Gladd to help?

03.15.2012, 10:06 AM

The organization GLADD has launched a “Commentator Accountability Project” which promises to keep media organizations well informed about the true beliefs and motivations of 36 commentators in the media who, according to GLADD, in the name of commenting on gay marriage and other issues, say hurtful and untrue things about gay people.  Of the 36 people on the list, I think I know, either well or well enough to say hello to, about 8 or 9.  At least some of them, I am confident, should NOT be on such a list. 

But my question is (and it’s not rhetorical, I mean it as a question):  Should there be such a list?  I can think of valid reasons to make such a list, among them being an effort to rebut what is viewed as homophobic public speech.  And I don’t believe that making such a list in and of itself constitutes an effort to violate anyone’s right to free speech.  But something about these lists also makes me nervous.  Palmer had lists. McCarthy had  lists.  Hoover had lists.  There is something about these lists that smells bad. 

 


80 Responses to “Gladd to help?”

  1. fannie says:

    I don’t know, David. It seems kind of “smear-y” to suggest that just because this GLAAD thing is a list, and other Bad People in history have made lists, that maybe this particular list is like the lists that those other Bad People have made.

    Given that many of those on the GLAAD list sanitize their anti-LGBT messages when speaking to the mainstream media, I think it is helpful to have a repository of their less-sanitized, more hurtful statements. If someone sees, say, Ken Hutcherson talking about some marriage rally and they google his name, I want his more virulent statements to pop up, so people know what his biases are.

    I also don’t find it convincing when you say that you are confident that 8 or 9 of the people on the list should “NOT” be on it. You are a heterosexual married man who opposes same-sex marriage. I am a lesbian women who has a… rather different life experience than you as being on the receiving end of a lot of this aggressive rhetoric for my entire life.

    These people may be your buddies or acquaintances and they may be Nice People (to you and to heterosexuals). They may even be friendly in interacting with actual LGBT people or the Gay Best Friends. But, many LGBT people aren’t going to think many of their statements about us are all that friendly, nor is it as easy for us, as it might be for you, to overlook their commentary about us.

    Perhaps if there were well-funded, powerful groups and individuals devoted to saying how being a heterosexual man was a “sexual disability,” a “disease,” and a “grave sin” you would feel differently.

    My only criticism of this list right now is that I know there are worse things some of these people have said about LGBT people and those statements have not yet been captured.

  2. David Blankenhorn says:

    Hi, Fannie. Good to reconnect. If you don’t think historical allusions prove my case, I can suggest four reasons why I think you and others of good will who reject anti-gay bias might need to be nervous about this kind of list making.

    1. It purports to be a public-service effort by an organization accurately to represent the views of the organization’s ideological opponents to third parties who have decision making authority that is of interest to both sides. Now, maybe you think that that can be done honestly and fairly in this case, but if you do, you must think that the folks at GLADD are bucking for sainthood. It may be possible for Newt Ginrgich’s press secretary accurately to represent Barack Obama’s views to a third party in the media that has decision making authority that matters to both Gingrich and Obama. Sure, that is theoretically possible.

    2. It seeks overtly to create a stigmatized group. It doesn’t just say, I think Billly is a bigot. It says, Billy is a member of the bigots group. I think there is a difference — and so, apparently, does Gladd, or else they would simply continue to say, Billy is a bigot (which they already do). That’s why McCarthy rarely said, “Billy is a communist” but instead usually said “I have list” which (sometimes) did have Billy’s name on it.

    3. It puports accurately to convey other people’s inner, rarely-revealed motivations and beliefs. This can get a little, dicey, don’t you think (esp. given point one)? I see this all the time in the Arab public debate, in which I’m tangentially involved. People who want for whatever reason to discredit Arab public intellectuals constantly say, “That’s what they say in English, but wait til you hear what we heard them say in Arabic! We have a file …” I’m always uneasy when I see that tactic (even though sometimes the shoe does seem to fit).

    4. It’s almost certain to coarsen the discourse. The “I have a list” meme almost always uglifies the overall public conversation, in part because, even if done with care, it comes reasonably close to character assasination and has, as it is intended to have, an ominous, threatening, aggressive quality to it. By the way, the people who do this kind of thing almost always say — as I think you seemed to suggest, in your comment — that their special status as victims, or as keepers of some flame of world-historical importance, ethically justifies the activity (which otherwise might come off as a kind of bullying).

    Overall, the list may produce the result of reducing the public visibility and general reputation of the people on the list, at least in the eyes of the third parties who have some authority. (In other respects, it may backfire, just as those who were on Nixon’s list became sort of folk heros to many, and just as Dalton Trumbo, who was on McCarthy’s list, is now widely respected, whereas Elia Kazan, who named names to the the House Un-American Activities Committee, is now widely disprespected in some circles for having done so.) But in the main, this effort at list making may damage the abiliity of these 36 to be heard and/or respected in the media.

    More broadly, it may work indirecty to drive from the public discourse — from mainstream conversation — certain words, phrases, and arguments, in particular the words, phrases and arguments that are especially disagreeable to the folks at Gladd and those who support them. (Gosh, I hope I never say any of those words! Maybe I should learn what arguments are on their list, and make sure always to denounce them and never even indirectly endorse them! I wonder, is silence on these bad words acceptable, or, in order to make sure I avoid being on the list, must I afirmatively repudiate the bad words? Staying safe can get complicated … )

    Finally, this kind of thing may also set an example for others to follow. Pissed off at secularists who say bad things about religious people? Pissed off at religious people who say ugly things about secularists? One, two, many lists!!

    How do those considerations net out to you, Fannie?

  3. To agree with Fannie, I think it’s necessary to make a distinction between criticizing a person and criticizing a public figure.

    Public figures are people, of course; but they’re just a thin sliver of a person, not an entire person. But that’s all most of us ever have access to. I’ll use Robert George as an example, because he’s on the list — and rightly so! — and I’m a little familiar with his work.

    I’m told by people who know “Robby” that Robert George in person is a lovely person, kind and funny and friendly. I don’t doubt that.

    But I don’t have access to “Robby,” and neither do most ordinary Americans. The only thing I do have access to is Robert George the public figure; the essays he writes, the interviews he gives, the legal arguments he chooses to make, the organizations he founds, etc..

    And it’s not unfair to make a judgment based on that. It would be extremely elitist to say that only those who personally know “Robby” are entitled to make a judgment of “Robert George’s” character and beliefs. (Not that you’re saying that, David; I’m just playing with the argument.)

    A list like this isn’t made based on private face-to-face knowledge of people. It’s irrelevant whether or not the full human being that you know personally belongs on this list; the list isn’t about full human beings, it’s about public figures.

  4. (P.S. I hadn’t yet seen David’s response to Fannie when I wrote the above comment.)

  5. David Blankenhorn says:

    Barry: I agree that it’s best to judge a public figure entirely or almost entirely by his or her public conduct.

  6. Christopher says:

    David, the people on this list attack gay and lesbian people as a class. They attack us as inherently immoral, as “defective” human beings, as less than or other straight people, they marginalize our families – and in most cases suggest that we are not families at all, and yes that includes your, I am sure, pleasant friends Gallagher and George.

