m just saying the same things my grandparents believe” is pretty ungenerous to the grandparents. I suspect that had our nation’s grandparents not been raised in a culture of heteronormativity and homophobia, they’d probably not have developed the beliefs that so many of their grandchildren use to justify bigotry.Report

        • zic in reply to Alan Scott says:


          I witnessed a similar experience at my brother’s wedding. He and his husband had been together for 25 years already, and much of the family on both sides were elderly; but they’d all witnessed the love and care my brother and his husband hold for one another, and those family members had all be benefit of my brother and his husband’s generosity and caring for extended family (despite many, many outward displays of bigotry) over that time.

          As their marriage was announced by the judge conducting the ceremony, there was this collective exhaling, and release that, finally, it was time and this wedding and marriage were just.

          We don’t expect the great-grandchildren of slave holders to accept slavery, and so it should be of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of traditional marriage; able to forgive their grandparents, and taking joy when they’ve the special privilege to witness the transformation in their grandparents understanding of human rights.Report

      • Lenoxus in reply to Jaybird says:

        If you believe the earth is flat, you’re not on Team Reasonably Scientifically Knowledgeable, regardless of what your grandparents believed. Standards can change over time.

        Whether your grandparents become retroactively Not Scientifically Knowledgeable is a different and interesting question (Was William Shakespeare a “sexist”? No. Yes. Hmmm…). But stubbornly holding on to a flat-earth belief “Because it looks that way, dammit” will earn you negative labels, not neutral ones.

        When you say “there’s an ahistoricity to a lot of our current moral certitude” do you mean past generations weren’t as certain/confident in their own moral propositions? That would be fascinating. (I have no idea whether it’s true or not.)

        I wouldn’t be surprised if the phenomenon of negatively judging the previous generation is relatively recent. (I think a typical pattern throughout history is the other way around, that our ancestors were heroes and the present generation has fallen into moral decay). But I’d guess this phenomenon is a natural consequence of the increase speed of change in moral beliefs.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Lenoxus says:


      Great comment. @saul-degraw and I briefly discussed elsewhere the human tendency toward wanting to engage in consequence free behavior.

      Folks who say, “I want to hold this offensive belief, but I don’t want to be labeled as offensive so I’m going to insist that you reclassify my belief as non-offensive.”

      This isn’t limited to conservatives or homophobes or SSM-opponents.

      I once had a friend say to me during a mini-spat, “I feel like everything I do is wrong!” She was making an appeal to me to stop criticizing the actions she took that I felt were wrong. I asked if she felt like her actions were justified OR if she just didn’t want to be made to feel guilty about them. She couldn’t really justify them, at which point I said, “If you don’t want to feel bad about your choices, make different choices.” Now, there is tons to unpack there and I don’t want to get into all the details of this relationship/interaction BUT… that idea of, “I want to keep doing what I do but I don’t want you to think of it as X even though I can’t *really* make an argument that it isn’t X so just do me a favor and stop thinking of it as X,” is widespread and problematic.Report

  25. zic says:

    Here’s Huckabee’s position:

    Huckabee vowed [as president] to use executive orders to preserve Americans’ religious freedom. Huckabee mapped out a three-pronged approach, which he said would be carried out on the first day of his hypothetical administration. It involves signing religious liberty orders that protect businesses, churches and other organizations for “exercising their religious beliefs,” particularly where their marriage views are concerned; directing the attorney general to prosecute attacks against people of faith—including those who oppose gay marriage—as hate crimes; and preventing military chaplains from having to carry out same-sex marriages.

    He has signed this pledge of civil disobedience, and if taken to it’s logical conclusion, would make single parenthood illegal.Report

  26. jhemenway says:

    Has the definition of bigotry changed at the same time as the definition of marriage? With all due respect Sam, having read your comments about chasing people out of their jobs for believing marriage is between a man and woman and being vocal about those beliefs shows more bigotry than what is shown in the video. The anger and emotion with which you analyse this video is quite telling. As a matter of definition, they showed no bigotry but only their view on the subject. Not once did they bash those who hold a different opinion. In fact, they creatively expressed their concern of being judged exactly as they have been judged here.

    That being said, I do believe the fight concerning preferential treatment of one group over another as relating to marriage is being fought on the wrong field of battle. The real fight should be removing marriage from preferential treatment all together. SSM pushes no buttons in my world except that they are relieved of some burdens of government that I am not. The same goes for “traditional marriage”.

    Marriages themselves were doomed to this conflict once they left the church. When marriage became a union before the State instead of God, then it became subject to the laws of man which are subject to change at the whim of culture( if you care to look at it religiously). Granted, there are many followers of religion that fail to adhere to their own beliefs and have caused harm to the sanctity and respect of all marriages. When the State starts piling on favoritism regarding property rights ect, you start the clock ticking toward conflict. Until everyone is granted access to this loophole, the “definition” of marriage is not yet done being changed.

    Acceptance, tolerance, and respect must be mutual. Equality under the law has no chance if we continue to fight each other and not the real cause. Unfortunately the situation has become so convoluted with emotion we, as a society, cannot see clearly what causes our division.Report

  27. Kazzy says:

    I’ve debated sharing this, but given the conversation above (particularly with @alan-scott ) about the Utah Compromise, it seems relevant:

    Yes, yes, it is a silly humor sight, but I also think it is spot on.

    The extent to which gay marriage ‘harms’ anyone is the discomfort felt by its opponents. That is it. That is the long and short of it. Along those similar lines, what is the ‘harm’ done to anyone by requiring that all businesses cater equally to everyone regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity? Again, that harm is limited to those people made to feel uncomfortable because they are inclined to do otherwise.

    But aren’t conservatives the ones so often insisting that we don’t have a right to not be offended? That sometimes you just have to deal with being a little bit uncomfortable? So what is different here? Why should we say that religious folks right to not be uncomfortable trumps the rights of gays, lesbians, and transgender folks to equality under the law? Is it because we uniquely privilege discomfort caused by religious beliefs? If so, that is very problematic. “Sorry, dude, you can’t live here because doing so makes that guy fear his soul is going to an imaginary world of fire.” I can’t accept that.

    Does this viewpoint risk belittling particular religious viewpoints? Sure. But as @lenoxus points out, avoidance of belittlement is part from a universal goal from all folks involved so I see little reason to extend such a courtesy to folks who have no interest in extending it in turn whose refusal to do so causes real, quantifiable, objective harm. Not imaginary harm. Not discomfort. Not frustration. Real. Harm.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

      Kazzy, The “no harm” thing is true provided that you don’t work in wedding-related industries, which is still being sorted out. And there is a good chance it will cause problems down the road for colleges and whatnot. The precedents are there.

      None of this comes close to outweighing the costs to gays of not being allowed to marry. But they’re more than just hurt feelings. Rightly or wrongly (and I think some of each), I’m not sure the “doesn’t affect you” argument can be applied so freely anymore.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

        How are wedding related businesses affected, @will-truman ? Because they have to make cakes? What harm is done? Hurt feelings? We’re still there then.Report

        • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

          Because they either have to participate or potentially face the prospect of facing potential ruin. That’s more than “hurt feelings” from my vantage point. Not that we can’t or shouldn’t compel action, but it’s significant and material all the same. I mean, I guess you could reduce it to “hurt feelings” insofar as the discomfort of doing something you really don’t want to do or find morally abhorrent, but that’s defining “feelings” so broadly as to include things that would constitute harm.Report

          • zic in reply to Will Truman says:

            Are harms justified for the business owner who discriminates based on race? On gender?

            Are we to hold a double standard, that overt racism is not okay, but homophobia is? How long should that standard hold? Forever? A generation? Maybe it’s acceptable for people born before 1975, but not for people born after?

