Dispatches from the Creation Wars

And does so with his usual brilliance and clarity. His post is in response to this one by Mark Olson. Jason sums it all up so perfectly:

I must begin by saying that I do not seek respect for the gay community. Far too often, the gay community has been spoiled, immature, ignorant, and yes, purely anti-family. I don’t seek to apologize for these people. In return, I ask that you do not judge me along with them. I ask to be considered as an individual–not as a member of some shadowy, vaguely-defined gay community.

The gay community is the receptacle, Mr. Olson, of all the stereotypes you have ever subconsciously absorbed (and in fairness, it serves the same function for me): It is the place where rights disappear and where humanity evaporates. Only by looking at individuals do we gain a proper understanding of individual rights. And the right to recognition for our long-term intimate relations is certainly an individual right. It does not belong to the gay community–or to any community. It belongs to you and I as individuals.

If I need to prove myself to you, then I will: Scott and I have been in a stable relationship for six years–and legally married for the last year and a half. We own property, work, pay taxes, and contribute to our community in many valuable ways. Yet even the worst straight couples, couples composed of criminals and derelicts, get rights that we do not.

Conservatives may not care to look to closely at gay people, but even in the gay community–even in that scary gay community that you do not want to respect–a quiet change has been taking place. It’s been brought on by the reality marriage itself. Suddenly people like Scott and I are the role models, sometimes even for men twenty or thirty years our seniors. To be devoted to one another, to love and support one another our entire natural lives–This now is the goal of gay people as never before.

It isn’t social engineering. It’s a revolution.

The role models are no longer the porn stars, the gym bunnies, the drugged-out club kids, the angry sexual liberationists (who are, by the way, the most unsexy people in the world). Married couples and stable relationships have never been so admired in our little segment of humanity, and it’s a trend that I hope will continue.

You claim that you don’t want to give us your respect, Mr. Olson. But why not? Surely you must approve of what we are doing. Or would you prefer homosexuals to be more degenerate rather than less?

Go read the rest of it, please, and remind yourself again why Positive Liberty is a must-read blog. The Olson post was actually in response to my post about Bush backing away from the gay marriage plan, but I’m afraid that Mr. Olson has misunderstood a good deal of what I wrote. For instance, I made the argument that the Republican leadership (the political leaders, not the ideological leaders) probably don’t really want to see either an amendment passed to ban gay marriage, or to see Roe v. Wade overturned because it would take away a major issue with which they can scare their followers. And I noted that fear is the lifeblood of politics, that people win elections by manipulating people’s fears, especially their fear of “Them”. Olson replied to that argument with this:

Now an amendment takes a lot of political will to pass, 2/3 of Senate + House then it goes to the states. Overturning Roe v Wade requires a judiciary which will not sqawk when laws overturning it are written. I’m no expert, but I’ve heard no estimates that indicate either is a realistic possibility. The Partial-Birth ban passed, but enforcement is currently jammed in the courts. A more ambitious law likely would not fair much better. Drumming up support by emphasizing your differences is a definition of politics. Calling it exploiting people’s fear of them is just a rhetorical ploy.

Olson misses the point of my argument completely. Of course it takes enormous political will to pass a constitutional amendment, but it took precisely the same amount of will to attempt it before the election as it takes after the election. So why was Bush pushing the amendment before the election and not after? Surely the chances of it passing after the election, with the addition of 5 Republican seats in the Senate, are better than they were before the election. Yet before the election, when it was less likely to pass, he was all for it and now, after the election, he doesn’t really care to push it. Why the change in attitude?

The difference is that before the election, he was trying to get people to vote for him. He no longer has that need, as he is no longer running for office. And that supports my contention that he doesn’t actually want to pass the amendment, he just wanted to raise the issue in an election campaign to garner votes through the use of fear. The rhetorical ploy, Mr. Olson, was the dog and pony show put on by a Republican leadership last summer and fall when they knew it had no chance whatsoever of passing, yet they brought it up for multiple votes. This conscious decision was made because the vote could be put to good political use. It allowed both the President and the Congressional Republican candidate to say, “my opponent voted three times against an amendment to protect the sacred institution of marriage against the militant homosexual agenda”, and thereby tell people that if they voted for the good guys, they’d stop the bad guys.

This is very standard political reasoning, engaged in by both political parties routinely. The job of a campaign manager is to make sure that people vote for their candidate; the best way to insure that they do is to scare the hell out of them, to have their candidate positioned as the brave leader standing firmly in the breach to stop the invading horde that will destroy our way of life. 30 years ago, the invading horde was the communists; now it’s gay people or “pagans”. The difference, of course, is that the communist threat was real and this one is entirely fictional. I can’t imagine why you would think that such calculation is not at work here. If you really think that political campaigns don’t make decisions of this nature, then you are precisely the sort of person who is easy pickings for the manipulative tactics that they employ.

It should also be pointed out that Olson’s argument that gay marriage is “social engineering” that has had terrible effects where it has been tried, based upon Stanley Kurtz’ claim that gay marriage in Scandinavia has damaged marriage there, is simply false. At best, it is a post hoc argument that shows correlation and no causation. At worst, it is falsified merely by looking at the data on marriage from those nations that have legalized gay marriage. Dr. Lee Badgett has thoroughly debunked Kurtz’ thesis on a number of grounds (see here and here) and points out that the rates of marriage in Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Sweden are all higher after gay marriages or civil unions were allowed than they were before. She also points out that the rates of out-of-wedlock births, which Kurtz absurdly claims went up in those nations because of gay marriage, rose at the same rate in the same time period in surrounding nations that didn’t pass gay marriage, and that those rates rose more slowly after gay marriage than before it. So Olson’s argument in this regard, which he admits was based on a vague recollection of “studies done in Scandinavia” that he remembers seeing on an anti-gay marriage website, is simply false and unsupported by any logical inference from the statistical evidence.

