Gay Marriage--A Principled, Vote-Winning Stand?

A good question--Chris

I think we need a stand on gay marriage that is (1) 1I say if I were running for office?" -- Especially in contrast to Kerry's despicable pandering.

(1) I am personally committed to gay marriage.  This comes directly from my commitment to the American ideal of equality, of liberty and justice for all.

(2) However, I realize that many Americans do not yet share this view.  I believe the reasons are primarily irrational, but I have no doubt they are deeply held. I believe that forcing the issue would only deepen the divisions in our society. What I am most interested in is not just equality and tolerance, but true acceptance and respect.  Forcing my personal morality on others--my personal commitment to gay marriage--would undermine this more fundamental goal.

(3) Therefore, I support civil unions, with all the legal rights of marriage.  I believe that depriving gays and lesbians of hundreds of legal rights and privileges enjoyed by married couples is simply unacceptable to most Americans when they really stop and think about it.

I also believe that civil unions will lead eventually to gay marriage--but only when people are really ready for it, and won't serve to divide America, but to bring us together.

(4) I realize that there will be people on both sides of this issue who will attack me, and that is their right as Americans.  I feel comfortable with that, because my position comes entirely from what I believe and what I value, and I would rather lose defending that than win by betraying it.

I don't believe that such a stand will necessarily win votes--only that it has the potential to, that it creates an opening for the kind of conversation we need to have to turn back an otherwise toxic, hate-mongering attack on a vulnerable, still much-despised minority.  

Finally, in a larger sense, the biggest battle we face is to turn the battle of politics back into a conversation.  Because of that, I believe this stance has a value that transcends the issue of gay rights alone. I would like to know what others think.

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Comments

118 Comments

completely agree
I'm sick of people on these blogs lashing out against Democratic politicians who don't support gay marriage.  Fact is, this is an issue that sharply divides the Democratic base, as the Pew research currently on the front page shows.

Rather than pursue a purist agenda, why not unite around civil unions.  Equal rights is something that our base will rally around.  And probably in 10-15 years people will come to accept gay marriage.  But in pushing for gay marriage right now, we're turning away a huge percentage of people who agree with us on most other issues.

by hotshotxi 2005-05-12 06:47PM | 0 recs
Re: completely agree
Which was, of course, the argument against supporting full racial integration of society in the 1960's.

"When all these people were telling us 'Go slow,' what they meant was 'Don't go.'"

by craverguy 2005-05-12 07:01PM | 0 recs
A quote by Thurgood Marshall.
by craverguy 2005-05-12 07:01PM | 0 recs
There's A HUGE Difference
In the case of civil rights, people fought very hard for integration, and what they got instead was something far less--desegregation, the passive relaxation of segregation which left very high defacto levels of segregation in place.  Thus, the eventual symbolic victory far exceeded the real victory, and even helped to work against it.

In the case of gay rights, the exact opposite is true. Virtually the only difference between civil unions and marriage is in the name--the symbolic level.  While the symbol is undoubtedly important, it is much more important to get the substance first, if you have to chose one over the other.  Furthermore, it is path to getting the deeper substance--as I indicated--which is not just tolerance, but genuine acceptance and respect.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-05-12 07:22PM | 0 recs
That's not quite true
Many of the benefits of marriage are at a Federal level.  State-by-state civil unions aren't helpful there.  Unless civil unions are enacted in every state, nationwide, and via the Federal government, they will always be inequal to actual marriage.

That being said, this is a major loser of an issue for us, at least on the short term, and probably the medium term as well.  The logical alternative (get the government out of the marriage business) is also a loser for us, and impractical to boot.

I suppose the statement that started this post is the best way to work this, but it's best choice of a bunch of really bad ones.  It still hurts us, because there are anti-gay bigots out there, and they vote, and they probably want to vote for another bigot.

Indications are that younger voters are in favor of gay marriage, so our current loser position will be a winner eventually.  However, we are talking long term, twenty years or longer.

by Geotpf 2005-05-13 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: completely agree
I think you're missing something. I do support gay unions--100%. And I have tremendous sympathy with those attacking Democratic politicians for their gutless stands--which is pretty much all I hear from the standard civil union proponents.  

But if I were running for office--which I have no intention ever to do--I would be equally clear that I draw a line between my personal beliefs and what I will support as a legislator.  I would not use my office to pass gay marriage, but I would use my office, and the public platform it provides to prostelize for gay marriage, to persuade as many people as possible that it is a good and necessary thing.  Once support for gay marriage reaches the point of overwhelming concensus, it should be instituted. Until then, we should have gay unions ASAP.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-05-12 07:14PM | 0 recs
I think you're on target Paul
Civil unions are probably the most that is pragmatically achievable. There may be two or three places in the country outside of San Francisco where a politician who openly supports gay marriage can win election. I wouldn't want to guess where those two or three places are. I may be overly optomistic.

The first step is turning back the public homophobic tide. To do that we need some cooperation from conservative Dems. I'm all in favor of any course that will give gays the substantive rights they so richly deserve.

It would be a step in the right direction if we could get the conservative Dem gay bashers to turn their sights on the religious right whackos instead. We need a rational gays rights strategy coupled with an attack on the homophobic right.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-12 08:57PM | 0 recs
Re: completely agree
THAT'S what I've been talking about.  Using the bully pulpit!  Don't run a campaign on gay  marriage but at least stand by your beliefs and frame it within the larger issues of freedom, liberty, equality and civil rights.

Hell I don't care if it's called "marriage", it's the rights that count.  Pass whatever and we can have a contest to name it.

But Kerry's BS is what's weakening the party, by coming out against gay marriage he essentially comes out against any civil unions and nuances the larger meaning out of the debate.

One thing though, "red staters" dont see a difference between gay marriage and civil unions and the radical right uses those amendments, which are worded to oppose any legal recognition whatsoever, to fight against same-sex healthy benefits, power of attorneys, etc.

by dayspring 2005-05-13 07:10AM | 0 recs
by catastrophile 2005-05-13 11:41AM | 0 recs
Re: completely agree
I agree, acquiring legal rights for gay couples is what is truly important.

The "m-word" is so religiously loaded that I doubt we will ever get people to support gay marriage unless we can rewrite the Bible. Civil unions, however, are rapidly gaining support. (Such is the power of language. The legal ceremony we call "marriage" is no more than a heterosexual civil union. Yet people confuse this legal document with something spiritual that is beyond the law.)

Let us not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

by wayward 2005-05-12 07:20PM | 0 recs
I don't see why we can't rewrite the Bible.
King James did it and nobody complained.
by craverguy 2005-05-12 07:22PM | 0 recs
Re: completely agree
I have to re-emphasize that I do support gay marriage, in part precisely because it's such a loaded term.  It's as loaded for many gay people as it is for straights, and that's why it's unfair to deprive them of it.  And that's why it's very important to be out front in saying I believe in it 100%.  It's very important to keep educating people about the misconceptions they're hung up on.

But educating doesn't come easily by attacking people. The more we make this into a fight, the more we play into the rightwingers' hands.  We need to approach this as an opportunity to free a lot of people from their fears, phobias, ignorance and prejudice.  We need to see them as oppressed as well.

Homophobia is not a problem for gays--it's a problem for homophobes. It's only the political power of homophobes that's a problem for gays. And that political power can only go so far. But homophobia haunts the homophobe to very core of his being.  There is no escaping it. Difficult as it may be, we have to have compassion for them if we are ever to rid ourselves of this terrible curse.  Compassion does not mean agreement, much less surrender. But it does mean getting beyond demonizing them the way that they demonize gays.  It means being bigger than them.  Which, actually, from all the gays and lesbians I have known, comes pretty easily to most of them, once they've truly come out.

It is always the slave who saves the master. It is not fair. It is anything but fair. But it is only possibility. The master is always the slave of slavery, powerless to set himself free. Only the slave can free him.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-05-12 07:34PM | 0 recs
Re: completely agree
I think we may be talking about different things. You seem to be talking about giving social acceptance for homosexual couples, thus the emphasis on actually having gay marriage. I am talking about giving legal rights to homosexual couples, which works no matter what you call it.

While this may be a noble goal, making homosexual relationships socially acceptable is beyond the scope of what Government can do.

No, civil unions for homosexuals are not a perfect solution. My perfect solution would be to call legal marriage what it is - a civil union, no matter who the partners are. In other words, civil unions for everyone. There is too much confusion already between the legal and the spiritual aspects of marriage already. But I know that will never happen.

by wayward 2005-05-13 02:52AM | 0 recs
What Government Can Do
making homosexual relationships socially acceptable is beyond the scope of what Government can do.

Directly, yes, it's beyond the scope of what government can do. As the right used to say, "you can't legislate morality." They were talking about integration. But integration wasn't about legislating morality. It wasn't about forcing whites to accept blacks as their friends and brothers--just as fellow citizens.

When the government insisted on that, it sent a powerful message, and dramatically changed the interacial dynmamic in America.  There is still plenty of racism in this land. But overt racists are relative rarity nowadays. And government action had a lot to do with that.  The same will happen as government sends the message that gays are full citizens, too.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-05-13 04:14PM | 0 recs
Turning politics back into a conversation
I agree. The only problem is, given the way the right operates today, do we really have any hope of reducing social divisions?

If people didn't respond to divisive arguments, I would have thought that the conservatives would have been kicked out of power long ago. But their tactics seem to succeed time and again.

It takes two to tango, unfortunately.

by tgeraghty 2005-05-12 07:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Turning politics back into a conversation
There has been a siginificant shift in attitudes towards gays, despire the intense polarization promoted by the right.  They are fighting desperately against the natural order of things.

