YOU’LL BURN IN HELL! The backlash to gay equality is now in full swing on the right. The <a href = http

//www.nytimes.com/2003/07/31/international/europe/31CND-VATICA.html?hp target = _blank>Vatican declared in no uncertain terms the “evil” nature of loving gay relationships. Not only are gay relationships inferior to straight ones; they bear no relationship whatsoever to them. They are not even “remotely analogous.” Love is not something gay couples feel in the way that straight couples feel. And if a gay couple adopts, say, a foster child, then they are inflicting “violence” upon such a child. Violence. This from an institution that, we now know, condoned, covered up and practised the molestation of hundreds of children. I guess they’re speaking from personal experience. In Canada, “Roman Catholic Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary warned that Mr. Chrxe9tien [the Canadian Prime Minister] could be doomed to burn in hell if he allows same-sex legislation to become legal.” And then I get a revealing email like the following:

A few years ago I attended a lesbian “marriage” ceremony in Memphis. One of the women involved was a childhood friend of my wife, and as a pretty libertarian conservative, I was all in favor of it. To my utter surprise, about halfway through the “ceremony” I was furious and I only grew angrier. It took a while to figure out why I was so upset, but what I finally decided was that if this charade of a real relationship was to be called “marriage” then what does that make my own marriage? Is all marriage to be reduced to this level? My marriage is the most important thing in my life; it honors a promise I made before God to love & cherish my wife; itx92s a promise made completely separate from the issue of whether we have sex with each other. (Wex92ll still be married if either of us should suffer some injury.) How can you compare that to the fly-by-night sexual couplings of gay people who define themselves, to the subordination of all other traits, by their sexual preference? I encourage communities that are so inclined to constitute some sort of legal relationship that allows for property inheritance, rights to handle details at funerals & hospitals, etc., regardless of sex or relationship. I will never accept the gay agenda of cheapening the meaning of marriage so that those who have chosen to live outside the boundaries of normalcy can feel better about their choices by redefining normal.

There you have it. He provides no evidence why this lesbian relationship is somehow a “fly-by-night sexual coupling.” That’s just how he feels about it. A heterosexual quickie Vegas wedding would doubtless leave him feeling far less angry. What you have here, I think, is a simple defense of privilege. This is my piece of social status. If queers are in it, it’s no longer special. Why? The usual inchoate emotions. One reason minorities have always always needed courts to defend them against overwhelming majorities is that privilege has defenders. Remember the battle over inter-racial marriage? Back then, whites felt that their institution would be destroyed and cheapened by “mongrel” weddings. Much bigger majorities opposed inter-racial marriage in 1967, when it was finally protected, than now oppose same-sex marriage. But then those evil judicial activists imposed equal marriage rights on an unwilling populace.

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IT’S A CONSPIRACY, I TELL YOU

On my fortieth birthday in a little while, in this little resort town, I have the privilege of having Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn coming to Town Hall for a “Democracy Now” teach-in. On the very day. Isn’t that special?

TOWARD THE PERFECT STORM

It seems clear to me that we are now headed toward a terrible and possibly definitive tempest on the issue of gay equality. President Bush said yesterday, in so many words, that he is considering amending the constitution to deny gays legal equality in their relationships – indeed to enshrine second-class citizenship for gays in the sacred words of the founding document. It is very hard to think of any act any politican could endorse that would alienate and marginalize gay citizens and their families more. The Republican leadership in the Senate has signed on:

The pace of the gay marriage activists’ campaign through the nation’s courts is uncertain, but it is not at all certain that DOMA or other legislation will stop determined activists and their judicial allies from pursuing this agenda x97 only a constitutional amendment can do that. The Senate should evaluate the Federal Marriage Amendment seriously and consider whether it, or any other constitutional amendment, is the appropriate response.

That’s directly from the Senate leadership, under John Kyl. (What Kyl ignores is that “gay activists” have been the last people to endorse this. The fight for marriage began and continues because of ordinary gay couples refusing to accept second-class citizenship. We had to battle most activists to get it on the agenda at all.) The Weekly Standard has run a cover illustration depicting gays as some sort of barbarians intent on destroying society. National Review views polygamists as preferable to gay couples. Next up: the Vatican will declare that giving gay people equality under the law will also destroy society.

CAN WE AVOID IT? Of course this is one side of the ledger. On the other are polls showing growing support for gay equality and a revolution in attitudes toward gay people. The popular culture suggests that the battle for gay acceptance is over – and tolerance has won. The world – including America’s closest friends and allies – is moving fast toward integrating gay people fully into society. Big majorities in the younger generation support gay equality. The two states contemplating equal marriage rights both have majorities in support of the move. Many principled conservatives balk at amending the constitution on an issue that’s clearly highly volatile in public opinion – and will continue to change in the years ahead. I have faith in this country and the fairness of its people. I cannot believe that they will ostracize gay citizens for ever in an impulsive and explosive constitutional amendment. I also cannot believe that this president wants to marginalize an entire group of citizens for good simply because of who they are. Certainly, if this amendment is pursued by this administration, it’s the end of any relationship between the gay community and the Republican party. Those of us who have tried to build a bridge between the two are watching helplessly as the White House mulls burning it. They won’t, will they? Or will they?