Comments

  1. #1 CPT_Doom
    January 21, 2005

    Although I agree completely with the idea that no individual should ever be evaluated based on a group of individuals to which they might belong, I do have a problem with gay people who turn around and stereotype other gay people (e.g., “the porn stars, the gym bunnies, the drugged-out club kids, the angry sexual liberationists”) – there are few, if any, people who actually meet these stereotypes.

    More importantly, there is a disturbing trend within the married gay community to assume anyone who is not partnered or married is some kind of throw-back loser stuck in a never-ending orgy. That is the same kind of baseless stereotyping that the “religious right” does all the time.

    I personally continue to make the argument for gay marriage, and for respect for gay people, based on the First Amendment. My moral and ethical values not only include the idea that being gay is a perfectly normal, albeit rare, characteristic of the human species, but also that gay people can and do create stable, loving, committed partnerships AND that sexual morality cannot be dictated only by one group of people. Just as straight people should have the right to believe that some “one-night-stand” type experiences are not immoral (assuming safety and honesty in the experience), so do gay people. And none of us should be expected to marry, even when gay marriage becomes legal.

    Part of being an American is respecting others’ rights to live as they see fit, as long as they are not hurting anyone – and that includes gay people.

  2. #2 Uncle Kvetch
    January 21, 2005

    Well said, CPT Doom. I reacted to Kuznicki’s piece in much the same way: I found it obnoxiously smug and self-righteous.

    Far too often, the gay community has been spoiled, immature, ignorant, and yes, purely anti-family.

    Simply breathtaking. I honestly don’t know what he’s talking about here and I don’t want to dignify it by trying to guess. There’s no need for me to point out that “purely anti-family” is right out of the religious right’s phrasebook. Nice one.

    I’ve been in a long-term relationship with someone for 9 years–one that resembles most hetero marriages in most, but certainly not all, respects. But when I think about the struggle for equality, it’s equality for ALL, not just those of us who straight people find the least threatening. Yes, ALL: even the drag queens and the gym bunnies and the ‘sexual liberationists.’

    Kuznicki veers way to close to Andrew Sullivan territory here, eager to reassure the straights that he’s one of the “good” kinds of queers.

  3. #3 Ed Brayton
    January 21, 2005

    I disagree with both CPT and Uncle Kvetch. I think Jason is trying to make two points, each of them quite valid. First, that there is no monolithic “gay community” that can all be tagged with some set of traits and that, yes, some gay people are shallow, stupid, arrogant, etc. To me, that’s just a given, just as it is in the “straight community” (which, of course, does not exist anymore than the “gay community” does). The battle for gay rights should have nothing to do with the fact that many individual gay people may be reprehensible people. Lots of straight people are promiscuous, unsafe, dishonest, or worse, but no one suggests that therefore straight people shouldn’t be allowed to marry. Hence, when those who are opposed to gay rights point to examples of gay people behaving badly (and there are many, just as there are in any other group), that doesn’t mean all gays are like that and it has no bearing on whether gays should be allowed to marry.

    I would also point out that I don’t have any problem with a gay person pointing the finger at another gay person and judging their behavior as wrong. Straight people do it all the time, as they should. Jason isn’t arguing that only gay people who are in monogamous long term relationships like him should have rights, any more than I am arguing that when I criticize other straight people. I’m a very conservative guy in my private life. I value monogamy highly and I generally don’t like the fact that so many of my fellow straight people seem to want to jump into bed with anyone who’ll say yes. That doesn’t mean I don’t think they should have the right to do so; hell, I’d defend their right to do so just as vehemently as I defend the right of gay couples to get married. But defending the right to engage in a given behavior because it is consensual doesn’t mean that I have to like it, or that no one can criticize it. And I think the same thing should be true in the “gay community” as well. Some gays aren’t going to like the behavior of other guys. Not only is it okay to think that, it’s okay to say it too. Criticizing someone’s behavior doesn’t violate their rights.

    The second point I think Jason is making is that gay rights is fundamentally a question of individual rights, not “group rights”. I think this is not only a fair point, it’s an important one. Jason and Scott deserve the right to get married not because they can be placed into a category that collectively deserves protection, but because each individual person has the right to pursue happiness as long as their actions don’t deprive another person of the same. Jason, like me, takes the notion of individual rights very seriously. All rights are invididual in nature and they are not, and should not, be based upon whether one has a trait that puts them into a larger group with a complaint.

    I identify with Jason’s position on this because I’m just not the kind of person who likes groups and categories much. I’m not a “joiner”. I don’t imagine that he feels that the fact that he is gay gives him much more in common with any other particular gay person than the fact that I’m straight gives me much in common with any other particular straight person. Sure, there are some shared experiences we might have in common, but there are a thousand other traits that are far more important in terms of whether I feel any affinity for someone. I have far more in common with an intelligent, inquisitive gay person than I do with an ignorant and stupid straight person, and there are of course plenty of both kinds in both of those categories. I don’t mean to speak for Jason here, and I’m sure he’ll jump in and correct me if I’ve misrepresented his views, but I suspect that he probably draws those lines and categories of who he feels a kinship with and who he doesn’t on many characteristics long before he considers their sexuality, if indeed he ever does.

  4. #4 SharonB
    January 21, 2005

    Great comment, Ed.
    The level of reasoning and discourse in this blog is why I keep coming back!

  5. #5 Jason Kuznicki
    January 21, 2005

    Ed, I was going to say everything that you just said in your comment. Thank you for sparing me the trouble.

  6. #6 Soren
    January 22, 2005

    Here in Denmark there was a little flap during the elections, when the US right wing started using Scandinavian and Danish numbers to support their anti gay bias.