Sucking us into the polarization game is one of their last, most powerful weapons. We need to see it for what it is--something absolutely real on one level, and a total fantasy on another.  We need to resist it on the first level, but we will ultimately defeat it on the second.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-05-12 07:40PM | 0 recs
Look how far gay rights have come
It was until the early 1970s that homosexuality was delisted as a mental illness.
by jcjcjc 2005-05-12 08:17PM | 0 recs
Yeah, real far.
Now people just think it, instead of saying it.
by craverguy 2005-05-12 08:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Turning politics back into a conversation
How do you resist without attacking homophobia for what it is? A national dialogue is a great idea, but I don't see where we can find a forum for rational civil discourse with the American people.

The MSM favors gay bashing homophobes because they boost ratings. Dialogue is boring and requires two willing participants. From what little I've seen of Jim Wallis, he's got the knack of engaging them in conversation, but we won't see much of him on the tube.

What's the medium for your message?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-12 09:05PM | 0 recs
The Medium
As stated, the medium is a political campaign for office. That's how I framed this--if I was running for office. This is the position that I think Democratic candidates should take.  If they do, then that sets the stage for opening up more forums.

But first, we have to in with the blogosphere, and Democratic Party orgnizaitons. Have the conversation amongst ourselves and really hash things out.  Let it grow outward from there.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-05-12 09:12PM | 0 recs
Re: The Medium
Got it. I missed your implied parenthetical. I'd love to see it happen. It would have to start in blue states and it would take some politicians with political courage. I think the defense of the position you outlined is pretty simple, but easy to demagogue. One fundamental problem with our media and our campaign system is that it is so easy to demagogue issues. Demagoguery has become the default postion on most issues.

I would love to see a real, honest to goodness political dialogue on the issues. One step that comes to mind is taking back the political debates from the parties. They both use the debate process to control and water down the issues, not engage in a real dialogue with the American people.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-12 10:47PM | 0 recs
Get gov't out of marriage business
The real solution is to just get government out of the marriage business altogether.

The last real government interest in marriage disappeared when they stopped requiring blood work.

There should be a broad civil union that everyone can get, without regard to the genders of those involved.  Thus, a legal framework exists for dealing with property, children, death, divorce, taxes, work benefits, etc.

Then, if you want a marriage in the traditional sense, you go to the traditional source: a church.

by jcjcjc 2005-05-12 08:15PM | 0 recs
That Discriminates Against The Secular n/t
by Paul Rosenberg 2005-05-12 08:16PM | 0 recs
Does it?
I'm sure secular folks will find a secular institution that grant them whatever they wish to call a marriage.

In fact, I think it would emphasize something that the devoutly secular have needed to do for a long time: develop some visible, everyday institutions.

by jcjcjc 2005-05-13 05:48AM | 0 recs
The point of being secular...
...is that you don't have to bother with institutions.

Why should we have to change just because all the nonsecular people out there need to have people in authority telling them how to act?

by craverguy 2005-05-13 06:05AM | 0 recs
Re: The point of being secular...
Why have marriage at all?

To my mind, it's simpler to create a generic legal framework without religious implications attached.

If you want to call your civil union a marriage, suit yourself.

Just understand that when you do your paper work, you better look for the words "civil union".

In a way, this idea's a tad post-modern.  It's meant to defuse a bad problem by taking down that which created it.

Much of the problem with gay marriage (or, for that matter, other forms of marriage such as polygomy) is that marriage has a very rigid cultural meaning.  For very obvious reasons, the "marriage = a man + a woman" bumper sticker is popular with conservatives.

If you disconnect that meaning from the larger problem, folks will be more receptive.

Given that, on the whole, the majority of Americans have no problem with gay civil unions, this seems like the shortest possible route to providing some sort of legal status.

I tend to be a waffler between social activism and libertarianism.  My view is that government should facilitate as much as necessary and nothing more.

Civil unions fit this bill.  Gov't facilitates a legal structure for deat, taxes, etc. for a couple.  Gov't doesn't endorse an overt meaning tied down in religion for the union.

by jcjcjc 2005-05-13 06:27AM | 0 recs
Why have marriage at all?
So you can have sex in the spare bedroom at your parents' house without making your Mom mad.
by NCDem 2005-05-13 08:56AM | 0 recs
My mom was very liberal
She would have just asked us to make sure we're using protection.
by jcjcjc 2005-05-13 09:08AM | 0 recs
discrimination is still discriminatory
Here in Canada we have concluded that any change in the rules or names or definitions which results in continuing to deny gay people the right to marry is sexism and therefore discriminatory, regardless of how laudatory and progressive it may appear to be.
Changing the name of marriage so that it can continue to be denied to gay people is disriminatory.
Permitting gay people to form civil unions, but not to marry, is discriminatory.
Getting the government out of the marriage business just so that they don't have to permit gay marriage is discriminatory.
This is what our courts have said, and what a significant majority of Canadians now support.
The suggestion that civil unions would just be the first step, until people get used to the idea of gay marriage, won't work.  Its like suggesting that the "colored only" water fountain should be moved halfway closer to the "white only" water fountain, or women formerly paid 60 percent of what men make should now be paid 75 percent of what men make.
If you want American society to go all the way on gay marriage, then that is what you must fight for, right from the beginning.
by CathiefromCanada 2005-05-13 11:07PM | 0 recs
I Agree: discrimination is still discriminatory
I agree with this 100%. That's why I have to say that I'm for gay marriage. And it's why I have to fight for it. I only accept civil unions as a waystation in that fight.

If it were only a matter of losing votes I would not compromise, even temporarily. Unfortunately, it is not. As I have written several times, the battle is not just for equal rights. There is a deeper, even more fundamental battle: The battle for full acceptance, for people's hearts and minds. And that battle cannot be won by imposing gay marriage before people have come to accept it--even to want it.  

Now, if I were to stop when civil unions were approved, or simply to lapse into occassional prefunctory calls for gay marriage, then that position, in my eyes, would be immoral. It would amount to a true, de facto acceptance of discrimination.  But that is not my position.  Civil unions are a way-station, a way of making people more comfortable with the notion. After a while, the majority of people will come to think, "this is just silly, not letting them call it 'marriage,'" and that's when gay marriage will be embraced and supported by a straight majority.  And that's what I'm committed to. Not winning a war. But winning a peace.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-05-14 06:40AM | 0 recs
Re: discrimination
Yes, acceptance is the ideal. It just doesn't happen on its own.  
Black people waited well into their second century in the US for white people to "accept" them as equals -- and it didn't happen until the courts and the federal marshals forced integration.  And look what happened to Jews in Europe -- lacking the mechanism of a Constitution through which they could have asked for anti-semitism to be banned, they faced two thousand years of discrimination, culminating in the Holocast -- the worst hate-crime the world has ever seen.
Here in Canada, gay marriage wasn't on anyone's horizon until several provincial supreme courts ruled that denying marriage to gays was unconstitutional because it contravened our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And then, instead of using this as wedge issue, Liberal Prime Ministers Chretien and Martin led Canadians to respect the court's judgement and defining this not as a moral issue but as a civil rights issue, which a majority could then support.    
by CathiefromCanada 2005-05-14 09:57AM | 0 recs
In Case You Hadn't Noticed
The US isn't Canada. You are a civilized nation. We are not. The struggle here has to take a different form.
by Paul Rosenberg 2005-05-14 10:41AM | 0 recs
Thank you
Americans have to be administered their medicine very slowly.

Look at the snail's pace of resolving the race issue.

by jcjcjc 2005-05-14 10:00PM | 0 recs
Not completely a diversion
I'm not that keen on heterosexual marriage, either.  Then again, I'm not that keen on any religious institution.

I see marriage as a religious institution, and thereby I see legal marriage as a branch of theocracy.

by jcjcjc 2005-05-14 10:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Get gov't out of marriage business
That makes sense to me jcjcjc. Of course you'd be accused of hating religion and Christians. Are there any states where this type of legislation has been proposed?
by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-12 09:08PM | 0 recs
How does it hate them?
Hell, it legally returns the right of marriage to them.  
by jcjcjc 2005-05-13 05:47AM | 0 recs
Re: How does it hate them?
I'm not saying it actually does. I'm saying they would be accused of hating Christians and hating religion. That's where I disagree with Paul about not attacking the religious wingnuts.

I think your proposal is great and may be perfectly fine with a majority of Americans. Rev. Sheldon, Falwell and Robertson are going to accuse any politicans that proposes it of hating Christians. Bill O'Reilly will be right behind them all the way. Chris Matthews and Wolf Blizter will help by inviting all of them on their show and pretending it is perfectly natural to accuse anyone who supports your proposal of hating God. Wolf would probably accuse Paul Begala of being a bad Catholic again.

We can't have a conversation with these folks and the MSM is going to side with the wingnuts. I'm not saying it's right. I'm just pointing out what happens to even the most reasonable proposals.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-13 06:01AM | 0 recs
This is very true
OK.  Point taken.

However, I think sometimes the theocons need called out on their shit.

Changing the gov't role in marriage would be classic.

On the whole, most Americans tend to favor the most practicable libertarian ideal.  That's what this proposal is.

This would align with the larger effort to expose the far right for their real agenda: not smaller gov't and freedom, but the implemenetation of theocracy.

by jcjcjc 2005-05-13 06:19AM | 0 recs
Re: This is very true
I am in total agreement with you on this one. The only question is who is going to call them on their shit? What all of the crybaby whiners about Democratic litmus tests don't understand is that they are playing into the wingnut playbook.

If the Democratic party doesn't call the wingnuts on their bullshit, nobody will. Or those that do will be ignored. The problem with Biden and Feinstein and Kerry being pro Iraq War is that it makes it impossible to call Bush on his bullshit.

All Dems opposed to an illegal, immoral way that is being conducted totally in violation of the Geneva convention can say is "I'm calling kinda sorta bullshit, because leaders in my party agree with Bush."

Same thing happens on gay rights and abortion. We get boxed into a lose/lose situation.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-13 10:02AM | 0 recs
Gaming the game
The Dems' worst moment by far was their cowed support for the 2002 war powers resolution.  Whoever bullshit the Dems into believing that following is great way to demonstrate leadership needs slapped.