            Yes, there are harms. Those are part and parcel of the consequences of conscientious objection, too.Report

            • Will Truman in reply to zic says:

              Zic, I never said they weren’t harms. I’m not arguing that they’re not. My only point is that we’re past the “won’t affect you” (or won’t do so beyond hurt feelings) phase of the conversation. It turns out that it will affect people. That doesn’t make it wrong. But it’s pretty clearly unavoidable.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:


                Prove that making a cake for two dudes causes harm beyond discomfort. Eternal damnation doesn’t qualify.

                Edit: I never said no impact. I said complying meant no harm beyond discomfort. Non-compliance… Well, you aren’t free from harm caused by law breaking.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                Regarding the making of cakes, I mostly come down against the bakers. While I think they should be able to refrain from certain kinds of personalization, I think cake-making is sufficiently generic that I would allow them to opt-out mostly in the context of a greater compromise rather than because I feel it’s an injustice.

                I am more sympathetic to wedding-related industries where, for instance, attendance is required. Photographers, caterers. Especially ministers.

                A lot of it depends on specifics, which it’s hard to write laws around.

                But requiring people to take on certain jobs is more than mere discomfort, as far as I am concerned. I mean, you can put it in that category, but only if we consider the category sufficiently broadly as to include what I would consider to be harm.Report

              • Lenoxus in reply to Will Truman says:

                As it happens, you articulated my feelings on this particular subject (especially the “compromise” part).

                As a corollary to that part: if conservatives/traditionalists had never fought to keep marriage legally restricted to straight couples (but merely scowled in gay marriage’s general direction), then I believe they could have very easily maintained very firm ground on the matter of right-to-discriminate, politically/philosophically speaking. The negotiation would be a cakewalk (so to speak).

                Naturally present-day conservatives would see it differently: that one necessarily leads to the other slippery-slope style. And there’s no way to determine who’s right about alternate history. Maybe in that universe, progressives would refuse to see anything laudable about allowing gay marriage to be legalized without a fight (“Come on, it’s not like you’d have ever considered stopping these marriages with force of law, you’re not monsters“), and hence would consider it insulting to give up anti-discrimination laws “in exchange” for it.

                But I doubt that, insofar as straight-only marriage has been traditional for eons, so most liberals would recognize the change as a big, possibly “scary” step, and would praise my hypothetical conservatives who are saying (to modify Voltaire) “I disapprove of who you marry — but accept your right to do so. Just don’t ask me to take part”.

                As it is, in our universe, progressives are expected to be grateful for a surrender that only came after years of resistance. Legally permitting right-to-discriminate is often even presented by both conservatives and liberals as part of “winning the peace” gracefully. I get the logic of it (really!), but per my big post up there, it’s missing a crucial perspective on the implications/consequences of the resistance to marriage equality.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Lenoxus says:

                @lenoxus You might find this post interesting. Or if you haven’t time, the basic outline is: The current crisis among anti-SSM is their own damn fault, first and foremost. If they’d come to the table even as late as last decade, I’m relatively sure that they could have worked out a very.favorable compromise that would have protected bakers and caterers across the land. They didn’t, and so here we are.

                It’s just that that’s not everything, and I see space in between the spirit of this post and the ascribed view that objection to it is to suggest that we shouldn’t be mean to them at all. I see the facts on the ground differently, and while some degree of social pressure is indeed productive, some of it is counterproductive (and so obviously such that I fear my views of which are uncharitable).Report

              • Lenoxus in reply to Will Truman says:

                Thank you for pointing me to that piece.

                One cause of my mixed feelings is that this counterfactual (hypothesizing an “early” resolution of the issue through one big compromise) is especially “counter” to plausibility. It was basically always a given that a significant number of people would resist altering the legal heterosexuality of marriage, and would fight tooth and nail.

                But then… it was also a given that this country’s divided opinions on slavery would eventually lead to something like a war, yet today we don’t consider slaveholders or their supporters as “justifiably deluded” merely because there’s no way to reroll the dice of history and have Lee, Stephens and others become abolitionists before 1865.

                Anyway, I used to worry about social pressure being politically counterproductive but now I think it’s a small enough factor to be outweighed by the object-level ethical questions of compelling people versus permitting discrimination.Report

              • zic in reply to Kazzy says:

                Parsing this is difficult, @kazzy

                At it’s core, there’s a presumption that one’s actions here, on this earth, destine one’s reward or punishment in the afterlife. And for religious believers, I can understand that fear that doing something that’s sinful.

                What I can’t accept is that someone else’s actions reflect on your fitness for heaven. A believer doesn’t, for instance, have to make sure that the couple seeking lodging aren’t adulterers, saying their married but the marriage is to other people; and should they provide such lodging. The difference here is the visibility of a same-sex couple vs. adulterers. It’s the appearance of being partner to sin that matters, in other words. And that’s no excuse for bigotry.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to zic says:

                I respectfully disagree. I do not share a presumption of an afterlife. Nor does our system of laws.Report

              • zic in reply to Kazzy says:

                @kazzy I’m an atheist; I believe this is all we get, no afterlife.

                Enjoy it while you can.

                I’m making the argument that you’re responsible for your own beliefs, you can’t make someone else believe; they have their own right to their own religious expression (including not holding a religion or religious belief). Even more than your body, what you think and believe is the very essence of who you are, the root of whatever rights you might hold, and it is impossible to coerce belief short of brain washing. You hold the right to speak your belief, and someone else has the right to concur, concur in part, or dissent.

                Now I am not religious, but I do believe in good and evil, and I very much like the concept of sin — there are behaviors that that so destabilize society as to be generally harmful, and social mores to be generally encouraged. Be honest in your dealings is fine by me. What we call religious expression is more than just what we do in church; it also the application of each individual’s conception of good and evil, of sin, as they conduct their lives.

                Religious belief, then, must be as varied as their are people on some special snowflake level. So it seems to me that the only way we don’t get into infinite conflict over religious expression, and its entry into our day-to-day living, is to maintain it as personal; I am free to speak about your sin, to publicly condemn it, but you own it; I am not sinning because of association with you.

                For religion to thrive, it has to thrive within the greater world of secular rules and markets.

                Much of this could be solved, I think, if religious leaders made clear that while the believe SSM a sin, abortion a sin, people who refrain from gay sex or abortions are not sinning by association. That stance is so totally Jesus I don’t get why it’s not completely obvious to people who call themselves Christians.Report

              • It’s like Obama said: If you like your prejudices, you can keep them.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

            Ruin? How??? You make the cake. Done deal. No ruin!

            And that is what hurt feelings are. No physical harm, no financial harm, emotional harm.Report

            • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

              The ruin is if you don’t make the cake. My point is that compelled action – make this cake or face ruin – is harm. It may be justified harm, or necessary harm, but it’s harm.

              If we ask “How will that affect you?” the answer is “I will be required to do things that I do not want to do.”

              I don’t think we can dismiss “being required to do things [you] don’t want to do” as necessarily trivial or “hurt feelings.”

              I support compelled action in many cases. I see the harm done by compelling the action as being outweighed by the harm if they don’t. But it’s harm either way. It’s just a matter of assessing where the harm is worse, and who most justly should shoulder it.Report

              • zic in reply to Will Truman says:

                Here’s an example of the harm to traditional-marriage supporters; note that the harm here extends from them violating NY laws protecting sexual orientation, not from the SCOTUS decision:

                The owners of a small family farm in upstate New York fined $13,000 for discriminating against a same-sex couple for refusing to host a wedding on their property are fighting back.

                In an appeal filed last week before an appellate division of the New York Supreme Court, a lawyer for Cynthia and Robert Gifford, owners of Liberty Ridge Farm near Albany, N.Y., argued that when finding them guilty, the court did not consider their constitutional freedoms and religious beliefs.

                “[The decision] violates the Giffords’ free exercise of religion, freedom of expressive association, and freedom of expression protected under the United States and New York Constitutions,” James Trainor, an allied attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, wrote in the appeal.