    Maggie Gallagher, when she worked for the GW Bush admin, undercover, actually promoted the idea of the admin investing money in “ex gay therapy” and NOM/the Ruth blog still promotes the gay conversion idea.

    Yet, somehow, for some reason, when our humanity as a class and as individuals is attacked, compiling a list of these people and what they’ve said in thier own words is too much?

    Re “people on our side”: David, I assume you are someone on the side of reducing homophobia. You’ve said yourself that – well I assume you believe this anyway – it isn’t right, it’s destructive, and it also damages the “traditional marriage” movement. Why would you want keep memes like gay people are pedophiles, are diease ridden, are immoral, are less than, are defective in the discourse?

    There are also tenns to consider and those not yet out. This kind of rhetoric is dangerous for those vulnerable people. You must have considered how that would affect a young gay person. If not, imagine if a close relative or friend were that kid – what would feel about some the things even your pleasant say in the media about that kid and gay people in general. How would it affect him? How would you explain it to him? Would you want him to hear it?

    When the contretemps with Rich was going on, exasperated, you wrote “My kids are reading this!”. There’s a lot of irony there. Thousands of gay kids see this rhetoric from these 36 people all the time. Words that attack them for something intrinsic. Do you think that has no negative effect on them? Or should they just have to live with it? If so, why?

  7. Christopher says:

    – even your pleasant friends say in the media –

  8. Christopher says:

    I’d add this too. Imagine turning on the TV or radio and seeing your life, your morality, your freedom (of association now, but actual freedom prior to Lawrence v Texas), the security and recognition if your family, and essentially your humanity as a subject of public debate. And all this based on something intrinsic that you didn’t choose.

    And in the name of “debate” people can denigrate you to the extent they want, far beyond marriage vs civil unions to should gay people be medically treated as though they are ill.

    I offer a friendly challenge to walk a mile in my shoes.

  9. Christopher says:

    NB: I hate to NE the one who corrects you on this but GLAAD is with two A’s not two D’s.

  10. nobody.really says:

    But something about these lists also makes me nervous. Palmer had lists. McCarthy had lists. Hoover had lists.

    Not to mention Stewie. So I won’t.

    [T]his effort at list making may damage the abiliity of these 36 to be heard and/or respected in the media.

    Like Blankenhorn, I’m conflicted about GLAAD’s practice. As I understand it, GLAAD is developing dossiers on each of these speakers. I share Blankenhorn’s suspicion that GLAAD is designing these dossiers to place the speakers in a bad light – or, at a minimum, to pigeon-hole the speakers as representing some narrow interest.

    Presumably this information, even if accurate, is ad hominem. Ideally we’d evaluate comments based on their content, not based on the commentor. And sometimes journalists do this, as when they choose which “man on the street” comments to quote.

    But that seems to be the exception, not the rule, in contemporary journalism. More generally reporters look for spokespeople to represent various sides of the topics they cover. In other words, the “label” a person wears influences a report’s choice to quote the person. And if a reporter evaluates a speaker on the basis of the views the speaker presumably represents, I see little harm in the reporter getting a fuller understanding of those views. A reporter can provide the speaker with the opportunity to rebut anything GLAAD says, and can then evaluate which parts of a person’s background are relevant to report.

  11. R.K. says:

    Maggie Gallagher, when she worked for the GW Bush admin, undercover, actually promoted the idea of the admin investing money in “ex gay therapy” and NOM/the Ruth blog still promotes the gay conversion idea.

    Do they advocate forcing therapy on gays, or only offering it to those who want it?

    Am I to understand, Christopher, that anyone who argues that orientation change is possible, even if only for some people, is to be included on this list as well, and written out of the debate?

  12. Christopher says:

    Are we really arguing ex-gay therapy here? Astounding. Is it decent to argue for this when the every professional org for therapists has determined that it is destructive and does not work.

    There are people who want to be celibate both straight and gay. But all this therapy would do for a gay person is shame them – and yes that’s terrible medicine.

    But I’m hardly surprised RK. You are the guy who a few months ago objected to the Lawrence decision because outlawing sodomy and shaming gay men might lead to lower HIV rates. What a grotesque thing to say.

    Yes, DB and EM, that comment about HIV from RK is a prime example of the homophobia you are nominally against bit seem to accept as civil dialog on this site. You can’t expect both.

  13. nobody.really says:

    Am I to understand, Christopher, that anyone who argues that orientation change is possible, even if only for some people, is to be included on this list as well, and written out of the debate?

    What does “written out of the debate” mean?

    As far as I can tell, GLAAD merely proposes to compile a dossier noting facts about a speaker – for example, perhaps quoting the speaker’s statements alleging that orientation change is possible. A reporter might then evaluate the speaker’s current comments on the basis of (hopefully accurate) information about the speaker’s past comments.

    Perhaps the information compiled by GLAAD would prompt a reporter to refrain from citing a given speaker in a story. If that’s what being “written out of the debate” means, it’s a fate shared by roughly 99.999999% of the world’s population.

  14. Mont D. Law says:

    [1. It purports to be a public-service effort by an organization accurately to represent the views of the organization’s ideological opponents to third parties who have decision making authority that is of interest to both sides. Now, maybe you think that that can be done honestly and fairly in this case, but if you do, you must think that the folks at GLADD are bucking for sainthood.]

    I looked at the list and found links directly to quotes from the people on the list – complete with a link to where the statements were made to preserve the context of the statements. I’m not sure what your objection is? That these people are being misquoted or misrepresented in some way? Do you have any actual complaints about what is on the list or just fears about what might be on it in the future?

    [2. It seeks overtly to create a stigmatized group. It doesn’t just say, I think Billly is a bigot. It says, Billy is a member of the bigots group. I think there is a difference — and so, apparently, does Gladd, or else they would simply continue to say, Billy is a bigot (which they already do).]

    The purpose of the list is to make it clear these people say horrible things about homosexuals on a regular basis and therefore news organizations should not use them. I’m not really clear why this is a problem. Someone made a list of retired Generals who were being used by the networks as experts on the war while also working for defense contractors and arms makers. Was that list dangerous too?

    [That’s why McCarthy rarely said, “Billy is a communist” but instead usually said “I have list” which (sometimes) did have Billy’s name on it. ]

    Sorry, but the McCarthy had a secret list that changed from appearance to appearance. It started off as having 205 members then 57 then 81. He gave a 5 hour speech outlining the 81 loyalty risks employed at the State Department but hid the source of the list (an earlier investigation that had cleared everyone on it). In the speech McCarthy consistently exaggerated the facts from this earlier report, representing the hearsay of witnesses as facts and converting phrases such as “inclined towards Communism” to “a Communist”. This list is nothing like that list.

    [3. It puports accurately to convey other people’s inner, rarely-revealed motivations and beliefs. This can get a little, dicey, don’t you think (esp. given point one)? I see this all the time in the Arab public debate, in which I’m tangentially involved. People who want for whatever reason to discredit Arab public intellectuals constantly say, “That’s what they say in English, but wait til you hear what we heard them say in Arabic! We have a file …” I’m always uneasy when I see that tactic (even though sometimes the shoe does seem to fit). ]

    Again, the statements are posted and links are provided, no one is debating anyone’s inner motivations & beliefs just what they have said publicly. The Arab analogy is flawed because there is no debate about what these people said, it is posted and links are provided. There is no need for translation or interpretation.