    The fact is that though the rate of unwed parents has been increasing – this is a trend that started well before we started allowing registered partnerships – which is an institute similar to marriage available to same sex couples.

    We have seen a large decrase in the numbers of marrriages – but this trend started in the 60′s, and by the 90′s the trend turned around, while the number of divorces has been more or less constant the last 10 years.

    In 1984 – before opening up for RP, there was 28600 marriages and 14521 divorces in Denmark, in 2003 there were 35041 marriages, and 15763 divorces! From October 1993 to October 1994 the numbers of marriages in the preceding 12 months went up 5456, while the number of divorces went up 715!

    So the institution of marriage is doing just fine in Denmark thank you.

    Then what about the children – why don’t anybody think of the children!

    The number of single parent households went up 17% from 1980 to 1989 (with a 2% increase from 1988 to 1989), in the same period the number of married couples in households with children fell 20%, while cohabiting but not married couples with children in the household went up a whopping 70%.

    Over the next 10 years, the number of single parent household increased 0.34%, married fell 8.5%, and other couples increased 23% (this time it includes registered partnerships).

    Since 1999 the number of single parent households have increased 11%, while the number of other households with children have remained the same.

    Interestingly enough since 1999 the number of singles without children living at home have dropped slightly – so there has been a big increase in the last years of single parents – but how this should tie in to legislation from 1989 – i do not know!

    All numbers have been taken from
    http://www.statistikbanken.dk
    This site is from the public statistics Denmark – and the site can be navigated in English – I took the numbers from the are “pobulation and elections”

    The excel sheet I use can be found at

    “>http://www.kongstad.net/marriage/numbers.xls

    Cheers

    Soren

  7. #7 Soren
    January 22, 2005

    Forgot the disclaimer – I am not educated in statistics, and my musings should not be taken as gospel – look at the source yourself (I know this should be redundant – but now you have it!)
    /Soren

  8. #8 Soren
    January 22, 2005

    Just one last comment. I found a paper from one of the scientists who felt abused by the US right wing during election:
    http://www.york.ac.uk/inst/spru/research/nordic/denmdemo.pdf

    From the conclusion:
    “The nuclear family has indeed lost ground during the past 40 years, but according to this study, complex family forms do not seem to continuously accelerate with regard to extent or level of
    complexivity. As a consequence of this it might be more appropriate to speak of a parallel displacement of family settling which reflects the post-modern trends of increasing individuality and numbers of options and is facilitated by means to control fertility and a more relaxed attitude towards marriage as a necessary precondition and foundation of family life.”

    Cheers
    Soren

  9. #9 Uncle Kvetch
    January 22, 2005

    Ed, thanks for clarifying, and expanding on, Jason’s piece. I have a much better idea now where you both are coming from–and for the most part, I still respectfully beg to differ.

    (The only part I will disrespectfully disagree with is Jason’s use of the term “anti-family.” It’s an ugly cooptation of the worst kind of coded rhetoric that we get from the theocratic Right, and I think it’s reprehensible. ‘Nuff said.)

    As for the rest, I think a few points are in order.

    Some gays aren’t going to like the behavior of other guys. Not only is it okay to think that, it’s okay to say it too. Criticizing someone’s behavior doesn’t violate their rights.

    This is a bit of a strawman; who on earth would argue otherwise? In case it wasn’t clear, my problem wasn’t with Jason criticizing the way other gay people live–it was the fact that he did this in the context of making a case for gay marriage. Context matters, doesn’t it? Of course there’s a place for critiques of the worst excesses of “gay culture,” as it’s currently defined in much of the media. Michelangelo Signorile has done this extensively, and quite forcefully. But taking backhanded swipes at the “bad” gays while you’re arguing for your own “individual” rights strikes me as both petty and counterproductive. You and Jason may not like it, but this is not an “individual” struggle; it’s a collective one. Jason should reflect just a bit on the fact that the life that he currently enjoys with his partner, and that I enjoy with mine, are very largely the result of collective, organized action by gay people, who banded together not on the basis of shared “lifestyle,” but on the basis of shared oppression. If I can live a comfortably “out” existence in my day-to-day life, in a way that wouldn’t have been imaginable 35 years ago, it’s largely thanks to the “joiners.”

    Jason seems to believe that the distinction between people like himself and other, less “conventional” gay folk is very meaningful in the political context. I would submit that it’s actually close to meaningless. The people who are driving the backlash against equal rights for gays–the Falwells and Dobsons and so on, the ones who are vocal, organized, and who have enormous clout in Washington at the moment–are not going to be impressed by Jason’s long-term relationship or the fact that he pays his taxes on time. In their eyes (or at least in their rhetoric–I don’t pretend to know what they actually believe), Jason and his partner are filthy sodomites, as am I, as are the hustlers working the West Side Highway and the leather queens getting it on in the back room down at the Spike. That’s just the reality.

    Good discussion.

  10. #10 coffeedrinker
    January 22, 2005

    taking backhanded swipes at the “bad” gays while you’re arguing for your own “individual” rights

    I only read through Mr. Kuznicki’s post once (and only skimmed through the comments here) but he didn’t strike me as criticizing “‘bad’ gays” – rather criticizing bad behavior in individuals. I’m truly sorry if I’m misinterpreting your wording, but “taking swipes at the bad gays” seems to imply that the “swiper” is trying to keep certain people – just because they happen to be gay like himself – in line for the sake of his own agenda. I don’t think Jason was doing anything of the sort. Pointing out the kinds of behavior/values you disagree with isn’t intolerant or “smug” per se. Every culture, nation, subculture, etc. needs this kind of debate, as long as it’s conducted respectfully.