                The Giffords were found guilty of “sexual orientation discrimination” by an administrative law judge last July.

                Because Liberty Ridge Farm is open to the public for seasonal activities such as an annual fall festival, the state of New York classifies it as a public accommodation that therefore cannot discriminate on the basis of certain personal characteristics, including sexual orientation.


              • Will Truman in reply to zic says:

                Someone at Hanley’s site pointed out the obvious solution for anti-gay businesses: we would prefer not service gay weddings. If required to, we will donate all profits to [anti-gay entity or campaign]”Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:


                That isn’t how “harm” works.

                “Follow the law or you go to jail.” My following of the law doesn’t allow me to claim “harm” under the idea that I could have gone to jail if I didn’t. Otherwise everyone is harmed by every law ever.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Kazzy says:

                {{You’ve just endorsed Radical Libertarianism, Kazzy!}}

                Harm can be a rights violation as well. So the idea is that practices based on sincere religious beliefs are protected by the constitution (and Enshrined in the RFRA!) and legislation compromising that right constitutes a harm.

                I mean, I get where you’re coming from on this Kazzy. There are no properties which inhere in a cake what make it homo-genized. It’s just an effing cake! So there’s something else in play here, seems to me. Like, for example, the codification of a certain type of discriminatory practice, one (obvs) based on “sincerely held religious beliefs”.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:


                I think the greatest “harm” at play here — and what folks are really objecting to the most strenuously — is the loss of privilege. And I think that is what @sam-wilkinson is getting at and what @lenoxus describes so well.

                These people don’t get their way unilaterally anymore (and because gay!) and that is simply unacceptable for a group of people who have so routinely gotten their way that they don’t even see it as “their” way but rather just “the” way.

                They once got to make all the rules and now they* only get to make the vast majority of them and the gap between “all” and “vast majority” is a loss they call harm.

                You know that saying about being born on third and acting like you hit a triple? This is like being told you have to go back to second base and claiming you got cheated.

                * I really should be saying “we” as demographically I couldn’t be more a member of this group.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Kazzy says:


                You won’t get any argument from me about about the lost privilege theory. I agree! Problem is, while that’s a fine psychological account of what’s going on, the argument made is about religious freedom and rights and resolving competing rights.

                In other words, while I agree that privilege plays a big role, you can’t refudiate the rights argument by criticizing a person’s psychological state.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:

                I disagree, @stillwater . Because part of the question is, What rights are being infringed upon? And many of the “rights” being claimed by the privileged side of the aisle (in this and many other such situations), are right that that side has long denied to others, calling into question whether they are really rights at all.

                The Right has long insisted that there does not exist a right to be free of offense or emotional/psychological discomfort. So if they want to now claim such a right — and they very well might attempt to frame it as such but as Burt pointed out in his piece breaking down the SCOTUS ruling, he who wins the framing tends to win the argument — I think it fair to call into question how legitimate their claim is. That is to say, to reframe the conversation.

                Do they have a right to practice their faith independent of government interference? Yes.

                Do they have a right to practice their faith free of any emotional/psychological discomfort experienced in the work place? No. And they would be the first ‘witness’ I would call to establish that fact given how long they argued otherwise as yet another mechanism by which they sought to maintain and further their privilege.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                If I am given the choice between being drafted in the military or going to jail, that’s harm because it’s either compelled action or stiff penalty. It doesn’t cease to be harm because it’s the law.

                Anti-discrimination law causes harm, but (at least when justified) prevents greater harm. But when we compel action, that’s not harm-free even if we think it’s something they should have no problem.

                I’ve mentioned in this thread that County clerks need to do their job or quit (or be fired). But I can’t tell them that Gay marriage doesn’t affect them because I am putting them in a position where they either have to do something they believe is wrong or lose their jobs. I’m totally willing to accept that because they took a government job where the government gets to tell them what to do, but it is what it is (and I’d take it into consideration if there is a better way where they don’t have to and we can still get what we want)Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:


                I hear you. But we are still at a point wherein we are calling people who have to do “something they believe is wrong” as the victims of “harm”. That is still about an emotional response. Which is real but, well, doesn’t seem so real when argued by others.

                And the draft analogy doesn’t hold. No one is knocking on doors asking for cakes. These people chose to be wedding photographers. Our nation’s laws are moving towards defining a wedding photographer as someone who takes pictures at weddings regardless of the gender of the people getting married. If you don’t want to be a wedding photographer, don’t be a wedding photographer!Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                I wrote several paragraphs, but I’m going to pull them back (for now, at least) and say that I think the main difference between where you’re coming from and where I am coming from is that for me it is a no-brainer that being required to perform acts that are against your beliefs is absolutely and obviously a harm. Not to the extent that we cannot require it, but to the extent that describing it as “hurt feelings” is just wrong. It is something that we only do with really good reason because we otherwise do see the harm in it.

                And from all I’ve read, you simply don’t see it that way at all. In which case, I think we’re unlikely to find any sort of meeting of the minds.


              • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:


                Before we go further, can you point to a harm wrought by the government (that is to say, being boycotted by consumers doesn’t qualify) on same sex marriage opponents that is not emotional in nature? That is not rooted in non-physical discomfort of one kind or another?Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:


                Just saw your second comment.

                I’m not saying that “hurt feelings” isn’t harm. What I’m saying is that the group of people who are arguing that hurt feelings are sufficient harm to give people an exception to anti-discrimination law maps very closely with the group of people who typically argue that you don’t have a right to having your feelings hurt. You know, the sorts of people who argue against “political correctness”.

                I’m trying to ascertain whether hurt feelings — non-physical discomfort, emotional pain, anxiety, stress — are harm or not. Are they?Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                In my view, the $100k fine assessed for refusing the bake the cake qualifies. (The fine being assessed in large part, I should add, due to the non-physical discomfort of the lesbian couple whose business was rejected.) Which you (I assume) don’t count, but to me is the either-or of the requirements imposed upon them for the same reason I consider “jail” (or, for that matter, exile to Canada) relevant to the draft example.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:


                So here is where we are…

                Gay couple wants cake. Baker doesn’t want to bake cake. We are at an impasse.

                Many argue(d) that the gay couple isn’t harmed by not getting a cake. Hell, they weren’t harmed by being denied the opportunity to marriage.

                There is great inconsistency with regards to what is and is not considered harm and, conveniently!, we seem to put greater focus on the harm experienced by members of traditionally empowered groups while ignoring the harm experienced by members of traditionally marginalized groups.

                And I don’t count the $100K fine because I’m not talking about harm done by non-compliance. I’m talking about the harm done by compliance.

                Assume the baker DOES make the cake. How is he harmed as a result of that?Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                In my view, required compliance under the threat of stiff penalty is the harm. There is simply no question in my mind that making someone do something that violates their conscience is a harm. It’s why we don’t make such a requirement without a really good reason. It’s why there is no reason whatsoever that we would require a minister to perform a gay wedding. Because we know it’s a cost.

                Do you think ministers should be required to take all-comers if their church performs weddings? If not, why not, if it’s only hurt feelings? If so… well, not sure what to say.

                Regarding the inconsistency, I agree that a lot of people see the significance of non-material harm when it’s a situation they are sympathetic to than when it is one they are not. Which is one of the reasons why being forced to attend a gay wedding and take photographs might seem like not a big deal to you and me. And it’s absolutely the case that right has a serious empathy deficit here. No disagreement.

                That said, I do think there is a difference between a vendor being forced to perform an action, and a customer being forced to contact another vendor. Even so, they’re both harms to be considered.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:


                Thanks for answering my question. Now we’re getting somewhere (and my apologies for taking us off on tangents).

                “In my view, required compliance under the threat of stiff penalty is the harm. There is simply no question in my mind that making someone do something that violates their conscience is a harm.”