ONE OPTION: Okay, so here’s something that I don’t support but offer to the president as a suggestion. He wants to reserve marriage to heterosexuals but he doesn’t want to hurt, wound or marginalize gay people. I’m prepared to accept that is his genuine position. But it won’t be convincing if all he does is back the FMA, as currently worded. How to avoid that nightmare? He could back an alternative amendment that says merely that no state should be forced to recognize the marriages in any other state. That essentially codifies federalism and prevents a nationalization of gay marriage through the courts (a highly unlikely scenario, in my view anyway). And it doesn’t tell states what they can and cannot do for their own residents. It doesn’t impose a single definition of marriage on the whole country. And it preserves state autonomy. That seems to me a sensible compromise if some kind of amendment looks impossible to stop. It’s conservative in the right sense. I, for one, want to see federalism work on this matter. Why? Because I think the experience in one state will reduce the fear and panic elsewhere. But those who predict disaster also have a chance to prove their case. Isn’t that the way this country is supposed to work?

AN OMBUDSMAN AT LAST

More good news at the New York Times. They’re getting an independent ombudsman to field reader queries and complaints. The report on what went wrong in the Blair catastrophe pulls no punches either:

“No single person, no single mistake, no single policy is responsible for the embarrassment of plagiarism and fiction that stained the journalism of The New York Times in the spring of 2003,” the three outsiders wrote, based on their interviews with many of the people who had overseen Mr. Blair’s career. Mr. Blair declined to be questioned, citing “health reasons,” according to the outside journalists. Instead, the outside journalists concluded, “a series of management and operational breakdowns made it possible for a junior reporter in his mid-20’s to get past one of the most able and sophisticated newspaper editing networks in the world.” “Behind the Blair story,” they wrote, “lay a misguided pattern of tough supervision and lenient forgiveness that led to retaining him, and in fact promoting him, when at several points he was demonstrating that he was not yet ready to join the staff of The New York Times.” Indeed, less than a year after receiving “a particularly negative evaluation,” the outside journalists found that Mr. Blair was given a merit raise while covering the Washington-area sniper case.

Mr Raines, he partly responsible. If this is Bill Keller’s first real decision, it’s deeply encouraging. But Keller still seems in some denial about the role of race. He writes in a memo that the charge by “partisan” critics that race may have had something to do with Blair’s promotions is “wrong.” But Raines himself admitted it was a factor in his own tolerance of Blair. And the report says that “diversifying the staff was only one of a collection of factors” that had “propelled Blair upward toward journalistic disaster.” So it was a factor – if only one of many. Why would Keller deny something the report affirms?

DAVID HOROWITZ ON MEL: A bumper crop of new letters on the Letters Page.

DEAN’S YEARBOOK ENTRY: It’s great. And it’s real!

BACKLASH TALK

Some of you have chided me for not noting the USA Today poll showing a backlash against gay equality in the wake of Lawrence vs Texas. I didn’t because I think it’s a blip not a trend. The long run shows clear and growing acceptance. And it’s routine that backlashes like this occur. Take Vermont. In November 1999, the polls showed 47 percent against gay marriage and 40 percent in favor. Two months later, after the civil unions legislation passed, the opposition went up further to 52 percent. But a year later, polls showed that number down to 46 percent again and support for civil unions rose to 52 percent – a majority for the first time. A full 27 percent actually described themselves as “enthusiastic” supporters of the new law. Once people realize what this actually means, they calm down. And move on.

THE BBC VERSUS BLAIR: Here’s how they spin quotes. What Tony Blair said at his press conference yesterday was: “There is a big job of work to do – my appetite for doing it is undiminished.” Here’show the BBC described it: “Tony Blair has fended off questions over the death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly – but acknowledged that trust in his government was an issue which he had to confront. Mr Blair, who said his appetite for power remained ‘undiminished’ despite his recent troubles, said he understood the ‘very legitimate questions’ to be asked over Dr Kelly’s death.” The war continues. (Via Oxblog.)

D’OH! I forgot to publish the Fredriksen letter on the Letters Page. It’s there now. Apologies.<div style="clear

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CORRECTION OF THE DAY

“Correction: July 27, 2003, Sunday. An article last Sunday about the author Ann Coulter and her emergence as a major conservative voice in television, radio and newspaper interviews misstated her age. She is 41, not 39.”- New York Times. Meow.