    [4. It’s almost certain to coarsen the discourse. The “I have a list” meme almost always uglifies the overall public conversation, in part because, even if done with care, it comes reasonably close to character assasination and has, as it is intended to have, an ominous, threatening, aggressive quality to it. By the way, the people who do this kind of thing almost always say — as I think you seemed to suggest, in your comment — that their special status as victims, or as keepers of some flame of world-historical importance, ethically justifies the activity (which otherwise might come off as a kind of bullying).]

    Why is quoting the actual words spoken by these people in context an act of character assassination? You are not making the case that they didn’t say them, that they were misunderstood or that they said them a long time ago and no longer believe them. So just quoting a bunch of people and suggesting that their quotes might be relevant to putting them on TV is going to coarsen the discussion more then the statements themselves? This is not a very convincing argument.

    [By the way, the people who do this kind of thing almost always say — as I think you seemed to suggest, in your comment — that their special status as victims, or as keepers of some flame of world-historical importance, ethically justifies the activity (which otherwise might come off as a kind of bullying). ]

    Except the 2 lists you have mentioned Nixon’s and McCarthy’s don’t fit this bill at all. Do you have any other examples that are more relevant?

    [More broadly, it may work indirecty to drive from the public discourse — from mainstream conversation — certain words, phrases, and arguments, in particular the words, phrases and arguments that are especially disagreeable to the folks at Gladd and those who support them.]

    Sorry but we do that all the time. David Duke and Don Black are not welcome guests of reputable news organizations not because their statements are offensive to the NAACP or the JDL, but because they are offensive to everyone. GLADD is suggesting that what the people on the list write and say is also offensive to everyone, not just supporters of GLADD. I suspect they are correct in their assumption.

    [(Gosh, I hope I never say any of those words! Maybe I should learn what arguments are on their list, and make sure always to denounce them and never even indirectly endorse them! I wonder, is silence on these bad words acceptable, or, in order to make sure I avoid being on the list, must I afirmatively repudiate the bad words? Staying safe can get complicated … )]

    This is just hyperbolic silliness. No one is on this list for saying certain words, not repudiating certain ideas or not denouncing the correct people. They are on the list for making repeated, untrue, hateful, public statements about homosexuals. You are not on the list because you don’t do that.

  15. R.K. says:

    What does “written out of the debate” mean?

    Being unofficially but effectively excluded from presenting any argument relative to the debate.

    Are we really arguing ex-gay therapy here? Astounding. Is it decent to argue for this when the every professional org for therapists has determined that it is destructive and does not work.

    So, what does this make Robert Spitzer?

    I do not wish to debate the effectiveness of “ex-gay therapy”, as that leads us too far from the subject of the thread. My question is whether it is to be considered “offensive” and thus out of the realms of decency if anyone does debate it, or does maintain that it may work, even sometimes.

    Christopher, could you just answer the question I did ask instead of going off on a sideline by trying to find some statement of mine that you can try to reduce to a straw man? Your technique is evasive. (And more, considering the full context of what I said in the statement you’re trying to hang me with. I’ll stop there lest I resort to your method).

    nobody: Perhaps the information compiled by GLAAD would prompt a reporter to refrain from citing a given speaker in a story. If that’s what being “written out of the debate” means, it’s a fate shared by roughly 99.999999% of the world’s population.

    In other words, people can dig, find some quotes, and use them to write 99.999999% of those who argue against your position out of the debate.

    Anyone who argues that we are not seeing an attack on free inquiry here is sticking their head in the sand. If someone says something that is inaccurate, they should be corrected. If someone uses invective and namecalling, this is offensive and they should be called out for it and condemned. If someone makes statements like what Paul Cameron has said about Molokai, for instance, this is highly offensive and should be condemned. But when people try to label it as “offensive” (and exclude the person saying it from “legitimate” debate) when somebody makes a statement which is true, or even may be true, or is debatable factually or ethically, this is crossing the line into trying to stifle speech, even if they don’t call for a law against it.

  16. Brian says:

    RK,

    How is it an attack on “free inquiry” when all is being done is collecting information on previous statements by the speakers on the same subject? If GLAD misquotes someone or takes a quote out of context, they should rightfully be criticized. But so far you have not disputed any of the quoted materials. These speakers have presented themselves to the media and the public as “go to” people for anti gay marriage views. In mainstream media appearances they often go out of their to stress their opinions are not based on anti-gay bias. All Glad has done here is provide information that allows reporters and the public to know what such speakers have previously said.

  17. Christopher says:

    RK, quackery meant to shame people that is disavowed by all major professional orgs in the field has no place in civil debate or being treated as a reasonable position on major media.

    There are people, like yourself, who advocate a return to criminalizing sodomy, that’s a very fringe opinion. And linking it with HIV as you did on this blog is ignorant, irresponsible, and virulently homophobic. I found it so hideous that I could say anything civil at the time, but rarely have I been deeply offended by anyone.

    I’ll everyone here and hope you’ll weigh in. Do you believe that arguing for exgay therapy or the recriminalization of sodomy constitutes civil discourse? Does allowing it on this site ultimately help or hinder IAV and it’s work? In short, is allowing that fringe opinion worth the blowback?

  18. Christopher says:

    Spitzer, whose one paper on this was disavowed by the APA, relied completely on self reporting for his data – oh yeah Doc I’m cured! – and later admitted he had no way to know if his subjects were lying or not. Next. Oh, there aren’t any other studies.

  19. Peter Hoh says:

    David, while I share your concerns about the coarsening of the discourse, I would rather have people arguing about what people actually said than about misrepresentations of what they said.

    I think it’s significant that the list includes quotes and links. A discerning reader can tell the difference between the things that Maggie Gallagher has said and the things that Peter LaBarbera has said.

    Should those two have been lumped together? Perhaps not.

    To their credit, GLAAD did not include every public figure who speaks against same-sex marriage. GLAAD is saying that it takes more than opposition to same-sex marriage to get on that list. Perhaps GLAAD has been overbroad in putting this list together, but I think we can agree that LaBarbera and a few others on that list have crossed a line, and I’m fine with them being called on it.

  20. fannie says:

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response to my comment. I will address some of the points you raised:

    “Now, maybe you think that that can be done honestly and fairly in this case, but if you do, you must think that the folks at GLADD are bucking for sainthood.

    In my opinion, the GLAAD project seems a little…. rushed. Or, unfinished? Not only are some of the people on the list not on the same level of anti-gayness, some of the quotes are simply not going to be self-evidently horrible to all people as they seem to assume. (I see that kind of inside-the-bubble thinking to be a big weakness of Gay, Inc in general).

    I do think just about anybody on the planet could be misrepresented if someone pulled a handful of quotes they’ve said. But, at the same time, as Mont mentioned, the quotes that are listed are linked to fuller statements so people can continue on to read the fuller context.

    And, if the quotes no longer represent how some of those people still feel, presently, I think it would decrease some of the animosity and distrust that many in the LGBT community feel towards some of these figures if these figures said, “You know, I used to say that being gay was a disease, but I no longer think that.”

