Bashing Gays

With gays giving President Bush 25% of their vote I'm starting to wonder why Democrats should continue throwing themselves in front of the religious right freight train to stop Republicans from making the gay lifestyle illegal.

If Bush appoints two more conservative justices, Scalia, Rhenquist and Thomas will have a majority to overrule Lawrence v. Texas linked text and states will be able to make gay sex illegal again.
(more in Extended Entry)

With anti-gay marriage propositions passing in eleven states there seems to be a popular and religious groundswell of anti-gay sentiment. I think there is reason for concern that this conservative trend is a threat to the gay lifestyle.

Why should Democrats continue fighting to support gay rights?

I think the same question can be asked about partial birth abortion. Why should Democrats continue letting themselves get beat up in elections for a fringe issue that affects less than 2,000 women per year?

I haven't seen a good factual or medical case made for partial birth abortion. I suspect there is a case out there somewhere. If Planned Parenthood and other supporters of partial birth abortion are unable to make a strong factual and medical case that is comprehensible and acceptable to the general public this may be another fringe issue that we have to discard.

For example, 2000 partial birth abortions per year is a guess. I suspect it is somewhat accurate. Earlier this year or late last year Ashcroft attempted to supoena the records of a Planned Parenthood clinic to get records that would show how many partial birth abortions were necessary to save the life of the mother. Presumably the rest would be for the purpose of preserving the health of the mother.

I completely agreed with the court decision not to give Ashcroft access to the records. But I sure would have liked to know what the real statistics were. I follow these issues fairly closely and I don't have a clue. Why should the general public support partial birth abortion if we can't give a coherent factual reason to support it?

These are two examples of issues that are extremely easy to demonize and politically costly to defend. What I am suggesting is that if the activists on these issues are not able to carry their weight we should consider throwing them overboard until they can. This is a sink or swim political environment and it's time to discard some of the deadwood.

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Comments

14 Comments

Gay rights..
...is a matter of civil rights. Isn't that one of the mian selling poin of the Democratic party? I am deeply offended by the statement that we simply abandon gay rights. If we stop now, its only a cause for victory for the religious right. Thats just unnacceptable.
by Slyargent 2004-11-03 06:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Gay rights..
It's a losing part of the civil rights struggle. Get offended all you want, but there are far larger numbers of people on the other side who are far more offended. At some point we need to bow to political reality and short term strategic modification of policy.  

Being idealistic is nice, but it doesn't win elections. Without a utilitarian analysis idealism is empty rhetoric that doesn't intersect with the real world.

by Gary Boatwright 2004-11-03 06:21PM | 0 recs
Voting against self-interest
Voting against self-interest is hardly unique to the 25% of GBLT. Anyone who is poor and votes Republican has voted against their self-interest, and this time 'round the percentages would be far higher than 25%. Do Democrats stop fighting for the poor? What brings these poor people to vote this way is social issues, like homosexuality. Which, by your argument, if Dems dropped as an issue, then the Reps couldn't use it as a wedge.

But there are a couple of fallacies to this argument. Let's start with the axiom gay people are gay becuase they were born gay--just as brown-haired people were born brown-haired and (wait for it) black people were born black. Discrimination against gays is fundamental bigotry, the Democratic party opposes discrimination in any form, therefore, accepting discrimination against gays is antithetical to a core Democratic principal. Without principals, we should just forget having a party.

Next, 90% of black people vote Democrat, this would argue that Democrats should continue to fight for justice for black people. However, apparently 10% of black people did not vote Democrat. There are a lot of black people in this country, that 10% who didn't vote Democrat could have cost us the election, does that mean Democrats should not support the rights of, and fight for justice for, black people?

25% of gay people did not vote Democrat. Shame on them, they are stupid. 75% did. Good for them. They are smart, they know the Democrats, and only the Democrats, will ever work for their justice.

As re abortion. It is a procedure that should be legal, safe, and rare. That the so called "partial birth" abortion is sometimes necessary to save to life of the woman is true and that is all that needs be said.

by Bruce The Moose 2004-11-03 06:10PM | 0 recs
Utilitarian Analysis and the Real World
I'm suggesting that supporting fringe issues detracts from our ability to address more mainstream issues like the minimum wage and universal health care that do have popular support. I'm also suggesting that gays can get along just fine for a few years without Democrats throwing themselves in front of the electoral freight train. If Bush gets two conservative S.C. justices all our philosophical rhetoric and political posturing isn't going to do gays a bit of good.