                Can you define the harm? In what way are they harmed? Because it seems as if we are still dealing with emotional/psychological harm. Which I believe is a very, very real thing that we do not pay enough attention to! So if these folks want to join Team Emotional and Psychological Harm is a Real Thing That We Should Pay Attention To, there is plenty of room on the squad. I would just want to make sure that they speak out against similar harms felt by others.

                Please note, my argument is not that these people are not harmed or that their harm doesn’t matter. It is that their harm — emotional, psychological harm caused by being forced to endure or participate in something they find objectionable — is more or less equivalent to the harm done by Black folks who have to deal with racism or women who have to deal with sexism. And yet on these very pages, we’ve had people argue that paying attention to that sort of harm is just us being overly-PC. Because, hey, those Black folks or women can just find other parts of society to be in.Report

              • zic in reply to Will Truman says:

                Is it a problem that penalties are too stiff or that penalties exist in some places?

                Aren’t all the existing penalties thus far administered due to enforcing state law? SSM, as national law, is too new to have generated penalties.Report

              • People wanting to avoid the draft and jail could move to Canada, of course.

                There were other loopholes. I was in the last group that got a lottery number, and got a low number. Nixon ended the draft between the time I had my preliminary physical exam, and would have been actually called. My options at that point were report, prove conscientious objector status and serve in some other capacity, go to jail, go to Canada, marry (on paper with the understanding that it was nothing more) one of the anti-war young women in Lincoln who were volunteering to do that, or go down the street to the Air Force recruiting office and enlist. I had computer skills and the Air Force wouldn’t have let me out of the country if I wanted to.Report

              • CK MacLeod in reply to Will Truman says:


                Something in me rebels very strongly against the notion of government or the law forcing me or anyone else to undertake a creative act of any type against my will. “The right to be left alone is indeed the beginning of all freedoms,” as one very liberal, but not radical Supreme Court Justice once said.

                I suppose if we think about it long enough we could find the difficult borderline cases, but forcing a photographer to go somewhere she doesn’t wish to go, to be among people who do not like her and whom she doesn’t like, presumably smiling all the while and taking photographs expected to evoke the joy of the scene in which in fact she finds no joy, is, aside from being weird, a kind of appropriation by the government, as an alien power, of her being: the conversion of the free citizen into a legally operated marionette.

                I’ll skip the further analysis, though we can discuss the matter in more detail if you like. I’ll just say I wonder what we’re supposed to imagine is going to take place at the gay wedding with the cake baked and decorated by the unwilling baker, and the photographs taken by the coerced photographer. Is the idea that twenty years later, looking at the imperfectly exposed, starkly color-balanced, curiously composed wedding pictures, including of the completely banal, minimally standards-satisfying cake (that they could have gotten much cheaper and a little better from Costco), the couple is going to chortle together about what they put those stupid Bible-thumpers through, and never question their decision?

                It seems degrading to me for all concerned, unless you really do believe that the political must trump the personal everywhere, always, and completely – which goes back to a difference between liberals and conservatives, in the eyes of conservatives, that liberals, though not radicals, usually are determined to deny, and have associated instead with the supposed “authoritarianism” of their adversaries.Report

              • Conservatives were quite united in their opposition to Lawrence v. Texas; in fact it was greeted with the same objections as Obergefell, if at a slightly lower volume. Since that decision was entirely about granting gays the right to be left alone, it’s difficult to accept the premise that liberals are the real authoritarians.Report

              • Mike Schilling: it’s difficult to accept the premise that liberals are the real authoritarians.

                … maybe not, but maybe their ganders are drowning.Report

              • Damon in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                @CK MacLeod
                @Mike Schilling
                Liberal / Conservative

                Different sides of the same authoritarian coin.Report

  28. Sam says:


    I think this comment deserves a full reply, but before going further, it is probably necessary at this point to acknowledge that there is likely no middle ground between us. Whatever the reason for that, there’s no use in pretending otherwise. Still, you wrote what you did, and I’m happy to discuss that further.

    So let us start here: when I write that I am open to explanations, I perhaps should have clarified that I am open to explanations which do not boil down to the same issue – that because gay people aren’t straight people, gay people should be treated differently. You seem to believe that there is a very real explanation in the world that doesn’t come down to this. I am very open to that possibility. But it doesn’t exist in any of the arguments thus far trotted out. Not in the arguments made in courts. Not in the arguments made in public. Not in the written arguments made online. But let me go further and, if possible, be even more crystal clear than I have already been. You wrote that I believe that opposition to gay marriage always originates in “culpable, morally intolerable bias.” This is absolutely correct, and it is so for all the reason I listed above: there has never been an argument made in opposition to gay marriage that hasn’t come down to what is obviously bias.

    How can we know such a thing? Because all of the arguments used against gay marriage are not used against the straight couples that exhibit the same characteristics. Take procreation for example. It would be one thing if gay marriage’s opponents said, “Marriage is about the natural procreation of a man and a woman, and thus marriage shall only be for couplings of a man and a woman that procreate.” No more marriages for the elderly. No more marriages for couples that choose to remain childless. No more marriages for couples that cannot conceive. Mandatory divorce for those couples that marry but fail to deliver for whatever reason. But of course, we have never seen such an argument made, nor, to my knowledge, even proposed. The importance of procreation only becomes exclusionary when talking about gay couples; straight couples are given a pass here, even ones who have no chance of procreating. Am I then meant to believe that procreation is truly the motivating factor for exclusion then? When there are so many couples who will never procreate and yet who are not forbidden from marriage? Or do I look for the more obvious answer?

    The answer, for me, is looking for the more obvious answer. The answer for you seems to be taking the claim seriously, despite the lack of any obvious action that would underpin the claim’s seriousness. (Maybe this is a words-versus-actions problem, the same as we have potentially fought about in the past?) You chalk my disbelief up to lacking an open mind, which isn’t particularly generous, but I suppose me chalking your belief up to being a sucker for believing the claims isn’t much better.

    But then your raise a second issue, being my rhetoric, because it’s simply too much. After all, isn’t my continued insistence on using accurate language to describe an argument terribly inappropriate? And obviously, I don’t think it is, not only because there isn’t a more accurate term available to me, but also because I do not know why those that I describe as having taken bigoted positions would object. Take the guy in the video above who insists that describing his bigotry as such simply isn’t true. He doesn’t offer any evidence to buttress the claim, and we know that he thinks that gay couples should be treated as lesser couples than straight people for some reason. My guess is that he doesn’t want to be described as a bigot because he recognizes that being identified as peddling in bigotry is as bad for his position as being identified as peddling in racism was bad for the opposition to interracial marriage. But why am I obligated to use a nicer word to describe what he’s doing when what he’s doing is plainly demanding two levels of treatment, one for straight couples, and one lesser one for gay couples?

    I find it then interesting that you warn those excited for recent American events – you are a Canadian, I think? Haven’t you had gay marriage for quite a while up there? Quebec is still part of the country, right? Newfoundland hasn’t crumbled into the sea? The maple syrup still flows to the sugar shacks? – should be cautious, lest they be blamed if things continue to go south for marriage generally. I suppose I balk at this, if only because marriage allegedly worsened considerably after interracial marriage, and yet interracial couples weren’t run out of society, nor was interracial marriage re-litigated (no matter how desperately some fringe groups might wish otherwise).

    Finally, there’s this – you (seem to) take the position that society can define marriage how it sees fit. So granted. But society saw fit to allow for all straight marriages, regardless of any extenuating circumstances. The fertile and infertile were welcome. The divorced were welcome. The interracial were welcomed. Everybody was welcome in any configuration, so long as they were straight. The “Hey, how about us too?” argument made by gay rights advocates was as pertinent when it was first made as it was two Friday’s ago when the issue was settled. It was only the opponents – who suddenly insisted upon justifications that had never been wielded against the straight couples that had been welcomed (and welcomed, and welcomed, and…) into marriage – who were engaged in a scrambling sort of game, in which we’re simultaneously asked to believe that they were being honest with us when they claimed that gays should be excluded for reasons A, B, C, and D when straights had never been excluded for reasons A, B, C, and D.