    In case it wasn’t clear, my problem wasn’t with Jason criticizing the way other gay people live–it was the fact that he did this in the context of making a case for gay marriage.

    I’ll admit that I personally have problems with the massive entanglement in our society between legal ties and our personal lives that results in statements like “He won’t really love/commit to me unless we’re legally married.” However, if you’re talking about marriage in the cultural sense, as well as/instead of the legal one, doesn’t it make sense to discuss, well, culture? That is, the way you want to live?

    this is not an “individual” struggle; it’s a collective one

    I think you’re quibbling with semantics. What I believe Jason was saying was that this is not a case of some group, like, say, a labor union, demanding official recognition or privileges for that group. This is a case of various, individual people who happen to want the same thing for varying reasons, and it’s unfair to deny them that because of the religious right’s insistence on ambiguously defining a “gay community” which can be labeled wholesale with various unappealing characteristics for the purpose of denying this “gay community” marriage rights.

    I don’t see how any of this precludes these various individuals working together, collectively.

    The only part I will (italics)disrespectfully(/italics) disagree with is Jason’s use of the term “anti-family.” It’s an ugly cooptation of the worst kind of coded rhetoric that we get from the theocratic Right, and I think it’s reprehensible.

    Oh, so the best thing to do when bigots take hold of a phrase and use it to bash innocent, decent people is simply to let go and never again try to use it for yourself? Sir, I really hope you don’t have the same attitude towards, say, the White House as you do towards the English language.

    I’m probably being disrespectful, and I certainly may have misinterpreted what you said, in which case I’m completely in the wrong – especially as since saying you’re being disrespectful and going ahead with it implies the other person is a moral monster to deserve such a thing, which you -and Mr. Kuznicki- certainly aren’t – but hey, I’m not exactly the only one to act this way, am I?

  11. #11 Ed Brayton
    January 22, 2005

    This is a bit of a strawman; who on earth would argue otherwise? In case it wasn’t clear, my problem wasn’t with Jason criticizing the way other gay people live–it was the fact that he did this in the context of making a case for gay marriage. Context matters, doesn’t it? Of course there’s a place for critiques of the worst excesses of “gay culture,” as it’s currently defined in much of the media. Michelangelo Signorile has done this extensively, and quite forcefully. But taking backhanded swipes at the “bad” gays while you’re arguing for your own “individual” rights strikes me as both petty and counterproductive.

    I disagree. I think it is quite relevant in this context, for two reasons. First, because one of the major arguments against gay marriage is the claim that gays are all highly promiscuous sex fiends who screw anything that moves, so they don’t really care about getting married, the whole goal of gay marriage is just to undermine traditional marriage. Yes, a hell of a lot of people actually believe that. Now, is that true of some gay people? Of course it is, just as it is true of some straight people. It won’t do any good to pretend it doesn’t exist because it obviously does; denying it would only make people dismiss anything else you have to say. So the only rational response to that argument, it seems to me, is to say exactly what Jason said – Yes, there are people in the “gay community” who fit your stereotypes, just as those people can be found in every other community. But don’t tar all gay people with that anymore than you would tar all straight people by looking only at what went on at a strip club. A sizable, and growing, percentage of gay people are just like Jason and Scott, which means they’re just like “us” too. People have a big tendency to divide into us and them, and thereafter they judge “them” by the worst people in the group while judging “us” by the best people in the group. So pointing out that most people in either group are pretty much the same is a powerful argument against that type of thinking. Indeed, it’s the only argument one can make. It isn’t going to convince anyone who really just hates gays and can’t think rationally about it, but nothing is going to convince those people.

    Second, it’s relevant because I think one of the best arguments for gay marriage is that it will help to stabilize and build alternative role models for other gay people that might help reduce the destructive behavior that some of them engage in to a considerable degree. This is sort of the conservative argument for gay marriage. And as Jason points out, this is already happening to some degree and it’s a healthy thing. I’m for gay marriage because I’m really strongly pro-marriage. I think marriage does really good things for our society that have nothing to do with raising children. I think it really does provide societal stability and I think that encouraging marriage between gay couples it can only help. Again, I think this is a powerful argument for gay marriage that may well convince some people that it’s a good idea. It might convince them that even if their stereotypes are true as often as they think they are, gay marriage could help diminish that tendency. When you lock a group of people out from one of the bedrock institutions of the society, you tend to radicalize them so that they also reject all other societal institutions as well. By welcoming them into marriage, we may well find that their behavior and perspectives in other areas becomes more conservative as well.

    You and Jason may not like it, but this is not an “individual” struggle; it’s a collective one. Jason should reflect just a bit on the fact that the life that he currently enjoys with his partner, and that I enjoy with mine, are very largely the result of collective, organized action by gay people, who banded together not on the basis of shared “lifestyle,” but on the basis of shared oppression. If I can live a comfortably “out” existence in my day-to-day life, in a way that wouldn’t have been imaginable 35 years ago, it’s largely thanks to the “joiners.”

    I agree with that, but it’s not speaking to the same thing. All rights are individual rights, but that doesn’t mean the struggle for those rights is an individual struggle. Of course it takes collective action to gain recognition of those rights, and neither Jason nor I would ever denigrate those collective actions. But that doesn’t mean that everyone in those groups is the same type of person, or that no criticism should be allowed within the group. It’s perfectly fair to say, “Yeah, some of my group are assholes. Some of your group are assholes too. But all rights are individual, not collective. So your stereotypes, even if they apply to some in this group, have no bearing on whether the rights being demanded are legitimate. You would not dream of doing away with straight marriage just because some straight people are dishonest and promiscuous. Don’t be hypocritical in applying it to us.”

