Friday, August 10, 2007

Gay Debate

I find it odd that the democrats are pandering so heavily to a demographic that makes up roughly two percent of the US population -- homosexuals. I don't see the payoff in it, especially considering that the so-called gay vote is almost automatically theirs anyway; why bother?
Some excerpts:

Unless you speak out against intolerance, it becomes "OK for the Republicans in their politics to divide America and use hate-mongering to separate us," Edwards said.
Hate seems to be the big word on the left these days, whether its hate for conservatives or accusing the conservatives of hating.

Bill Richardson on homosexuality and its causes:
When asked by Etheridge whether "homosexuality is a choice or is it biological?" he said, "I don't see this as an issue of science or definition. I see gays and lesbians as human beings."

"Let me be clear - I do not believe that sexual orientation or gender identity happen by choice," Richardson said. "But I'm not a scientist, and the point I was trying to make is that no matter how it happens, we are all equal and should be treated that way under the law."
I actually like that answer. I think its a politically decent response. My personal pet opinion is that homosexuality is a non-genetic biological or psychological (the two are interrelated) phenomenon, especially after witnessing psuedohomosexual behavior in animals when I worked on a ranch. And he's right: no matter what our differences are, people ought to be treated equally under the law. The problem is, homosexuals in favor of gay marriage are actually pushing to be treated differently under the law, by redefining the word marriage into a context for which it was not intended. But I digress...
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese, who was on a panel posing questions to the candidates, said in a statement, the forum "was an important night in the fight for equality."
This is kind of odd -- a separate-but-equal debate just for gays and their gay issues is a step forward in equality? I thought we handled that already?

File this one under journalistic statements of the obvious:
Logo, available in about 27 million homes, wanted to hold a second forum for Republican candidates but GOP front-runners showed no interest, channel officials said.
And yes, I do find that networks similarity to my blog title rather annoying.

As a member of an apparent minority in this country, I demand that the democratic candidates schedule a debate to address "conservative issues".

19 comments:

Phil Thibedeaux said...

I find it odd that the democrats are pandering so heavily to a demographic that makes up roughly two percent of the US population -- homosexuals.

I'm not sure where you get your statistic from, but I suspect two percent is a little low. I have a straight friend who swears it's fifteen percent, and I'm sure we've both read the "ten percent" figure that was derived from some of Kinsey's work.

But if you're looking at statistics for the people who have relationships with members of the same sex (as opposed to one drunken night in college), I thought the number was closer to 7.5%.

Even that is a fairly small number. I suspect that the reasons the Democrats are willing to make a big deal about gay issues (I don't really think they've done much pandering) is because they want to appeal to people who _don't_ hate gays. So it's not so much the gay vote they're going for, as the votes of people who have gay friends, family members, etc., and people who think it's time recognize the dignity of gay Americans.

Similarly, the Republicans pander to minorities--especially black and Latino voters. I read that every single black Republican elected official in the _country_ got a chance to speak at the Republican national convention. This is not because Republicans think they can get a majority of black or Latino voters. They just don't want to be perceived as a party of bigots. They pander to blacks, not for the black vote, but for the votes of whites who would be uncomfortable with a bigoted party.

Democrats need progressive credibility, and that means proving that you're evolved on gay issues.

k2aggie07 said...

Well, regarding Kinsey I seem to remember being taught in my college psychology classes that his statistics were bloated, implying that he somehow inflated them by asking "loaded" questions -- but fine, call it 7.5%. It's still to me a seemingly hollow position for anyone with half a brain.

I understand the concept that straight_guilt_male01 or wealth_guilt_female04 may have their social feelings assuaged by voting for the any(gender)thing goes party and the party of socialism. I guess its just more that I'm disappointed that its a viable action.

I can tell by your post that you're one of those who feels its time to "recognize the dignity of gay Americans". Do you think that Republicans feel its time to "recognize the dignity" of minorities, since you drew the comparison?