    “It seeks overtly to create a stigmatized group. It doesn’t just say, I think Billly is a bigot. It says, Billy is a member of the bigots group.”

    I think, because of their statements, many of those voices should be stigmatized and marginalized. That being said, I would repeat that I don’t think everyone on that list is of the same caliber. So, that’s the problem with lists like these in general (which is a criticism often leveled at SPLC’s categorization of hate groups). There needs to be some stated, explicit, clear, and somewhat-objective standards for grouping these people together and putting them on this list. That doesn’t seem to have happened with this list and that’s another reason this GLAAD project looks rushed.

    “It puports accurately to convey other people’s inner, rarely-revealed motivations and beliefs. This can get a little, dicey, don’t you think (esp. given point one)?”

    I think it’s always dicey to start opining on other people’s, especially ideological opponents’, inner motivations and beliefs. The GLAAD site for the project claims that the listed people “represent nothing but extreme animus towards the entire LGBT community.”

    I do think people’s words are a good way to ascertain their motivations, but I wouldn’t have made a claim like that. Instead, I think it would have been better to say something like, “Scott Lively is a Holocaust revisionist who has said a, b, and c, and this hurts gay people because x, y, and z.”

    Instead of coming off as Just Calling People Bigots, the project would be focused more on how these voices hurt people.

    “By the way, the people who do this kind of thing almost always say — as I think you seemed to suggest, in your comment — that their special status as victims, or as keepers of some flame of world-historical importance, ethically justifies the activity (which otherwise might come off as a kind of bullying).”

    I haven’t said, nor do I think, that gay peoples’ “special status as victims” justifies this list. It’s that the people on this list say things that are really hurtful that justifies that list. There’s a distinction there that I think you’re missing.

    “More broadly, it may work indirecty to drive from the public discourse — from mainstream conversation — certain words, phrases, and arguments, in particular the words, phrases and arguments that are especially disagreeable to the folks at Gladd and those who support them. (Gosh, I hope I never say any of those words! Maybe I should learn what arguments are on their list, and make sure always to denounce them and never even indirectly endorse them! I wonder, is silence on these bad words acceptable, or, in order to make sure I avoid being on the list, must I afirmatively repudiate the bad words? Staying safe can get complicated … )”

    Do you hope you never say those words because you don’t want to be called a bigot? Or do you hope you never say those words because you understand how some of those words can hurt people?

    I don’t know, I just see this pervasive, over-riding concern among many opponents of LGBT rights about not being called bigots and not being “smeared” and not being “stigmatized” for expressing their views. In the midst of people accusing gays of causing the Holocaust and calling homosexuality a disease, LGBT people have to constantly tip-toe around on eggshells so the people who say these things or are friends with the people who say these things know that we know that they aren’t bigots or anything.

    The socially-conservative PC culture allows people to be bigots but demands that no one is allowed to be called a bigot. That gets really tiresome.

  21. fannie says:

    There should be an endquote after the second paragraph. And I forgot to close that italics tag. Crap.

    Sorry.

  22. nobody.really says:

    I sense two distinct issues here.

    1. As a matter of substance, are there some proposals that – no matter how politely, dispassionately, and eruditely phrased — are simply beyond the pale of civil discourse, such that we feel justified in rejecting the proposal without engaging in reasoned discourse and stigmatizing the proposer?

    I favor the answer no.

    But if you’re objective is to advance certain policies, I acknowledge that there may be advantages to stigmatizing contrary ideas. I realize the homosexuals have long been subject to such stigmatization. And I realize that it’s foreseeable that certain people will find certain proposals threatening, provoking a natural, visceral fight-or-flight response. So perhaps certain proposals will inevitably provoke a defensive response, and perhaps turnabout is fair play.

    Ultimately, I suspect a person’s response to this question reflects culture. Within some cultures, people are willing to consider even outlandish and offensive proposals on their merits, relying on reason to cause bad ideas to sink under their own weight. Within other cultures, social norming plays a larger role.

    I like to think of this blog as reflecting the former culture more than the latter. Thus, I oppose use of the term “bigot” in discussion because I never find any circumstance in which less stigmatizing terms could not better express the relevant idea. But not everyone shares my perspective on this matter.

    2. As a matter of form, is free inquiry impeded if I suspect my participation in a public debate will cause people to dig up and publicize true but arguably unflattering facts about me?

    “Impeded” relative to what?

    Yes, I’m concerned with my public appearance. Yes, I’m less likely to speak up and draw attention to myself if I think I will not look good in the process. That said, while I clearly have an interest in controlling what other people think of me, I don’t have a right to control what other people think of me.

    In each era, people have had some mechanisms for expressing themselves anonymously – anonymous pamphlets, anonymous letters to the editor, graffiti, web postings, gossip. Anonymous communication arguably provides the best mechanism for expressing ideas free from distracting associations with a specific speaker.

    But if the strength of an argument relies on the merits of the arguer – or if an arguer seeks to accrue attention – then the arguer may want to argue publically. In that case, it seems both inevitable and appropriate that people would consider relevant facts about both the argument and the arguer – yes, even if this has some propensity to discourage the arguer from speaking out.

  23. David Blankenhorn says:

    Thanks to all for the good comments.

    Fannie, I agree with much of what you say — I could be wrong, but I don’t think you and I are ultimately too far apart on this issue.

    Several commentators, responding to my concern about having one’s opponents be in charge of representing one’s true views to third parties, responded by saying that the GLAAD initiative has carefully documented its charges. As if to say, “well, Billy actually said that, didn’t he? — and if he did, what’s wrong with letting news organizations know that he said it?”

    Well, I looked at some of the “evidence” used by GLAAD, and I’ll just say, to me, a lot’s wrong with it. Fannie says the list is uneven and looks “rushed” — I think that’s a very polite way of putting it.

    I decided to look up why Robby George is on this list. Here’s why:

    1. GLAAD’s summary profile of George says that he describes being gay as “beneath the dignity of human beings as free and rational creatures.” But in fact, what he said in an interview was:

    “The vote in New York to redefine marriage advances the cause of loosening norms of sexual ethics, and promoting as innocent — and even ‘liberating’ — forms of sexual conduct that were traditionally regarded in the West and many other places as beneath the dignity of human beings as free and rational creatures.”

    2. The profile declares to news organizations that George believes that gay relationships have “no intelligible basis in them for the norms of monogamy, exclusivity, and the pledge of permanence.” What he said was:

    “Because these domestic partnerships are not actually marriages, despite the appropriation of the label; there is no intelligible basis in them for the norms of monogamy, exclusivity, and the pledge of permanence that structure and help to define marriage as historically understood in our law and culture. Of course, many people’s understanding of, and authentic commitment to, these norms has already eroded substantially since the 1960s under the pressure of sexual-revolution ideology. They will now erode further … ”

    3. The third piece of anti-gay hatred from George cited by GLAAD is his statement that Gov. Andrew Cuomo “does not believe what Catholicism teaches about sexual morality and marriage.” But of course, Gov. Cuomo does NOT believe what Catholicism teaches on these subjects. I doubt that even Gov. Cuomo would dispute this observation.

