Kids these days…

08.09.2012, 12:31 PM

With the Democratic Party’s adoption of marriage equality as a party platform last week, social issues made a brief apperance in what is shaping up to be an election year dominated by fiscal policy and depressing economic news.

The announcement created some interest in the press – especially about what this means for the future of the Democratic and Republican parties as they stake out differing social positions and how younger Americans engage with these issues.  Susan Saulny’s NYT article details trends among young Republicans, especially their loss of interest in social issues.  Matt Schmitz at First Things gives a different take on the future of these same social issues.

Schmidt contends that Americans born between 1980 -91 are actually more conservative on social issues than Saulny’s article shows – especially on the issue of abortion.  However, I am skeptical about his contention that young Americans of both parties are not shifting radically in favor of marriage equality and a general cultural acceptance of gay people – even if the polls aren’t showing a shift even when messaging is strongest during political campaigns surrounding the issue.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this trend?  Do you think the Democrat’s move will have any lasting political significance?

 


30 Responses to “Kids these days…”

  1. JHW says:

    To be clear, the Egan paper you cite finds that political campaigning in the context of a particular ballot measure does not, on net, shift voters’ minds. (Notably, as I recall the argument in the paper, he does this on the basis of aggregating the poll results for many ballot measures, which means it’s possible that campaigning could matter in one direction for some ballot measures and in the other for others.) It does not have any bearing on the polling evidence that there is an overall long-term shift toward popular support for marriage equality among the public.

    I think you understand this from what you say; I just think your phrasing is a bit unclear, and wanted to put this out there.

  2. Matthew Kaal says:

    Yeah, sorry if that wasn’t clear, its a fascinating paper.

  3. Alana S. says:

    Isn’t there some poll they do on 5 year olds that has never once failed to accurately predict presidential elections? Could they poll 5 year olds on gay marriage too?
    I recently read an article about a 10 year old in Queens who wanted to do a speech in support of gay marriage. In paraphrase, he said something along the lines of, “my mom has gay friends and they have kids and seem nice and happy so what is wrong with them getting married?”

    I think this is where the majority of American thinking is right now.

    …I know a gay person and they are nice and so what’s the big deal?

  4. Matthew Kaal says:

    Alana,

    You really can’t discount the importance of personal context when it comes to issues effecting the LGBT community. Obviously there are real sociological issues that come with the emergence of any new family structure – but when you meet a member of the LGBT community, have a friendship with them, see that they are normal and have the same quirks, hopes, and dreams as everyone else – it places all the burden on you to explain why they shouldn’t be able to partake in a particular social good.

    I firmly believe that people of goodwill can disagree about legalizing ssm – it is a topic we all seem to enjoy talking (and disagreeing) about on this blog. While the ten year old Queens kid might be oversimplifying the complexity of the issue (he’s 10 for crying out loud), we shouldn’t dismiss the real, personal nature of this debate for LGBT individuals. There is a lot at stake – and that is something that deserves to be considered seriously.

  5. JeffreyRO5 says:

    “I firmly believe that people of goodwill can disagree about legalizing ssm”

    I disagree. The time has past for people of goodwill who oppose legalizing same-sex marriage (aka, giving gay couples the same rights straight couples have) to come up a with rational public purpose in doing so. It’s not unreasonable to ask that those opposed to same-sex marriage come up with at least one rational reason why, given the harm being done to our nation’s gay and lesbian couples, and to their children.

    The “arguments” against same-sex marriage have been based on personal disapproval, stemming from religious beliefs and/or homophobia. These are inadequate, as we’re seeing, to sustain an opposing position backed up by force of law.

  6. Schroeder says:

    I disagree

    This is surprising actually, because I can’t really imagine a more reasonable and fair statement than the one you are responding to.

    Three quick questions: Was David a person of goodwill immediately before he changed his mind? Is Elizabeth a person of good will?

    If you answer both of these question, “no,” then I just have two quick observations: a.) those are pretty big accusations and b.) it seems as clear as possible that you’re just plain mistaken.

    Third question: Why do you spend so much time commenting on a blog that you believe is full of people of bad will?

    I’d be interested to see Fannie and Barry weigh in on this.