    And that gets back to the core issue – do you believe the claim or do you find the (much) more obvious explanation? You do the former, I do the latter. I’d wager that there is no middle-ground to be had.Report

    • CK MacLeod in reply to Sam says:


      I’m going to focus in this comment strictly on a logical point, and by way of illustration that may be taken as minimizing by some, but is meant to avoid, for now, all of the other bases of our disagreement, including some historical or sociological and legal assertions you make that I consider to be inaccurate and ill-founded.

      Before we go any further, however, I must correct you on a separate issue: Other than on a trip to the Pacific Northwest rather too many years ago that reached Vancouver and its island, which latter I have for all of the intervening period misidentified in my mind as “Prince Edward Islands,” when the actual Prince Edward Island lies all the way over on the other coast, it seems according to Google, I have never been to Canada, and my only other personal connections to Canada and Canadians are through my bandwagoning LA Kings fandom, and the fact that there is a McLeod, if not a MacLeod, who I believe is a Canadian, and does post at this site. I’m a United Statesian, lifelong mostly Southern Californian (son of California natives though, as it happens, I was born in a third country).

      Now to the main discussion, or to the one aspect of it on which I would like to focus, since it comes up in the “ardently pro-SSM” discourse so frequently, even more frequently and centrally than the “how come it’s OK for old people but not gays?” question (which I have called a political cliche):

      The main presumption that in my view colors your claim as to the non-existence of a conceivable middle ground, and that I consider logically flawed, is that the existence of an exclusionary standard must imply derogation of or animus toward those excluded. This premise is, it seems to me, obviously false.

      If I form a club for ugly, loathsome, middle-aged Southern Californian men, then the very basis of the club might in fact be my recognition of the superiority of everyone outside of it, especially of handsome, attractive, youthful non-SoCals. My purpose in forming the club might be just for the sake of finding any friends at all, or finding a place where I might be accepted for what I so loathsomely am.

      Likewise, if I were to form an Alcoholics Anonymous chapter, and we decided to invite family members or friends of alcoholics, but to exclude people who are interested only out of idle curiosity, or restrict them to observing or non-participating roles, then this decision would not, it seems to me, by any reasonable standard or usage, imply hatred, or animus, or bigotry toward non-alcoholics and the only-alcoholic-curious. It would indicate a sincere interest on our part in alcoholics and their problems, and a desire not to be distracted from this issue of serious concern to us.

      If I form a chess club, and over many years of operation I find that previous officers and qualified members have voted to include and sponsor Go and Checkers enthusiasts, out of a to them reasonable judgment (that I do not happen to share) that Go and Checkers are closely related board games, and that playing Go and Checkers is conducive to better Chess, and is likely to help spread the wonders of Chess to people with similar inclinations, then I may prefer to leave the policy unchanged rather than upset people.

      When, however, a new initiative arises to include Monopoly players, or Call of Duty players, I might choose to draw the line. I might find allies who also never really liked the admission of Goists and Checkersists, and there might even be some among them, perhaps the most vocal and committed backers of the anti-Monopoly faction, who really did think that there was something wrong with people who didn’t play Chess and prefer it to all of those lesser games. I, however, might not share that view. I might greatly admire skilled Monopolists, and even secretly wish that I had been taught Monopoly instead of Chess, but also recognize that it was too late for me ever to become as skillful a Monopolist, or to open a Monopoly store as successful as my Chess store: I might simply lack the energy or opportunity to switch from Chess to Monopoly.

      For you, apparently, the only possible word for me in that situation is “bigot.” Likewise, AA members obviously must be thought invariably to be motivated by monstrous hatred toward non-alcoholics. Likewise, ugly loathsome SoCals should not be allowed to exclude pretty attractive non-SoCals from their ugly loathsome meetings.

      It goes without saying that marriage – under any definition – is a different matter than games or substance abuse or personal self-esteem. It may very well be that the main resistance to marriage equality has been from bigots. Simply as a logical matter, however, it would be quite possible for someone, rightly or wrongly, to prefer or to believe in a different standard utterly without reference to any emotions or beliefs at all regarding the character or practices of those excluded, or even to exclude not on the basis of hatred or animus, but out of admiration and envy.

      In regard to same sex marriage specifically, and this will be the only point on the issue that I address in this comment, there has been in fact a group representing that last view whose existence you apparently consider impossible, and which your analysis, followed consequentially, would define as impossible.

      I am referring to the group, whose best-known contemporary representative I believe is Justin Raimondo (there have been many others throughout the ages, going back most famously to the ancient Greeks), who, unlike you and your allies, consider the institution of marriage and the bourgeois norms associated with it to be nauseating if not contemptible. You might call Raimondo et al anti-marriage bigots, but they would deny this claim. They would argue that their derogation of marriage, like Engels’ or like the arguments once heard much more frequently among “hippies” and “radical feminists,” was completely well-reasoned. They would have preferred that those pursuing the ideal purity of homosexual eros, the love unhindered by practical or banal consequences, uncaring of approval by a society not worthy of respect, stayed away from the dreary middle class institution whose main purpose is to re-produce the oppressive patriarchal structures of the state.

      This sensibility as not a fringe perspective but in fact as a somewhat popular one was best captured by the term that my gay friends used to apply to heteros (even the ones not seeking or likely to seek children): “breeders.” It this expression was “bigoted,” it would be so only by the most diluted definition. As far as my gay friends were concerned, I think it was, at worst, a bit of social jiu-jitsu of a familiar type, converting the standard of their derogation into an expression of their pride.

      Whatever else you want to call the usage or say about my friends Jim and Sal and Eduardo and the other Jim and Blair (okay, I didn’t really know Blair very well), and their friends, the fact they grouped me with the breeders was not something I found offensive, even though in point of fact I wasn’t at the time trying to breed anything with anyone, and didn’t go on to breed. I bring them up not to point out that “some of my best friends are (or were) gay,” but only to assert from my own personal experience the recognition of a difference that was not perceived or experienced as bigoted, or unjust, or aggressive, or hateful. I’m pretty sure they didn’t hate breeders – even deep down. Some of their best friends were breeders, and they loved, and were trusted guardians and beloved companions of, their breeder friends’ children. Many of them went on to get married or to support marriage equality – they weren’t Raimondo-esque ideologues, but they weren’t uncomfortable with the concept of homosexual supremacy either.

      More to the main point, I think they loved each other, but knew and accepted that they were different in some way, different in a way that was a better way for them, but not for me, and we were totally OK with that fact as far as I ever could tell. According to your pseudo-logic, we were all monstrous bigots, and could not be anything else. I reject that claim. I find it offensive and irrational. Your continued pursuit of it against reason, and for the purpose of expressing animus toward those with whom you disagree, without seeking to understand their views, I find much more clearly and certainly deserving of the term “bigotry.”Report

      • zic in reply to CK MacLeod says:

        I linked it elsewhere on this thread, (search on his name) but Raimondo recanted his opposition in The American Conservative.Report

        • CK MacLeod in reply to zic says:


          Good to know, thanks, though I don’t try to keep up on Justin Raimondo’s views, and don’t think his recantation affects the larger argument. I’ll stick with Xenophon, Socrates, Engels, and Jimbo in a pinch.Report

      • Sam in reply to CK MacLeod says:


        Although I emailed my apologies to you, I wanted to post them here too – I don’t know how I have it in my head that you were a Canadian, but I did, and for that I apologize.

        As for the rest of your comment, you (I think quite rightly) draw the line between gamers of various sorts and sexuality. One is voluntary, obviously, and the other seems very unlikely to be, at least if we take seriously the number of people who say that they desperately wanted/tried to be straight and failed to do so which is enough for me. I don’t see much point in quibbling with the sexual conclusions that people draw about themselves. (It should be noted perhaps that continuing to insist that sexuality is a choice remains an important tool for those opposed to gay marriage, as it is an institutional evolution that we would not need if only those gays could be convinced to turn away from their sexuality. But that is a conversation for another day.)