As far as partial birth abortion platitudes don't win elections either. I agree with legal, safe and rare. I agree completely with saving the life of the mother. What I haven't seen and what you haven't offered is a factual argument that partial birth abortion meets the above criteria.

Believe me, I've looked in vain for a factual argument that 2,000 partial birth abortions a year are necessary. All I've been able to find are platitudes like the ones you offered Bruce. Maybe among all the flotsam in the abortion war there is a cogent argument. If there is somebody needs to find it and let the American people know about it.

by Gary Boatwright 2004-11-03 06:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Utilitarian Analysis and the Real World
I don't dismiss the idea of casting off some dead-weight issues. But I don't think these two are them.

One huge dead-weight issue is gun control. Back in 2000 when I lived in NC I knew a Raleigh cop. Nice, wonderful, guy, a little something of a redneck, but open to discussion. He agreed that all around, Gore was the better choice. His objection was that if Gore were elected there would be house to house searches to confiscate firearms. When I asked him where he learned this, why it was from the NRA, of course. This year one of my Rep co-workers showed me an NRA magazine which featured an article about how the house-to-house searches and confiscation would start immediately under a Kerry administration. It was probably the same article as in 2000 with a quick search and replace job. The confiscation scenario is, of course, utter bullshit, but it is trotted out every cycle to pillory us.

Gay-rights is a principal, not a fringe issue. No, I'm not gay. Nor am I black. Opposing bigotry and supporting people's rights makes me damn proud to be a Liberal. Homophobia is just stupid and illogical. In what way does being gay qualify you for second class citizenship?

The laws written that ban the dialation and extraction proceedure are written in a way that the welfare of the mother is denied. Dialation and extraction is technically not an abortion technique. For instance, it is used to remove a miscarriage. The anti-abortion forces seize on this issue as a wedge, and wrap provactive language around it (partial-birth) so as to drive the bigger agenda. Some info.

by Bruce The Moose 2004-11-03 07:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Utilitarian Analysis and the Real World
I agree completely Moose. Unfortunately 55% of America doesn't. I am appalled that black conservatives are offended when gay rights are compared to civil rights. I am appaled that gay sex was still illegal in Texas until 2003. Unfortunately I can't change the world with my beliefs, no matter how strongly they are held.

I also agree with you on dialation and extraction and agree that Repubs have snuck D&E into the partial abortion debate illegitimately. I think Democrats have to come up with a definition that distinguishes the two and let go of partial birth abortion. I wish the world was different.

God, guns and gays are all bogus issues. We need to stop trying to defend them and play just as dishonestly as Republicans do. Say one thing and do another. If the American people insist on voting for liars we have to give the people what they want.

The real irony is that the Democrats have been too honest on these issues and still get accused of lying. I have absolutely no explanation for why the public keeps falling for the Republican three card monty tricks. I'm tired of fighting  a losing rhetorical battle for the moral high ground.

Let's give up the rhetorical high ground and get down in the trenches where the real politics are being played. The time for California dreaming is long past.

by Gary Boatwright 2004-11-03 07:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Voting against self-interest
I just read the Bill Bennett editorial in the WSJ. I was so relieved to see that the Black vote didn't approach 20% like Larry Elder and his ilk were predicting. It baffles me how red state people let themselves get manipulated by wedge issues that don't affect their lives.

I also think it is philosophically offensive that conservative blacks are actually offended that gay rights are included as a civil rights issue.

by Gary Boatwright 2004-11-03 06:50PM | 0 recs
Gay Rights and Partial Birth Abortion
We can't just abandon our position on gay rights and partial birth abortion.  That would be completely contradicting ourselves and would weaken the party.  We have to remain strong in the face of opposition.  Public opinion will change as time progresses.

The Civil Rights movement wasn't the most popular cause at first but think where we would be now without it.

We have to remain the progressive party.

by JerseyDem 2004-11-03 06:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Gay Rights and Partial Birth Abortion
Unless we can support our positions and present the case to America in a way that doesn't take down the party on every other issue we don't have any choice. I'd vote for Nader if I thought he could win. In fact I did vote for him four years ago.

