The Federal Prop. 8 Trial / Gay Marriage Catch-All

It's true. A Jewish person in those times would have understood the reference that Jesus was making. In the Talmud, the fig was one of the fruits proposed to be what Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They also made garments from fig leaves to hide themselves afterward. (Pretty tedious undertaking, but people do worse to hide things from others, or even from themselves.)

Damn figs.

Poor fig tree wasn't even in season and Jesus just murdered the thing.

Seth wrote:

Do you all remember David Blankenhorn? He was one of the primary witnesses in support of Prop 8. He was portrayed - hilariously - by John C. Reilly in the play adapted from the trial.

David Blankenhorn wrote:

IN my 2007 book, “The Future of Marriage,” and in my 2010 court testimony concerning Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that defined marriage as between a man and a woman, I took a stand against gay marriage. But as a marriage advocate, the time has come for me to accept gay marriage and emphasize the good that it can do.

Full text here.

I don't agree with everything he says, but this is a dumbfounding victory for marriage equality.

I wonder if Maggie Gallagher is now on a suicide watch.

EDIT: Well, that didn't take long.

Gallagher takes to the National Review to weep her bitter tears:

My friend and mentor and one-time boss David Blankenhorn has just published a New York Times op-ed in which he gives up on opposing gay marriage. I haven’t yet read it carefully enough to respond, except to say that “the argument from despair” is the single most powerful argument gay-marriage advocates wield. I wish you well, old friend.

Weep well, Maggie.

It seems to me, on reading the full text, that Blankenhorn is admitting defeat, not because pro-gay marriage people have convinced him of their point, but because the reasons behind the most powerful anti-gay marriage movements have disgusted him to the point where he would rather take his chances with the pro-gay marriage position. That's a fairly strong statement to make.

LarryC wrote:

It seems to me, on reading the full text, that Blankenhorn is admitting defeat, not because pro-gay marriage people have convinced him of their point, but because the reasons behind the most powerful anti-gay marriage movements have disgusted him to the point where he would rather take his chances with the pro-gay marriage position. That's a fairly strong statement to make.

Yeah, he pretty much flat out says that.

In the mind of today’s public, gay marriage is almost entirely about accepting lesbians and gay men as equal citizens. And to my deep regret, much of the opposition to gay marriage seems to stem, at least in part, from an underlying anti-gay animus. To me, a Southerner by birth whose formative moral experience was the civil rights movement, this fact is profoundly disturbing.

He still thinks allowing gay marriage will harm the concept of straight marriage (in terms of its importance to parenthood), but now recognizes that for most people, the fight is not about that.

Stengah wrote:

He still thinks allowing gay marriage will harm the concept of straight marriage (in terms of its importance to parenthood), but now recognizes that for most people, the fight is not about that.

Unfortunately for Blankenhorn, the fight has never been about that except for a handful of people.

No one has ever been able to substantiate exactly how a gay marriage undermines or destroys a straight marriage. It is all abstract concepts that have no foundation.

Blankenhorn's problem has always been that he has to tread the line of maintaining that the apex of a family unit is one man plus one woman plus children while not offending the substantial numbers of people who are in relationships that are not based on that formula.

In our current political atmosphere, it is substantially easier to go after gay couples with children than, say, the widower who is raising his three kids by himself.

Phoenix Rev:

That's not quite right. No one's been able to prove empirically that gay marriage has a deleterious effect on the marriage sociopolitical institution, but battling it does have logical foundation; and I think Blankenhorn does an okay job of summarizing the core objection in his statement.

Spoiler for tangent

Spoiler:

Since you don't seem to have an idea, I'll try to expound a bit as I understand it.

Blankenhorn's opposition to gay marriage is founded, as I've seen it, on the evolution of the marriage institution as a government sanction for what should be a private arrangement. There is no strict need for this other than to combat the widespread and destructive hate many people have for LGBT in general, and arguably that should be its own battle altogether.