    4. The fourth piece of evidence offered by GLAAD is George saying that the basis of marriage is sex. Well, I’ll just say, I wrote a book saying essentially the same thing. Literally thousands of authorities, long before gay marriage was on anyone’s radar screen, have said the same thing.

    5. The fifth piece of “evidence” of anti-gay animus offered by GLAAD is that George is on the board of group that supports “anti-Islam extremists.” He’s on the board of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. Good grief.

    6. The sixth and final piece of evidence of anti-gay sentiment is that he helped write the Manhattan Declaration a document (which I was invited to sign but did not) which re-states conventional orthodox teaching on the meaning and purposes of marriage.

    And that’s it. Outrageous! Not a single one of these six rises to the level of hate speech. The first two are grossly distorted by GLAAD’s description of them; three of them are nothing more that George affirming his adherence to orthodox Christian teaching as he (and many many others) understand it; and the one about the Bradley Foundation is really too stupid for words (and besides, it has zero to do with the issue at hand).

    And yes, Robby George is a friend of mine for whom I have great respect. I understand that many people disagree with him — good grief, he and I disagree on some things — but do any of these six pieces of “evidence” justify putting him on a public list of haters who ought to be outside the pale of civilized conversation? Barry, do you think they do? Fannie, do you? Does anyone?

    Finally, I want to say again, in case it’s not clear enough, that I detest and reject anti-gay bias and anti-gay hate speech. My point is, that I don’t think that this list, or this type of list-making in general, is a good or fair way to combat the disease.

  24. Christopher says:

    What is a good way to combat it David. (as a personal aside I’ve been combating it for 30 years and this is good way, but that aside.). And, will you join us in actually combating it? That’s an earnest invitation. I’ve got ideas on that front I’d like to discuss with you.

  25. Christopher says:

    And D, I don’t see how telling gay people that sexual expression for them is “traditionally regarded as beneath dignity”, ESP bring he is a traditionalist, is even a silver away from saying that gay sexuality is beneath dignity. Splitting hairs like that weakens your case. Hate speech, perhaps not; an effort to denigrate gay people and undermine the case for equal protection and non discrimination laws: ABSOLUTELY!

  26. Christopher says:

    Is it really civilized to imply that my relationship with my partner of 11 years is beneath human dignity? That’s what George does on a regular basis.

  27. Christopher says:

    Last thing, I find so odd that you can say, and I believe you feel this way, that you detest anti-gay bias, and uet not see that using phrases like “beneath human dignity” is filled with anti-gay bias. Imagine having that comment directed at you and your family. hideous as well as harmful.

    Also, George, of all people should know that sex and procreation are NOT the legal basis for marriage, nor are they legal requirements.

  28. David Blankenhorn says:

    Christopher: If you read what George said, you will see that he is not saying what you are accusing him of saying. Period.

  29. David Blankenhorn says:

    You ask, what is a good way to combat it? My answers are, make sure to fight any bigotry that might be inside you as conscientiously as you can; and repudiate it when you see it.

  30. Christopher says:

    You’re incorrect David. The substance of George’s position is that gay people are, by thier nature (he calls it behavior, impling the gay is a choice meme of course) is “defective” and “disordered”. That is Catholic theology. Maggie believes that and has said so. A wise man once said to me, it’s hard to argue with someone whose response isnt “I’ll think about it” but “I’ll look it up”. The theology is that homosexuality is a diease or disability, like alcoholism or frolic abuse and that gay people should should be encouraged to seek treatment. That is what is meant by “beneath human dignity”. He used that phrase in the past tense but it’s quite clear he’d like a return to that attitude. For more information, read George’s piece “Rick Santorum was right” in linking homosexuality with beatiality after Lawrence v Texas, and that of course the Lawrence court was wrong and states should be able to criminalize sodomy. (Glaad ought to put that humdinger of a piece up too.)

    Opus Dei/very conserative RCs, I was raised RC I know, adhere to the magisterium very closely on these issues – at least as regards other people’s morality (in many cases).

    I have to ask, aside from the obvious Westboro, what would you define as homophobic. If comparing my partner and me to alcoholics and “man on dog” is permissible in your mind, then what is too far?

  31. Christopher says:

    drug abuse not frolic abuse – damn autocorrect!

  32. Christopher says:

    NB: I have read everything George has written on the subject. And what Maggie, what you’ve written, as well as Broan Brown, John Eastman, etc.

    You are the only “traditional marriage” advocate who I believe actually respects gay people – certainly if one believes that gay people are I’ll, akin to drug abusers there can be no genuine respect. Though through judicious wordplay a veneer of respect “for God’s creatures” can be pulled off and that is what the very skilled Robbie and Maggie manage.

    I understand they are following thier faith as they see it. (and that is thier right.) But the Westboro Baptist people make the same claim, however inartfully.

  33. This is a little difficult, David, since George is a friend of yours, and I very much respect loyalty to one’s friends. But, because he is your friend, I think you’re giving him an unreasonable benefit of the doubt.

    1. GLAAD’s summary profile of George says that he describes being gay as “beneath the dignity of human beings as free and rational creatures.” But in fact, what he said in an interview was:

    “The vote in New York to redefine marriage advances the cause of loosening norms of sexual ethics, and promoting as innocent — and even ‘liberating’ — forms of sexual conduct that were traditionally regarded in the West and many other places as beneath the dignity of human beings as free and rational creatures.”

    I agree that in the above quote, Glaad didn’t give George enough benefit of the doubt; they should have used the entire quote, and made it clear that George phrased it in a way that avoiding directly saying anything about gay or lesbian people.

    That said, it’s obvious that George was, indeed, saying that same-sex relations (as well as other kinds of sex) are beneath the dignity of free and rational creatures. Denying this is denying the plain meaning of what he said. The statement is delivered in polite and in cultured language, true, but putting a pig in a tuxedo doesn’t make it Fred Astaire.

    4. The fourth piece of evidence offered by GLAAD is George saying that the basis of marriage is sex. Well, I’ll just say, I wrote a book saying essentially the same thing. Literally thousands of authorities, long before gay marriage was on anyone’s radar screen, have said the same thing.

    David, you’ve completely misinterpreted George’s quote — although arguably, GLAAD did as well, since George said nothing about “love, commitment, and responsibility.”

    George’s argument, in the interview that GLAAD quoted, was that SSM advocates have say they want SSM for benefits (social security, hospital visitation, etc), when their genuine goal is “to win official approbation for sodomy and other forms of sexual conduct that historically have been condemned as immoral and discouraged or even banned as a matter of law and public policy.” That’s what he meant when he said “it is about sex.”

    So, it is not really about benefits. It is about sex. The idea that is antithetical to those who are seeking to redefine marriage is that there is something uniquely good and morally upright about the chaste sexual union of husband and wife—something that is absent in sodomitical acts and in other forms sexual behavior that have been traditionally—and in my view correctly—regarded as intrinsically non-marital and, as such, immoral.

    For a same-sex couple to have sex is correctly regarded as immoral, according to George. I’m amazed GLAAD didn’t quote that bit.

    5. The fifth piece of “evidence” of anti-gay animus offered by GLAAD is that George is on the board of group that supports “anti-Islam extremists.” He’s on the board of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. Good grief.