How does addressing them specifically, singling them out accredit them with any sort of dignity? Its the exact same wrongheaded wishful thinking as affirmative action. Soon enough we'll have hiring quotas -- 1 gay couple for every 5 straight couples you employ, and statistical correlation be damned!

Anyway, the fact that the Republicans aren't pursuing the same target -- those who want to see "street cred" on the flaming issue -- while both parties actively and rabidly pursue minorities tends to draw a stark contrast between the two. "Progressive" voters who care about homosexual issues aren't voting Republican no matter what. Its the same reason national Democrat candidates don't campaign in California. Why bother?

Fact is, a majority of Americans don't agree with the "progressive" views on homosexuals -- and those that do are shoe-in democratic votes.

Phil Thibedeaux said...

It's still to me a seemingly hollow position for anyone with half a brain.

_What's_ a hollow position to take? You don't identify it.

Republicans have to go out of their way just to prove that they're not bigots. (There are still active GOP politicians who were pro-segregation, for gosh sakes.)

Why would any intelligent American not want to recognize the dignity of all Americans? I guess I don't understand what you're saying.

You make a good point--only a tiny minority of people who care about gay issues vote Republican. Perhaps the Dems are focused on differentiating themselves from each other right now, or perhaps they're going after the independents and the Green voters who vote their conscience.

k2aggie07 said...

Voting for someone because they say they care about homosexuals is a hollow position to take. Political pandering carries about as much water as a sieve.

Going out of your way to "recognize the dignity" of some race, class, group, etc implies a few things: one, that the particular class definition rates dignity (we don't recognized the dignity of murderers or rapists, for example); two, that the group's dignity has been besmirched, or impugned in some way on a large scale; three, that "recognizing" that previously unrecognized dignity will solve a problem.

Dignity implies worthiness, respect, nobility of character, or bearing indicative of self-respect. It is not something that be taken away (or restored) by "recognition" or laws.

So explain to me how having John Edwards say "no, I'm not a homophobe" or "Republicans hate gays and use it to divide the country" elevates the level of debate on this issue? How does that restore "dignity"?

Finally, the only reason Republicans have to go out of their way to prove anything is because of liberal accusations. I'm not sure if you realize this or not, but the party of segregation was the Democrats, not the Republicans. I personally don't think any party has anything to prove when it comes to race. The main difference between the two is that democrats seek to use blacks (and, incidentally, homosexuals) to propel their political agenda with sham "reforms" such as affirmative action -- while the GOP generally reaffirms their position that all men are created equal and therefore need no special coddling by the law by remaining diffident about the whole debate...while the liberals accuse them of being homophobic and racist for not trying to "fix" what ain't broke!

Phil Thibedeaux said...

You're correct, voting for someone just because they give lip service to anything is pretty hollow. (Even if it's lower taxes or reducing the deficit.)

In terms of your three criteria, I'm not sure where this doesn't fit. Certainly, homosexuals deserve the same dignity as heterosexuals. It's a safe call that said dignity has been denied them as a class throughout much of the last century, and in terms of "solving the problem," I don't think that anyone is suggesting that something like this is a physical action. It's something that you do for its rhetorical or symbolic value. (For example, when Reagan appointed the first woman to the Supreme Court, the act had a practical aspect--the court needed a justice--and symbolic.)

What's wrong with John Edwards saying that he's not a homophobe? It seems like a pretty reasonable thing to say.

You're right that a lot of affirmative action legislation has more symbolic value than practical (and in many cases is impractical.) But I don't think you can say that the Republicans are the party who believe that "all men are equal," unless you really mean they're only talking about men. While the Democratic candidates all support, if not marriage, at least civil unions, many Republicans oppose both. As such, the Republicans are singling people out for restrictions based on their gender (a man can marry a woman, but a woman should not have the same right.) So, on that issue, although neither major party supports full equality, the Republicans go out of their way to deny either rights or privileges to a class.

k2aggie07 said...

