Why do they keep trying to change my mind?

On the issue of gay marriage, I have always been skeptical about state involvement. I realize my position is hardly the conventional libertarian one, but I have long had misgivings, and I vacillate between sympathy towards those of good will on both sides and general apathy. Analyzed in terms of freedom, I could almost go either way. However, I find myself easily irritated by the shrill tactics of activists, and I don't like political harangues. What this means is that when gay activists throw hissy fits, they not only fail to persuade me, they actually make me less sympathetic to their cause, and more sympathetic to the cause of the people who just want to be left alone. Perhaps that's because I'm a live-and-let-live person who (in an ideal world) would like to be left alone.

How I can be that way and also be a daily political blogger is one among many of the endless contradictions that inspire my blogging.

Here's what I am intrigued by today. When I woke up, I thought about the last thing I wrote last night -- about the evolution of the gay marriage issue from something which had been a joke not long ago into something that came respectably close to winning in Maine:

Frankly, I'm surprised it's this close, and I'd have been amazed if it won. Just a few years ago, the vote could easily have been expected to be 70-30 against gay marriage.
Checking my email this morning, I was greeted by another haranguing email from longtime emailer (and now a leading anti-gay activist) Matt Barber, who has now forced me to ask a basic question.

Why is Matt Barber of all people trying so hard to convince me to support gay marriage?

Like I say, I've long been a skeptic, and I can understand the arguments on both sides, but I worry that it could be a back door for creeping statism -- government getting into the very bedrooms where it supposedly did not belong.

But the way Barber frames the gay marriage issue, he makes it very difficult for me to sit on the sidelines, whether in the spirit of laissez faire or in the spirit of old-fashioned compromise. He sees it as a battle involving the "forced affirmation of homosexuality" in which brave truth tellers combat radical deviancy:

This is an historic battle for the minds and souls of our children - for our very culture. The mealy-mouthed approach must end. This is not just about 'marriage.' It has everything to do with forced affirmation of homosexuality - under penalty of law. Indeed everyone who fought hard to defend marriage in Maine is to be congratulated, but if it weren't for a brave group of truth tellers - Paul Madore, Peter LaBarbera and Brian Camenker - who came to Maine in the final hour to hold a press conference and address the pink elephant in the room - homosexual deviancy and the radical 'gay' agenda - counterfeit marriage might have prevailed."
If gay marriage is forced affirmation of homosexuality, then straight marriage must be forced affirmation of heterosexuality. I'm wondering how many of the millions of opposite sex couples who have fallen in love and been married over the years ever stopped to realize that what they were doing was forcing people to affirm their heterosexuality. And now that the brave truth tellers have told them, will they become heterosexual activists?

I don't know, but my advice to the gay activists would be to send money to Barber and La Barbera and the boys, because I suspect that the more they scream, the more the ordinary people who want to be left alone will be inclined to vote against them.

And what the gay activists need to do instead of throwing their usual hissy fits is absolutely nothing. Go indoors, go on vacation, and let the straight people be convinced by Matt Barber, who is so convincing that he's making me feel like going wobbly.

But I won't. Because even though I might be wrong in my gay marriage skepticism, I don't want it said that Matt Barber changed my mind.

MORE: While it didn't attract much attention, it just so happens that the top vote-getter in Houston's mayoral race was gay, and Michael Petrelis argues that the key to winning is to avoid support from what he terms "Gay Inc.":

The immediate lesson I saw from tonight, other than the boring old one of Gay Inc really knows how to lose these things, was that if you want to be a top vote-getter, avoid lots of public backing from or be seen as the darling of the HRC/NGLTF/GLAAD/Gill Action/DNC axis.


Obviously, Parker is doing something very right, and in Texas, of all places, and coming out on top, without any overt push from Gay Inc that I am aware of. To win the run-off, it's best to continue to keep our national orgs far, far away.

Via Glenn Reynolds.

While I don't intend to give advice to the other "side" in the gay marriage debate, I like Petrelis's characterization of the HRC/NGLTF/GLAAD/Gill Action/DNC axis as "Gay Inc." And I think the Barber/LaBarbera/Camenker/AFT axis people have probably earned the title of "Anti-Gay Inc."

I think that when seen together (and what would they be without each other?) "Gay Inc." and "Anti-Gay Inc." represent another axis of sorts -- an axis of axes to grind.