    And that foundation supports some extremely hateful anti-Islamlic groups, such as the Center for Security Policy. The point is not that this is evidence of anti-gay animus, but evidence that George lacks credibility because he has demonstratively poor moral judgment.

    Saying “good grief,” as if the very notion of criticizing the Bradley Foundation is too ridiculous to contemplate, is pure hand-waving.

    Not a single one of these six rises to the level of hate speech.

    The term “hate speech” is yours, not GLAAD’s.

    * * *

    For me, the problem with Robert George — who I have no doubt is a swell guy in person — is that he was the nation’s most prominent defender of sodomy laws before Texas vs. Laurence, a position he apparently still believes.

    Robert George supported laws that, in practice, meant that police could put people in jail just for being lesbian or gay. How could that possibly be excusable, David? If that’s not homophobic, what on earth IS?

    Although George says gay sex is immoral, his arguments were also based on the idea that sodomy laws helped protect marriage in some obscure fashion. That’s no excuse at all.

    If someone said “we have to make it legal for the cops to throw Jews in jail if they get caught practicing Judaism, because doing so will protect marriage,” I’m confident you would recognize that person as have a dangerous moral blindness — even if the argument was cloaked in extremely sophisticated and polite language. So why is it hard for you to recognize that same moral blindness when the people being targeted are gay?

  34. David Blankenhorn says:

    Christopher and Barry: If Robby George is a hater who should be ostracized from the public debate because he believes in the teachings of the Catholic Church as defined by the magesterium of that church, then why on earth single out Robby for the haters list? There are thousands and thousands of leading Americans, starting with nearly every U.S. bishop, and going on down to nearly every parish priest in the country and arguably most of the faithful parishioners, who should be on that list.

    The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman; that all sex outside of marriage is beneath the dignity of the human person; and that homosexual conduct is disordered. That’s what the church teaches and has always taught; that’s what Robby George and many many Catholics in the US and around the world believe.

    I do not share these beliefs. And obviously you don’t either. But if so, isn’t it much cleaner simply to say this, instead of creating a list of people to stigmatize and putting, completely arbitrarily, Robby George’s name on it?

  35. JeffreyRO5 says:

    I find it amusing that the anti-gays are on the defensive about their anti-gay beliefs these days.
    “We’re the victims here!” has become their rallying cry.

    I have watched over the last several years as they move from one stage to the next in their efforts to enforce their belief that gay people must be quarantined in second-class status, both legally, socially and morally. My earliest memories of public efforts to maintain a gay and lesbian sub-class are of Anita Bryant’s efforts to fight anti-discrimination laws in south Florida. More recently, the federal “DOMA” law was passed, to prevent the federal government from recognizing the at-the-time non-existent same-sex marriages, and to give states permission to bypass constitutional requirements to recognize legal contracts originating in other states. What could be more offensive that outlawing something that doesn’t even exist? Are gay and lesbian people really that despised?

    The anti-gays have moved from insisting that states decide the same-sex marriage issue, and when they started legalizing it, the anti-gays then insisted that the country needed a federal constitutional marriage amendment! They rail against “activist” judges, going so far to get three Iowa judges fired, yet jump at the chance to cite Baker v. Nelson as some immovable object that undermines any constitutional arguments about equal treatment under the US Constitution. A highlight for me was when Maggie Gallagher incongruously insisted a couple of years ago that same-sex marriage was a states’ rights issue, but that a federal marriage amendment was necessary to define marriage as solely between a man and a woman!

    Now they insist that people vote on whether to grant equal legal rights to gays and lesbians. The legal rights of no other group in America, that I’m aware of, have been subjected to the approval of voters. Imagine voting, in this day and age, on whether to allow blacks to drive (obtain driver’s licenses), Jews to fish (obtain fishing licenses), or Muslims to become doctors (obtain medical licenses). Yet otherwise sane people think it’s perfectly appropriate to vote on whether gays and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry (obtain marriage licenses)! Of course, the “popular vote” idea requires cobbling together an unholy alliance of homophobes, straight supremacists and religionists in order to create the necessary majority voting bloc. Are leaders of the Catholic Church, or Mormon Church, or any of the “let the people vote!” folks really that comfortable joining forces with hate-based voters in order to achieve their goal of reserving marriage just for straight people?

  36. JeffreyRO5 says:

    David, why does Professor George stop short of advocating for the death penalty for gays and lesbians, as the Bible appears to clearly advocate that anyone engaging in same-sex activity should “surely be put to death”? If we’re using the Bible as the weapon of choice against gays and lesbians, why not go all the way?

    And refresh my understanding of our nation’s legal system: do we ever enshrine in law anyone’s religious beliefs? I see that pre-marital sex, adultery and divorce all seem to be legal, with nary a peep from the Catholic church or its members. Why is that? Is homosexuality some kind of “super sin”? On what basis must the Catholic church work to influence public policy and legal rights for a minority, while remaining silent on must graver issues that happen to affect the majority, such as legal pre-marital sex, legal adultery and legal divorce? Is there a theological basis for singling out minorities for disparate treatment on religious dogma?

  37. David Blankenhorn says:

    Jeffrey505: Your beef is with the Catholic Church’s teaching. So be it. So, as to my question of why not put then name of every pious Catholic in the nation on the GLAAD list of those who should not be speaking about this subject in polite company, your answer clearly would seem to be yes, add them all to the list. Good luck with that, my friend. But that is where we part company. I don’t share the beliefs and I reject whatever seems to me to be anti-gay hatred or animus, but calling every orthodox Catholic in America a hater who has no legitimate place in the public conversation — sorry, count me out.

  38. Christopher says:

    David, Robbie is advocating a return to sodomy laws, the Catholic Chirch to my knowledge doesn’t do that. He uses his public position as a Princeton professor, to advocate criminalizing people for an innate trait – under the guise that gay people can be separated from gay behavior – that is the height of ridiculousness – it’s like saying punishing someone for writing with thier left hand is not punishing people who are left handed.

    Yes, the Roman Catholic church hierarchy is very homophobic indeed – they also believe they are above US law and rife with pedophilia, as we’ve seen recently. (I am an Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian, thankfully Rome is not the only anyone expression of Catholicism, which in itself is a beautiful faith though it’s current stewards in Rome are poor shepards, in my opinion.

    The vast majority of US Roman Catholics disagree with Vatican teaching on social issues, particularly on gay people. A poll this week from Public Religion Research Institute shows 59% of US Roman Catholics support marriage equality – compared with 52% of those surveyed. Of course greater numbers support civil unions, nondiscrimination laws etc, which of course very conservative RCs, including George, oppose
    And only the extreme fringe in America would suggest, as George does, that states should be able to criminalize gay people for essential being gay – for having sexual relations with thief partner in thier own home, as George does.

    Please do us the kindness of answering the question Barry and I respectfully asked you David? Does wanting to criminalize people for being gay, for physically expressing the bond you yourself day must be treated with equal dignity, constitute homophobia? Or is it just Catholics expressing thier faith? If so, why do you not view Westboro as just a church expressing its faith?