That's the rub I guess. I don't relate marriage as the joining of two individuals in a lifelong commitment any more than I relate artificial insemination to having a baby.

In my mind, marriage is between a man and a woman. Legislating it otherwise to me would be as logical as legislating reproduction to no longer be exclusive to male-female partners...which, of course, has been done in a way.

Sometimes gender roles are different and not inherently equal. Fact is, men and women are different. I can't have a baby, no matter how hard I try -- or how much the government legislation is made to the contrary.

Phil Thibedeaux said...

I don't have a problem, philosophically, with leaving marriage to the churches. But the fact is, the government _does_ join two individuals in lifelong commitments, and does so with complete disregard for their ability (or desire) to procreate. If that's the case, then the state is granting rights to some citizens that it denies to others.

k2aggie07 said...

I've had this debate before. My answer to this question is that society does what it deems best for its own survival, much like an independent organism. For whatever reason our society has determined that there is a net benefit in marrying people -- thus far, men to women only -- and as a result rewards them. There are benefits beyond child rearing to marriage in the traditional sense.

This is the same sort of discrimination that happens all the time in tax codes. Some folks own houses, which society deems beneficial -- so they get help. People with kids get help, because society approves of that, too.

These "rights" aren't necessarily denied to homosexuals. No one is preventing them from marrying a person of the opposite sex.

Should we recognize a marriage between a person and a television, for the reason of granting "rights"? What if that person feels sexual attraction to televisions to the exclusion of humans?

If thats too abstract, what about self-named misogynists? They can't help their irrational hatred of women; indeed, it may be genetic. Yet they feel no physical attraction for men. They "can't" marry either, under the present system. Should we grant marriage "rights" to them?

Each of these cases, including homosexual marriage, presumes to dictate to society what's best for it, rather than society dictating to itself the same thing. Our society does this through majority rules, representative democracy (as opposed to legislation by judicial decision, which I find to be unacceptable).

When our society collectively votes for homosexual marriage recognition, I won't say anything. Until that time, I disagree with it heartily and will cast my vote against it, should it come to that.

Also, this is most definitely an issue that should absolutely positively be left to the states. No questions asked.

Note that I use the term "rights" with some derision. Homosexuals are afforded equal protection under federal law as everyone else. Marriage is not a guaranteed federal right, so I think the use of that word is a little bit misleading.

Phil Thibedeaux said...

For whatever reason our society has determined that there is a net benefit in marrying people -- thus far, men to women only -- and as a result rewards them.

You say "for whatever reason" as if it's irrelevant. Actually, it's the _reason_ that matters most. If there isn't a reason, or if the reason is invalid, then the law is arbitrary or potentially discriminatory, and should be changed.

There are benefits beyond child rearing to marriage in the traditional sense.

Exactly! That's why even couples who can't bear children, such as infertile couples and same-sex couples, deserve the right to marry. Marriage was never really created as a "parenthood license;" that's a modern justification dreamt up by people who couldn't think of better reason to keep gays from getting married.

These "rights" aren't necessarily denied to homosexuals. No one is preventing them from marrying a person of the opposite sex.

Actually, the discrimination in this case is on a basis of gender, not sexual orientation. Consider a hypothetical person, Michelle, a lovely, stable adult.

In every state in the country, I have the right to marry Michelle. My sister, however, does not have the right to marry Michelle, even if Michelle and my sister both want to marry each other. Thus, a right is granted to me by the states that is denied to my sister, exclusively on the basis of her gender.

The law ought only discriminate on the basis of gender if there's a compelling reason to do so. No compelling legal reasons have been presented for this, because there aren't any. My sister is denied a right that is open to me (the right to marry a woman), not because such a relationship would be infertile, but simply because my sister has ovaries, a vagina, and a womb.

A television has no rights to marry, and it's pretty ridiculous to say that it should. Further, no individual in the state is granted the right to marry a television, so there's no discrimination there.