  7. hello says:

    “The time has past for people of goodwill who oppose legalizing same-sex marriage (aka, giving gay couples the same rights straight couples have) to come up a with rational public purpose in doing so.”

    Jeff, if all your ideas, thoughts and motivations are backed up by rational public purposes than you are the only person on Earth who’s like that.

  8. JayJay says:

    People who oppose same-sex marriage are no more people of good people than people who supported Jim Crow laws were people of good will. Lots of those people were religious folk who had convinced themselves that God was on their side, but that does not change the fact that they were prejudiced and that they deliberately hurt other people, depriving them of equal dignity and equal rights.

  9. JeffreyRO5 says:

    Schroeder, I guess you’ll have to define your version of what “goodwill” is. For people to argue against legal same-sex marriage to persist in doing so with full knowledge of how much harm is done to gay and lesbian couples and to their children, based solely on personal belief systems (religion, homophobia) lacks any characteristic of goodwill I know of.

    In addition, the methods employed by these so-called people of goodwill includes pitting blacks against gays and calling on the children to gay couples to tell the world how miserable their lives are with their gay parents. Chronic lying about gay people, and most recently an academic “study” crafted to smear gay parents, don’t support the notion that their is goodwill involved.

    I also believe that the “hey, let’s just keep talking about this” is merely a tactic a losing side employs when it’s, well, losing ground, as the anti-gay marriage side is.

    “Was David a person of goodwill immediately before he changed his mind? Is Elizabeth a person of good will?”

    Nice try. David and Elizabeth may or may not be “persons of goodwill” but in opposing same-sex marriage, they are not persons of goodwill or arguing in good faith. David appears to have realized this, and changed his public position. Are members of the KKK persons of goodwill? Is anyone with an opinion a person of goodwill with regard to every position he holds. Again, tell me what you think “goodwill” means. To me it doesn’t mean “sincerely held” but is more closely associated with empathy and a commitment to understand another’s point of view.

    “Why do you spend so much time commenting on a blog that you believe is full of people of bad will?”

    You do like your sweeping statements, don’t you?! I comment because I am fascinated with this issue, and because rational explanations for why same-sex couples should be granted marriage rights don’t seem to be gaining traction with some people, perhaps repetition will. I don’t mind repeating myself.

    “Jeff, if all your ideas, thoughts and motivations are backed up by rational public purposes than you are the only person on Earth who’s like that.”

    Well, I don’t think all my ideas, thoughts and motivations are backed up by rational public purposes, since most of my ideas, thoughts and motivations don’t relate to public policy and laws. I would hope I don’t support or oppose laws based on my whims or personal prejudices. And if I did, and someone called me on it, and I persisted in doing so, I would lose any claim at goodwill, wouldn’t I?

  10. JeffreyRO5 says:

    I can see where people who argue against legal same-sex marriage don’t want to be seen in a negative light, such as not being people of goodwill. Who wants to have a strong opinion on something and feel marginalized for it (like, say, gay and lesbian are made to feel marginalized for being gay)?

    But ask yourself if you can honestly feel good about arguing against the legal rights of a minority, any minority, based on your personal religious beliefs or vague notions of dislike of that minority. Is that fair? There’s nothing American about denying legal rights to minorities, at least not in theory. Yes, in practice, we’ve done it. And we’ve corrected that injustice. As we inevitably will with same-sex marriage.

    It is entirely possible to oppose same-sex marriage and support equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples. Don’t forget that possible route. True, you won’t get the government supporting your side, but religious people have long rejected the need to have government support their beliefs. That’s why Christians accept legal pre-marital sex, legal adultery and legal divorce, all forbidden in the Bible and, of course, not practiced by Christians. Same-sex marriage can be legal, and you can still be opposed to it.

  11. JayJay says:

    Let me add that I find it outrageously smug and self-satisfied when Matthew Kaal writes, “I firmly believe that people of goodwill can disagree about legalizing ssm – it is a topic we all seem to enjoy talking (and disagreeing) about on this blog.”

    You seem to think the argument about ssm is just a parlor game. You have no idea how this injustice affects the lives of real people. Or, worse, you just don’t care.

    The fact that you are so comfortable with injustice is not the mark of a person of good will.

