Friday, November 07, 2008

Proposition 8 and gay rights

The people of California have denied gay people a right we afford to convicted mass murderers. Even Charles Manson can marry. There is absolutely no reason to deny gay people the freedom to marry except to punish them.

If you support Proposition 8, but you do not support the imprisonment of gay people, you are worse than a bigot, you're a hypocrite. If you think gay people are bad and should be removed from society, then have the courage and honesty to say so publicly.

But not here. I'm just not interested. If you want to call for gay people to be imprisoned, exiled or murdered; if you want to try to weasel your way out of your contemptible hypocrisy; get your own damn blog.


  1. me life has been ripped to shreds cos me same sex partner got taken from me. And it's not only in our culture- it's America also? How come?
    What's the heart of this intolerance?
    Fear? Politicking? Religion? Ignorance?
    Or do u just think we're sick, and it's therefore ok to keep us down cos we're a easy target?

  2. For all that I'm a big old queer and not opposed to gay marriage except in so far as I'm opposed to the intertwining of religious marriage and civil partnership for anyone, I'm not sure your argument follows. By the same argument, the vast majority of people who don't support the removal of minors from society are hypocrites.

  3. Fear? Politicking? Religion? Ignorance?

    Having been raised as a fundie Christian, I'll go with Ignorance (well, and Religion, obviously, but that's redundant).

    In the church I was raised in, we were not taught to hate¹ homosexuals, we were taught to "love the sinner, hate the sin". We could genuinely feel kindness and good-will toward someone we knew to be homosexual, while condemning their lifestyle².

    But the Bible condemns homosexuality³. It's a "sin", and the Bible tells us that temptation can always be avoided, so therefore it must also be a "choice" to be gay. It also goes against nature (never mind that there are numerous observed instances of homosexual behavior throughout nature; bonobos for example routinely use it as a relationship-building means). God created HIV as a punishment for homosexuality (never mind that its first sufferers would not have contracted it in that way; I suppose God hates African hunters, too).

    Probably due to Paul's language in Romans about God giving men over to unnatural desires, "[burning] in lust one toward another", I believe most Christians associate homosexuality entirely with ravenous sexual desire, and do not realize that deep, unconditional and selfless love, thoughtfulness, and human affection play as much a role in gay relationships as they do in straight ones. This makes it easier to despise. For me personally, I think being exposed to the humanity of homosexual relationships may have played a significant role in my own change of perspective.

    I suspect that most proponents of Prop 8, perhaps contrary to expectations, don't actually support civil unions between homosexuals either, but referred to it as an attempt to placate. "Look, this law (as opposed to our desire) isn't taking away your rights to a relationship together, just marriage!"

    Ignorance really is the rule. But combatting it is difficult, when the biggest root of the problem is the belief that the Bible (or the Church) is the Word (or Voice) of God. Still, it can be eroded through steady exposure to the many evidences that the Bible is the work only of men, that homosexual preference is not a choice, that homosexual relationships can be as loving as heterosexual ones, that there's no such thing as an engraved definition of "traditional marriage", etc. It's an uphill battle, but society is slowly coming around.

    A decade ago, Prop 8 would've won by a landslide—in fact, a decade ago, no one would have bothered to propose it, because no one would have feared that their precious "definition of marriage" was in jeapordy. It's a desparation act, and despite the temporary victory, its existence is in itself something of a good sign, I think.

    That the proposition was accepted is also no reason to feel that we can't repeal it in the next election: it succeeded in large part due to heavy financial support from outside the state; it may be that they'll feel safe enough not to spend so much money in defense of their creation. Either way, we'll never defeat it unless we remain steady and continue to challenge it at every turn.

    ¹ By "hate" here I mean intensely negative emotional feelings. I generally prefer to view "love" and "hate" in terms of the actions one takes, and not just emotions; from that perspective Prop 8 is absolutely an act of hatred. Also, I don't mean to imply that my church experience is universal, or even necessarily usual: there are certainly plenty of examples of church atmospheres where the attitude toward homosexuals is unquestionably hateful.

    ² in much the same way we would accept unmarried couples but condemn their lifestyle. However, while many churches had unmarried couples the church would try to "love into righteousness", I know of few to no churches that would admit gay couples under the same terms.