        So then we reach the idea of “breeders” and of your friends and whether they were bigots, to which I ask one simple question: were they opposed to the legalization of gay marriage for those that wanted access to the institution? In other words, were they so invested in their own position that they thought it perfectly reasonable to deny access (and thus, visitation rights, inheritance rights, parenting rights, etc) to others? Because THAT is where the rubber meets the road.

        You and I talk past each other precisely because of the ongoing problem between me and number readers/contributors here – we’re interested in different things, and we grade/understand those things based on various criteria. As I’ve written before, I have little interest in what a person claims to believe or what they choose to argue. I care about what they actually do. That is the path to the truths they believe. This though is a controversial position, I realize, but I’ve yet to find a reason to preference words to actions (even though there might be a very good one!).

        So do I think that your friends were bigots? Well…yes, if they actively sought to deny legal recognition to others. For instance, I have no problem with Raimondo (that name is familiar for some reason) thinking that marriage is abhorrent and gross and ill-suited to modern life and whatever else. But if his opposition to the institution meant voting against freedom for gay couples while maintaining advantages for straight couples, I’m suspicious of the claim. It seems to me that his opposition to institutional marriage wasn’t as focused as his opposition to gay marriage. And that’s where the problems begin.Report

        • CK MacLeod in reply to Sam says:

          Sam: Although I emailed my apologies to you, I wanted to post them here too – I don’t know how I have it in my head that you were a Canadian, but I did, and for that I apologize.

          You mean to Canada, right?

          (I hope to get to the rest of your comment and to Francis’s later.)Report

        • CK MacLeod in reply to Sam says:


          It’s odd – no, it’s absurd – to read someone rest on a claim that words don’t matter in the context of a discussion about the use of words by one group, and further discussion about the use of another word or set of words about them, in relation to an issue that centers on the definition of a word.

          According to your personal “controversial” definition of the word “bigot,” it refers us, you say to what people “do” – although in the case of the people in that video, all that those people do is talk – speak – use words. They ask for the license to continue to think and voice their opinion to the effect that the word “marriage” refers to a bond between a man and a woman. That’s it.

          But set that aside. You don’t really mean, because you can’t, that what matters is only what people do, under some impossible strict separation between saying and doing, in which saying is never also a form of “doing.” Obviously, laws are written in words, and you believe that laws or at least this particular legal initiative matters, that laws pertaining to this particular usage of a word matter very much, and legal decisions about a word are forms of conduct with objective effects. (Don’t blame me if this language is convoluted – it results from an attempt to assess a convoluted concept of language.)

          What you seem to mean is that what really matters is what real outcome people favor or would be prepared to support. You have decided that this opinion or readiness which, if realized in the law, would result in a denial of a right (a right to use a word in a certain way with legal and practical effect), and that to pursue such denial is objectively “bigotry” (and not just a little bit, but boldface-italic-all-caps-exclamatory 72px bigotry). It doesn’t matter to you if the person who holds this opinion subjectively bears no malice toward gays, or even if this person has no interest in gays whatsoever, or even, for instance, if this person is himself gay and does not believe that SSM (in its current form or as being promoted) serves his true interests or the true interests of people like him. For you, this person is by definition a “bigot” merely for holding a different view than the one you consider to be the correct and mandatory view. “Bigot” for you means “person who holds the wrong opinion.”

          Everything you wrote about “hatred” and “monstrous” “animus” was therefore nonsense or propagandistic deception (unless, in addition to insisting on a personal, controversial definition of “bigotry,” you also insist on personal, controversial definitions of hatred and monstrous animosity as objective hatred and objectively monstrous objective animosity, an animosity without animating animus, an animus that simply is). When you wrote “that those opposed to gay marriage are bigots motivated by their hatred of gays,” you were saying something very different from what other people would understand by those words. In fact, you were just saying, “people who oppose gay marriage oppose gay marriage.” Their motivations, their feelings or ideas or arguments about gays or even about gay marriage specifically were irrelevant. Likewise, when you then added that “[p]rincipled opposition to gay marriage is always revealed to be nothing more than an expression of the individual’s discomfort with gay people,” you were writing about things you do not actually care about – expression, feelings of discomfort: You were just helpfully pointing out to us that opposition to gay marriage is always revealed to be opposition to gay marriage.

          As for your notion that my gay friends of yore might be considered “bigots” if they did not sign on to your notion of what was best for them, the idea would be offensive if it wasn’t laughable. I’ll leave aside the fact that I already noted that they were not ideologues and in some cases went on to marry or to support SSM in whatever forms (or to oppose Proposition 8 in California, etc.). The only thing that makes your opinion about them, or your opinion about lifelong radical Justin Raimondo, less offensive is that it is based on your empty notion about what a bigot is. As a charge or insult or criticism regarding someone as a human being, it is without content beyond the binary yes/no on the issue. In the view of most people, Raimondo was as little a bigot on the day before he changed his opinion on SSM as on the day after.

          To be called a Sam-bigot, it turns out, has nothing to do with ideas or attitudes at all. It merely means to disagree with Sam on an issue Sam has designated of importance. Whether, however, it’s in the best interest of this site, or of holding a sensible discussion, to throw around a word like this one, that means something very different to almost everyone else and is meant to mean something significant – that’s a different question. It leads among other things to the kind of thinking we get from aaron david somewhere up there, that opposing the marriage of my father to my sister or my brother or I suppose to both of them would have made me a “bigot.”Report

          • Sam in reply to CK MacLeod says:

            Let’s assume that the people in that video are real people (I haven’t seen it confirmed that they were actors paid to be in this, but at least some of them were definitely reading off of cue cards) and let’s assume that there wasn’t a man with a gun behind the camera. Both of these things strike me as fair.

            What that means is that they voluntarily associated with a group called Catholic Vote (which routinely publishes posts like this one, then voluntarily appeared in this video, one in which they “only” speak words, although words that are carefully written to impersonate the words at least occasionally spoken by gays and lesbians. If we’re going to start at these being real people, it is a huge stretch to ask me that them appearing in this organization’s video isn’t indicative of their political preferences regarding gay marriage.

            But then let’s deal with the idea that those opposed to gay marriage have no “malice” toward gay couples. Those who make that claim simply want to be free of the consequences of their preferred enacted policy. That is an absurd claim based on the desire for something to be true, not the reality of it. We can know this because we can know what happens to gay couples who have not enjoyed the protection of the law – denied visitation, denied parentage, denied benefits, etc. Those that oppose gay marriage support those outcomes. If wanting couples broken up to die alone isn’t malice, what exactly is?

            Then there’s your what-I-can-only-assume is intentional attempt to skew the words I spoke of your gay friends. You know damned well that I very simply asked if your gay friends were opposed to other gay couples receiving equal access to the state’s institution of marriage. If they did – if they actively argued that gays should be treated as being less than straights within the eyes of the law – then my unfortunate conclusion is what you’re accusing me of. But I notice that in your answer you clarified that they were SSM supporters, that they themselves ended up getting married, and that they did not stand in the way of others’ access. You want to make the issue of people thinking about what’s best for themselves when I’ve made it clear that I’m talking about not standing in the way of others who conclude differently. That matters substantively and you know it.

            Finally, there’s nothing I can to stop you from defining my use of “bigot” in a way that’s useful for you. But what you’re doing has nothing to do with what I’ve written or said. I’m not defining those who disagree with me as bigots. I’m defining those that demand the state treat gay couples as less than straight couples as bigots, and who then act in a fashion which proves that they’re making meaningful statements. The folks in that video, barring additional evidence, are plainly opposed to the idea that gays would be treated as equals. Your friends clearly weren’t, even though they themselves seem to have opposed their own participation, at least for awhile.Report

  29. Francis says:

    “the existence of an exclusionary standard must imply derogation of or animus toward those excluded. This premise is, it seems to me, obviously false.”