Everyone in Washington knew this war was going to be a wreck.  You had a million credible people, including the minds behind the Gulf War, such as Brent Scrowcroft, saying the war was going to be a mess.

But, the Dems split the difference, between those who figured "let the GOP have its war" and those who thought supporting the war would win votes.

I have to admit that the war resolution was by far my most uncomfortable moment as a Democrat.

While in general I support the goal of the war, it struck me as not just impractical to do it without international support, but antithetical to the first war with Iraq and its stated goal of turning back international aggression.

Saddam Hussein was not the sharpest bulb in the shed, if you know what I mean.  Forcing international inspections would have tipped his hand.  No dictator can admit he doesn't have WMDs he's supposed to have.  Otherwise, he looks foolish before his own people.

The Hussein would have fallen, or the US could have proceded with international support.

Judging by the current manpower shortage, 20,000 Frenchie and Kraut troops might have come in very handy.

In all, this was a fight that we picked on the wrong terms, and we alienated a lot of friends in the process.  Instead of bolstering our position internationally, this war risks wrecking US policy for 20 years.

by jcjcjc 2005-05-13 04:16PM | 0 recs
But then we'd have to
let the Frenchie and Kraut oil and construction companies in, too.

Thus defeating the purpose. The whole purpose of the PNAC is to gain the upper hand in a struggle between the US, the EU and China for global economic dominance.

Why is it that nobody gets this?

by catastrophile 2005-05-13 05:04PM | 0 recs
Not so sure
If gaining the upper-hand were all there was to it, alternative energy would go a lot further than oil.

I'm not sold that the grand superpower game is such a key factor, since the fight for oil is being done more on the markets than on the battlefield.  Given the long-term impact the Iraq War had on oil prices, it certainly wasn''t the best move.

I think there are a few other things operating in the Iraq war beside oil.

  1. Democratizing the Middle East.  Although, to some extent, there is little doubt they hope democratic governments will de-nationalize oil resources.

  2. Finishing the first war with Iraq.  

  3. Stopping anything worse than Saddam.  For all the propaganda involved, it's hard to miss the impression that Saddam's sons would have been worse business.

  4. Placing a military presence forward in a key theatre of war.  Iraq is a great location, providing staging for operations against all the troublespots of the Middle East.

#4 is in fact probably the key reason for the Iraq War.  In fact, with the Saudis basically kicking us out, the US military needed a large country that could facilitate bases.  Qatar is a good place for an HQ, but not so much if you need to place a lot of troops, tanks, and planes in one spot.

The real travesty of all this is that we didn't finish what we started in 1991, and instead left the Shi'ites to be butchered and the Kurds to slog it out for over ten years.

by jcjcjc 2005-05-13 07:12PM | 0 recs
Let me 'splain.
No -- there is too much. Let me sum up:

I didn't say oil, I said economic dominance.

Economic dominance is when you don't need to jockey for position in the marketplace because you own the market.

There's more, but this is off-topic and the thread is too damn long anyway. C'mere.

by catastrophile 2005-05-14 03:40AM | 0 recs
No proposals yet
I've heard an occassional rumbling of the idea itself.  To the best of my knowledge, no state has done anything to get out of the marriage business.
by jcjcjc 2005-05-13 05:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Get gov't out of marriage business
I agree completely. Civil unions for everyone.

Confusion over the difference between legal "marriage" and the religious ideals of marriage is bad for the Church and bad for the law.

Churches have people confusing what people do in Vegas with what they teach as a sacred, lifelong commitment. People who want a legal document have to worry about restrictions put on them not by law but by religion.

by wayward 2005-05-13 03:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Get gov't out of marriage business
I'm living in Europe for the moment, and in the interest of separation of church and state, they have taken the opposite stand.  Legally, marriage is  a civil contract.  That is all that is required.  Marriage in a church may or may not follow.  Here in Germany, people often forgo the church wedding.  In the early part of the century an agreement was made between the churches (almost exclusively Lutheran and Catholic) and the state.  Churches would withdraw from executing all legal functions in exchange for  receiving an automatic tithe from every German who has his religion listed.  You can only marry in the church if your religion is listed with the government and you pay your tithe.  This was done, ostensibly, to diminish the power of the church.
by prince myshkin 2005-05-14 12:24AM | 0 recs
Anecdotally,
we have friends, she is French and wants a church wedding, he is German and doesn't, mostly because of the tithe.  They have decided to marry in France, where the church has very little power.
by prince myshkin 2005-05-14 12:26AM | 0 recs
You're on the right track
-- as long as our candidates act like they are afraid of the issue, they're only lending credence to the opposition.  

The key, however, is to shift the focus from "approve/disapprove" -- to FAIRNESS.  Therefore, your FIRST point should be that you believe in fairness, you believe in the principles of liberty and justice for all, etc -- and that your deep respect for THOSE principles leads you to conclude that it simply isn't FAIR to EXCLUDE an entire group of our citizens from basic rights that everyone else takes for granted.

Then turn the questions around on the opposition: Do you think it's FAIR that to keep someone from visiting their partner in the hospital?  Do you think it's fair that they have to spend money on lawyers to get rights that you get automatically?  Do you think it's fair that YOU can marry an non-citizen, and have her join you here in the states, but same-sex couples don't have the same privilege?  Please tell me sir, how is that fair?

by ned 2005-05-12 09:29PM | 0 recs
Fairness
The issue of fairness is why people will support civil unions, even though they are still totally mindfucked on the issue of marriage. It would really be simple to craft a an incredibly powerful series of commercials on this theme, since the injustice, and the pain it causes are so palpable, so blatant, and so impossible to defend.

But before we can do that with maximum effect, we really need to have this conversation amongst ourselves, and we really need to get conservative Dems to stop with the fearmongering.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-05-12 10:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Fairness
I think that's exactly why UCC's Extravagant Welcome commercial was such a threat, both to the religious wingnuts and to the MSM. I'm still a little astonished that they turned down revenue and refused to run it.

Getting any kind of informed rational discussion into the MSM is going to be a challenge. Last week's issue of the Nation, Radio Waves had some great articles about radio. There may be hope.

Confessions of a listener by Garrison Keilor

Calling Air America

Congress tunes in

Good, gray NPR

Prometheus Unbound about low power FM.

It was an outstanding issue and I didn't get a chance to do a single diary from it. My life's a little busy right at the moment.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-12 10:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Un-fucking a Few Minds
Whenever the topic arises, we need to be clear that what we are talking about is CIVIL marriage.  This has nothing whatsoever to do with what happens in churches.  We need to be clear about this in our talking points.

The problem with the "M" word is twofold: it conflates the religious sacrament with the civil institution of marriage -- and it causes people to think about weddings, when what really matters is what happens long afterwards.  Your minister or your religious beliefs don't enter into the discussion when the time comes, after your lifelong partner dies, to decide who gets to keep the house.

This problem is made worse when news programs select "religious" figures such as Jerry Falwell to make the anti-marriage case, who then proceed to do so on religious grounds.  I says a lot that the right has yet to put forth a "legal" expert to argue on the merits that the decision in Massachusetts was wrong.  It wasn't, and they know it.

by ned 2005-05-13 07:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Un-fucking a Few Minds
They also twist who is imposing their morality on who. Exactly like abortion, they claim "secular humanists" are imposing their anti-religious views on people of faith. Nobody and no church would be compelled to conduct gay marriages. They, on the other hand, want to impose their religiosity on everybody.

Governments would be required to recognize gay marriage. Individuals and churches would not. The only "recognition" gay marriage requires is recognition that they are entitled to the same legal rights as other married people. It has little or nothing to do with morality or religion.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-14 02:53AM | 0 recs
GREAT DIARY!
This is a great diary.
I agree 100 % with you

A lot of proponents of gay marriage have focused on term "marriage" and have taken the focus off equal rights, albeit unintentionally.

The goal that has to be realized is equal rights.

On # 2, I would add that I believe that forcing the issue actually hurts the equal rights cause because it can easily obscure it and cause some who may be sympathetic to our cause to rebel against it.  I wouldn't say it publicly, but it does need to be kept in mind.

Also on # 2, I wouldn't call the opposition's view irrational publicly.  Again, it detracts from what we are for, which is equal rights, and calls out the opposition.  The goal isn't calling out the opposition, it is equal rights.  You may get some converts this way.

In general, we often fail to state our argument clearly.  We may hate to admit it, but a lot of good people are against gay marriage.  We must appeal to that goodness, not force a fight.

Hopefully, this is constructive.
A lot of people will think I'm weak, which is their right.
But appealing to goodness can work.
Venom can sometimes just cause a return of venom.

by v2aggie2 2005-05-12 10:39PM | 0 recs
This diary ...
should be titled "Gay Marriage - A Lame, Vote-Losing Stand" by Paul Rosenberg, because that's what the author is really offering.
Until the Democrats stand up for their supporters they will continue to lose.
The dems should take a stand on gay marriage instead of pandering to bigots who believe by merely changing the name we can change the subject.
by ChrisD 2005-05-13 04:44AM | 0 recs
Re: This diary ...
Perhaps you would like to offer your suggestion of how a Democratic politician should campaign on gay rights. Do you have anything positive to add to the conversation?
by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-13 05:15AM | 0 recs
I think he did fine...
He was sort of abrasive, but we should be able to take that.  

You don't agree with him?

by NCDem 2005-05-13 07:32AM | 0 recs
This IS Standing Up For Our Supporters!
I'm looking for a little dialogue here, not a slogan fight. I'd welcome your participation.
by Paul Rosenberg 2005-05-13 04:08PM | 0 recs
Judge strikes down Nebraska Ban on gay marriage
In the L.A. Times, Nebraska's Ban on Gay Marriage Is Struck Down.

Let the right wingnut teeth gnashing being:

A federal judge struck down Nebraska's ban on gay marriage Thursday, saying the measure interfered not only with the rights of gay couples but also with those of foster parents, adopted children and people in a host of other living arrangements.

