The Hate that Dare Not Speak By Name

I have nothing original or interesting to say about today's Supreme Court decision blocking televised transmission of the Proposition 8 bench trial. (This is the case in which a left-right coalition of trial lawyers is challenging the legality of the anti-same-sex-marriage state constitutional law provision narrowly adopted by referendum in California.)

Well, nothing except maybe this:

Isn't it amazing and in some way wonderful that where on the one hand it used to be the love that dare not speak its name, now it is the opponents of same-sex marriage who argue that they should not be forced to state their views in too public a manner because it might lead them to be shunned and ridiculed.

Of course, it stands to reason that anyone arguing that their marriage could by harmed by the existence of someone else's might have reason to fear some embarrassment or ridicule.

Irrelevant but somehow fitting fact: Divorce Rates Higher in States with Gay Marriage Bans.

Update: YouTube substitute for Prop 8 hearing: Gil Scott Heron, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. (Alternate version with better sound, worse graphics.)

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5 Responses to The Hate that Dare Not Speak By Name

  1. Unfortunately, whenever the topic of discrimination comes up, there are those who refuse to recognize that not all discrimination is motivated by hate. So if one is afraid to voice their opinions on same-sex marriage in public, it is not necessarily because they are ashamed of their view points.

    “Of course, it stands to reason that anyone arguing that their marriage could by harmed by the existence of someone else’s might have reason to fear some embarrassment or ridicule.”

    I doubt my marriage, defined as the relationship between my wife and myself, would be harmed. However, the right of individuals and businesses to discriminate in favor of traditional, child bearing married couples might be threatened.

    Although Federal discrimination laws do not subject discrimination based on sexual orientation to heightened scrutiny, some states’ laws can and do. One may argue the current trend towards heightened scrutiny of such discrimination is (aesthetically) a good thing, and in most ways it is.

    But an honest economic assessment of homosexual couples reveals economic differences between traditional couples. Specifically, it is less likely that one of the partners is economically dependent upon the other, and even less likely that one or more children are economically dependent upon a single parent. One of the partners does not remove themselves from the workplace for several years in order to bear children.

    Consider a firm laying off workers during an economic downturn. Traditionally, society would favor the business that lays of single workers before workers with families to support. Should that change with homosexual couples in the work place? Is it sexual-orientation discrimination for a company to lay off a married homosexual male before a married woman with three children? Or is it simply discrimination based on economic need?

    Similar concerns can arise under a variety of scenarios, including government programs providing aid to children and families. We may not be eroding the traditional bond between man and woman, but we may be eroding the ability of society to make choices and policies that support relationships based on economic needs and values.

    I recognize implicit in my reasoning is the notion that the child bearing hetero couple is of greater social value or requiring greater social support than the same-sex couple. I believe one can accept this from an economic standpoint without making moral judgments about same-sex couples. Kids aren’t cheap to raise these days, and women must leave the work place to produce them. These are economic facts of life that, biblical prejudices notwithstanding, underpin many of society’s laws governing the treatment of families and relationships.

    I am not at all convinced that homosexual couples do not respect the traditional heterosexual couple and its ability to produce children. Nor that homosexual couples do not recognize that heterosexual couples may, by virtue of their relationship, be deserving or more economic “breaks” from society (taxes, etc.). It seems to me that homosexual couples just want to get married and be treated socially like everyone else, but are not necessarily interested in making the same economic demands on society as traditional couples oriented towards producing children.

    So I view the pending case not as a threat to my marriage, but as a threat to my right to discriminate in favor of relationships which I perceive as more socially beneficial. Oh, that’s not right? Doesn’t each of us ration our charitable giving, giving to the cause we deem more beneficial? The starving kids in country A you donated to are somehow less deserving than the starving kids in country B? Somehow, you had the right to choose. So if I run a business, why shouldn’t I be able to give the job to the person who I think has the most people (wife and kids) depending on his paycheck? Why shouldn’t policy-makers be allowed to make similar decisions?

  2. michael says:

    I agree that the ‘right’ to discriminate against gay people might be threatened. That is a feature of these rules, not a bug. Nor do I see why gay people (many of whom have children by the way), are more suited to the bread line.