Previously, marriage was a foundational institution meant to protect procreation, socialization, education, and what ought to have been the normative building block of society itself. Objection to gay marriage, in this view, is no different from objection to single parenthood, divorce, or persistent widowhood; though the latter three are somewhat less objectionable for a variety of reasons.

I believe that LGBT people have advanced a strong counter in the proven viability of LGBT-founded families, and that's probably why Blankenhorn is willing to seek a new social contract rather than promote an agenda that's been overtaken by hate and persecution.

And Larry, those logical arguments make sense only in a world where survival is paramount. The world population is more than seven billion people. Our own little piece of that population here in the US is not in danger of stagnating because of a slow down in reproduction. Logically, those no longer hold up. I know you're not saying they do, but I'm just pointing out why.

They're not illogical; it's just that the assumptions may no longer be relevant. This is an important distinction. Blankenhorn isn't saying that his previous stance is illogical; he's admitting that some of his previous assumptions could be negotiated. It's important to bring up the right objection if our goal is to convince.

Remember, Larry, you don't lose rights under the law by being a single parent, divorced or widowed. You do if you're gay in the US. It's not the same thing.

That's an interesting point, but I think further discussion of that should move private.

So when Oreo, a subsidiary of Kraft, posted this on their facebook page:

IMAGE(http://i.huffpost.com/gen/661438/thumbs/o-OREO-GAY-PRIDE-570.jpg?5)

People got mad and whined about it.

Best response I've heard yet was "You're gonna boycott Oreo because they support gay rights? Good. You don't deserve America's most delicious cookie."

Seth wrote:

Oreo!

I saw a great response (on Reddit, IIRC) to the hate that struck home. It suggested that the cookie-boycotters should also boycott all things Apple, Google, possibly Microsoft, and computers in general due to various corporate policies on partner benefits and Turing's orientation.

During our office's quarterly all-hands meeting they showed the company's It Gets Better video, and followed it up by bringing the director of a local queer resource centre on stage to talk about her organization and about some of the problems faced by LGBTQs. These meetings are usually really boring so this was a rather pleasant surprise.

Can I mention one, offhand remark? I wish they hadn't picked "Questioning" in the LGBTQ thing. That is not a very popular letter and if I assumed it meant "queer" for a month or two, I have to assume other people made the same mistake.

From what I've heard, it can refer to either questioning or queer. In any case, "queer" seems to be the new favourite catch-all term (at least here in BC, I don't know about elsewhere) since it's broad enough to cover anyone who isn't a cisgendered heterosexual.

It almost reminds me of the joke my boss makes about Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. He refers to them as "CSNEIOU and sometimes Y."

Seth wrote:

Can I mention one, offhand remark? I wish they hadn't picked "Questioning" in the LGBTQ thing. That is not a very popular letter and if I assumed it meant "queer" for a month or two, I have to assume other people made the same mistake.

I agree with that. Another thing - I don't get why the T fits in there either. I see those as two completely different things.

SallyNasty wrote:
Seth wrote:

Can I mention one, offhand remark? I wish they hadn't picked "Questioning" in the LGBTQ thing. That is not a very popular letter and if I assumed it meant "queer" for a month or two, I have to assume other people made the same mistake.

I agree with that. Another thing - I don't get why the T fits in there either. I see those as two completely different things.

I'm guessing that "questioning" was added for the same reason that itgetsbetter.org includes it. Not just for teenagers who have figured themselves out, but for teenagers who just don't know, and are getting bullied. I remember back in my Men's Glee Club days, when many of my really good friends were gay, it was a very funny pastime to debate at what stage the "new guys" to club were. Our resident Queen (full-on flaming Liberace gay, grad student in Library Sciences, one of the funniest, sweetest guys ever) would comment on the various new guys: "Okay. He is...he isn't...he isn't...ooooh, I wish he was....give him a year...give that one 2 years...okay that one isn't...oh honey, with hair that great, you can't be straight..."