  12. I think that people of goodwill can believe all sorts of terrible things. To use an extreme example, I’m sure many ordinary slaveholders in US history were people of good will. They were acting out of a genuine and heartfelt desire for what was best for all people, as they understood it.

    (Before continuing, I should say that I am not suggesting that opposing SSM is just as bad as being a slaveholder. I’ve chosen the example of slaveholding because it’s one that I’ve often thought about, and because I’m confident we all agree about it).

    The slaveholders were acting on mistaken premises, and their views of right and wrong were, in crucial areas, warped and untrue. So where did those mistaken premises come from? Like most humans, they derived most of their moral beliefs, not from objective study, but by osmosis from what their peers believed.

    I think often about the slaveholders, because some of them were very smart people – smarter, I think, than me. It’s a lesson for me in humility. I think of how smart some slaveholders were and how passionate they were about doing what they mistakenly believed to be the right thing. They took horrible beliefs from the society around them, and as a result — even though they may have personally been compassionate people of goodwill – they still did the wrong thing.

    The lesson, I think, is that being a person of goodwill doesn’t protect us from doing the wrong thing, or from supporting terrible wrongs.

    That doesn’t mean that I believe I’m wrong about marriage equality, of course. And it definitely doesn’t mean I’m saying that opposing marriage equality is just like being for slavery.

    But I do agree with Matthew, that people of goodwill can disagree on this issue.

    There are some people who are against SSM who I believe are driven by bone-deep contempt for lesbian and gay people, including some famous people in expensive clothes who are given a great deal of respect. (That’s not a reference to anyone here.) Those are not people of goodwill. But I don’t think that’s the norm.

    Rather, I think that we live in a society which is deeply, deeply unfair to gay and lesbian people, which holds unfair beliefs about lesbian and gay people. I think we’ve all been raised in that society, and even the most pro-gay among us probably still has some of the poison within them that hasn’t been eradicated and possibly never will be.

    I think people who are against marriage equality are badly mistaken, not because they’re evil or malicious in and of themselves, but because they’ve been raised in a society which has normalized treating lesbian and gay people with contempt, as if lesbian and gay people just don’t matter much.

    So yes, they have goodwill. But they were still raised in a warped and anti-gay society, and that, in my opinion, has terribly warped their vision of what just treatment of gay people would look like, so that even someone who genuinely WANTS justice and fairness for lgbt people winds up supporting unfair, unjust policies.

    I really hope they do overcome that, and I really hope that maybe I can be helpful to people in overcoming that. (Even though I’ve still got many things I have to overcome myself.)

    So, with all respect to everyone on this thread who disagrees with me, from one direction or the other, that’s what I believe about the “people of goodwill” question.

  13. Schroeder says:

    Jeffrey RO5,

    First, I want to say thank you. I think that your last two posts actually clarify your position and move the debate forward in a way that your first post did not. I asked my questions honestly, and I’m glad that you answered them thoughtfully.

    I always think it’s good to define terms, so your first request seems to me to be a reasonable one. I think the definition you suggest seems fair: goodwill means possessing “empathy and a commitment to understand another’s point of view.” I also think it’s connected with “willing” the “good” for others and just in general. I would never suggest that it means “sincerely held.” After all, a person could sincerely hold the belief that “all gay people are evil, bad people,” and, obviously, such a person would not possess goodwill with respect to gay people.

    I should also say that some opponents of SSM clearly do not possess goodwill toward gay persons. (Anyone not convinced of this should look up the Top 50 Homophobic Chick-Fil-A Tweets. Fair warning: Don’t do it without a barf bag! It’s hateful stuff.)

    With that caveat, though, I disagree with your disagreement because it is so sweeping! You disagreed with the statement “I firmly believe that people of goodwill can disagree about legalizing ssm.” (Emphasis mine.) That does not seem fair. Now let me say why by looking at your argument:

    For people to argue against legal same-sex marriage… based solely on personal belief systems (religion, homophobia) lacks any characteristic of goodwill I know of.

    Jeffrey, this seems to be assuming bad faith. Here’s why: People – especially thoughtful people – who argue against legal same-sex marriage often claim not to be arguing “based solely on personal belief systems” and, further, that they do have empathy for gay persons. To seem to imply that they are lying about these things, seems to assume that they are being dishonest about their intentions.