    Isn’t telling someone they are defective because of an inate quality bigoted? And again what would constitute bigotry? I’d it only physic assault? Is it using a slur? If a Mormon, whose church believed for more than a century that African Americans were “of the devil” used that tenet to deny AAs equality in the law, would that be bigoted? Or just an expression of religion with which you disagree?

    I would ask you to imagine what it would be like if you were that gay person and Robbie or Maggie sympathy for your “sexual disfunction at best” (MG’s words) were directed at you.

    Btw, Glaad often takes on the RC church for thier actions against gay people as a class.

  39. JeffreyRO5 says:

    My beef is not at all with the Catholic Church’s teaching, which I know to be based on ancient fairy tales. So long as participation is strictly voluntary, I have no problem with it. The Catholic Church is free to teach its subscribers that the moon is made of cheese, for all I care. But when the freedoms of non-adherents is infringed, and their safety compromised, that’s a big problem. The Catholic Church has mounted a massive propaganda campaign against same-sex marriage, using front organizations like NOM, its churches and hierarchy and who knows what other means. All in the name of stopping an already stigmatized minority from having the same legal rights the majority takes for granted.

    Any list can be criticized for being too long, too short, not inclusive enough, etc. I don’t recognize some of the names on the GLAAD list, but I recognize many of them. Further, I’m directly familiar with some of their rhetoric, the lies they tell, and their utter lack of responsibility in taking ownership for publicized viewpoints that harm the safety and well-being of gay and lesbian people. When you choose to play propagandist in a homophobic society, you should own the fact that you’re contributing to vulnerability of those you advocate against, gays and lesbians. You never hear a Maggie Gallagher or a Tony Perkins say, “gee, I hate to think that outlawing same-sex might deny gay people their constitutional right to equal treatment, but if it does, I’m ok with it” or “I hope my anti-gay rhetoric doesn’t contribute to making gay people feel like outcasts, or more vulnerable to threats and attacks, but even it if does, I don’t care, since it’s so important to stop them from being allowed to legally marry!” Those would be statements of accountability.

    Imagine if these people advocated against equal legal rights for Jews? For blacks? For Christians? Would we still look at them the same way?

  40. Christopher says:

    Every orthodox Catholic in the US is not advocating publically for criminalize sodomy David. In his piece on that at the time of Lawrence he suggested that Lawrence would lead to pedophilia and beasitiality. If that isn’t homophobia, what is? Is it only Westboro, they hold a lot of same opinions though Robnie doesn’t call us fags – he ignores gay people altogether in fact – it’s the back in the closet/you’re ok if you hide/stay in the closet and we will leave you alone gambit.

    I’m 48. I’m a decent person. I have built an international business from zero. I will not be marginalized in the laws of own country, nor is suggesting that my decade long relationship be criminalizes by the state decent or civil. Put yourself in my shoes for even a moment.

  41. JeffreyRO5 says:

    If anyone is familiar with the catholic church, I would like to learn more about why the church doesn’t oppose legal pre-marital sex, legal adultery and legal divorce, since it obviously objects to legal same-sex marriage. From what I’ve read, the church’s reasoning is that biblical teaching requires that marriage be composed of one man and one woman (forgetting, I guess, the instances in the Bible where polygamy was permissible). If marriage is a religious sacrament, why doesn’t the catholic church oppose non-catholics from getting married, especially Atheists and satanists?

    Setting aside for a moment the inconvenient fact that we don’t make laws in this country based on religious beliefs, why is legalized same-sex marriage so troublesome for the catholic and mormon churches, while legal pre-marital sex, legal adultery and legal divorce are ok, even though they are expressly forbidden in the bible (and same-sex marriage isn’t)? Thank you in advance.

  42. Christopher says:

    I have to note that Westboro Bapist has, I believe every right to call me or anyone a faggot, to say we are subverting Gods plan etc, and the Supreme Court was right to affirm thier right. But they don’t have the right to be taken seriously as media commentators. Nor does anyone on that list. No one has to take Glaad’s list as a given. But David, are you suggesting that gay people can’t express thier sense of what discourse is homophobic and who uses that discourse?

    Jesse Helms is an interesting example here. 15 years ago, maybe a quarter of America though his rhetoric was reasonable. My guess is about 10% would now. What was acceptable as ideas on both women and gay people has changed substantially in the last several decades. Some things are beyond the pale now, and I believe this “defective” meme as an argument for making civil law is one of them. As for RC teaching integer churches, schools, etc, all I can say is it is thier right but IMO religious opinion – Heaven help them, they know not what they do.

    It’s a 1st amendment right to hate people and say so, being on TV or published in a particular outlet is not. George’s discourse already earns him disapprobation, but he still has outlets that support and tenure at Princeton to boot.

  43. Christopher and Barry: If Robby George is a hater who should be ostracized from the public debate because he believes in the teachings of the Catholic Church as defined by the magesterium of that church, then why on earth single out Robby for the haters list?

    David, the idea that we can’t distinguish Robert George from millions of other Catholics doesn’t hold water. George has chosen to become an influential person — I think it would be fair to call him a leader — in multiple anti-gay campaigns, over the course of decades.

    You might as well claim that it’s unfair of Republicans to hold President Obama up to special scrutiny and to criticize his policy views, since his policy views are shared by millions of Democrats. It’s always been the case that leaders and elites like Robert George are subject to greater scrutiny than ordinary folks, and that’s a perfectly just outcome.

    I’m not saying that Robert George shouldn’t speak on this debate, or should be shunned for opposing marriage equality. (If he still supports anti-sodomy laws, then I think he should be shunned by mainstream media, but that’s another issue). It’s obvious that there is not yet a cultural consensus on same-sex marriage, and it’s important that the debate happen.

    But I don’t see why leaders like Robert George shouldn’t be held accountable for the positions they’ve freely chosen to advocate. (Just to clarify, by “held accountable,” I mean asked to justify those views when they’re making media appearances, not being fired or thrown in jail or anything like that.) In particular, his strong defense of sodomy laws is something he should be asked to account for.

  44. JeffreyRO5 says:

    “It’s obvious that there is not yet a cultural consensus on same-sex marriage, and it’s important that the debate happen.”

    Why didn’t we have a debate on inter-racial marriage (or did we, and I was too young to notice it?)? The most powerful weapon the anti-gays use is that this is a topic for reasonable debate. I strongly disagree. If putting the legal rights of a minority up to a popular vote is inappropriate (and I would hope no one seriously thinks we should start discussing whether blacks or women or Jews or Atheists should be allowed to marry), then why is it considered reasonable to discuss the legal rights of gays and lesbians?

    I see no need to treat every viewpoint as worthy of debate, especially when a disliked minority’s legal rights are at stake. Should we discuss and then vote on the right of gay people to raise children? Teach children? Hold jobs that interact with children? I ask this because it’s quite popular to assume that gay people are also pedophiles, and incapable of controlling these urges. Why stop at same-sex marriage, while we’re busy voting on the rights of gays and lesbians?

    I anxiously await casting my vote on the rights of the morbidly obese. Since I’ve decided I don’t approve of their eating habits (children are starving in Africa, for God’s sake!), we should vote to deny them access to restaurants, and limit their food purchases in grocery stores to 10 items or less. That’s fair, isn’t it, so long as it’s by popular vote?