And as for a misogynist who hates women...well, I appreciate that you've at least come up with a novel argument, even if it's a fallacy. We don't say that someone in our culture is being discriminated against because they choose not to exercise a right that they are given. Each of us enjoys freedom of religion, even if we either a) don't want to be religious or b) can't make up our minds. Your misogynist is _not_ an example of unequal treatment under the law.

k2aggie07 said...

Neither is your sister, because there is no "right" to marriage. Furthermore, if there was, I doubt the right would be expressed as "the ability to marry a woman shall not be infringed". If it was expressed in that way, you'd have somewhere to go.

As it stands, marriage is equally offered to any person. Your sister may not be able to marry Michelle, but she could get married if she so chose.

Take another societal taboo that really has no "reason" -- incest. Incest is practiced regularly by breeders of all sorts of animals, through both inter- and intragenerational procreation. And yet I hear very few people bemoaning the plight of Michelle and her Father or Brother who both wish to get married -- and, after all, Lisa who is Brother's cousin can marry brother, isn't that discrimination? -- and can't under the law.

Shocked a bit? Why? What if they love each other? Who are you to judge?

What is one man's taboo is another man's pleasure. I see no reason to deviate from our system, especially considering that it works quite well.

Phil Thibedeaux said...

I see no reason to deviate from our system, especially considering that it works quite well.

That's pretty much the social conservative's theme, isn't it? As long as it works for you, there's no point in making it work for everyone.

Look, what's the point in dickering over what is a right and what isn't? The definition encompasses a lot, from "God-given rights" to "Constitutional rights" to _all_ guarantees under the law. But you can substitute another term if you want-- it doesn't matter if marriage is a right, a privilege, or a tax break, it's discrimination if it's granted to one class of person and denied to another.

(For example, there is no "right" to use integrated public restrooms, yet we call it discrimination if a restaurant has separate restrooms for "whites" and "coloreds.")

(For another example, there is no Constitutional "right" to a driver license. But if we denied licenses to black people simply because they are black, we'd still be discriminating under the law.)

I thought the rationale for legal bans on incest was biological: the sexual congress of closely related members of our species puts their offspring at an increased risk of birth defects. This risk increases exponentially if incest occurs in multiple generations. Did you think the only reason we don't allow incestuous marriages was because people like you find it "icky?" You put a lot of faith in your subjective opinions.

All men have the "privilege" of being able to marry women. All women are denied this privilege. What's the reason? Can you list it succinctly? Because so far, the only reason on the table is "because they're women."

k2aggie07 said...

The discrimination you're describing in your analogies does not match the marriage case. In the marriage case you are preventing the marriage license not on the grounds of the applicant but on the situation to which you're applying it. In the Jim Crow cases you're limiting the license on the grounds of the applicant. You're saying you want to get a commercial license; I'm saying you may be eligible, but your vehicle doesn't qualify. There is a difference.

The bans against incestuous marriages reach much further back in time than any sort of gene theory or understanding of biology. The rationale against incest is rooted in the same place as the rationale against homosexuality and bestiality -- Judaeo-Christian morality.

At any rate, there are differences between men and women; real, scientific differences. Equal protection under the law does not mean that everyone can do the same things that everyone else can.

Men and women are not the same, an no amount of legislation will change that.

We are not sexless beings. Demanding that women be able to marry women for no other reason than that men can do it is the same rationale as demanding that women ought to be allowed into combat infantry positions. It makes very little analysis of the relative benefits of these sort of changes, and no analysis to the potential harm.

I could talk some about the self-defeating ethical test, but I'll link to this debate I had here.

At any rate the burden of justification is always on the one demanding change in our system. Thats the way it works. I don't have to prove my position because it is the status quo. You want the change made? You should provide the evidence that it is an advantageous change.

So far the reason you've given is that "boys can do it," which may be enough to let a girl wear shorts instead of a skirt to school but isn't enough to change both law and a longstanding cultural tradition.

