“What’s next for the same-sex marriage movement?”

11.11.2012, 12:14 PM

 At The New Republic, from John Corvino:

Yet marriage isn’t just a legal right—it’s also a social institution. It is one thing for the state to allow you to marry, and quite another for your parents to show up at your wedding and be happy for you. Both are significant. The educational efforts that have been chipping away at political opposition need to expand so that they address the ongoing cultural opposition. Simply dismissing such opposition as “on the wrong side of history” will do little to help the kids who continue to hear it from their parents, teachers, and pastors. To put it simply, we shouldn’t let the recent political momentum obscure the fact that vast portions of the country still believe—and teach their children—that same-sex love is inferior, sick, perverted, or worse.

But besides being a fundamental legal right and an important social institution, marriage is, at its heart, a personal commitment. That requires some public attention, too. The fear that sustains anti-equality forces is born, in part, from genuine problems being experienced by the institution of marriage. Marriage is hard. Commitment is challenging. Parenthood is an awesome responsibility. We should not be surprised that people feel anxious about the state of marriage even as we criticize them for misdirecting their efforts to save it.

When David Blankenhorn, a longtime same-sex marriage opponent and key witness in favor of Prop. 8, switched sides in favor of marriage equality this past summer, he expressed his hope that different sides in this culture war might try a new strategy of working together to strengthen marriage culture. It was a good idea which promptly got lost in the various political battles which dominated the pre-election news cycle.

The election is over. The pro-equality forces won, and won big. But the fight for marriage is a long game.

Sorry for quoting someone who quotes me — but I think that what he’s saying is important.  This is the new idea.


25 Responses to ““What’s next for the same-sex marriage movement?””

  1. Before I respond to Dr. Corvino, what’s next is on November 20 and November 26.

    On the 20th, of course, the Supreme Court might decide whether or not they will hear the Prop 8 and DOMA cases. Particularly in light of the election, I think (guess) that they might be less inclined to give cert to the Prop 8 case.

    On the 26 is the next step – before a horrid judge – in Sevcik v. Sandoval in Nevada.

    Beyond that, as equal marriage states are added, it becomes increasingly difficult for our opponents to make preposterously hyperbolic and mendacious claims about the negative consequences of marriage equality. It gives us an opportunity to demonstrate that we are good parents and that Dan Savage speaks solely for himself with respect to faithfulness.

    Regardless of that, our potential to succeed on the ballot in the Bible Belt is nil. Ultimately, national marriage equality is going to require the courts to answer some questions that haven’t (yet) been asked – like full faith and credit. Or, in the alternative, we will have to slog our way through – one step at a time.

    In the aforementioned Sevcik v. Sandoval, for example, the trial judge is a Mormon Bishop who has criticized Vaughn Walker’s decision. The strategy seems to be to lose as quickly as possible (through summary judgment) so that it can end up in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

  2. Karen says:

    Wondering if this ‘movement’ feels that to move forward it must change culture though humiliation, shame and submission in order to force people to change their views on same-sex sex? I hope that is not part of the movement.

  3. Karen is begging the question. Nevertheless, I will respond.

    What Karen is really the recipient of is a mix of anger and frustration. We get a tad annoyed when opponents of marriage equality suggest that we are pedophiles or that we recruit and indoctrinate children – something that we just experienced. We also get a bit testy when junk science is used to suggest that we are terrible parents. These “arguments” have been used to persuade voters to oppose marriage equality over the last few months. They are heard by others as well, including children. Gay kids suffer added humiliation while bullies consider it license to oppress. As an aside, check out Schwartz in the NY Times Book Review.

    The frustration is born of the fact that I (I am avoiding the collective “we”) see our opponents as people who have reached a conclusion based on religion. Then they seek evidence to support the preordained result. Furthermore, they seek to impose their religious beliefs on everyone by force of law.

    I have read the statements of religious leaders regarding the election. They are directed at the general population rather than their congregants. I have no problem, whatsoever, if a rabbi, priest or minister does not want to solemnize gay marriages. I don’t even care if they preach that we are all going to hell.