    True enough, especially in the formation of private associations. But we’re not exactly drawing on a blank slate here. The word ‘marriage’ has meant radically different things at different times yet somehow even the Chief Justice of the United States manages to talk about the millennial-old institution. That’s the one where women were property and polygamy was legal.

    Today, a person may fervently believe that the institution of civil marriage should be reserved solely for the formation and protection of biological families. This person may believe that the institution has been utterly corrupted by (inter alia) the end of coverture laws, the availability of birth control, the existence of divorce laws, IVF, adoption by non-married individuals, prisoner marriage, elder marriage, and/or infertile marriage.

    But, unsurprisingly, the vast majority of opponents of SSM can’t be bothered to waste a single breath advocating for any policy (beyond opposition to SSM) which would give effect to their alleged desire to return civil marriage to what it is supposed to be. Louisiana, I acknowledge, has passed laws creating covenant marriage. But standard civil marriage remains on the books and something like less than 1% of all marriages conducted in that State annually are covenant.

    People can be judged not only by what they do, but what they choose not to do. No effort is being made to remake civil marriage into an exclusionary organization. If everyone is invited into your clubhouse except 5% or less of the adult population, your claim that you hold no animus to the tiny remainder outside the door doesn’t have all that much credibility.Report

    • CK MacLeod in reply to Francis says:

      @Francis : True enough, especially in the formation of private associations. But we’re not exactly drawing on a blank slate here.

      Of course, we aren’t, which is why I conceded in my comment that the main force driving opposition to SSM may have been bigotry (as most people use the term, not as Sam would like us to use it). Since the sole point of the comment to which you are replying was, however, to address the common inane assertion that exclusion or the maintenance of different standards must invariably imply derogation or animosity, I’ll count you on my side regarding this element of the larger argument. I’ll count Sam on my side on it, too, since in my view his retreat to a personal “controversial” use of language amounts to an as it were objective concession.

      But, unsurprisingly, the vast majority of opponents of SSM can’t be bothered to waste a single breath advocating for any policy (beyond opposition to SSM) which would give effect to their alleged desire to return civil marriage to what it is supposed to be.

      That’s not actually true, in my observation, although some of those issues will be of more interest than others, and although in many if not most instances the supporters of the “traditional” view will focus instead on measures meant to strengthen “the family” or on opposing measures that in their view weaken it – without particular reference to gays or gay marriage or to laws pertaining to civil marriage per se. There are many different examples along these lines, some initiatives pursued in one way or another through legislation or adjustments in the tax code, others not.

      If everyone is invited into your clubhouse except 5% or less of the adult population, your claim that you hold no animus to the tiny remainder outside the door doesn’t have all that much credibility.

      That’s an opinion based on pure assumption, without reference to the cited basis of exclusion. We can come up with many different approximate 95% vs 5% divisions of the population – rather common on certain political issues – in which the 5% excluded are hardly even thought of by most of the 95%. My club for people who think the Earth is round and rotates around the Sun bears no animus toward those who think its flat and that the Sun rotates around it.

      From the point of view of traditionalists, gays were inalienably excluded from the institution of marriage in the same way that a, e, i, o, and u were not included in the list of English consonants – which isn’t to deny that such exclusion applied to human groups often leads to status assumptions, or even less to deny histories of homophobic oppression. .

      Either way, there is a world of difference between “opposition to SSM has been driven by bigotry” as a general description, and the kind of logic Sam insists on, and which in one way or another others on this thread insist on, specifically and even openly in the interest of shutting down discussion, as per Alan Scott above, where he pleads that the very “sanity” of his victim class depends on our ceasing to discuss the matter at all. It should go without saying that a rule against discussions that might hurt people’s feelings or make people uncomfortable would be a rule against discussion at all. It should also go without saying that usually one way to ensure continued discussion is to insist that people shut up.

      But your thoughtful concession on “Covenant Marriage” brings up an interesting question that I may someday want to put to the lawyers: If a state can support “Covenant Marriage,” what prevents a state – presumably with a large “dissenting” population – from mandating multiple marriage forms designed in one way or another to encourage stable heterosexual marriages? Put differently, under the new applications of equal protection, what would the state (or the states) be allowed to do that may tend to promote or favor biological parents in stable monogamous relationships, and what would they be precluded from doing… and how would people react to it? (The main argument from people like Sam is that marriage was designed as some kind of gift to hetero breeders, when it can be seen equally as a social system of constraints against disruptive heterosexual eros – and not just sexual passion, either.)Report

  30. Francis says:

    “That’s an opinion based on pure assumption, without reference to the cited basis of exclusion.”

    Let’s keep this discussion focused on SSM, please, because analogizing to all the other 95/5 divisions of humanity is unlikely to be useful or for that matter terribly persuasive. Most critically, flat earthers by definition have no interest in joining the club of spherists. Gay couples, by contrast, have been requesting admission to the club for quite a while.

    The point of view of traditionalists with regard to civil marriage did not carry the day because they were unable to articulate even a rational basis for excluding “a” from the list of consonants. And the reason that they could not do so is that the very definition of marriage — as a matter of law — is radically different in 2015 than it was a century before. Yet the single most critical issue regarding the change of definition of marriage, the end of coverture laws, went almost completely undiscussed by traditionalists in the most recent debate.

    So I simply don’t give tradition the respect that traditionalists demand, because their entire argument from tradition is based on a lie. And that is essentially the argument that Sam is making. The strength of the traditionalists’ beliefs must also be measured against its legitimacy. And when analysed that way, there is really no difference between traditionalists who rail against miscegenation and those who rail against SSM.

    Now, you may argue that the word ‘bigot’ should not be applied to those who are against inter-racial marriage, if the reason for the opposition is based on an honestly-held view about the tradition of marriage (even if the view is erroneous). But that’s slicing the definition a little too fine for me.Report

    • CK MacLeod in reply to Francis says:

      Francis: And the reason that they could not do so is that the very definition of marriage — as a matter of law — is radically different in 2015 than it was a century before. Yet the single most critical issue regarding the change of definition of marriage, the end of coverture laws, went almost completely undiscussed by traditionalists in the most recent debate.

      I don’t have an opinion on the particular importance or lack thereof of coverture laws, but the distinction you point to, implicitly, between marriage as an “institution” and marriage “in the law” is to my mind a crucial one. In a familiar way, the distinction has been suppressed, whether for the sake of convenience or because collapsing it has been a main objective for both sides: Both sides want the law and, as far as possible or attainable, all functions of the state, to reflect their social concept (whether in relation to moral right and wrong, or dignity, or material interests). In the meantime, however, though the legal definition of marriage (direct and indirect) may be, as you say, “radically different” compared to 100 years ago, for a very substantial portion of the population the practical meaning, and related customs and expectations, may be unchanged or less radically changed in key respects.

      As for the rest, prejudicial generalizations and characterizations regarding one side or the other or its unstated and unexamined arguments may serve political or emotional purposes, but I don’t find them illuminating. To me, the arguments and constituencies against “miscegenation” and against SSM seem to resemble and overlap each other, but they are not the same arguments and the interests are not the same interests. You may also, like Sam, have your own preferred definition for “bigot,” but I don’t consider the word “bigot” synonymous with “racist”: For me, the former refers to an attitude, the latter to an ideology, and I don’t think it’s such a “fine” distinction unless for you they’re both really just words for “political adversary.”