Phil Thibedeaux said...

The bans against incestuous marriages reach much further back in time than any sort of gene theory or understanding of biology.

Sure. They reach back to a time when cultures forbade interracial marriages and interfaith marriages, but permitted women to be treated as the property of men. We keep traditions around when they make sense based on our modern understanding of the world, and we jettison the traditions that were based on superstition or antiquated views of humanity.

At any rate the burden of justification is always on the one demanding change in our system.

Sure-- for same-sex couples who choose to marry under the new system, the benefits will be many. If they're not self-evident, these include the right to file taxes together, a _host_ of automatic rights which are conferred upon married partners, such as hospital visitation, next-of-kin status, decision-making power of attorney in the event of incapacitation, etc. These benefits also include rights that cannot be contractually arranged between two people, such as the right not to testify against one's spouse.

Further, since same-sex couples are already raising children (either through some alternative biological means, or through adoption, or by acquiring legal guardianship when the child's parents die), the children of these relationships will enjoy the numerous protections that having married parents provides to children.

Further, though these benefits will accrue primarily to married same-sex couples, all of the benefits of mixed-sex marriage will still be available to people who choose to marry.

Now, since you're bringing debate jargon into the mix, it's your turn. If you're arguing the negative (that is, arguing against my proposed change), your job is to illustrate the harms that would stem from my plan.

This will be difficult, because there aren't any. So why not write something that does not follow logically, as all opponents of SSM seem to do?

k2aggie07 said...

Now it gets back to the benefit for society. Society gets benefits from true marriages. Men and women are different, and they have different needs, and they provide different things to society. In general, men are more aggressive (and violent) than women while women tend to have a more "civilizing" effect on men. True marriage completes each person in the couple's needs, both in a physical, psychological, and spiritual sense.

A man can't fill the role of a woman and a woman can't fill the role of a man in this sense because it has nothing to do with intelligence, ability, kindness or compassion. There are differences, psychological and even neurophysical, between men and women -- including homosexual men and women.

There is not the same benefit to society in same-sex marriage as there is in true marriage, and raising kids is only one of them.

You've argued about the benefits for the couple; on that line of thought, I could argue endlessly about the need for society to give me money every month. There is no benefit for society.

Additionally, you bring up the idea of same-sex couples adopting children. I can think of no easier way to potentially harm a child. In this culture we condone out of wedlock children and view favorably the plight of the single mom. Unfortunately children who grow up without fathers (or even father figures) are often disadvantaged in life. I'm not saying all kids without dads turn out "messed up," but I am saying it has a measurable, repeatable, psychological impact on their lives. Allowing same-sex couples to adopt children is in the same ballpark as allowing single parents to adopt kids -- and in a day and age where a husband and wife will pay over $30,000 to adopt a child and often wait years, it would never happen.

This brings me to an interesting point. Many of the "automatic rights" you cite, in my opinion, ought to be within the power of the individual to grant, married or otherwise. Hospital visitation, next-of-kin, power of attorney are all able to be ceded through a legal document. Just because it is not automatic does not make it denied.

To say nothing of the damage done by erosion of cultural values and norms, an "x-factor" which is difficult to measure but nevertheless vital to our society.

Phil Thibedeaux said...

K2,

So, what you're saying is that _all_ men and women are different in the same way, and that this is a rational basis for denying the marriage of a woman to all women, etc?

What's the quality that all women possess that no man has? And what's the quality that all men possess that no women have? If you can't identify it, then you're just making a generalization about specific individuals based on a group. We don't say that _all_ black people should be incarcerated just because they commit crimes at higher rates than whites; that would be bigotry, even if it's supported by a statistical correlation. You're employing the same kind of logic when it comes to sex differences.

Further, you're suggesting a nanny state: I submit that, for any given man, the person best qualified to determine the gender of his marital partner is _him_. You believe that the state should make such a decision.