    They don’t have any more right to impose their marriage views on society than they have to impose Jewish dietary law. If they would just abide by that very American principle as it is written in the Establishment Clause, there would be far less anger in the gay community. Karen would experience less shame and humiliation.

  4. Karen says:

    DCH, I am not equating same sex sex with pedophilia. Your movement frightens me though, your response and assumptions are one of the many reasons why.

  5. Karen says:

    And just to be clear, I am not and won’t ever be shamed or humiliated for my beliefs because I am very educated on the matter. However, like you, I and others am not immune to anger. Pushing that envelope won’t be in the gay communities or anyones best interest.

  6. Karen says:

    Tolerance and respect goes both ways. That is the only way forward.

  7. Jeffrey says:

    “that to move forward it must change culture though humiliation, shame and submission in order to force people to change their views on same-sex sex?”

    Without the lavender jackboots forcing everyone to compy with PC demands, I fear the anti -SSM side will have completely run out of ideas and they will have to actually make arguments beyond “how dare you call me a bigot.”

    It’s tiresome rhetoric and a little embarrassing.

  8. Karen says:

    The defense of marriage movement is strong but by some standards not PC. The tiresome rhetoric of “you’re nothing more than a bigot” I agree is hugely embarrassing, reversely bigoted, grossly generalized and just simple minded.

    So, what’s next for the movement? I hope not more of the embarrassing tiresome.

  9. mythago says:

    Wondering if this ‘movement’ feels that to move forward it must change culture though humiliation, shame and submission in order to force people to change their views on same-sex sex?

    Karen, can you be clear what you mean about this? By “same-sex sex” you seem to imply that marriage rights should be informed by our views about what the spouses do in their bedroom. Plenty of people disapprove of college-age women marrying men old enough to be their grandfathers, for example, or that premarital sex is a sin, but we don’t introduce that distaste into a discussion of whether such marriages should be legal. Nobody is putting anyone in jail for saying “She should be ashamed to wear white at her wedding!”; there’s no reason to think that standards will be any different for your disapproval of same-sex couples.

  10. annajcook says:

    I second mythago’s point that it is possible to separate personal distaste from equal access under the law for all consenting adults. Obviously, when I married my wife this fall it felt great to have so many friends and family excited for us, and supporting the beginning of our new life together. It would have hurt deeply, for example, if a member of my family had expressed disgust for my relationship choices. But as for those who a co-exist with in a more abstract fashion as fellow citizens … sure, I’m saddened by the idea that something which brings me pleasure, joy and fulfillment, squicks others out. But then again, there are some sexual kinks out there that squick ME out … but are safe, sane, and consensual so who am I to judge, at least on a legal level?

    So Karen, I might wish for you to find a pathway into not being opposed to my sexual choices, but I don’t need your consent (since you’re not engaged in them with me), just your willingness not to support legal discrimination.

  11. Jeffrey says:

    Clearly, all the talk about civility has been a waste.

  12. David Blankenhorn says:

    DCH: With respect, to me your coments first off, which to some degree have set the tone of the thread, were really an an example of speechifying, rather than commenting on anything specific that Corvino said in the piece or I said in the post. (Sigh.)

    Jeffrey: “all the talk about civility has been a waste” strikes me as a pretty self-indulgent comment on your part. Do you have something specific in mind, or is your lament a more global one, about the bad intentions and manners of all those with whom you disagree?

    Karen: You raise an important point about stigmatization. I’ve been thinking about it a lot myself, and hope we can have some posts speficifically on it in the future.

  13. DB:

    You are correct. I really did intend to address some statements from John (we have cordially exchanged some emails in the past). Somehow, after covering the two court dates I went on autopilot – off the rails. My apologies.

  14. mythago says:

    @David Blankenhorn: I don’t understand why stigmatization is an “important point” to be discussed. We wouldn’t extend such exceptional caution to persons who opposed interracial marriage because they were ‘squicked out’ at the thought of a black man and white woman having sex, nor would we worry overmuch if someone who fussed about the bride’s lack of virginity (but not the groom’s) were told they were being prudish or sexist.