The state constitutional amendment, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, was passed by voters in November 2000.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon said the ban "imposes significant burdens on both the expressive and intimate associational rights" of gays "and creates a significant barrier to the plaintiffs' right to petition or to participate in the political process."

Bataillon said the ban "goes far beyond merely defining marriage as between a man and a woman." The judge said the "broad proscriptions could also interfere with or prevent arrangements between potential adoptive or foster parents and children, related persons living together, and people sharing custody of children as well as gay individuals."

Forty states have laws barring same-sex marriages, but Nebraska's ban went further, prohibiting same-sex couples from enjoying many of the legal protections that heterosexual couples enjoy. Gays and lesbians who work for the state or the University of Nebraska system, for example, were banned from sharing health insurance and other benefits with their partners.

A thought percolated to my consciousness overnight. For starters, how about a campaign to force one of the major networks to carry the UCC's Extravagant Welcome ad?

Politicians are not going to lead with their chin on this issue. We have at force the networks to accept the UCC's innocuous ad so homophobic Americans are compelled to face their homophobia. It would also bring out the worst in the wingnut homophobes as they put their hate on display over a very Christian concept of welcoming all "sinners" to attend church.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-13 05:22AM | 0 recs
Gay Marriage
A democratic politician should stand up for gay marriage, obviously.  
Kerry's clumsy remarks about gay marriage - which is legal in my home state and enjoyed by my gay sister - was such an obvious pander.
I'm tired of cutting my politicians slack.
by ChrisD 2005-05-13 05:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Gay Marriage
I'd like to see a primary challenge against Kerry. The fact that he is co-sponsoring any legislation with Rick Santorum is viscerally disgusting.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-13 06:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Gay Marriage
When we're done with that, let's sponsor a primary challenge to Ted Kennedy! He co-sponsored No Child Left Behind!

And when we're done with that, let's sponsor a primary challenge to Russ Feingold, who voted to move John Ashcroft out of committee!

When we're done with that, let's sponsor a primary challenge to Barack Obama, who voted to approve Rice!

When we're done with that, let's go after Barbara Boxer! She voted in favor of the prescription drug benefit!

Seriously, though, while I understand your frustration and certainly don't approve of Kerry's pandering this week, running someone against our most liberal senator because of his insufficient liberal zeal would take counter-productivity to a whole new level. Let's use that time and money against a Republican or, failing that, Lieberman.

by Crazy Vaclav 2005-05-13 09:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Gay Marriage
Why don't you just go back on your meds and you can stop saying crazy shit?

I am discussing Democrats that have a cumulative record of being collaborators with the Bush agenda. I am talking about sending a message that instead of worrying about the thunder on the right, they need to stop taking the left for granted and start pandering to their base.

What a novel concept! Pandering to your natural constituents instead of your opponents! Is there a chance it could catch on?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-13 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Gay Marriage
Actually, I'm in basic agreement with your novel concept of agitating the base. (Sure works for the GOP.) And based on "natural constituents," Kerry is probably the senator who has the absolute least reason to pander to the right on gay marriage. If it were Tim Johnson or Mary Landrieu making these comments, I'd say, OK, do what you gotta do to survive in a super-red state, but Kerry doesn't need to do this crap to get re-elected in Mass. Obviously he's trying to race Hillary toward the mythical center in order to position himself for 2008, and it's costing him credibility.

My other point was just that we on the left have to use our ammunition wisely instead of spraying it at everything that moves. (Although, in the blogosphere, ammunition is free and endlessly available.) Despite the occasional making-an-ass-of-himself moments like this one and his IWR finger-in-the-wind, I wouldn't consider Kerry to be a person with a cumulative agenda of Republican collaboration. Simply put, he's one of our most liberal senators, and if we're drawing up a list of Senators who most need to be targeted for defeat, I'd rank him somewhere between 95 and 100. Once we've installed Noam Chomsky as majority leader and Angela Davis as majority whip, then I will joyfully join you in going after Kerry.

by Crazy Vaclav 2005-05-13 10:26AM | 0 recs
I rated you with 3's and Gary with 2's
Because your comments were Super and his were Lame.

Look, I am starting to think the Kerry gay marriage thing is being blown out of proportion, possibly.  It is possible that the reporter asked him a question and he answered truthfully, what he believed.  I don't think he brought it up.  The fact that it happened in Louisana and that it does dovetail with a "moving to the right for the 08 presidential race" is more than a bit fishy, however.

He is a fine senator who should learn from 04 and never run for president again.

If you are going to primary challenge somebody, pick Lieberman, damnit.

by Geotpf 2005-05-13 10:31AM | 0 recs
Re: I rated you with 3's and Gary with 2's
Why not run a primary challenge against both of them? What's the problem with that?
by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-13 10:44AM | 0 recs
Re: I rated you with 3's and Gary with 2's
Problem 1 is that a primary challenge wouldn't do a thing to Kerry; it wouldn't defeat him and he wouldn't take it as a call to change his ways. A challenge by a no-name wouldn't even attract his attention, and a challenge by a known quantity -- let's say Barney Frank -- well, he might draw 35 or 40% in a primary, but at what cost? The loss of his super-safe House seat? No sane person would take on that suicide mission, and, with the possible exception of Frank (or Robert Reich, who unfortunately is about half the size of Kerry), I can't think of any big-name in Mass who'd be a notable improvement anyway.

Problem 2 is that the netroots have a finite amount of time and money, and every dollar we spend on circular-firing-squad activities is a dollar we don't spend going after the GOP in close races. Is it worth spending millions to try to send a wake-up call to Kerry when we could use that money to finish off Santorum or Conrad Burns?

I'm with you that Kerry shouldn't bother with running in 2008 and it's embarrassing watching him try to position himself to do so. And if he's truly your most-viscerally-hated Democrat instead of Lieberman, well, fine, I can live with that; at least that brings a little diversity to this particular website! As for him remaining in the Senate, though, we've got hundreds of bigger problems to worry about.

by Crazy Vaclav 2005-05-13 01:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Gay Marriage
More batshit crazy nonsense:

Once we've installed Noam Chomsky as majority leader and Angela Davis as majority whip, then I will joyfully join you in going after Kerry.

When hell freezes over I'll stop criticizing Kerry. The worst part of Kerry's abominable pandering is that he is from a blue state. There is absolutely no way that he is co-sponsoring the Pharmacists Right to Treat Women Like Dirt Act with Rick Santorum because there is an outpouring of grassroots activism from Massachussets.

He has the insane idea that he can win the Democratic primary in 2007. How he can blithely ignore the fact that he not only demonstrated he doesn't have any balls when he backed down from the Swiftboat Liars, he also lied about collecting contributions for the Ohio Vote Challenge Fund.

What can Kerry say when someone asks him why we should believe his claims that he will make sure that every vote is counted in 2008?

I'll makes sure every vote is counted unless I decide to weenie out and conceed again.

Kerry is pandering on abortion, a woman's right to purchase legal medication without interrogation by a batshit crazy pharmacist, and civil unions. He is not pandering to the religious right because the people that voted for him want him to pander to the religious right. Kerry is acting like a Rick Santorum sockpuppet because he has delusions that Democrats can be fooled again into believing he has bigger balls than Theresa.

The Swiftboat Liars were wrong on all the facts and they were right about the man. Kerry has no principles. He has no moral core. He has no integrity. I absolutely despise John Kerry and nothing anyone says can change my mind. Kerry is worse than Lieberman. At least Joe Loserman doesn't have bizarre delusions of grandeur about running for President.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-13 12:16PM | 0 recs
Principals
If something is right, and marriage for gays and polys is, then it doesn't matter whether everyone else is "ready" for it.

Some people still aren't "ready" for mixed race marriages.  Would you force me into a civil union if I wanted to marry a black woman?

Some people aren't "ready" to treat blacks as equal.  Should we go make to the 3/5ths compromise until we're all ready to treat people equally?

What we're talking about is a basic human right, the right to say, "I love this person and I am committed to this person for the rest of our lives."  We call that marriage.  We don't call it a civil union.  There are rights and responsibilities that come with marriage in our society.  To deny those to people is simply wrong.

by jd142 2005-05-13 06:09AM | 0 recs
Narcissism Doesn't Cut It
Being 100% "right" and 100% counterproductive does not make you a moral human being. It makes you a narcissist.  

Furthermore, demonizing those who demonize you (or your friends and allies) is no way to win them over. The only lasting way to defeat an enemy is to make them a friend. And that's the sort of victory we should be seeking.

Look, a huge chunk of the les-bi-gay community has first-hand experience with intense hatred and homophobia from their own families. This gives many of them a far more nuanced, far more compassionate and pragmatic outlook.

Sure they want their rights, and they are 100% committed to it. But they want more than their rights, they want acceptance, not just tolerance. And that's an even harder goal. Waiting a bit on the easier goal in order to get the harder one is a trade-off that many of them willingly support. So it isn't betraying them to look for the best way to do this.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-05-13 04:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Narcissism Doesn't Cut It

But they want more than their rights, they want acceptance, not just tolerance.

So being accepted as a functioning human being isn't a basic human right?

by jd142 2005-05-14 03:26AM | 0 recs
The Nature of Rights
So being accepted as a functioning human being isn't a basic human right?

No, it's not. A right is something that is legally enforceable.  You cannot legislate what is in another person's heart. You cannot command that. You must persuade it.  It's a lot more difficult, but a lot more rewarding.  That's where the real struggle lies.

Rights are very important. But ultimately, they are only a means to an end. The end is what Martin Luther King called "the beloved community."

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-05-14 07:29AM | 0 recs
Gay Marriage
There already exists a framework where marriage has two separate identities---the civil part and for those who wish it, the religious part.  Obviously, getting married in front of a judge or a justice of the peace would be enough to legitimize the union.  When a priest, minister, rabbi, etc. conducts the wedding, he/she is performing the civil portion on behalf of the state plus adding the blessing of the particular religion involved.

In the best of all worlds, any consenting adult could marry any other consenting adult as long as no compelling state interest to prevent it.