The Democratic tent may have gotten too big to get Democrats elected at the national level. Unless we can put together a winning formula it doesn't matter how noble our cause is.

by Gary Boatwright 2004-11-03 06:33PM | 0 recs
Red, Blue, Pink
I'm gay and I'm outraged and surprised that 25% went for Bush. I think Andrew Sullivan predicted that would be in the single digits after Bush's push for a constitutional amendment to exclude us from equal citizenship.
But equality for all is a benefit for all, not a favor to a minority.
But, I could accept a compromise that prohibits the 25% of gays voting for Bush from all constitutional protections. They might deserve it.

Peace,
Ryvr

by Ryvr 2004-11-03 06:28PM | 0 recs
I agree in principle Ryvr
I can't imagine what 25% of gays were thinking. It's strikes me as a very real possibility that Bush will get two S.C. nominations. I can not imagine a bigger threat to a gay voter. I suspect they are under the correct impression that no matter what Bush does the Democratic party will come to their rescue and keep throwing themselves in front of the freight train.

I think we need to send the whole damn party to Al Anon and get them to stop enabling Log Cabin Republicans. If it takes a few years of tough love from the Democrats to get their attention so be it.

by Gary Boatwright 2004-11-03 06:38PM | 0 recs
Truly twisted logic.
I think the percentage of the vote was 20%, not 25%. But either way, why exactly do you think that every single homosexual needs to be punished? Do you really believe that gays voting for Bush is what caused him to win this year? I don't even believe that the anti-gay amendment in Ohio is what pushed him over the top. There were anti-gay amendments in Oregon and Michigan and Kerry won both states.

Your logic seems to be that we will somehow get a lot of support if we hate gays, because in your world, everyone hates gays. You don't really offer any evidence to support that, yet you think that the party should jettison a loyal and generous voting base solely because 20% of gay voters may have voted for Bush. That's if exit polls are accurate. I think that Tuesday's initial exit polls showed us how accurate these things are, didn't they?

And what is all this about "lifestyle choice"? No wonder you want the party to bash gays -- if you think that being gay is a choice, then you're thrilled to be rid of them.

Destroying the lives of gays, as you want to do, does nothing to help the party. It will not attract more voters. Democrats who hate gays are still tarred and feathered as being gay, or as being supportive of gays. That's just how it works. People who hate gays will always vote for Republicans. That's just how it works. The fact that you don't mention this makes me wonder if you know anything about this situation, to be honest.

It's easy to say that gay rights aren't important because you and no one you know are affected by them. We're just sort of albatrosses, in the way, a burden. And since gays don't vote like the Borg, you think they should be decimated. You think that millions of voters will flock to your door if you tell them you hate gays. You also fail to mention, perhaps deliberately, that gays raised hundreds of millions of dollars for Democrats this year, even Democrats like Stephanie Herseth who oppose any legal rights for gay couples. So the idea that gays do nothing and expect Democrats to "throw themselves on the train tracks" in return is odd. The truth is that gays have been sacrificed and ignored by Democrats for many years, and apparently they are only of use when you need to find a scapegoat because John Kerry didn't win.

You are talking about millions of people. You want to destroy millions of people just because you think that same-sex marriage bans means that the whole nation is anti-gay. It's a lot more complicated than that, and if you did not enjoy using gay people as human sacrifices, you might know that.

BTW, 6 judges voted to throw out sodomy laws, so it would take more than just 2 appointments. Something else you forgot to mention.

by James 2004-11-03 11:18PM | 0 recs
Kerry Had Already Dumped Equality
Kerry outright opposed equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, and while he opposed a federal amendement prohibiting them, he supported an amendement to the Mass. Constitution to exclude gay people from equal rights. Bush and Kerry both endorsed Civil Unions, so there was very little technical difference between their positions.
But people opposed to same-sex marriage (about 90%) very widely voted for Bush.
It seems as though we are debating a strategy that already did no good. Drop marriage rights? The VERY few dem politicians ever supported them -- they lose the right wing nut vote anyway.

Peace,
Ryvr

by Ryvr 2004-11-04 10:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Kerry Had Already Dumped Equality
Re-reading my post (can you edit??), I see that I need to clarify what the 90% is referring to: people who oppose equal marriage that voted for Bush. I believe that only about 33% of American totally oppose equal marriage rights.

Peace,
Ryvr

by Ryvr 2004-11-04 11:05AM | 0 recs

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