Gay adoption is not just a separate issue from same-sex marriage, it _is_ the current status quo in most states. If you want those kids to have the benefit of married parents, legal SSM is the solution. As you rightly mention, children raised by a single parent have a measurably different experience than children raised by two parents. (No studies have found a significant difference in the outcomes of children raised by married parents of the same gender vs. children raised by two-gender couples.)

To say nothing of the damage done by erosion of cultural values and norms,

If the erosion of cultural values doesn't lead to real-world effects, how can you call it a harm? If it does lead to real-world effects, what are they? Don't hide behind rhetoric.

k2aggie07 said...

If I trumpet a generality, you'll fight me on specifics. If I throw specifics, you fight me on generalities.

Men and women are not the same. They don't interact in groups the same way. They don't instinctively take on the same roles. They don't have the same physiological patterns in their lifetimes. They don't react the same way to given stimuli (see Rorschach tests).

I propose that these differences are both natural and vital to healthy, normal interaction between people.

You can make a generalization based on a group; we do it all the time. One of these generalizations is that kids aren't allowed to vote. I'm sure that precocious children are much more responsible voters than adults, but we deny them their suffrage on bases of age alone, IQ notwithstanding.

I'm not really suggesting a nanny state because I don't believe the state should prohibit the individual from the homosexual act. Additionally, it shouldn't presume to dictate who that man should enter into a relationship with. At the same time, the citizens of that state have every right do determine for themselves what they believe to be societally acceptable or normal -- and what they choose to officially recognize.

Should society presume to prevent official recognition of bigamy? How about polygamy? Clan- or line-style marriages?

I maintain, again, that in child rearing it is essential for fully normal development to have both a mother and a father -- not a father and a pseudomother. This, again, is due to physical and psychological differences between men and women.

You say it doesn't cause real-world effects; I say it does. Are we better off morally now than we were 10 years ago? 20? 30? I don't think so. I don't particularly think we're headed in an amazing direction. This is one aspect of secularizing America and I don't think it has a net positive impact.

Additionally, though homosexuals may not be actively choosing their lifestyle, there may be some element of social acceptance that can increase or decrease these feelings in people. I don't know, or profess to understand if this is true.

Condoning or accepting homosexual behavior will almost surely lead to a rise in that behavior. This is easily seen in the high rates of homosexual practices in the Greek world where it was the norm rather than the exception (or rather, selective homosexuality was). I don't find this to be productive for society.

Phil Thibedeaux said...

We do make generalizations about groups all the time. For example, generally, men score better on math tests than women.

It's when you apply these generalizations to a particular person that you become a bigot. If you refuse to hire a particular woman as an accountant _just_ because she's a woman, you're engaging in discriminatory hiring practices.

I submit that the person most qualified to determine who a citizen of the United States ought to marry is _that_ person, not the government, and not "society."

Additionally, though homosexuals may not be actively choosing their lifestyle, there may be some element of social acceptance that can increase or decrease these feelings in people.

Well, assuming that homosexual persons exist, would you want your daughter to marry a gay man? Would you want to marry a lesbian?

k2aggie07 said...

Sure, and I'm not saying men or women can't get married. Just not to each other.

Again, I'm all for gay folks living together and doing their thing. It doesn't hurt me one bit, and they're free to do so. But don't expect me to sign off on it, condone it, or elevate it to normal.

I wouldn't want my daughter to marry someone who wasn't attracted physically to her. Heh...have you watched Arrested Development? Great show.

You've been great. This has been a great discussion. Thanks for being civil and enjoyable.

We're just repeating ourselves now, so let's agree to disagree.

Feel free to rummage around and comment anywhere else you like, and come back often! :)

Phil Thibedeaux said...

k2,
Thanks, I was wondering how this would end. The problem with discussion threads is that everyone wants to get the last word...

...so, I'll avoid making any argumentative point. But I bookmarked your blog. I'm sure I can find something else to disagree with you about. :)