I believe that the best place to start the process of politicians/candidates speaking out on the issue on the basis of human rights would be the 'red states'.  I suggest this because it would be too easy for a candidate to 'preach to the choir' of a 'blue state' and would not be as major a gain as succeeding with the issue in a 'red state'.

by shadow 2005-05-13 07:39AM | 0 recs
MichiganDemocrat
I am confused on this issue.  As a 49-year old gay man, when I was in my 20's, gays were largely happy not to be gay-bashed when they ventured downtown to "pursue happiness" at the gay tavern.  My, how things have changed.  The gay movement has moved from a fringe element, to a celebrity-driven frenzy on the talk shows in the 80's, to some kind of almost real acceptance in the 90's in the blue states, well, some of the blue states.  In my blue state of Michigan, we don't have a non-discrimination in employment bill, and gays are not included in the hate crimes law.

I am so happy to be alive in a time of increasing openess and acceptance for gays in America.  I envy the young people in their teens and 20's now who are able to live their whole lives in this new dignity and freedom in many parts of the country, particularly on the East and West coasts, and in Chicago.  

Because of my personally devoutly Catholic period ( I'm now a "recovering Catholic"), I was slow to embrace myself fully as a gay man, although I did come out when I was 20, traveled to Ssn Francisco, and was young in the era of disco.  Oh, if I could go back to those days!

Anyway, I agree with both sides.  I think the Democratic Party needs to take a clear stand and stand up for its base and consituentcy. Gay people are, except for blacks, the most loyal Democratic constituency the party has.  To stand up for full marriage rights would send a signal of strength and principle.  

However, we must remember that marriage has a long history of particular meaning and nuances to millions of people, particularly the religious.  But, are these people going to vote Democratic anyway?  The devoutly Catholic have left the party over abortion, and some of them also, like the white Southerners, the older ones, began leaving in the late 60's and 70's because of civil rights.

I think the Democratic Party has an image of nominees who are wishy-washy and no clear principles on major issues besides pro-choice.

The Democratic Party should committ itself to full marriage rights for gay people as a matter of principle.  We may lose some, or a lot of votes, but over time we might gain lots of others, particularly among the up and coming young voters who have grown up without homophobia and have gay friends and might be attracted to a party which committs itself on principle to fairness.

Even though I belive thare was major manipulation of the 2004 election, the one reason why millions of people voted for Bush was that, even if they did not agree with him on some issues, they thought he was a strong leader and felt they knew where he stood.  Sadly, the same thing could not be said for John Kerry.  (Much of this was matter of perception, and not fair to Kerry, but we can cast lots of blame on the corporate media for pushing that perception of Kerry as a flip-floper>

Sometimes, as the beer commercial says, you got to go for the gusto.  This is one of those times.  

by MichiganDemocrat 2005-05-13 09:14AM | 0 recs
Re: MichiganDemocrat
So the Democratic base is gays?
by Alex Urevick 2005-05-13 09:39AM | 0 recs
This Idea Brought To You By Bad Idea Jeans...
Why the hell do we keep focusing on Republican wedge issues?

How about, instead of playing right into the hands of our adversaries on the right, we simply change the subject when people bring up the non-issue?

Reporter: "Senator- what is your stand on gay marriage"

Senator: "Why the hell are you talking about gay marriage when working men and women in this country can't find a decent job, when health care has become a privlidge instead of a right, when the government has ceased protecting its citizens from predatory and uscrupulous banks and credit card companies?"

R: "But Senator, your opponant has said that you would force every man to have sex with a dog."

S: "I'm not sure why my opponant is so focussed on sex when there is a war going on. Does my opponant have such disregard for our troops that he's rather switch the topic away from them and their saftey? Why does my opponant hate our nation?"

Etc, etc.

The next person who says that we should take a strong stand on gay marriage, abortion, or religion in general gets voted off the island!!!

by Alex Urevick 2005-05-13 09:38AM | 0 recs
Vote me off the island
How about, instead of playing right into the hands of our adversaries on the right, we simply change the subject when people bring up the non-issue?

And we are going to change the subject how?

The issue is not going away and the Republican wingnuts and the MSM are not going to let us change the subject. We can either take a stand or surrender civil liberties for women, gays and the vast majority of rational Christians.

We need to fight back instead of surrendering the playing field. The tactics of how we fight back may be negotiable, but the strategy is not. We've already tried advancing to the rear and it hasn't worked.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-13 10:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Vote me off the island
Nope, you're wrong- to a degree. We can change the subject, but our politicians are currently inept at the task, and so instead of changing the subject they cosponser bills with raving right-wing lunatics.

Here's a great piece on wedge issues from Shanto Iyengar at Stanford. Notice how damaging appealing to reason on a wedge issue is. Appealing to the oppossing side's wedge is a great tool- for losing an election.

I also think you might find the latest part of my thesis interesting, which deals with media effects and political decision making.

by Alex Urevick 2005-05-13 10:23AM | 0 recs
We denfitinely should not bring up the...
...subject.  However, when forced to answer the question, really backed into a corner, the above should be our guy's answer.
by Geotpf 2005-05-13 10:34AM | 0 recs
We SHOULD Bring It Up
If we bring it up first, we can frame it best. And we can frame it as a matter of being true to America's deepest values--liberty and justice for all.  

If we bring it up first, and frame it that way, we do not have to dwell on it. But it makes it that much easier for us to counter-punch when they try to attack us with it later on.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-05-13 04:39PM | 0 recs
Re: We SHOULD Bring It Up
Michael Kinsley says that the idea of gay marriage first entered the public forum in the 1987 when he asked Andrew Sullivan, as a gay conservative, to present the "conservative" case for gay marriage, making the case that it leads to stability, loyalty, good citizenship, everything that good middle class Americans are concerned about.
I think that if you look at social movements, gay marriage has gone from completely off the radar in the public consciousnesss, to being almost accepted in record time.  Perhaps because gays and lesbians are evenly mixed in all strata of society so that almost everyone has the opportunity to know and like at least someone who is gay.  Often before they even know that they are out.  
by prince myshkin 2005-05-14 12:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Vote me off the island
That will take a little while to digest. I'll take a look.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-13 05:59PM | 0 recs
Why Focus On A GOP Wedge Issue
(1) Just because I am focusing attention on it, doesn't mean I am advocating making it a focus.  If you want to deal with something quickly and effectively when it comes up, so that you can move on to the point you want focus on, then it makes good sense to spend the time it takes to get the right response.

(2) My ultimate goal is to defuse it and transform it, so that it no longer works as a wedge issue. As far as any les-bi-gay issues go, I think that the focus should be on equality, on "liberty and justice for all."  The more we do that, the less it works for them, and the more it works for us.

(3) It's also about demonstrating character, toughness and resolve.  We really don't want to dwell on it, I agree. There are other issues that are much more important for us to be talking about--not because gay rights aren't important, but because gaining power is what campaigns are all about.  

But in order to speak credibly on these other issues, we have to be strong and unapologetic when they come after us with their dirtiest demonizing shit.  We have to show that we're the grown ups, we're the responsible ones, we're the courageous ones and we're the straight-talking ones. All that is very important because it carries over to any other issue that we talk about.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-05-13 04:36PM | 0 recs
The Democratic Base
Alex Urevick:

Yes, the gays are part of the Democratic base. As I said, apart from blacks, one of the most loyal components of the Democratic base.  Do you have a problem with that?

by MichiganDemocrat 2005-05-13 09:43AM | 0 recs
Re: The Democratic Base
Yes I do. First of all, what percentage of the voting population is gay or will vote in favor of gay marriage/civil union referendums?

It's not that I don't believe in Gay Rights, or fighting for them, but focusing our attentions on Republican wedge issues does more harm than good for both Dems and the gays that make up a small part of our base.

Keep talking about gays- Rove will love you for it!

by Alex Urevick 2005-05-13 09:54AM | 0 recs
Re: The Democratic Base
How about if we talk about civil liberties instead?

I guess I should have made the key points in the L.A. Times article I linked to more prominant:

A federal judge struck down Nebraska's ban on gay marriage Thursday, saying the measure interfered not only with the rights of gay couples but also with those of foster parents, adopted children and people in a host of other living arrangements.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon said the ban "imposes significant burdens on both the expressive and intimate associational rights" of gays "and creates a significant barrier to the plaintiffs' right to petition or to participate in the political process."

Bataillon said the ban "goes far beyond merely defining marriage as between a man and a woman." The judge said the "broad proscriptions could also interfere with or prevent arrangements between potential adoptive or foster parents and children, related persons living together, and people sharing custody of children as well as gay individuals."

Instead of running for cover and trying to change the subject, we attack on civil liberties. There are millions of foster parents and divorced couples who share custody of children. There are all kinds of new and improved living arrangements that will be affected.

Notice the part about right to petition or to participate in the political process. These are not trivial rights. Would you be so willing to surrender your civil liberties as you are the civil liberties of gays?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-13 10:19AM | 0 recs
Re: The Democratic Base
Who says I'm surrendering anything? I'm all for gay rights, but I'm MORE for all the other things that I listed.

But- talking about civil rights instead of gay marriage is a great way to go. It's kinda like the right talking about so-called "partial-birth abortions"- it avoids the contensious nature of the oppositions wedge while pushing forth their unpopular agenda.

I'm talking strategy here, not principles. The fact that we can't seperate the two is one of our great downfalls.

by Alex Urevick 2005-05-13 10:26AM | 0 recs
Re: The Democratic Base
Not "our" great downfalls. The "DLC Democrats" great downfalls. They are the problem because they refuse to fight back against batshit crazy wingnuts.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-13 02:37PM | 0 recs
A Non-Issue?
Alex, are you serious, gay marriage is a non-issue?  I am not interested in marrying personally, but I know, to the younger gays with more options than I this is a major concern.  The genie is out of the bottle.  Gay marriage is legal in Canada, in Massashussets, and Spain's parliament just legalized gay marriage.  It is legal in the Netherlands and Belgium, and most of the European Union has passed civil unions or some variant of it.  