    Jason seems to believe that the distinction between people like himself and other, less “conventional” gay folk is very meaningful in the political context. I would submit that it’s actually close to meaningless. The people who are driving the backlash against equal rights for gays–the Falwells and Dobsons and so on, the ones who are vocal, organized, and who have enormous clout in Washington at the moment–are not going to be impressed by Jason’s long-term relationship or the fact that he pays his taxes on time. In their eyes (or at least in their rhetoric–I don’t pretend to know what they actually believe), Jason and his partner are filthy sodomites, as am I, as are the hustlers working the West Side Highway and the leather queens getting it on in the back room down at the Spike. That’s just the reality.

    I agree, those people are not going to be convinced. But I don’t think the rank and file are as committed to their bigotry as the leaders are. In fact, I think the more people come face to face with gay people who “look” like them, the more they will be convinced that their leaders have deceived them. As Jason pointed out, when anti-gay folks actually meet gay people and get to know them as human beings rather than as stereotypes, their views typically change. That’s because it’s no longer an “us” vs. “them” thing, they can see that they are just like us. I would not feel the way I do about gay rights if I didn’t know and love people who are gay. Because I know them, I can’t shoehorn them into a preconceived idea. I can see them as people. And that means seeing them as real people, not as idealized people – they’re just like me. They have flaws too. They fight amongst themselves just like any other group. They are as diverse in the traits that really matter as any other group. They can be mean and ugly just like they can be kind and wonderful. After a while, you start to recognize that one’s sexual preference is simply irrelevant. It doesn’t tell you anything about them that actually matters because gay people can be smart or stupid, kind or vicious, shallow or deep. In fact, gay people, like straight people, can be all of those things at different times. So I think it’s important to point out the diversity within the “gay community” in terms of the traits that matter. Because sooner or later everyone is going to have to realize that there is no gay community any more than there is a straight community. There are only individual people who vary in all of the ways that the members of any other group differ, and each one should be judged by their own behavior, not by the behavior of others who happen to share a single irrelevant trait with them.

  12. #12 Jason Kuznicki
    January 22, 2005

    Thank you, Ed, for continuing this discussion very much as I might have done.

    My language in the original post was provocative on purpose, and I certainly hesitated before using the term “anti-family.” I am well aware of what it means in the mouth of the Dobsons and Santorums of the world.

    What, though, am I to make of those who describe the family as a tool for oppression? What am I to say about those who oppose all marriages as sexist and exploitative? These people really do exist, and I really do disagree with them. Must I remain silent about them for fear of airing “our” dirty laundry? I could not disagree more strongly with that approach.

  13. #13 Uncle Kvetch
    January 22, 2005

    What, though, am I to make of those who describe the family as a tool for oppression? What am I to say about those who oppose all marriages as sexist and exploitative?

    Who says you have to “say” anything about them at all?

    For that matter, who are these people, Jason? Sure, people with all kinds of crackpot ideas “exist” out there, including those who think “the family is a tool for oppression.” Is this a position that is being taken seriously by anyone at the moment? Do you hear it coming from any significant opinion-makers out there? It’s certainly not what comes from gay pundits and journalists, nor from the mainstream gay political organizations like HRC and NGLTF.

    Besides, isn’t anyone who really thinks the family and marriage are instruments of oppression kind of superfluous to the whole debate over gay marriage? I do happen to know quite a few people who are leery of the idea of gay marriage, because they don’t feel like our ultimate goal should necessarily involve conforming to the middle-class American ideal of domestic bliss. But again, so what? They don’t want to get married, and I presume you’d grant them that choice, no?

    I never suggested in any way that you “must remain silent,” Jason, and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t impute that to me. Maybe I haven’t been clear about this, but I’m simply questioning the efficacy of your argument. Ed didn’t link to your post saying “Jason Kuznicki has some interesting things to say about the ‘gay community.’” He said, “Jason Kuznicki makes a strong case for gay marriage.” And I’m questioning just what part this stuff about gym bunnies and sexual liberationists has to do with the argument for gay marriage…I simply don’t see how it advances your case.

    I’m still left with this nagging sense that what you were really saying was “Don’t judge me on the basis of those other kinds of queers–I don’t like them either.” I think that’s ultimately self-defeating. You and your partner don’t deserve equality because your life so closely resembles that of upstanding straight people; you deserve it because you’re American citizens. Period. And the gym bunnies and sexual liberationists are American citizens too, and that means they deserve equality too, however much you may disagree with their lifestyles…no? Or am I missing something?

  14. #14 Ed Brayton
    January 22, 2005

    And the gym bunnies and sexual liberationists are American citizens too, and that means they deserve equality too, however much you may disagree with their lifestyles…no?

    I don’t quite understand your argument here. When I said, “Some gays aren’t going to like the behavior of other guys. Not only is it okay to think that, it’s okay to say it too. Criticizing someone’s behavior doesn’t violate their rights”, you responded:

    This is a bit of a strawman; who on earth would argue otherwise?

    But here you are saying that Jason is wrong to criticize certain elements of the “gay community” because “they deserve equality too”. But he didn’t say they didn’t deserve equality; he simply said that not all gays are like them, and some gays would like to have legally protected long term relationships. So clearly, you ARE implying that the mere act of criticizing them or distinguishing himself from them somehow violates their “equality”, and that’s just an absurd argument.

    I would also note that you are still misunderstanding his argument. He is not arguing that he and Scott deserve equality because they’re so much like straight couples, but because they are individuals who are endowed with inalienable rights, period. And the gay people whose lifestyle he disapproves of also deserve equal rights for the very same reason. Again, his criticism of their behavior has nothing to do with whether they should have equal rights, any more than my criticism of the behavior of some of my fellow straight people somehow implies they shouldn’t have equal rights.