    Why all of the “seem”s? Because there is one other thing that you could be saying (and, actually, I imagine it’s closer to what you are saying): you could be saying that their arguments are so bad that it is impossible that they could actually be convinced by them; therefore, their arguments must be a cover for motivations that they are not aware of themselves.

    I have two responses to this: First, as you point out in the last paragraph of your second post, to believe that SSM is wrong because of personal moral convictions does not by itself logically lead one to oppose legalized SSM. As you say (correctly): “Religious people have long rejected the need to have government support their beliefs.” So even if all opponents of SSM do believe these things deep down inside, this is irrelevant to the question at hand.

    Second, it seems like you have the belief that because their argument is not convincing to you, then it’s not a good argument. I think that this is a bad position. As Gabriel Marcel says in Creative Fidelity, “A proof is a proof to (someone).” In other words, there is no such thing as a perfect argument. The most we can hope for is a valid argument with mutually agreed upon premises. Neither side has achieved this in the SSM debate. (I don’t believe that truth is subjective, by the way; just that we can only approach the truth subjectively, and that this fact demands epistemic humility.)

    Two concluding comments: First, lest you assume that I am against marriage equality, let me say that I am on the fence and that I am leaning toward favoring marriage equality.

    Second, Jeffrey RO5, the way you phrase things – your snark, your sarcasm, and uncharitableness – is unlikely to convince anyone who does not already agree with you. If anything, your comments push me away from the marriage equality side. Just as you think it’s suspicious for opponents of marriage equality to use falsehood to support their views, I think it’s suspicious for you to use unkindness and sarcasm to support your views. These tools – falsehood and unkindness – are not fitting servants of the truth. This is not a “slam.” It’s an appeal and a bit of advice from one of the people who could potentially be convinced by you, if you were to change tacks.

  14. JeffreyRO5 says:

    I guess I have a different understanding of what it means to be a person of goodwill, specific to a topic. Goodwill, to me, means an external focus, consideration of others’ wants or needs and circumstances. It is not about whether you’re a “good person” or not. It is awfully hard to hold onto the moral high ground or the “I’m a person of good will” position when you want an important legal right for yourself but want to deny it to others. Maybe the “golden rule” has a role in helping us understand what “goodwill” means.

    Oppponents of same-sex marriage have never argued their case in good faith, but have preferred to maintain a status quo by tapping into personal religious prejudices and homophobia. They never admit to the legitimate concerns of the troubles it causes gay and lesbian couples to be denied access to legal marriage. They have tried to disguise what are entirely selfish reasons for their opposition with falsified public concerns. They have systematically vilified and smeared gays and lesbians. they invoke “what God wants” as some kind of authority. None of this meets any kind of standard for good will.

  15. Matthew Kaal says:

    JayJay,

    It is distressing to me that you feel my comment was smug – that was not my intention. This is a deeply personal and important topic for me and the last thing I’d describe it as is a parlor game. My comment to Alana was aimed at bringing us to a place in the discussion where we do realize that this effects the lives of real people. If that wasn’t clear – let it be now.

    That being said – I try to have generosity with people on all sides of this argument, to the extent that even if I find a someone’s view of sexual morality to be unfair or unjust or even hateful – I recognize that there may be definitional disagreements between us that allow us both to approach this argument with goodwill, seeking the good for each other. It just so happens in such cases that one of us, or both of us, are wrong in our definitions.

    And I do enjoy the discussion, because it grows my intellectual understanding of this issue, gives me insights into how other members of the community view this complex topic, and forces me to engage them as real people. I wouldn’t be writing here if I didn’t find it a worthwhile experiement, and that is what I meant.

  16. JayJay says:

    It is always smug when someone who has rights and gloats that other people don’t. It is even worse when they want the people whose rights they are fighting to deprive to think well of them. Well, I don’t think well of people who work to deprive gay people of equal rights.

    I have several friends who will die before equal rights are achieved in this country, some couples who have been together more than 50 years who would love to marry before they die but probably will not have the opportunity to do so. No, I think this discussion is a parlor game or intellectual exercise (though the intellectual content of the anti-ssm side is abysmally low in any case).