    ³ Despite having heard arguments to the contrary, I still find this a hard conclusion to escape. Fervently devoted gay Christians continue to fascinate me.

  4. Micah Cowan: People don't turn out in droves out of ignorance. Or, rather, their ignorance is being manipulated.

    wildeabandon: I'll go easy on you, because you're cute, you're relatively new here and I'm in a good mood. Meditate on the sentence "There is absolutely no reason to deny gay people the freedom to marry except to punish them." Ask yourself if the same premise applies to minors. Read my other post on prop 8 and meditate on the meaning of the word "arbitrary".

    If after this meditation, you still want to make a bad argument, well, don't say I didn't give you a chance.

  5. Sad sad sad. We had this in Michigan a few elections ago when Michigan wrote bigotry into its constitution. Unlike California, it wasn't even close. Bigotry won big. I'm sorry, people who vote to codify bigotry into state constitutions don't fucking deserve to live.

  6. I guess Sara Palin is all for Proposition 8. Terrible.
    Cos she's hawt.
    It's so hard for me cos i feel like so so so attractions to her and stuff, and think about it non stop sometimes, just me and she, together and stuff.
    but she would hate the idea cos she's religious. it puts me in a bad situation, cos me culture doesn't really see that much wrong with what's in me mind. i think western culture is another, it's strictly border maybe, also with girls, that's what i don't get. bottom line- she wouldn't fuck me in a million years. the west- rigid in that way.
    So i am left with the ideaolgical dilemma of being attracted to someone who sees me as no good.but i don't care cos i love her so much in all ways and would run to her if she just even clicked her fingers,it's like that.
    i just want her to do bad stuff with me and i can not stop thinking about it also.
    i am sorry

  7. Honey, there's no need to go easy on my because I'm new, and doing so because I'm 'cute' is buying into a rather offensive sexist paradigm, but since you don't know me that well, I'll assume you didn't mean it that way and let it slide this once.

    When people object to gay marriage they have reasons for it that aren't about punishing the queers, but about protecting society. I think they're wrong, but I still think they're genuine. I recall thinking something similar about not being able to vote in the 1997 general election. What makes the cut off age 18 anything other than arbitrary?

  8. doing so because I'm 'cute' is buying into a rather offensive sexist paradigm

    Your point is taken, and I apologize. I suppose we're even on cutting each other some slack.

    I'll address the substance of your other points later.

  9. When people object to gay marriage they have reasons for it that aren't about punishing the queers, but about protecting society. I think they're wrong, but I still think they're genuine

    Protecting society? So what if they're genuine, Hitler was genuine about protecting society from Jews, so what- genuine doesn't mean it's morally right?
    but this makes me furious, protecting society from what- moral pollutions, corruption. This sounds more and more like societys America feels compelled to condemn- and rightly so. but ure sounding just like them ureselves.
    Another, protect which is pushing for Prop 8 had on its site- 'protect the family and children'.
    And children.
    U know how OFFESNIVE that is?
    Fact is, that sort of bad stuff is done by the kind of patriarchial systems gay marriage challenges. Abuse is done by straight men against girls, mostly i am telling.
    Another, any time i tell i am attracted to girls and stuff, and me husband is a girl, everyone **assumes** we was in love from like school age. This is crap. I fell in love with her when i was 18,first kiss was age 19.
    I think people got a serious issues with any lesbian person, this is what i think now. never link being gay or lesbian with bad stuff- cos it's straight persons who is BAD.

  10. wildeabandon: Fundamentally, minors are a standing exception to so many ethical generalizations that invoking them in a discussion over any specific point is without much philosophical value.

    This is not to say that it's worthless to discuss the ethics of rights and privileges to minors, but it's specious to evaluate rights granted or denied to competent adults according to those granted or denied to minors, presumed (often unjustly) to be incompetent.

    Another distracting issue is the enormous emotionality people bring to their attitudes, beliefs and arguments about minors' rights. Simply suggesting, for example, that the consent fairy might not magically fly into a person's ear on their 18th birthday gets you branded as a pedophile.