      Either way, the “honestly held view” against miscegenation was first a theory about race and the role of marriage in eroding or promoting racial separation, not the other way around. The parallel argument, that opposition to SSM – or, a different thing, to the actual SSM movement, or, a different thing again, to its strategy, tactics, and arguments – is and must be simply and invariably a mask for homophobia, runs us round the same logical circle that Sam clings to, including in his latest reply on this thread, when he smuggles a resolution on the question that is supposedly under examination into a sentence meant to be explanatory, referring to “those that demand the state treat gay couples as less than straight couples.” That larger question, at least in relation to shared egalitarian assumptions, and at this stage of the larger discussion or potential discussion, is precisely whether the obvious “discrimination” also must amount to derogation, or a treatment of “gay couples as less than straight couples” in the way that Sam is using the word “less” – something like less worthy – in other words whether a) having an institution called “marriage” and reserved for heterosexual couples as such is inherently unjust [ADDED:], and, crucially, b), whether that fact, if a fact, is so self-evidently true that anyone who questions it must be considered disqualified from public discussion – which last is what I take the functional meaning of “bigot” to be for us.Report

      • Sam in reply to CK MacLeod says:

        I welcome all those opposed to gay marriage to continue loudly and defiantly making their arguments in the public square and never anywhere have I suggested otherwise. I simply want an accurate understanding of their arguments and why they’re making them. I frankly continue to balk at what exactly is so offensive at describing a plainly bigoted position as such, and am shocked that those arguing against gay marriage do not welcome the moniker. These are people who universally believe themselves to be the superior of gay couples, and want that superiority specifically reflected by the law.

        Social conservatives can claim – many Christians often do – that they are sinners too, but then revert back to a law which oddly punishes particular sinners amongst them. Even in an attempt at charity there is the stark difference between gay and straight, between who the state should punish and who the state should reward. This is where actions matters. This is where actions reveal truths.Report

        • CK MacLeod in reply to Sam says:

          Your position is confusing to me, Sam. You say you want these people heard, but you do not want it to be believed that they have an argument possibly worth listening to. Now you say you want an “accurate understanding of their arguments and why they’re making them,” but you previously stated that you do not care about what people “choose to argue,” but care only about “what they do.” You admit that you are using a “controversial” definition of “bigotry,” but then claim that their “position” is “plainly bigoted.” When you say something is “plainly bigoted,” you are suggesting that the position is bigoted non-controversially, bigoted in a way that should be obvious to all. Ludicrously, you say you are “shocked” that that your opponents do not welcome being tagged with a “moniker” that you associate with “monstrous”-ness (at least when you’re taking the position that it has anything to do with how people feel or think). In order to support this ludicrous notion – this notion that people should welcome being described as monsters – you then attribute to them “universally” a belief that they are “superior” to gay couples. The last is either a trivial example of a truism – because I believe my argument is better than yours, I in that weak sense implicitly view myself as your superior in relation to it, just as the team that scores the most points is superior to the losers on that day – or is hypocrisy and projection, since what’s much more likely and much better supported in and by all of your statements from the first words of your post to this latest comment is that you view yourself as superior to these bigoted monsters.

          I am tempted to put a trigger warning on this next part, since even describing the following point of view has been declared offensive and painful by frequent participants in these discussions. It also tends to receive excited and rather chaotic, as well as judgmental and personally aggressive responses from some of those same participants.

          I see no reason to believe that marriage as a concept and institution, in any of its many varied configurations across the millennia, was developed with homosexuality or homosexual eros chiefly or even significantly in mind. Its chief purpose all along has concerned the regulation of heterosexual eros, which, to say the least, manifests itself in numerous ways, most significantly from the point of view of the survival of the species via the production of offspring. The significance of heterosexual eros also extends beyond “the birds and the bees speech,” however. Genetic inheritance and, a different thing, the meaning attributed to it play major constructive roles in all societies, and natural science has lately come around to the view, or has returned to the in fact traditional view, that preference for one’s kin is “built-in” or instinctual – which doesn’t mean, of course, that it is the only basis for human relationship or motivation, or that it always trumps all other human relationships or motivations, or that it is a good thing or bad thing, only that it produces a universal background tendency, force of social gravity, and decisive potential (especially under conditions of stress).

          It seems a simple observation of stubborn facts that homosexual eros does not bear upon this unique set of social, or authentically “sociobiological,” concerns in the same way that heterosexual eros does. To accept as much – even in our so very advanced post-industrial techno-state where we look forward any day now to the production of human beings via cloning vats, where we in the meantime contrive multiple alternative methods for the distantiation from the procreative sex act of the two primary participants, and where we seem as much to discourage as encourage family formation along traditional lines – has nothing to do with any arbitrary will to punish. Nor does an argument that heterosexual eros needs to be addressed as such in the law and custom, and in that sense needs to be treated differently and sooner or later separately from homosexual eros, rest in any sense on some arbitrary will to punish.

          As I’ve argued elsewhere and noted frequently in these discussions, the implications of this line of reasoning – which can be thought of as the outline for a “scientific natural law” argument – may not lead where the traditionalists presume it must. I consider it worth examining, wherever it leads, and whether or not partisans find the discussion pleasing or helpful.

          The existence of moralists who do believe in the discouragement of homosexual eros – and sometimes of all eroticism as such – and who are attracted to this topic does not affect the above argument, though it may certainly have had an important political effect (in favor of the other side). The question of hospital visitation rights, to use one of your favorite proofs of an objective will to punish, is likewise irrelevant to the above argument: Altering the definition of marriage or the allowable definitions of marriage retroactively and uniformly across all 50 states was not the only way to loosen or broaden ICU policies.

          As already noted above, marriage is as much a system of constraints and responsibilities as an implied set of privileges, benefits, or perquisites. The availability of the latter to married people do not bear upon the main question either except, perhaps, in the following sense: I believe that an argument could be sustained that the perqs and benefits are mainly to be viewed as compensatory in relation to the sacrifices of personal freedom that couples make in order to achieve “respectability.” The movement toward exclusive and absolute transactionalization of the marriage bond, acccompanied by a simplistic and naive, propagandistic depiction of the marital state as itself simultaneously a reward and a necessity of life will be problematic, since it turns the “rewards of marriage” into rewards for nothing or rewards for self-indulgence, while resorting to the argument for contributions to social stability points to the justification for the heterocentric and procreation-centric institution (or sub-institution).

          In regard to the argument we have been conducting on these threads, the ineligibility of non-married individuals for this notional respectability is, from the traditionalist perspective, simply definitional. Noting and enforcing it would not be a punishment, unless every incentive or compensation of every type is always a punishment to those who do not receive it, and all human equations are zero sum, and your gain, or your child’s gain, is always my loss and my child’s loss (speaking metaphorically here, I don’t have a child).

          I’ll break off here rather than to try to develop the theme further, since doing so will either repeat other writing I have already done on the subject, or tend to pre-empt and distort an inquiry that deserves to be handled more carefully than I think we, or at least I, can manage here.Report

          • Sam in reply to CK MacLeod says:

            1. “Controversial” is used seven times on this page. Six of those usages were yours. A seventh is mine, wherein I note that my preference for actions over words is controversial around here. You keep citing my use of controversial though. What are you citing? Is it somewhere in something else that I’ve written?

            2. If you can show where I have asked that my own relationships receive preferential regard from the law – and those of social conservatives be relegated to second-class status – then I’ll take seriously your nonsensical insistence that I’m taking a position of superiority. Once again, you’re ignoring what social conservatives are explicitly calling for and focusing instead upon the quirks of language (which, frankly, I also don’t think you’re being particularly accurate with).

            3. Nothing prevents a person from believing that gay couples aren’t “really” married, even the state’s acknowledgement of that marriage legally. But because that isn’t enough for some people (and here I’m mostly talking about social conservatives), we can know that the issues here run deeper. It isn’t just about a preferred definition of marriage. It’s about hurting those excluded from it. That isn’t a bug in other words; it’s a feature, one designed to punish anybody who strays from the preferred path.

            4. We don’t have to keep going on about this. We likely won’t agree on much (except for you definitely not being Canadian).Report