    In the ssm debate, we see a lot of the same phenomena we saw in the debate in the South over Jim Crow laws. Some of the very people who might have benefited from making common cause with the people who were being oppressed were the most vicious racists. Poor white people who had far more in common with poor black people than they had with the wealthy defenders of the status quo were often the most virulent racists and they were manipulated by people who knew better. Their only real interest in oppressing black people was that they served the purpose of being worse off than they were. I think they got a thrill out of knowing that socially at least they were higher on the pecking order than black people in the South.

    I think we saw some of that in the recent Chif-fil-a orgy of self-righteousness. The people who went out of their way to enjoy that chicken on Chik-fil-a Appreciation Day were exulting in the fact that they had someone to look down on. They were often the least well-educated, the most redneck, the most ill-informed people you could imagine, but they certainly enjoyed feeling that they were superior to those uppity queers.

    Of course, they were really being manipulated by the same people who placed ssm bans on ballots in order to increase the conservative turnout so that they could pursue policies that will keep them in poverty and ignorance.

  17. Matthew Kaal says:

    JayJay,

    Considering I haven’t spoken publically about my sexuality or fully voiced my views on gay marriage equality on this blog – it is presumptuous on your part to assume that I even possess the rights you accuse me of gloating over. It suggests an unfair, unfounded animus on your part towards me, and I don’t appreciate it.

    I understand your anger at opponents of ssm, it is justifiable considering the discrimination that the gay community experiences. I understand your desire for action instead of conversation – your friends don’t have the luxury of time and you believe that the happiness of marriage matters more to them than some intellectual exercise in civility. I respect that sense of urgency – I respect your passion – and I hope you believe my sincerity in saying so. However, this is a blog that promotes (among other topics) conversations about “what is the best structure for the family?”- this is a safe place for disagreement on the hard questions – so don’t attack me or anyone else for promoting that conversation or disagreeing with you when disagreements arise.

    If you feel passionately – channel your enegy into making this a better conversation (we need voices constantly re-orienting us towards the real world consequences of our ideas) and also engage the civic realm to achieve the equality you seek for your friends (which, not knowing you, it may very well be that you already are).

  18. Schroeder says:

    Because of technical difficulties, my post at 12:17 P.M. just now appeared.

    Also, great comment, Barry! I think we crossposted, but I pretty much agree with your comment also.

  19. Considering I haven’t spoken publically about my sexuality or fully voiced my views on gay marriage equality on this blog – it is presumptuous on your part to assume that I even possess the rights you accuse me of gloating over. It suggests an unfair, unfounded animus on your part towards me, and I don’t appreciate it.

    I kind of assume you’re straight, and you’re against marriage equality. This isn’t because I have an animus towards you — you actually seem like someone I’d enjoy having lunch with in real life. It’s because your writing on this blog suggests a constellation of views which usually, in my experience, include opposition to same-sex marriage; and because nearly everyone who holds that constellation of views is straight.

    Admittedly: Perhaps I’m wrong in my observations of constellations of views; or perhaps I’m wrong to think that folks who hold your constellation of views are disproportionately heterosexual; or perhaps I’m not wrong about either of those things, but you’re simply an exception to the general trend.

    So am I making foolish assumptions or correct inferences? I don’t know. Maybe you’ll let me know someday.

    IF you ARE heterosexual (or bi but intending to never act on any but hetero attractions), and deliberately withholding that information while scolding people for making correct inferences about you, that would be… not a wise thing to do, in the long run, in order to foster an honest dialog. If that were the case, I’d urge you to “come out,” or at least to stop scolding people for their inferences.

    I spent years on the Ms. Magazine boards deliberately not telling people that I was male. I never lied; I just never indicated my sex, and only rarely corrected people’s assumptions (and when I did, I didn’t say “I’m a guy”; I said “I haven’t said what my sex is”). They mostly assumed I was a woman, which at the time I thought was fine. But when I eventually “came out” as male, it was awkward, and there were hurt feelings, and I regretted my approach.