    Therefore, I consider a discussion of minors' rights in a context that applies primarily to adults' rights to tend to shut down rational discussion of a topic rather than shed light on it.

    As far as the sincerity of people's beliefs that they are trying to protect society, Jasmine has the right idea: Their sincerity is no defense at all. The point can be made without invoking Godwin's law: Ordinary people are sincere about protecting society from criminals — murderers, rapists and thieves — and we do so by locking them up in jail.

    I believe the religious right and the Proposition 8 proponents are very sincere about protecting society from gay people in precisely the same sense. Well, if they're so sincere about protecting society, then let them be honest about it too.

    That they are "protecting" society by removing a universal civil right from gay people is simply too ludicrous to be taken seriously at face value. If their stated reasons — protecting the privileges of marriage to preserve tradition and child-raising — were taken at face value then marriage should be even more tightly regulated than it is now. From becoming a universal human right, it becomes an instrument for a specific task, irrelevant to anyone not performing that task.

  11. Jasmine - I do know how offensive it is. It drives me batshit. But I think it's better to address the offensive views people actually have, rather than making assumptions about what lies behind them.

    Barefoot - First, thanks for your apology - it's very refreshing to get that reaction rather than defensiveness when calling someone on sexism.

    Secondly, I take your point about the emotionality of bringing minors rights into the discussion. I think the point I was trying to make was that there could be reasons for wanting to restrict someone's rights without wanting to punish them, but it seems as though we do actually agree on that.

    Finally, to address your actual point, I think that you're oversimplifying the opposition to gay marriage. I think that they do believe a)that being gay is a negative thing for individuals, and thus for society, and that b)reducing the social acceptability will discourage people from being actively gay. I think that they're dead wrong on a), and partly wrong on b), and have also overlooked that discouraging people who are inclinded to be gay from acting on it will do them more harm than any purported benefit.

    However, I don't think that a and b imply a desire to punish us. For a less emotive analogy, I think that willful ignorance is damaging to society, and that making to socially acceptable discourages people from trying to educate themselves. I also think it's appropriate to try and discourage people from this, and insist that they either send their children to school or have an effective home-schooling program, and also to incentivise undereducated jobhunters to use adult education.

    The difference is that my prepositions are correct and theirs aren't, but if someone were to try and convince me that I was wrong by attacking the prepositions I'd listen to their arguments, whereas if someone tried to tell me that actually I was just an elitist who wanted to punish people who had lost faith in the system because of their own lack of education, then they'd lose me instantly because I know that's not true.

    I'm not defending homophobia. It makes me angry as hell, not least because I'm fairly personally invested in not getting abused on the street when I'm holding hands with my lover. But I actually want to change it, rather than alienate them by telling them they believe things they don't believe.

    As an aside, I think part of what makes me uncomfortable about this is that a similar argument "You say you believe, this, but actually your motivation is that" is one that gets used against the queer community a fair bit; "You say you just want to repeal section 28, but actually you want to start teaching children that everyone should be gay"; "You say you're bisexual, but actually you're a lesbian just trying to keep straight privilege / a straight girl trying to be trendy"; "You say you're transexual, but actually you just have a cross-dressing kink and want it legitimised" &c. This makes me rather wary of arguments that tell people what they really think.

  12. wildeabandon: Just because an argument is used incorrectly in one circumstance does not mean it's invalid in all circumstances.

    More importantly, I'm not accusing Prop 8 proponents of insincerity, I'm accusing them of outright dishonesty: I'm calling them liars and hypocrites.

    My argument is that when you ask Prop 8 opponents for their reasons, they lapse into such incoherent babble that dishonesty seems the most parsimonious, charitable interpretation than massive brain damage.

  13. these people have let satan took control of their mind. pray that turn and repent. they are going against GOD's word. they don't have rights only a man and woman -GOD ordain man-male and woman-female to marry and multiply.stop trying twisted GOD word. get right before its too late. JESUS is on his way back.

  14. Well, Anonymous, at least no one can accuse you of dishonesty. Fanaticism and stupidity, perhaps, but not dishonesty.

    If you want this sort of argument to carry water, though, you should aim your efforts at repealing or modifying the First Amendment.


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