    How about we have a society where people are not discriminated at work for or against based on marital status, gender, or other irrelevancies?

    You are describing, celebrating, what seems to me to be invidious discrimination. (Consider this question: would you support differential pay for otherwise identical workers based on the number of dependents? Would it matter if they had a living working spouse? Aged parents? Extended families? Etc.) If you would not support these measures, isn’t what you are advocating somewhat pretextual.

  3. Vic says:

    You might also consider that whenever such amendments, propositions, whatever, are put to a popular vote in an actual election, they are defeated – usually quite soundly – and in very liberal states that one would think would pass them by a wide margin (remember Oregon?). So history has show, rightly or wrongly, that even in liberal states, voters oppose such measures – even in the very same elections that go otherwise Democratic. (how does one otherwise explain a state going to Kerry, while opposing gay marriage, realistically, without presuming that at least some voters both voted Kerry and anti gay marriage. especially if one considers that there are people who voted Bush and for gay marriage – I know that makes you head explode.)

    All of which suggests that it may be just as hateful, or stereotypical, to equate non-support for gay marriage 100% with the right. It further suggests the possibility that maybe SOME of the people opposed to lots of publicity on this may be opposed to it because they don’t want their fellow UCB-ers to know that they may not really be as “progressive” as they otherwise pretend.

  4. michael says:

    The only thing I said about “the right” was that “a left-right coalition of trial lawyers” was challenging Prop. 8 (Ted Olsen, as right as you get, is the lead lawyer).

    I equate support for gay marriage bans with bigotry, not inherently with a broader political agenda. That said, it is an unarguable fact that the GOP has been very firm in making support for bans on same-sex marriage a major plank and rallying point, and that to the extent there has been an organized political push on the other side, it has been from (some) Democrats.

    As to the accurate observation that these initiatives have failed, I’d say first, that the spread is sometimes narrow; second, that it’s amazing the votes are as close as they are — ten years ago I doubt it would have been anywhere as close. Attitudes are changing quickly. They are also highly correlated with age: old people (who vote more) tend to be against marriage equality, young folks (who vote less) are lopsidely for. It’s just a matter of time.

    Final point: the point of enshrining some potentially unpopular things as rights, e.g. the right to criticize a popular government, is to protect people against they tyranny of the majority. Figuring out which things belong in the majority rules bucket, and which belong in the majority has lashed itself to the mast bucket, is often quite hard, but to me at least this isn’t one of the hard cases.

  5. Vic says:

    Perhaps I overemphasise my statement about equating it with the Right in your context, but I stand by generally the statement that such anti-gay measures (which I, a conservative who despises the GOP, abhore) are often equated with being conservative, when such is not necessarily the case.

    Take Oregon again. In ’04 the gay marriage amendment was on the losing end of a 57% majority, at the same time that Kerry won the state by close to 5%. That’s really quite a swing, if one follows the presumption that liberals generally favor such rights, while conservatives do not. (for the record – all of the conservatives I know personally, favor gay rights, while I also personally know some liberals who do not – just a meaningless snapshot of my circle) Michigan in the same election was 59% against, while voting Kerry by 3.5%. In some other states, bans passed by a 3-to-1 margin in Kentucky, Georgia and Arkansas, 3-to-2 in Ohio and 6-to-1 in Mississippi. I wouldn’t consider any of them close, and none of them really conform closely to the presidential voting pattern at the same time in those states.

    I would suggest that there is still an unfortunately large contingent of anti-gay sentiment, even among the liberals (particularly the religious, and African-American demographic) that will not simply go away by appeals to reason. I think it’s great that things have come so far, but I am afraid that we may be starting to butt up against the wall of “it doesn’t really matter what’s right.” It is not a good thing for gay rights to see that so many liberal voters, opposed gay rights.

    Which brings me back to my first supposition: maybe some of the people who don’t want publicity on this are avoiding it because they don’t want their liberal neighbors to see that they don’t fit the expected stereotype on gay issues. (just like we saw during the last election when polls in the primaries differed so much from the votes. Sometimes people like to keep their personal viewpoints to themselves when they differ from those of their herd.) Obviously, it may also be conservatives who don’t want bad publicity – or some combination of the two. I’m just bucking the common assumption no doubt held by many.

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