    The truth is, the “on the internet, I’m going to withhold my identity characteristics, because the only thing that’s relevant is what I say, not who I am” position — a position that I held for years, and still recognize the appeal of — is a position that’s usually more attractive to people coming from a position of privilege. (Although again, perhaps you’re the exception).

  20. Phil says:

    Considering I haven’t spoken publically about my sexuality or fully voiced my views on gay marriage equality on this blog – it is presumptuous on your part to assume that I even possess the rights you accuse me of gloating over.

    I find this to be an odd sort of rebuttal. Certainly, you are under no obligation to reveal either your sexuality or your full views on marriage equality on this blog if you are uncomfortable doing so. But the person to whom you are responding has, as I understand it, accused you of writing/speaking from a place of privilege.

    We _all_ enjoy privilege, based on who we are and what we are, and privilege isn’t something of which we are always aware.

    As such, I don’t think it is reasonable for you to try to have it both ways: your orientation and your beliefs may be unknown to your reader, but they are not unknowable. All you said to Jayjay in your response to his comment was that he might be wrong about the nature of your privilege, but since your comment is coming from someone who knows whether he is wrong or not, it comes across as a little surreal. You said his statement “suggests” an unfounded, unfair animus on his part–but either his assumptions were founded or they were unfounded. If you’re not going to tell him whether his assumptions were unfounded, then what right have you to accuse him of being unfair?

    Barry writes:

    And it definitely doesn’t mean I’m saying that opposing marriage equality is just like being for slavery.

    But I do agree with Matthew, that people of goodwill can disagree on this issue.

    Certainly, if people of goodwill can disagree about whether our country should ban slavery, then people of goodwill can disagree about whether our country should legalize SSM.

    However, given your interpretation of “goodwill,” Barry, is there any side in any debate that cannot be taken by a person of goodwill?

  21. Matthew Kaal says:

    Barry,

    I appreciate your comments in the abstract, but feel they place me between and rock and a hard place.

    If I am a straight conservative traditionalist male, then I’m being disengenuous in calling out JayJay for assuming several things about me that are true (but which he didn’t know to be true when he stated them in his comment and used them to paint me in a negative light). That my view as a straight traditionalist male might be more nuanced than JayJay gives me credit for would alone justify my request that he not assume things about me when I haven’t stated them. For all he knows I might actually be an LGBT ally who was raised in conservative culture and thus comes off sounding like other traditionalists because that is my background. Either way, he’s just labeled me smug and accused me of gloating based on conjecture.

    If I am gay/bi conservative male, then coming out proves I am not being disengenuous (but that my conservative views and demeaner place me in the extreme minority among gay men). By your standard, proving I’m genuine requires me to disclose something very personal about myself to a group of relative strangers in a public forum where I have no control over how my disclosure will be used (and since other conservative gay/bi individuals have been mocked and had their mental health openly questioned on this blog, I might not have the highest hopes in that regard). I, like any other gay person, have the right to come out on my own terms, and those terms might not include me writing about it on the internet, either way, its my call, not anyone in this forum.

    Is it true that people of all ideological persuasions (and sexual identities and genders) hide behind the anonymity of the internet to avoid being painted in a negative light – absolutely. This may even be especially true of those in privilaged positions. Does this mean every act of non-disclosure has sinister alterior motives? – No! Does it give us the right to speculate on someone’s views or personal life? – No!

    The fact is, its nobody’s business who I am attracted to. It certainly wasn’t the topic of this discussion until JayJay brought it up by asserting that my straightness placed me in a privilaged class over all LGBT individuals. That he brought it up was inappropriate, and I was within my rights to ask him not to assume things about me that he doesn’t know to be true.

    I’ll close by commenting that I think a civil forum respects people’s personal boundaries and doesn’t place them in awkward situations where they are forced to discuss their personal lives with strangers or else beg the question. That is the situation you have placed me in with your comment.

    No one on this blog deserves to have their credibility questioned because they choose to be private about certain parts of their lives- its not a precedent I think FamilyScholars wants to establish, nor would it be healthy to any of our other discussions.

    My sexuality is not the topic of this discussion and continuing comments on it don’t move us forward.