    I think what is really at work here is a sort of “circle the wagons” mentality that makes you uncomfortable with one gay person criticizing another because both are oppressed and therefore “off limits” in some sense. Perhaps it’s for a practical reason, the idea being that if you criticize some gays, especially if you criticize them on the same basis that so many enemies of gay rights do, you’re giving aid and comfort to the enemy or reinforcing their stereotypes. Perhaps it’s just for an emotional reason, the “we’re all in this together so we shouldn’t be mean to each other” position. Either way, I think it is an understandable fear, but ultimately not a persuasive one, for the reasons I stated in my previous comments. It’s okay to admit that some gay people are bad people. It’s okay to admit that some gay people really do act the way their enemies assume they do. But it has to also be pointed out that a lot don’t fit that, and a lot are wonderful people as well. Those things are okay to admit because they’re true, just as they are true of straight people, black people, white people and any other arbitrary category you wanna look at.

  15. #15 Uncle Kvetch
    January 22, 2005

    Ed, that’s all well and good, but we’re going in circles here. There’s nothing of what you wrote above that I disagree with. Of course the “gay community” is a construct, a heuristic device. “Community” is one of the most overused, slippery and amorphous terms in contemporary American English. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Jason criticizing what he sees as unsavory behavior among other gay people–I may agree or disagree with him, but it wouldn’t occur to me to want to silence him.

    But I’m still looking for an answer to my question: what is the point? I didn’t necessarily agree with the first couple of paragraphs of the excerpt from his piece,* but it was at least a coherent argument. Why did it have to veer off course into snide dismissals of everyone he disapproves of, along with that annoyingly self-aggrandizing bit about how “my partner and I are the new role models”? If his argument is, as you say, that all gay people, even ones whose lifestyle he may disapprove, deserve their full rights as Americans, then I’m still left asking: How did any of that contribute to his argument in favor of gay marriage?

  16. #16 Ed Brayton
    January 22, 2005

    But I’m still looking for an answer to my question: what is the point? I didn’t necessarily agree with the first couple of paragraphs of the excerpt from his piece,* but it was at least a coherent argument. Why did it have to veer off course into snide dismissals of everyone he disapproves of, along with that annoyingly self-aggrandizing bit about how “my partner and I are the new role models”? If his argument is, as you say, that all gay people, even ones whose lifestyle he may disapprove, deserve their full rights as Americans, then I’m still left asking: How did any of that contribute to his argument in favor of gay marriage?

    I already explained it above, in considerable detail. I even went into the specific arguments against gay marriage that it helps to answer and explained why it helps to answer them. I’ll paste it here again:

    I disagree. I think it is quite relevant in this context, for two reasons. First, because one of the major arguments against gay marriage is the claim that gays are all highly promiscuous sex fiends who screw anything that moves, so they don’t really care about getting married, the whole goal of gay marriage is just to undermine traditional marriage. Yes, a hell of a lot of people actually believe that. Now, is that true of some gay people? Of course it is, just as it is true of some straight people. It won’t do any good to pretend it doesn’t exist because it obviously does; denying it would only make people dismiss anything else you have to say. So the only rational response to that argument, it seems to me, is to say exactly what Jason said – Yes, there are people in the “gay community” who fit your stereotypes, just as those people can be found in every other community. But don’t tar all gay people with that anymore than you would tar all straight people by looking only at what went on at a strip club. A sizable, and growing, percentage of gay people are just like Jason and Scott, which means they’re just like “us” too. People have a big tendency to divide into us and them, and thereafter they judge “them” by the worst people in the group while judging “us” by the best people in the group. So pointing out that most people in either group are pretty much the same is a powerful argument against that type of thinking. Indeed, it’s the only argument one can make. It isn’t going to convince anyone who really just hates gays and can’t think rationally about it, but nothing is going to convince those people.

    Second, it’s relevant because I think one of the best arguments for gay marriage is that it will help to stabilize and build alternative role models for other gay people that might help reduce the destructive behavior that some of them engage in to a considerable degree. This is sort of the conservative argument for gay marriage. And as Jason points out, this is already happening to some degree and it’s a healthy thing. I’m for gay marriage because I’m really strongly pro-marriage. I think marriage does really good things for our society that have nothing to do with raising children. I think it really does provide societal stability and I think that encouraging marriage between gay couples it can only help. Again, I think this is a powerful argument for gay marriage that may well convince some people that it’s a good idea. It might convince them that even if their stereotypes are true as often as they think they are, gay marriage could help diminish that tendency. When you lock a group of people out from one of the bedrock institutions of the society, you tend to radicalize them so that they also reject all other societal institutions as well. By welcoming them into marriage, we may well find that their behavior and perspectives in other areas becomes more conservative as well.

    I would also note that you misrepresented what I said a bit, and in a way that is relevant to this discussion. You said:

    Ed didn’t link to your post saying “Jason Kuznicki has some interesting things to say about the ‘gay community.’” He said, “Jason Kuznicki makes a strong case for gay marriage.” And I’m questioning just what part this stuff about gym bunnies and sexual liberationists has to do with the argument for gay marriage…I simply don’t see how it advances your case.

    But that isn’t what I said. The title of this post is “Kuznicki answers arguments against gay marriage”, not “makes a strong case for gay marriage.” That distinction is important because I’ve already detailed the exact arguments against gay marriage that he answered so well. When someone criticizes the gay community by focusing on the behavior of the worst people within it, you have two possible answers, one honest and one dishonest. You could deny that there is any bad behavior by gay people, but that would both dishonest and irrational. Or you can say, “Yes, we have unsafe, dishonest and promiscuous people in this group too, just like you do in your group. But that doesn’t change my rights as an individual any more than the bad behavior of some straight people changes your rights as an individual.” That answer is both honest and rational, because it answers both their premise and their conclusion. That doesn’t mean it’s going to convince the people making the bad argument against gay marriage that they’re wrong, but it should at least convince some of them simply because it’s true and some people still care about whether their claims are true or not.