    What Karen seems to be saying is that those who are disgusted or morally offended by the thought of same-sex couples engaging in sexual activity are entitled to free speech – the freedom to express that disgust or offense – while those who, in turn, find such attitudes repellant ought not to be free to say so, lest they “stigmatize” their critics. Again, setting aside the double standard, this seems to be a level of concern limited only to those who find homosexuality repellent or immoral.

  15. Jeffrey and Kevin: some of your comments have been deleted because they violate our civility policy. Please let me remind you that you may not use this blog to engage in personal attacks.

    And Jeffrey, I think I owe you an apology, because in my frustration I said “be specific” about the target of your comments, and you were, and that’s the comment I deleted. So in that case I think I’m at least as reponsible as you are — sorry about that.

  16. Karen says:

    annajcook: I greatly respect the point you are making, especially they way you made it.

    Jeffrey: I appologize if you mistook my tone as uncivil. That was not my intention.

    Mythago: I don’t think this is the place to go into all the many different intricacies involved in why ppl think and believe what they do. My personal opinion is very fluid.

    Kevin: Making assumptions and generalizations that ppl who disprove of or have concerns about sss are haters, teaching their children to hate and biogoted (and/or irrational religious zealots) is an example of what frightens me so much about this movement. But point taken none-the-less.

    David: This is my last comment. I appologize for going over my limit. Thank you for considering the point I was trying to make.

  17. Kevin says:

    Karen I was just making the point that even when same-sex marriage legal, you are still free to teach your children your personal views about who should be allowed to marry, and who shouldn’t be allowed to marry. I’m sure there are any number of parents who tell their children that they shouldn’t marry someone of a different race or religion, even though it’s legal. Sure, it’s harder for parents to impose their views on their kids when the government isn’t helping with that effort.

    But the matter at hand is whether the government should take sides in such discussions. That’s all this has ever been about. It should frighten you more that the government would be used to enshrine the personal marital beliefs fo some, to the detriment of a minority.

  18. Diane M says:

    Jumping back to Corvino’s piece, I really liked it.

    We often compare same sex marriage to interracial marriage and I think there’s a parallel here. Interracial marriage was legal when I was growing up, but most of the comments I ever heard about it were negative. It was rare and certainly the kind of thing you might expect would upset your parents. Sometimes, it was dangerous. The kids often bore the brunt of it.

    I’m glad to see Corvino talking about the need to help strengthen all marriage.

    I would like to put in a word for trying to figure out how we can work together to protect and nurture the children of same sex couples. I know that people who oppose same sex marriage for reasons of conscience do not want children to be bullied or mocked. Can we unite somehow to fight bullying, for the children’s sake?

  19. Mark S says:

    Barring a sweeping decision by the United States Supreme Court (which is not expected), the battle for same-sex marriage will have to continue on a state-by-state basis.

    A recent Pew poll indicates that a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage, but that opinion is sharply divided by region: In New England, 62% favor same-sex marriage, while 29% oppose it. In the mid-Atlantic, 57% favor and 34% oppose allowing gay marriage. Opinions among those on the Pacific Coast are similar (54% favor, 37% oppose). In the Midwest, opinion is more evenly divided (46% favor, 44% oppose). People in the South express greater opposition. A majority (56%) in the central Southern states such as Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas oppose same-sex marriage, while about a third (35%) favors it. The divide is more narrow in the South Atlantic states such as Florida, Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas (48% oppose, 42% favor).

    I think we can expect legislative or judicial advances soon in Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. Perhaps Minnesota and New Mexico as well. Oregon is also a potential win though it will have to overcome a state constitutional amendment, either by a court ruling or a referendum.

    As to the issue of stigmatization, I think that people who oppose equal rights should be stigmatized, just as people who opposed equal rights for African Americans were stigmatized. It is very easy to avoid being stigmatized.

    No one is suggesting that same-sex marriage be made mandatory. If someone is opposed to same-sex marriage, they should not marry someone of the same sex. If one has religious scruples, then join a church that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage. The question is equal protection under the law.

  20. Diane M says:

    “As to the issue of stigmatization, I think that people who oppose equal rights should be stigmatized, just as people who opposed equal rights for African Americans were stigmatized. It is very easy to avoid being stigmatized.”