  22. Bregalad says:

    Barry, you’re probably right that people who hold Matthew’s constellation of views typically are against SSM, though there are exceptions… I imagine Jonathan Rauch would agree with many of the points Matthew has made in his blogposts. And you’re probably right that the vast majority of gay people support SSM, though I personally know several gay people who do not.

    Regardless, I don’t think it’s right for people to make unfounded inferences as JayJay clearly has done. Is that too much to ask? Matthew may be an exception to the general rule or he may not be. We shouldn’t pre-judge him one way or the other.

    Do you have a good reason for why we should be allowed to make unfounded inferences about him?

    Matthew, come out if you want to — gay, straight, bi, asexual, whatever — but don’t do it because Barry is guilt tripping you into it. The context Barry has created wouldn’t be conducive anyway. Think about it: You come out as straight and Barry says stop scolding people for making assumptions, ignoring the fact that they were rash assumptions regardless of the outcome. You come out as gay, and the conversation refocuses on your identity and psychology, not your arguments. Come out (if you want to) on your terms, not Barry’s.

    The truth is, the “on the internet, I’m going to withhold my identity characteristics, because the only thing that’s relevant is what I say, not who I am” position — a position that I held for years, and still recognize the appeal of — is a position that’s usually more attractive to people coming from a position of privilege. (Although again, perhaps you’re the exception).

    I wanted to deal with this separately. Do you have any evidence that WASPs (or other similarly privileged people) lie or hide their identity more than others? Or are you just making an assumption about so-called privileged people?

  23. Bregalad says:

    I didn’t see Matthew’s post before I posted my own response.

    As you can probably infer (ha!), I agree with you totally and completely, Matthew.

  24. Matthew and Bregalad, I am feeling badly misunderstood. I was not suggesting that Matthew (or anyone else) is obligated to share their sexual orientation on this forum.

    I did say “If [you are heterosexual], I’d urge you to ‘come out,’ or at least to stop scolding people for their inferences.”The second part of that seems to have been overlooked, particularly by Matthew, judging by your responses to me. I should have phrased that more carefully, to make it clear that I wasn’t calling for everyone to announce their s.o. identity. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

    Matthew writes:

    My sexuality is not the topic of this discussion and continuing comments on it don’t move us forward.

    I quite agree! Onward!

    Schroeder writes:

    I think the definition you suggest seems fair: goodwill means possessing “empathy and a commitment to understand another’s point of view.” I also think it’s connected with “willing” the “good” for others and just in general. I would never suggest that it means “sincerely held.” After all, a person could sincerely hold the belief that “all gay people are evil, bad people,” and, obviously, such a person would not possess goodwill with respect to gay people.

    I completely agree with all of this.

    Because there is one other thing that you could be saying (and, actually, I imagine it’s closer to what you are saying): you could be saying that their arguments are so bad that it is impossible that they could actually be convinced by them; therefore, their arguments must be a cover for motivations that they are not aware of themselves.

    I’m not Jeffrey, obviously. But speaking for myself, I’d say that the secular arguments against marriage equality are so bad that they only make sense in the context of a society in which prejudice against lesbian and gay people has been the accepted norm.

    I don’t think that’s quite the same thing you’re saying. It’s not a matter of hidden motives or hidden animus. I think it’s possible (and, indeed, commonplace) for someone to not have any personal malice or dislike towards lgb people, and to genuinely wish lgbt people well, and yet still to have absorbed background assumptions from the homophobic culture around them.

    Thanks very much for your compliment about my earlier comment.

    Phil writes:

    Certainly, if people of goodwill can disagree about whether our country should ban slavery, then people of goodwill can disagree about whether our country should legalize SSM.

    However, given your interpretation of “goodwill,” Barry, is there any side in any debate that cannot be taken by a person of goodwill?

    None that I can think of (although I can think of some views that are so wrong that the only way for a person of goodwill to take them, would be for that person to be suffering from delusions).

    As I said, being a person of goodwill is not a guarantee that the views taken are not in fact horribly damaging and terribly wrong. People can be mistaken.

  25. admin says:

    @Paul: personal attacks on this blog are not allowed.
    @StraightGrandmother: complaining about our moderation policy or how we enforce is also not allowed.
    I am now closing comments on this post. You may not use any other post to continue the conversation which has ensued here.