It was somewhat common for a guy who pretty much everyone knew would eventually accept himself and figure himself out, to come up to you a year or two later, and say something like "I'm not sure if you're going to still want to be my friend, but I just wanted you to know that..." "What? You finally figured out you're gay, right? Of course you're my friend." "Wait a minute, you knew?!" "Yeah buddy, for the last year and half..."

When society bombards you from day one with what you're supposed to be, and you're not supposed to be gay (could it be better on campuses now than back when I was in college, in the early 1990s? I hope so), many guys just could not face themselves. So I like the idea of "questioning" in the sense that it gives permission to ask the question in the first place.

Oh, and as for T. Back in Glee Club we had an expression. It was called "getting on the clue train." As in the new guys who didn't think anyone in the world could be gay, much less the President of the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club (a very awesome guy). To which he would reply, "Oh man. Let me take you down to the Clue Station, buy you a Clue Ticket, and get your sorry ass on the Clue Train." When you actually get to know A LOT of gay and lesbian folks...you get a clue. And it's very different from any attitude you had before. I've gotten to know some transgender folks and what they've gone through. The T is just fine there, as far as I'm concerned...

Hypatian wrote:

It's different, but there are similar stigmas. The historic conflation of cross-dressing, homosexuality, and gender dysphoria means that there's some common cause here, even if different people have different problems and priorities.

I think it can potentially be much harder to come out as transgendered than it is to come out as gay. In a lot of places, people nowadays have a pretty clear understanding of what it means to be attracted the same sex. There might be some awkward situations in which you're attracted to someone and aren't sure what their orientation is, but if that awkwardness bothers you it's possible to try to meet people in places where the normal expectation is that people there are homosexual. (And of course, this varies from place to place and situation to situation. It's certainly not always easy to come out as gay to your family, and there are certainly a lot of places where being openly gay can be very uncomfortable.)

Someone who's transgendered but straight doesn't have the same problems wondering whether people are sexually compatible with them, and whether things are going to get awkward if they ask someone out without being sure. But, they potentially have a lot more problems down the road. Consider a guy who meets this wonderful woman who seems to like him, and they hit it off... but he knows that if everything goes well then somewhere down the road he'll have to explain to that really wonderful woman that he really wishes he had been born a woman... and that sometimes when he looks at her he's filled with tremendous envy and it makes him want to cry.

People in support groups for people struggling with their homosexuality will certainly have some understanding of the kinds of stresses this experience will put on a person.

And this is what I wished I'd said, with adding "and after you've sat down and talked with someone who is transgendered, you are often reminded of sitting down with one of your friends who is gay, describing the incredible amount of sh*t they went through."

It's different, but there are similar stigmas. The historic conflation of cross-dressing, homosexuality, and gender dysphoria means that there's some common cause here, even if different people have different problems and priorities.

I think it can potentially be much harder to come out as transgendered than it is to come out as gay. In a lot of places, people nowadays have a pretty clear understanding of what it means to be attracted the same sex. There might be some awkward situations in which you're attracted to someone and aren't sure what their orientation is, but if that awkwardness bothers you it's possible to try to meet people in places where the normal expectation is that people there are homosexual. (And of course, this varies from place to place and situation to situation. It's certainly not always easy to come out as gay to your family, and there are certainly a lot of places where being openly gay can be very uncomfortable.)

Someone who's transgendered but straight doesn't have the same problems wondering whether people are sexually compatible with them, and whether things are going to get awkward if they ask someone out without being sure. But, they potentially have a lot more problems down the road. Consider a guy who meets this wonderful woman who seems to like him, and they hit it off... but he knows that if everything goes well then somewhere down the road he'll have to explain to that really wonderful woman that he really wishes he had been born a woman... and that sometimes when he looks at her he's filled with tremendous envy and it makes him want to cry.

People in support groups for people struggling with their homosexuality will certainly have some understanding of the kinds of stresses this experience will put on a person.