  45. Why didn’t we have a debate on inter-racial marriage (or did we, and I was too young to notice it?)?

    Although I’m too young to remember it, I’m absolutely certain that we did have a debate on interracial marriage in this country. I can’t think of a single civil rights advance that has happened, ever, without being accompanied by debate.

    I’d certainly prefer a world in which everyone, regardless of their other views, was committed to legal equality for lgbt people as a minimum baseline. However, we don’t live in that world. We live in a world in which equality won’t happen until enough people’s minds are changed; and that, in turn, won’t happen without debate. (And, frankly, our side has been winning that debate.)

    I’m off to Chicago now, so I’ll be offline the rest of the day. Thanks for your comment. :-)

  46. Christopher says:

    Yes, Barry, but with the exception of women’s suffrage no other groups rights have been put to popular votes as ours have, even the right to employment in certain professions and the right to petition municipal govts for equal protection. It has been happening on issue after issue for gay people for almost 40 years.

  47. Christopher says:

    Jeff, I can give you an answer on the RC question and it would be good to know each other. Email me – suigenerousla at yahoo.

  48. JeffreyRO5 says:

    Barry have a safe trip. I guess the point I was trying to make is that it is an unfortunate aspect of our social and legal systems (and a misunderstanding of majority rules principles) to put the legal rights of a disliked minority to a vote, as if it represents some kind of rule of fair play for a majority to give itself an important legal right, while denying that right to a minority it generally dislikes.

    Rights are supposed to come, ultimately, from the constitution, not the permission of the majority. I would go so far to say that state referendums on issues that affect only a minority should be outlawed. They are inherently unfair, usually divisive, and take an enormous emotional and social toll on the minority whose rights are up for debate. When you look at hate groups like NOM, willing even to go after judges doing their job of determining the constitutionality of laws, one can’t even rely on the courts to be the ultimate safeguard of minority rights.

  49. JeffreyRO5 says:

    And if I may add one more point, at what point does it become a reasonable discussion to ponder the obsession by some people to stop gay couples from marrying? I have followed this debate for several years now and I have noticed something about the anti-gays:

    1. They are irrationally concerned about this issue. They can’t seem to offer any rational reasons for excluding gay couples from being allowed to marry, yet they are vehement that it not be allowed. Judging from the declarations of the leaders of the anti-gay marriage movement, and reading comments of average folks following same-sex marriage news articles or op ed pieces, there is an excessive and extreme point of view. Uncompromising. No “let’s try it for ten years and see how it goes” or “let’s let 10 or 15 states legalize it and see how things go”. No “I hate to think that kids are being raised outside of wedlock, or that anyone’s constitutional rights are being trampled, but….” No waffling. It’s an absolute issue for them.

    I think there may exist a medical malady when one is obsessed with what total strangers do or don’t do in their private lives. It could be gay marriage, gay sex, use of birth control, cross-dressing, etc. Since no one seems to question the validity of discussing whether gay people get to have the same rights as straight people (or put another way, whether it’s valid to withhold certain rights or protections from gay people, solely because they’re gay), isn’t it equally valid to discuss whether it is a disease or syndrome to obsess about the private consensual behavior of strangers? When will the websites pop up that discuss whether PrivateBehaviorophobia is good or bad, and how it should be dealt with?

  50. David Blankenhorn says:

    Well, fellas, that’s a lot to respond to! I’m afraid I can’t do it justice right now. But just a cupla quick points.

    Jeffrey505 says, the problem is conceding that the issue of gay marriage is a legitimate subject for debate. I know some ant-smm folk who believe exactly the same thing. I could not possibly disagree more with that position. Do others agree with Jeffrey?

    Everyone is saying that Robert George wants to put gay people in prison for being gay. Would someone kindly point out to me an instance in which he has said that? The GLAAD people certainly did not put any such evidence on their site.

    The conversation is this thread has become so all over the place, let me just re-state the questions I’ve specifically put on the table:

    Is making this kind of list a good idea?

    Should George be on the list?

    My answers are, no and no — not because I favor homophobia, but because I oppose it.

  51. Christopher says:

    I pointed it out above David. A National Review column in May 2003 entitled Rick Santorum Is Right. Read it.

    As for “because I oppose it”, how on Earth would being against this list be connected with opposing homophobia. Everyone on this lust believes gay people are somehow defective, and however good they feel their reason may be that is terribly homophobic.

    There is a lot more on some of these people – their own words – that Glaad did not include.

  52. Christopher says:

    And the answers are yes and yes. How about answering the question Barry and I asked? Is using the belief that defective or morally inferior a valid basis for restricting their legal protections or access to legal protections? is it homophobic?

  53. JeffreyRO5 says:

    “Jeffrey505 says, the problem is conceding that the issue of gay marriage is a legitimate subject for debate. I know some ant-smm folk who believe exactly the same thing.”

    I reject this “reciprocity” notion that those who oppose equal legal rights for gays have a viewpoint that is as legitimate as those who support it. Again, no other minority gets this treatment. If I replaced “gays and lesbians” with “Jews”, “Christians”, “women”, “short people”, “left-handed people”, etc., we wouldn’t be having this discussion, whether it was about marriage licenses, fishing licenses, drivers licenses or any other kind of license. No serious person would support not letting Jews have drivers licenses, or short people have fishing licenses. So why are gays and lesbians being denied marriage licenses?

    This isn’t about marriage it’s about disliking and disapproving of gay and lesbian people. It’s a fear by straight supremacists and homophobes that they will lose government favoritism. It can’t be about religion, because we don’t make laws in this country based on religious beliefs and those who worry about “religious freedom” didn’t express much concern when we legalized pre-marital sex, adultery and divorce. I’ve yet to read about the wedding photographer who refused to take pictures at the wedding where the couple had pre-marital sex, or where one or both of the spouses was previously married (i.e., an adulterer)? Why must gay people be the object of religious scorn, but other “sinners” get off scot-free?

  54. Rights are supposed to come, ultimately, from the constitution, not the permission of the majority. I would go so far to say that state referendums on issues that affect only a minority should be outlawed. They are inherently unfair, usually divisive, and take an enormous emotional and social toll on the minority whose rights are up for debate. When you look at hate groups like NOM, willing even to go after judges doing their job of determining the constitutionality of laws, one can’t even rely on the courts to be the ultimate safeguard of minority rights.

    Ultimately, imo, the source of rights is having a critical mass of the population (not necessarily a majority) acknowledge that those rights exist. Without that, laws and even Constitutional rights don’t mean anything and don’t guarantee anything.

    You say that we should have laws, because we can’t rely on the courts to safeguard minority rights; but ultimately new laws are meaningless until courts are willing to enforce them. Plus, we can’t pass new laws until there are enough people who favor those laws, and that puts us back in the “we have to debate this and persuade people” zone.

    What’s needed is for a larger portion of the population to be persuaded to acknowledge that lgb people have a constitutional right to full equal treatment under the law, and this is not something that should be negotiable or subject to a majority vote. Once we have that, everything else falls into place.

    And the way we get there is by debate and persuasion and time. I’m not arguing that this is fair, or ideal, just that it is.