    And also, as noted above, by making the distinction that he does, he is also making a powerful argument for gay marriage by pointing out that allowing gays to get married gives them potential role models within their own group that might lead some of them to give up the bad behavior that is being criticized. Allowing gay marriage may well reduce the promiscuous and unsafe behavior among at least a portion of gay people, and that can only be a good thing.

  17. #17 Jason Kuznicki
    January 23, 2005

    Obviously if I ever speak ill of another homosexual, I must be on the other side. This argument has become preposterous.

    For the record, Uncle Kvetch, I was thinking specifically of many of the more radical separatists out there, who have indeed opposed same-sex marriage because they view marriage as an extension of patriarchy. One of them–name I can’t recall right now–was interviewed on NPR a few months back, along with a pro-SSM advocate and a religious-righter. The pro-SSM guy was asked to give his opinion, the anti-SSM guy gave his, and then the interviewer turned to her and said, “So, tell us why you oppose same sex marriage.”

    And she did. Now you tell me who is on the side of the religious right…

  18. #18 Uncle Kvetch
    January 23, 2005

    Obviously if I ever speak ill of another homosexual, I must be on the other side.

    I never said, or even remotely suggested, any such thing, but you’ve attributed that attitude to me repeatedly. “Preposterous” indeed.

    Jason, you and I basically want the same things; we simply disagree on the approach. I most emphatically do not think you’re “on the other side”; please refrain from making me out to be some kind of hyper-PC thug, out to silence anybody who dares to deviate from the party line.

    All that said, it’s been a really interesting discussion. I’ll check out now. Ed, thanks for this site; it’s a great resource.

  19. #19 raj
    January 24, 2005

    Too many issues, too little time.

    Let’s get something straight. There’s no such thing as a “gay community.” I’m rather amazed that the purported libertarian Kozinsky even made reference to a “community” of any sort, since purported libertarians eschewed communities in favor of individuality. Irresepective of libertarianism, it should be evident that there is no such thing as a gay community. Mr. Kozinsky would be well-advised to eschew the term “gay community.”

    Let’s get something also straight. It is evident beyond peradventure that Kozinsky is embarrassed by the fact that others might liken him to “porn stars, the gym bunnies, the drugged-out club kids, the angry sexual liberationists (who are, by the way, the most unsexy people in the world)” merely because he (Mr. Kozinsky) is gay. I hate to tell you, Mr. Kozinsky, but the fact is that the people who are going to do that will do that regardless of whatever factoids that you might present to them. They won’t believe what you say in you defense. Their only interest is in having their preconceived hatreds reinforced.

    BTW, I have to say that more than a few of us gym bunnies and bed hoppers are more than a bit sick of your pseudo-moralizing. If I were not, in the 1970s (probably before you were a sentient being) more than a bit promiscuous, I would have not have met my husband. (Yeah, we’re married. We live in Massachusetts, so we’re really married. And we’ve been together a hell of a lot longer than you have with your partner, Kozinsky. Through thick and through thin. Literally) So, as far as I’m concerned, your complaint about gym bunnies and promiscuity falls on deaf ears. Quite frankly, I’ve known more than a few people like you over the years. You bitch and moan about other gay people who act in a way that you don’t like. And then you run to your “libertarianism” for reasons that are more than a bit obscure. Are you trying to suggest that “they aren’t like me” so you should be admitted to the Gesellshaft (the larger community) even if they aren’t? I’m sorry, but your postings in this regard are nothing more than a joke.

    Sorry, Mr. Brayton, but that’s the fact. Libertarianism might be interesting in theory, but when put to the test, it usually fails. When push comes to shove, the plaints of so-called libertarians are nothing more than “I don’t like.” That’s what passes for “libertarianism” nowadays. And the current “I don’t like” is “I don’t wanna be taxed.” Whatever.

    On the issue of “gay marriage,” let’s get something–uh–straight. There is no such thing as “gay community.” And there is no such thing as “gay marriage.” Mr. Kozinsky might beg to differ, but the fact is that, this is true. There is “marriage.” The only issue is the following: whether the state should be required to give the same legal recognition to relationships of same-sex couples (so-called “gay marriage”) that it gives to relationships of opposite-sex couples (so-called “marriage”). Phrased that way, the only issue is whether the state can provide at least a “rational basis” for discriminating against same-sex couples. I’ve posted the question on a number of web sites over the last five years. Nobody has even tried to provide a “rational basis.” (BTW, for the uninitiated, the “rational basis” test is the lowest level of scrutiny in regards discrimination under the 14th amendment’s “equal protection” clause.)

    One last comment. From reading a bit of Kozinsky’s blog, it is fairly evident that he is embarrassed about being associated with the faggots who have cleared the way for him to be a bit “out,” at least on the internet. If, as he says on his blog, he is a graduate student, he’s likely in his 20s or, at most, in his 30s. If it were not for the faggots who risked their lives and reputations in the 1960s and 1970s–and even into the early 1980s, the fact is that Kozinsky would now be–like many of us then were–hiding our sexual orientation under a rock. Like more than a few pseudo-libertarians, Kozinsky likes to pretend that history began with him. More than a few of us know otherwise.

  20. #20 Ed Brayton
    January 24, 2005

    One last comment. From reading a bit of Kozinsky’s blog, it is fairly evident that he is embarrassed about being associated with the faggots who have cleared the way for him to be a bit “out,” at least on the internet. If, as he says on his blog, he is a graduate student, he’s likely in his 20s or, at most, in his 30s. If it were not for the faggots who risked their lives and reputations in the 1960s and 1970s–and even into the early 1980s, the fact is that Kozinsky would now be–like many of us then were–hiding our sexual orientation under a rock. Like more than a few pseudo-libertarians, Kozinsky likes to pretend that history began with him. More than a few of us know otherwise.