The religious right has jumped on this and made it a major issue.  Democrats can stab a loyal member of their base, the gays, in the back by sticking their heads in the sand and avoiding the issue, as you suggest, or they can take a principled stand and support full marriage rights.

I support standing on principle.  You suggest sticking your head in the sand and hoping it will go away to appease religious bigots and homophobes.

by MichiganDemocrat 2005-05-13 09:48AM | 0 recs
Re: A Non-Issue?
Yes, I am.

Well, let me rephrase that- gay marriage is an issue, just not an important one given the following EXTREMELY fucked up issues that we have to deal with:
A failed drug war that is decimating minority neighborhoods, wasting billions of tax payer dollars, and deverting resources from other needs.
A failed health system.
Failing schools.
A dissapearing working-class.
The lack of gov't regulation of debt and credit.
An environment under attack.
Voting systems that are all f-d up nation wide.
A broken immigration system.
The attacks on the social safety net.

Oh, and then there's that whole WAR thing. Ah but, why worry about issues that effect each and every one of us every day when we have Gay Marriage to fight for!

Soldier on troops! Even if we're left with no jobs, health care, clean water, breathable air, relative peace and saftey in the world, and debt prisons we will have fought (and lost) for the rights for John and Joe to tie the knot.

by Alex Urevick 2005-05-13 10:00AM | 0 recs
Re: A Non-Issue?
And while I'm not gay, I'm pretty sure that gay marriage wouldn't be near the top of most gay people's lists either.

I work in one of the most gay-friendly industries (Fashion) in one of the most gay-friendly cities (NYC) and I have never once, not once, heard any of them bring up the right to marry when we talk politics. Now that very well might be because I am not gay, but I'd like to see some sort of survey done on this, because without any power to change anything, let alone gay marriage, I don't see how making this a central part of the Dem platform makes a damned bit of sense.

by Alex Urevick 2005-05-13 10:05AM | 0 recs
A failure to communicate
Nobody is talking about making this the central plank in the Democratic platform. You are confusing strategy with tactics. We have to fight back or at least take a stand on an issue of fundamental human rights.

Civil liberties and human rights are for everybody. You don't get to pick and choose who gets recognition as a human being and who doesn't. It is as fundamental as that.

Paul was suggesting what tactics to use and how to frame the issue. What forums do we use to get our message out? The strategy is to fight back. The question of Paul's diary is what tactics and methods do we use to achieve our strategy.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-13 10:47AM | 0 recs
Re: A failure to communicate
Gary- tell me, in your mind, what the difference is between tactics and strategy?

My understanding of strategy and tactics comes from the military sense of the term, and thus strategy would be along the lines of "the planning AND conduct of politics". From Wikipedia: "Military strategy deals with the planning and conduct of campaigns, the movement and disposition of forces, and the deception of the enemy." In other words the methods used within a strategy are not seperable from the strategy itself. I think that maybe you are trying to say that we have policy goals (which would be analagous to military objectives), which are also part of strategy, and we must formulate a way to achecive these goals, and I agree.  

And so if the strategy was in support of the broader objective/principle of civil rights, I'd say that focusing our energy on gay marriage would be a strategic error, since it would hamper our ability to conduct politics in other areas.

But, if we're going to talk strategy, then we absolutely cannot ignore the age old military maxim of "NEVER REINFORCE A LOSS." If you think our losses on gay rights in the last election were an aberation, I think you're in for a nasty surprise- homophobia and religious intolerance is here to stay, but to fight it head on is to play into it's strengths and diminish our own.

And so, if we are to continue towards our grand objective (which is IMO a progressive majority in this nation) then we're going to have to, unfortunately, focus our energy on other areas where our adversary isn't in such a strong position. I absolutely think that we should be fighting for gay rights- but fighting for gay marriage is a kamikzi mission that will get us nothing but the smug satisfaction of feeling morally superior to our adversary.

by Alex Urevick 2005-05-13 11:54AM | 0 recs
Strategy v. Tactics
From Wikipedia:

/ Carl von Clausewitz, defined military strategy as "the employment of battles to gain the end of war." Military strategy was one of a triumvirate of "arts" or "sciences" that govern the conduct of warfare; the others being tactics, the execution of plans and manoeuvering of forces in battle, and logistics, the maintenance of an army./

The "policy goal" is equal civil rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation, race or religion. By strategy I mean "employing battles" to gain the policy goal of equal civil rights.

By tactics I mean how do we get there from here. I see Paul's diary as engaging the issue on both levels.

(1.) How, when and where do we engage the enemy.

(2.) What tactics do we use to execute our overall plan to achieve our goal of equal rights for all.

I think gay rights is a wedge issue because Democrats allow it to become one by not fighting back aggressively. That is a failure of strategy and tactics. As opposed to "never reinforcing a loss" I would argue that we are leaving our "left flank" open and vulnerable to attack by not defending equal rights for gays. It is a gap in both our defense and our offense.

By assisting the gay community in fighting the bigotry and homophobia of the theocons, we don't detract from our other strategic goals, we enhance our other strategic goals. Our strategy would be enhanced by a unified front. How do we achieve a unified front?

Some would argue we have to unify around setting gay issues aside. Gays are obviously not willing to do that. Gays are obviously going to continue to fight for gay civil rights. They are not going to stop fighting any more than MLK stopped fighting just because the Kennedy clan was less enthusiastic than blacks were.

I think we have an identical problem. The dominant white culture wants the gays to give up. Gays are no more willing to give up than MLK and blacks were in the 60's. Since gays are not going to give up, we can either assist them or continue to let it be a wedge issue by our failure to engage the enemy. By directly engaging the enemy, gay rights is no longer a wedge issue, but just one tactical battle in the overarching strategy aimed at beating back the wingnuts.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-14 03:12AM | 0 recs
Gay Marriage--A Top Gay Issue
This:
while I'm not gay, I'm pretty sure that gay marriage wouldn't be near the top of most gay people's lists either.
is sheer fantasy.

Gay marriage is a top issue for gay people. It's not something that activists hit on. It was forced on them by ordinary gay people.

I was involved in a coalition in the early-mid 90s that was primarily, but not exclusively made up of les-bi-gay organizations. I remember when the issue of gay marriage arose--sepcifically as a result of a lawsuit in Hawaii. It took several months for the activists and organizations to get on board with it. There was some fierce resistence because some people just knew the sort of backlash it would generate. But in the end they just couldn't see themselves posing as leaders and opposing what their constituents wanted--such a basic human right.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-05-13 04:46PM | 0 recs
Wrong.

This wont work.

In today's sound-bite driven culture, you are given approximately 1/2 second to state your views.  You must be able to do it in ten words or less.

You were close to ten words when you said:

"This comes directly from my commitment to the American ideal of equality, of liberty and justice for all."

Here, let's try to tighten that up a bit. Maybe we can get it under the ten-word limit:

"I support equality and liberty for all. Including gays."

There.

by joshyelon 2005-05-13 09:53AM | 0 recs
Communication is the problem
The big problem, even sometimes on the "pro" side, is that misunderstanding on what legal marriage is.

Although, unlike Mexico, there are not two ceremonies for a wedding couple, legal and church/spiritual, they are two completely different entities.

One is a union recognized by the state and the other by God.  Even though pastors are authorized to fill out the form, one really has nothing to do with the other.

The reason that we can find a majority of Americans against legal gay marriage but still for civil unions is because that "flip-flop group" is under the impression that legal gay marriage will affect their church.

This the primary inference used by the extremists to trick the moderates to vote their way("Churches should decide who gets married, not judges").

No church is required to recognize any legal marriage, otherwise the Catholics would be forced to recognize all legal divorces, which they have not done historically.

Gay marriage laws only affect judges, not churches.  No church in Boston is required to perform or recognize gay marriages.  They are unaffected by the change.

by EarthX 2005-05-13 10:12AM | 0 recs
Excellent
by MarcTGFG 2005-05-13 10:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Excellent
I believe that two man who love each other should have the same rights AND OBLIGATIONS as a married couple. Whether thats called marriage or civil unions is a secondary question.
by MarcTGFG 2005-05-13 10:28AM | 0 recs
"The Non-Issue"
Alex Urevick:

I agree with you on all those issues you so concisely listed.  I agree with you that we should emphasize those issues as well.  However, as our Mothers used to tell us, two wrongs don't make a right.  Or two rights don't make a wrong.

We can talk about those issues which you listed which are also more important to me than gay marriage, even though I as a gay man.  We can also support gay marriage as a matter of principle and social justice.

To support gay marriage and to support traditionally populist Democratic principles, as the two of us do, are not mutally exclusive.  I know the rightwing will go nuts, but we can diffuse this by using the less than 10 word sound bite that other person just brought up.

I support freedom and justice for all, including gay people.  

by MichiganDemocrat 2005-05-13 10:22AM | 0 recs
Re: "The Non-Issue"
I'm with you %110 on the liberties thing, and for equal rights for all. But why must we focus on gay rights and not the broader civil rights issue?

Of course this isn't either or, and in the end I'd support any attempts for equality, but should we be making this a central part of our platform.

Let me put it this way- how often did the GOP talk about trashing Social Security during the election? They didn't. They won appealing to fear (of gays and muslims) and then turned around and advanced their broader agenda.

To me it's the same thing with Gay rights. IF we make our platform Equal rights for All, then everyone falls under the banner, and we can avoid (to a degree) the contensious nature of some of the issues falling under the Civil Rights flag.

by Alex Urevick 2005-05-13 10:31AM | 0 recs
Democratic Base For Sure
I think Paul's stance is reasonable, but I'd like to make a few points.

On election day of last year, I traveled with a group in a bus to Henderson Nevada, where we worked a precinct assigned to us, by foot. I was working as volunteer of the California Kerry campaign.