Edited to add:

Full disclosure: I'm not gay, so I can't speak to that side of things. But I am TG. And I have been in similar positions to the above, although never looking towards marriage. And even though my gender dysphoria is something I've come to terms with and can live with, it hurts. I've never told my family, although it might explain a few things I did when I was a teenager if I told them. I don't generally tell people I know, even close friends, unless something comes up in a conversation where my first-hand experience matters (like this conversation, which is eased by the sense of at least partial anonymity I get from using a handle on this site.)

I don't talk about it partially because it's not something that people need to know: They can't do anything more about my situation than I can. And there's not much I can do that I'm willing to do--testosterone had its way with me long ago. I can wish that I'd both understood what I felt and had the resources to do something about it when I was much younger. But wishes won't buy you much of anything.

Anyway, because of that it's very possible that I'm underestimating how hard it is to be gay. But being TG certainly isn't a cakewalk.

And to clarify - this is my weakness, not the community's. It would've been easier for *me* if instead of Questioning, the community had settled on, say.....

Okay I can't think of a better word.

Regarding the difficulty trans people face...It may be different, but it seems to fraught with at least as much ignorance and confusion that manifests as intolerance and anger. A trans friend of mine who came out about 6 weeks before starting her HRT was so hurt by certain members of her group of friends that she literally moved across the country. It was astonishing to see some of the drivel posted on her FB page by people who actually thought they were being supportive.

Tangentially related: the repeal of DADT did not include discrimination against trans people.

To be clear, my comment is not a judgement. I just think that the two issues are separate and that it muddies the water to discuss them as one. For me, sexual identity and gender identity are not totally related.

SallyNasty wrote:

To be clear, my comment is not a judgement. I just think that the two issues are separate and that it muddies the water to discuss them as one. For me, sexual identity and gender identity are not totally related.

A large part of it is that, historically, the two communities have stood up for each other, beginning, actually, with a transgender riot.

Yeah, I didn't think you were criticizing. Just trying to explain the why.

I think it does muddy the waters, but that it helps more than it hurts. Someone coming to terms with having a "non-normative" sexual or gender identity is going to go through some similar feelings of confusion and doubt. Someone who's trans might not even have heard the term TG before. They'll likely wonder "am I gay?" at some point, before maybe figuring out that it's something else. That's part of why that "questioning" thing is useful, if an awkward way to phrase it. It's also definitely helpful to the TG community to have strong ties to the gay community—because the TG community is a smaller minority. Having gays and lesbians there to help stand up helps.

And, on the darker side of things, that help is not certain. I encountered some negative reactions at my university when talking with people while trying to figure out what the heck I was. "You're a guy that's attracted to girls? WTF are you doing here, then?" isn't exactly a supportive reaction—although I can also understand why some lesbians who've had very negative experiences with men in the past would freak out at a guy who's attracted to girls wanting to join their group.

So I'm totally happy that GLB groups now almost universally explicitly embrace TG folks as well. They don't *need* to do it, but it helps. It gives TG people a broader community that they can feel part of, and it means that people just joining the community will have a better idea about what TG is, even though it might be outside their experience—at the very least, a member of a campus LGBT group will have some idea that TG people exist and have a reason to want to join their group. (And like I said, that wasn't always something you could expect.)

Seth wrote:

Can I mention one, offhand remark? I wish they hadn't picked "Questioning" in the LGBTQ thing. That is not a very popular letter and if I assumed it meant "queer" for a month or two, I have to assume other people made the same mistake.

In my experience (and corroborated by all the LBGT folks I know, including one who's doing her PhD in a gender studies field), "queer" is really a catch-all for LGBT, and includes "questioning" in that.

Sorry for the derail, but I really appreciate your commentary Hypatian. It has given me a lot to think about. Stuff like this is why I love P&C.

IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/OdKwF.png)

I was in the Pentagon this last Tuesday when this occurred, but was too busy to attend unfortunately.

The Pentagon holds its first gay pride event.

Wonder if all those people boycotting Oreos and other "homo friendly" companies will boycott the entire United States Military?