    I don’t think this is a very effective strategy, particularly when you are looking at half the states in the country opposing same sex marriage.

    I also think that historically, when African Americans were fighting for rights, they didn’t just turn around and call all their opponents bigots. They would have lost.

    In particular, if you look at interracial marriage, there was a long period after it became legal when people who opposed it were not particularly labelled.

  21. Mark S says:

    When African Americans were fighting for their rights, they certainly did call their opponents racists.

    Interracial marriage was not a “movement,” per se. After it became legal, there was no reason to call people who opposed it anything, though opposition to interracial marriage was and is widely regarded as a marker for racism.

    Most people do not want to be known as bigots, but when they oppose equal rights for fellow citizens on the basis of sexual orientation that is what they are. I think it worthwhile to point out that in denying fellow citizens equal rights, they are engaging in bigoted acts.

    My sense is that a lot of people who used to oppose same-sex marriage on the basis of “tradition” or “that’s the way it’s always been” have changed their position because they are uncomfortably being considered bigots.

  22. Kevin says:

    I think people who oppose equal legal rights for gays and lesbians don’t like being called bigots, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t. I’m not sure if they reject the label because it’s inaccurate or because it’s unflattering.

  23. mythago says:

    @Karen, what I asked was for you to clarify what you meant by the statement Wondering if this ‘movement’ feels that to move forward it must change culture though humiliation, shame and submission in order to force people to change their views on same-sex sex, because you seemed by that to mean that you (or at least, ‘people’) had particular views about the sex lives of same-sex couples and that it is wrong to criticize or try to change those views.

  24. annajcook says:

    It strikes me that this back and forth over whether opposition to same-sex marriage constitutes “bigotry” (or even if it does, whether it can or should be identified as such in as many words) is a variation on the endless discussions of tone that come up perennially in every movement for social change.

    I think it’s valid to point out that harsh and alienating, blunt and angry language may not win friends and allies. At the same time, I think it’s important to recognize the way that this practical truth handicaps those who are marginalized, the ones who are agitating for change. Often, the ones who have relatively less power than those at the center or in the mainstream or majority (who get to set the rules for what “civility” means).

    So yes, Karen, Diane M. and others are right that using the language of bigotry is charged and can cause distress to those who it is being used to describe. Much like I am hurt when someone tells me something I’ve written displays thoughtless racist, ableist, ageist beliefs, anti-fat sentiment, transphobia, or hetero-centrism … yes, I have been guilty of all of these things, and at times called on them.

    But I’ve grown — at times because of other peoples’ anger — even when it hurt. And I don’t think the responsibility lies solely with the persuader to make the persuaded feel safe and honorable and like they’ve never made a mistake and always had the best of intentions. We don’t always have the best of intentions. We can be small-minded and fearful and squicked out and selfish … and I don’t think it’s always a bad thing for those who are hurt by that selfish behavior to get in our faces about it, just a little, and be like, “Hey, you know, that’s a prejudiced and here’s why.”

    In general, I do strive for measured and respectful, empathetic discourse. But I also see the way that emphasizing civility can cause us to shie away from calling a spade a spade for fear of making someone feel bad about the beliefs they hold and how those beliefs hurt others. And something doesn’t sit right with me about that trade-off.

  25. Karen says:

    I hope DB doesn’t mind if I add one last comment on this thread in response to Annajcook…

    Thank you for that Anna. Everyone has an opinion and opinions are obviously not every elses opinion. Opinions are often alienating and sometimes hurtful to those who don’t hold the same opinion. That’s just reality. I don’t see how that will ever change.

    If some one said their opinion was that ‘we are a two-sex species designed for sexual reproduction, not asexual reproduction. Men and women are made for each other. Men are people made to love women’ I could understand that that might be hurtful to someone of a different opinion. But I don’t think it warrents anger or name calling or insults that suggest that that person needs to ‘evolve’. I could list many examples including opinions that support a conflicting POV. As long as opinions are not personal or directly attacking the conflicting opinions, anger, name calling and insults are unacceptable. ( I too have been guilty of that). But I respect your opinion because of the way you present it. It is different from mine. But you share your opinion in a way that does not insult or personally attack mine. I think we are saying the same thing?