Amazingly enough, we also had ACT, MoveOn and the Sierra Club volunteers working this precinct!! (which voted for Kerry.) Nearly a third of the people in the big tent where we gathered at a local labor union HQ were gay!

The Move On volunteers, two gay guys, went to their hotel and borrowed a wheelchair and brought it back so a man recently released from the hospital could go and vote. They took it upon themselves to do this because the union volunteers who were offering rides could not provide a wheelchair.

Gays represent a large proportion of Democratic activists. My experience going door to door in what is the one of most basic of election duties--GOTV--showed me that gays are committed as anyone else in the Democratic Party and maybe more so, because we have a very real stake in electing officials who believe in our right to exist and our access to the full benefits of citizenhood.

We take this shit personally. Let's face it: the "culture wars" are mainly about abortion and gay rights. There are other aspects to this cultural divide, but these are the two main issues that get people riled up and that Republicans use to divide people.

Organizations like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council spend a large amount of their time and money fighting gay rights initiatives. Fundamentalist religious groups of all persuasions believe that the Bible, which they take literally, condemns homosexuality. They posess a moral certitude that their vision of the world is the correct one. They have lots of resources, millions of volunteers and donors, and access to the corridors of power. They aren't going to back down.

On the other hand, if we believe that gays deserve equal protection and rights under the law and that they deserve the same treatment as other citizens, then we must belief in the moral and ethical correctness of our position. We can't back down either. You believe that gays deserve equal rights or you don't. We can't pick or choose from among the rights of every citizen and say this group should have this right, but not that one. It's a committment to equal rights for all people, period.

When I hear some so-called Christian speaker railing against homosexuality, you can sure bet that it hurts. It hurts when people tell you that your family isn't a real family. I mean, the state of Florida wants to take well-adjusted happy children from a gay-parented family! It's personal all right. Right wing hate has real consequences for real people.

Democrats have to realize that there's no middle ground here. The other side is not going to stop fighting.

Now realistically, supporting civil unions with the FULL benefits allowed to other married couples is a reasonable position. You call it marraige, I call it civil union. It's the same thing to me.

What I want people to understand is it is not really a debatable topic, if you believe in equal rights. Support for gay rights can't be swept under the rug, can't be ignored either, because the other side won't let it go away as an issue.

by joeesha 2005-05-13 10:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Base For Sure
Gee joeesha. You talk like you actually believe that gays are real live people. I don't know why that is such a strange concept for liberals to grasp.

We have to get over the idea that we have to run and hide everytime Rush or Hannity say boo. When batshit crazy wingnuts accuse us of hating Christ or hating America or being un-American, we have to fight back.

You can't compromise on whether or not gays are human beings. You can't negotiate away somebody's right to love and companionship. There is no place in the Bible where it says "Thou shalt not love." It does not say anywhere in the Bible, "Feel free to treat the least of these like dirt." There is no place in the Bible where it says, "Blastocytes are human beings. Homosexuals are not human beings."

I was admittedly confused and frustrated about gay rights right after the election myself. Then I decided to imagine walking a mile in a gay persons shoes. I tried to imagine not being able to visit a dying relative that I loved. I tried to imagine being afraid to tell the people I work with on a daily basis something about an important part of who I was.

I tried to imagine what it was like to get treated like a black man or a gay man. It was nothing at all like being treated like a white man.

I decided that the Constitution was right when it said "All men are created equal." All men and all women are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.

If you believe in the Constitution, you believe in gay rights. If you do not believe in gay rights, you do not believe in the Constitution.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-13 12:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Base For Sure
Actually if you believe ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL, you believe in what is written in the Declaration of Independence
by shadow 2005-05-13 01:51PM | 0 recs
Change starts at home
Gary-
You say that we shouldn't get scared by Hannity and Rush, and yet this entire thread is a bow to their power. Why? We are letting them set the terms of the political debate. They are setting the agenda, and we are spending way too much time arguing about something which is important, but not THE MOST URGENT thing that we need to work on.

This is where the media's power lies, in it's ability to get us to think some issues are more important than others (The Agenda-Setting Effect), which has profound effects on public opinion and voting(Priming).

I'm sure you can agree that there are far more pressing issues out there, issues which often involve questions of life and death (Iraq, health care, the drug war, a living wage). These are all issues that will define Democrats and our generation and these are the issues that we should be focusing our attention on. Every time we raise these issues, we raise the stock of our brand.

Equal rights for everyone is also a huge part of this, but "Gay Marriage" is an issue that moves people towards our adversary's position. So in essence, every moment that you spend talking about one of the Republican wedges is an addmitance of defeat- You have decided to let them set the agenda, and now we are forced to fight rear guard actions against objectives of minimum impact. (In terms of the size of who is effected and the threat posed by that issue).

Gay marriage is a fine principle for which to stand- but let's be honest, it's not a vote-winning stand.

by Alex Urevick 2005-05-13 02:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Change starts at home
I'm not sure you can distinguish the vaunted power of the Right Wing Noise Machine from the pathetic efforts of the Democrats to fight back. A couple of big factors that enhance the effectiveness of the RWNM have been overlooked:

(1.) Would the RWNM be so effective if Democrats weren't so pathetic? Would the RWNM be so effective without Al From's help?

(2.) Would the RWNM be so effective without the active assistance of the MSM?

The blogosphere has been fighting back against the RWNM, but the Democrats frequently do not. Michael Moore is one example. Farenheit 9/11 was far more accurate than the Swiftboat Liars case against Kerry.

The blogosphere attacked the Swiftboat Liars much more effectively than the MSM or the Democrats. It is still inexplicable why the Democratic party was not more outspoken and outraged about the Swiftboat Liars.

The MSM joined the RWNM attack against Michael Moore, but did not join the attack against the Swiftboat Liars.

If the Democratic party would fight back against the RWNM their power would be greatly diminished. Curiously, one of the biggest obstacles to fighting back against the RWNM is Democratic party apathy.

The power of the RWNM and the Republican party on gay issues is enhanced by the same factors. Let's take don't ask, don't tell. I am sure you are aware of the far different approach of the Israeli Army to gay soldiers. Why isn't the American public aware of the far different Israeli experience?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-14 02:47AM | 0 recs
Historical Context
40's - complete repression
50's - " "
60's - nominal subculture acceptance (lt. 6%)
70's - subculture acceptance (maybe 20%)
80's - boy george
90's - queer eye for the straight guy
00's - right to have marital disputes denied.

10's? probably best to lay low. The 20's
should see some change. Remember this is
an issue in which no nation on the planet
sides with the gay activists.

And its a states rights issue. Civil unions
are easily obtained, right now. Theres
a batch of about 6 contracts two people
can sign that would offer all the benefits
plus some. In fact, living will codicils
make great sense and you can't get them
as part of a standard union.

Kerry's right. No place on a national party
platform. IMHO

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-05-13 10:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Historical Context
If gay marriage or marriage in general is a states issue then are you also saying the Supreme Court had no right to throw out the Virginia law back in 1969 which said that people of different races could not marry?(see Loving v Virginia).  Are you saying that same sex marriage is not a human rights issue?  Even with every legal document existing a same sex couple without the benefit of the recognition of a marital status cannot find joint tax returns and receive the same deductions that straight married couples can on both a state and federal level.
by shadow 2005-05-13 11:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Historical Context
Kerry was talking about a state party platform.
by Gabriel 2005-05-13 03:40PM | 0 recs
Marriage Is A Civil Right
If Democratic leaders would ever remember that marriage is a civil right, then maybe the public would too. Sadly, they sit mute while the right wing commands the national stage and gets the bulk of media attention on this issue-- and then is commended for its "morality" and "principle".  Kerry supported amending the Massachusetts constitution. He supposedly supported "civil unions" but devoted 0 campaign energy to the issue. Feinstein lamented that gays seeking the same rights as all other Americans take for granted "hurt" Democrats. Hillary and Obama, among many others, try to prove their national appeal and their centrism with their opposition to the right of gays to marry. And Bill Clinton told Kerry to support the state amendments which edited gay people out of fundamental protections in 13 states. Who are the  leading Democrats who have tried to articulate the simple line "I believe in civil rights for everyone, including the right to marry?" Before we give up on this, shouldn't someone at least try?    
      If you don't believe marriage is a civil right, you are misinformed. The Supreme Court has held that it is so important a civil right that it cannot be taken away from convicted felons. In Turner v. Safley,482 U.S. 78, the Court noted four reasons for this, each of which equally applies to gay people: 1)marriages are "expressions of emotional support and commitment" 2) "the commitment of marriage may be an exercise of religious faith as well as an expression of personal dedication" 3)"marriages are formed in the expectation that they ultimately will be fully consummated" and 4) "marital status often is a precondition to the receipt of governmental benefits (e.g., Social Security benefits), property rights (e.g. tenancy by the inheritance rights) and other, less tangible benefits (e.g. legitimation of children born out of wedlock.)" Id at 95-96. Are gays not as entitled to emotional support and commitment as other Americans? Are they not entitled to see the religious dimension in their commitment, especially where some faiths (like mine, Reform Judaism) permit them to marry within the religion? What is the principled reason for denying gay people the safety net the rest of the population takes for granted, including COBRA, family medical leave and social security survivor benefits? If you are not prepared to give such protections up, why would you deny them to your neighbor? Why can't we expect a Democratic leader to make these points and why-- if we believe Americans to be good and fair-minded people-- don't we give them a chance to come around? It has hardly been a fair fight to date.
     As others have pointed out, polls show people often don't like the Republicans' policies but they like their "commitment" and "stick-to-itiveness." Paul's heart is plainly in the right place, as are many of the others who posted, but, when others are saying "give gays nothing" he is urging a position of "don't give them everything, but give them something." That still doesn't seem like a fair or effective fight. First, others will take the person who advocates that position as conceding that gays are not worthy of the same status as their straight peers. After all, if it were the same thing, you'd be calling it the same thing. They would also see it as creating new and "special rights" because  you have conceded it isn't the same as marriage. The National Review would still be arguing that you are creating "marriage lite" which threatens the "sanctity" of marriage. The Catholic Church would not be made any happier. The Republicans would see the Democrats as not fully willing to fight for their loyal base, and  as being weaklings, cowards and compromisers.
     That is not to say that a civil union compromise is not what will happen in the near term. That is what happened in the Netherlands and Canada before marraige rights followed. But if you begin at the compromise position, you will likely end up with much less.
     A couple of other points. Alex Urevick posts that, based on his work in the fashion industry, and therefore, presumably vast knowledge of the hearts and minds of gay people as a whole, that he has "never, not once, heard any of them [gay coworkers] bring up the right to marry when we talk politics". I wanted him to know this is one gay person for whom the right to marry is, by a huge margin, the most important thing in my life. My husband and I were married both within our faith and in Canada and it is soul crushing to be treated as legal strangers. We also have a son and there is no reason for his family to be treated as second class or illegitimate. I imagine that if his family were in the cross-hairs of the right, the issue would be more important to him.
     Also Turnerbroadcasting claims that you can do everything you get with a legal marriage with about 6 papers. This is completely false and the kind of misinformation that keeps people from understanding the gravity of the harm now. You cannot get 1132 federal benefits-- including the ones I talked about earlier --and hundreds more state benefits without the legal right of marriage. Even a marriage in Massachusetts gets you 0 federal rights because of DOMA. And in places like Virginia, which passed a statute forbidding contracts between same sex couples that offer protections like those of marriage, even the wills and powers of attorney of gay couples may be in jeopardy.
by David Goroff 2005-05-13 01:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Marriage Is A Civil Right
I wanted him to know this is one gay person for whom the right to marry is, by a huge margin, the most important thing in my life. My husband and I were married both within our faith and in Canada and it is soul crushing to be treated as legal strangers. We also have a son and there is no reason for his family to be treated as second class or illegitimate. I imagine that if his family were in the cross-hairs of the right, the issue would be more important to him.