Working together to build a more contentious world.

AFTERTHOUGHT: I may not have been making myself clear enough, but the process I describe is called collusion, and I think Gay Inc. and Anti-Gay Inc. provide a classic illustration of it. They need each other badly, because whether they will admit it or not, both are working toward a common goal --

the continued stigmatization of a minority for political ends.

Both sides need this stigma, and both sides want being gay to matter, but for different political purposes.

Without the stigma, who on earth would care about gay identity politics?

posted by Eric on 11.04.09 at 10:22 AM


I have to admit, I couldn't care less about gay marriage. I don't want one.
I don't think it's the government's decision to decide who can marry whom.
I read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress at an impressionable age and I would have absolutely no problem with their (lack of) rules.
As long as everybody is a consenting adult, I don't see why the gov't should be involved.
I don't accept "societal breakdown" arguments on this either.

What is far worse for society is the ease with which so many people lie to advance their agenda, like oh... say global worming.
A strong family (no matter the number or sex of the members) is an asset not a cause for societal breakdown.

Veeshir   ·  November 4, 2009 10:34 AM

Marriage is supposed to be about responsibility and accountability.
Our present society seems unable to accept accountability and responsibility. Only wanting rights and privileges, we are entitled to our entitlements.
Same sex divorce will become a lucrative business.

Hugh   ·  November 4, 2009 12:58 PM

I would like to see the government get out of the marriage business altogether. I do think there is some benefit to having a legal "civil union" that any two people can enter into where they grant each other certain rights and responsibilities (possibly with several different types). For larger groups, I would say that people should incorporate or form a partnership or something.

Then churches and religions could marry anyone they wanted to or not and the marriage would have no legal standing unless it was backed by a civil union.

If you want to marry your dog and your church lets you, then go ahead! But nobody outside of your church has to acknowledge that. If elderly siblings want to form a civil union for purposes of maintaining a household, then no problem. Etc...

Bolie Williams IV   ·  November 4, 2009 2:24 PM

Eric: the mere fact that you have to ask that question is perhaps indicative of how far the culture has fallen.

Let me put it in perspective. Buddhists, Hindus, the three main monotheistic faiths; all have it as axiomatic that the only acceptable sexual norm is heterosexuality. Usually, as expressed in marriage, but I don't think we need to go that far today.

That's pretty much.... 95+% of the world population's religious adherence (even if only nominally).

Should we become heterosexual activists? No, we shouldn't. *Must* we become heterosecual activists? Well, maybe and maybe not. I certainly hope it doesn't have to come to that.

I can live with 'what you do in the bedroom (or the kitchen, or the basement, or the attic, or the bathroom) is your own bloody business'. Hell, you can do it butt naked with the blinds drawn and I probably won't be too fussed about it either. But the normalisation of homosexuality in popular culture, in legal culture, and forced acceptance in society? Personally speaking, I am against that.

Gregory   ·  November 4, 2009 8:34 PM

I think some of the main problems that Gay, Inc. has is it is filled with the sorts of activists who populate and attend gay pride parades, and it is completely partisan. Gay, Inc. has no use whatsoever for gay conservatives or gay Republicans and it is quick to call them traitors. But this partisan one-sidedness is part of what relegates Gay, Inc. to a fringe movement. Until gay activists recognize that sexual orientation is not the same thing as politial orientation, then the public at large will continue to view gay people only in terms of a highly political alternative lifestyle.

One of the other problems with both the gay and the anti-gay movements is that both can only argue for their positions based on claims of faith. The science behind sexual preference and sexual orientation has never been too sophisticated or too complete (homosexuality was removed from the DSM for reasons that were as political as they were scientific), and it is currently taboo in academia to undertake any sort of social science research which seeks to explain or understand what makes some people gay and most not (though it is considered ok to advance the cause by looking for a gay gene or other physical or physiological markers). However, the leftist "queer" movement, has only complicated the issue by applying post-modern critiques to deterministic statements about orientation, by suggesting that sexuality might be a choice.

The only arguments that really work persuasively to advance the cause are those that focus on freedom for all and not rights, equality and entitlements per se, but those are not the arguments that most gay activists want to make. They seek to apply the civil rights movement's template of victimhood to gay people, but this line of argument only works with those who are more inclined to accept the premises of such an argument from the start.

Kurt   ·  November 5, 2009 12:47 AM

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