    First, his name is Kuznicki. It’s right there in the title to the post. Second, I have no doubt that he would agree with you that the movement that has helped him to gain a great deal of liberty he would not formerly have had includes a great many people whose behavior he would criticize on a personal level. That would be true of any movement of any significant size in the history of the world and it is entirely irrelevant. One can agree with another person on a shared political goal and still disapprove of their personal behavior, and there is nothing wrong with saying that you disapprove of it. He is emphatically not arguing that therefore the people of whom he disapproves should not have the same rights he has, nor is he suggesting that because of his disapproval of their personal behavior means their successful work on behalf of the rights of all gay people are in any way less worthy of praise.

    I have no doubt that many people who have fought for an expansion of individual rights are people I would find personally quite distasteful. I have no doubt that that group includes liars, adulterers and worse. Martin Luther King was a plagiarist and an adulterer, and I would certainly criticize him for those behaviors. Does that diminish what he accomplished in the battle for equality? Absolutely not. So your suggestion that any criticism of a fellow gay person’s behavior makes one ungrateful for their efforts for gay rights just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Defensiveness and emotional overreactions are not a suitable substitute for the calm application of reason.

  21. #21 raj
    January 24, 2005

    Ed Brayton at January 24, 2005 12:22 PM

    First, his name is Kuznicki

    That’s nice. Is there a reason that you avoided responding to my question? The question was:

    “And there is no such thing as “gay marriage.” Mr. Kozinsky might beg to differ, but the fact is that, this is true. There is “marriage.” The only issue is the following: whether the state should be required to give the same legal recognition to relationships of same-sex couples (so-called “gay marriage”) that it gives to relationships of opposite-sex couples (so-called “marriage”). Phrased that way, the only issue is whether the state can provide at least a “rational basis” for discriminating against same-sex couples. I’ve posted the question on a number of web sites over the last five years. Nobody has even tried to provide a “rational basis.” (BTW, for the uninitiated, the “rational basis” test is the lowest level of scrutiny in regards discrimination under the 14th amendment’s “equal protection” clause.)

    BTW, So your suggestion that any criticism of a fellow gay person’s behavior makes one ungrateful for their efforts for gay rights just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Defensiveness and emotional overreactions are not a suitable substitute for the calm application of reason.

    Can it, Ed, this is dumb. Kuznicki (or whatever his name is) can complain about any person’s behavior as much as he wants. On the other hand, ignoring the fact that–given the anonymity of the internet, I have no reason to believe that Kuznicki is gay–and further given the fact that he is a purported “libertarian,” why should I or anyone else give a tinker’s damm what he complains about? Particularly with respect to equal rights for gay people? Look, I’ve had to much silliness from these gay pseudo-libertarians. First from Justin Raimondo (this on a message board maintained by Indegayforum a couple of years ago), and now the crap from Kuznicki. Sorry, but Kuz needs to grow up. So do a lot of pseudo-libertarians.

  22. #22 Ed Brayton
    January 24, 2005

    That’s nice. Is there a reason that you avoided responding to my question? The question was:

    “And there is no such thing as “gay marriage.” Mr. Kozinsky might beg to differ, but the fact is that, this is true. There is “marriage.” The only issue is the following: whether the state should be required to give the same legal recognition to relationships of same-sex couples (so-called “gay marriage”) that it gives to relationships of opposite-sex couples (so-called “marriage”). Phrased that way, the only issue is whether the state can provide at least a “rational basis” for discriminating against same-sex couples. I’ve posted the question on a number of web sites over the last five years. Nobody has even tried to provide a “rational basis.” (BTW, for the uninitiated, the “rational basis” test is the lowest level of scrutiny in regards discrimination under the 14th amendment’s “equal protection” clause.)

    What question was there to be answered? I agree with you completely that there is no rational basis for not allowing gay people to get married. So does Jason Kuznicki. Why would you ask me to defend a position I emphatically disagree with? In the last 15 months I’ve probably written 50 essays supporting gay marriage. Jason is IN a gay marriage, for crying out loud. So you ask a completely irrelevant question and then demand that I answer it? This is becoming quite irrational, raj.

    Can it, Ed, this is dumb. Kuznicki (or whatever his name is) can complain about any person’s behavior as much as he wants. On the other hand, ignoring the fact that–given the anonymity of the internet, I have no reason to believe that Kuznicki is gay–and further given the fact that he is a purported “libertarian,” why should I or anyone else give a tinker’s damm what he complains about?

    Well you obviously DO give a tinker’s damn what he complains about, as you’ve spent the last couple hours ranting about it in a quite incoherent manner. You were the one who made the argument that because he dares to criticize the behavior of other gay people he is demeaning their contributions to the fight for gay rights, or is ungrateful for those efforts. I pointed out that this simply isn’t a logical conclusion. Even the great MLK could justifiably be criticized for his personal behavior while also justifiably being revered for his incredible work on civil rights. And rather than respond to the substance of what I said you tell me to “can it”?

    You really need to take a break here, raj, and start thinking clearly instead of reacting emotionally. You’ve gone into full-blown attack mode on people who agree with you almost entirely, and all seemingly as a result of your personal distaste for anyone you see fit to label a “pseudo-libertarian”. This behavior is quite bizarre. You demand that I answer a question that presumes I believe the opposite of what I believe, then you ignore all of the substantive arguments I’ve made and respond with “can it” and “grow up” and “this is dumb”? Logs and splinters, raj, logs and splinters.

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