I hear you, and I didn't mean to disrespect you or your situation. I'm sorry if I offended you.

What I am trying to argue here is that in order to fight back against the right on every front we have to attack them using the issues and tactics that will actually push them back. Principled stands that don't lead to us taking back power don't help you or me. I don't feel that us using the term "Gay Marriage" gets us anywhere accept further behind, and I think that these elections help to show that. Simply finding a new Lakoffian frame to wrap around this issue is not going to stop middle-American men from getting queezy at the thought of two me getting it on. And the more we talk about the issue the more that queezy feeling will be associated with the left.

by Alex Urevick 2005-05-13 02:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Marriage Is A Civil Right
I hate to quibble with such an remarkable post, but my actual position is full support for gay marriage. And I agree 100% that marriage is a civil right and should be defended as such. In fact, the right of marriage--as an individual right, free from the ancient practice of arrainged marriages--is, like the right to a career, and the related right to an education, one of the key civil rights that is central to the evolution of liberalism as a philosophy of personal autonomy.  Freedom of religion is the most visible of these rights, but the right to determine the conditions of ones own life is the very essence of civil rights, and the very essence of liberalism. One can no more be a liberal and oppose gay marriage than one can be a liberal and oppose freedom of religion, or be a liberal and oppose racial integration.

Somehow my preface to this post got garbled, after I intentionally shortened, which contributes to the confusion over what I am saying. But, basically, I am not a candidate/elections driven activist. I am a values/issue driven activist. I will never run for office, even though I have known other values/issue driven activists who have. As such, I have greater freedom, and I use that freedom to fully support gay marriage.

However, this post was an attempt to craft an acceptable and effective position for a Democratic politician to run on, one I could fully accept and support as a necessary complement to the sort of actions that I, as a writer and activist, can engage in myself.  My aim was not to propose a weak alternative to what should be, but rather to propose a strong alternative to the gutless pandering that David so rightly points to among Democratic leaders.  

I think it is absolutely necessary to have politicians voicing strong and vigorous support for gay marriage.  One thing that stops them is that they see it as a political kiss of death.  We could argue over the right moral and strategic response to this situation till the end of time.  But, as I've pointed out repeatedly, we don't have to.  It's not just a question of moral courage vs. political expediency on this one point. There is another concern as well--not just winning the civil right of marriage, but winning full acceptance and respect.  If we want that as well--something much deeper and more profound--then the dominant question changes.

Ultimately, we cannot have liberal rights in an illiberal society.  We must fight for a liberal society as well as fighting for specific rights.  And the fight for a liberal society is ultimately a fight for more than tolerance, it is a fight for respect, acceptance and inclusion. It is a fight for what Martin Luther King referred to as "the beloved community." And we do not get there by polarizing people, except as a waystation to open up dialogue--as King himself explained in defending non-violent civil disobedience--because it is dialogue that is both the way and the goal.  

So my position is one that seeks to do both. It polarizes to the extent that it says, "Gay marriage is right, and must eventually come."  But it invites dialogue to the extent that it says, "I will not impose it, but I will discuss it.  I will hear you out if you will hear me out."  This is the only way I know to lasting change, to transformation.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-05-14 07:19AM | 0 recs
pretty good
I think this is pretty good, and a big improvement over what you used to advocate (assuming my hazy memory of dkos comments is correct).  I'd shorten it a bit though.

(2) However, I realize that many Americans do not yet share this view.  I believe the reasons are primarily irrational, but I have no doubt they are deeply held. I believe that forcing the issue would only deepen the divisions in our society. What I am most interested in is not just equality and tolerance, but true acceptance and respect.  Forcing my personal morality on others--my personal commitment to gay marriage--would undermine this more fundamental goal.

I'd get rid of the "irrational" comment, but keep the "deeply held" comment.  I'd also get rid of the "Forcing my..." because it sounds like a pander - that intent is already communicated in the earlier statements.

(3) Therefore, I support civil unions, with all the legal rights of marriage.  I believe that depriving gays and lesbians of hundreds of legal rights and privileges enjoyed by married couples is simply unacceptable to most Americans when they really stop and think about it. I also believe that civil unions will lead eventually to gay marriage--but only when people are really ready for it, and won't serve to divide America, but to bring us together.

Pretty good - I think it could be tightened up and hit the same notes.

(4) I realize that there will be people on both sides of this issue who will attack me, and that is their right as Americans.  I feel comfortable with that, because my position comes entirely from what I believe and what I value, and I would rather lose defending that than win by betraying it.

I'd dump this entirely.  It's martyr crap, followed by values pandering, followed by an actual admission of being okay with losing.  Very bad idea.  If people are going to come to crappy bigoted conclusions as a result of the statement, let them do it by themselves - don't lead them by the hand.

#1 is perfect as-is, and paramount.  I'd be opposed to any voiced support of civil unions if it didn't come with #1 attached.

by tunesmith 2005-05-13 03:24PM | 0 recs
Re: pretty good
Damn!  I was without internet access all day till now, so I'm playing catch-up and starting with the easy ones.

(1) You must have me confused with someone else. I've always been pro-gay marriage (first exposed to it circa 1995) but I've never addressed the question of how candidates should address it.

(2) I'm going to try to digest all the feedback on this, come up with a refined statement, and try it out over at Dkos--or perhaps as my first diary at Booman Tribune.  I think you're right about the "irrational" comment. I just had to get that off my chest, I guess. But I take your point.  I'm less sure about #4, and will have to mull it over some.  But thanks for giving it this much thought.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-05-13 04:04PM | 0 recs
Excellent diary.
The number of responses here overwhelmed my browser at home (I'm at work now), so I posted a diary with my thoughts on this.
by catastrophile 2005-05-13 04:17PM | 0 recs
Re: pretty good
I will say this - you got me riled enough to post my first diary over here, ever.
by dogged 2005-05-13 08:24PM | 0 recs
The worst of both worlds.
First, you describe yourself as committed to same-sex marriage.  Then, you immediately compromise that committment because it is unpopular.  Were a voter to hear that response, they would hear you as an extremist for the position you support, then weak for your refusal to defend it.

Then there's the condescension.

Were I to write the "model" statement, I would write it like this:

"I support equality.  I believe that same-sex couples should have the same rights and responsibilities that different-sex couples have.  I don't care what you call the means to that end.  You can call it a marriage; you can call it a civil union; you can call it a domestic partnership; you can call it whatever you like, so long as it is equal."

by Drew 2005-05-13 09:13PM | 0 recs
You Are Dealing Entirely With Impressions
I understand that impressions are important in politics. But they aren't everything. And those aren't the only impressions that people take away from what I wrote.

OTOH, what many gay people take away from what you wrote is that permanent 2nd class citizenship is good enough for them so far as you're concerned.  I think that's unacceptable.

I am not an extremist, because I don't insist on imposing my views on others--I am committed to dialoging and persuading them.  Nor am I weak.  I am perfectly willing to defend the position.  There is a profound difference between being willing to defend a position and feeling compelled to impose it on others, rather than persuade them.

You see, in my view there is tremendous value--value that generalizes beyond the issue of gay rights--in disentangling these notions.  I am trying to model a different sort of strength--call it a Nurturant Parent model of strength.  

In this model, strength doesn't mean imposing your views on others, Strength means holding fast to your views, and having the courage, patience and trust in the basic goodness of others to stay with the struggle over the long haul.  This is the same sort of strength we need, BTW, in defending America on the national security front.  We need to grab every opportunity we can to demonstrate this model of strength for people.

There's a really great song that addresses this--you could still find it on a Kingston Trio CD:

The Reverend Mr. Black

He rode easy in the saddle, he was tall and lean
And at first ya thought nothin' but a streak of mean
Could make a man look so downright strong
But one look in his eyes and ya knowed ya was wrong
He was a mountain of a man and I want ya to know
He could preach hot hell in the freezin' snow
He carried a bible in a canvas sack
The folks just called him the Reverend Mr. Black
He was poor as a beggar but he rode like a king
And sometimes in the evenin' I could hear him sing

I got to walk that lonesome valley
I got to walk it by myself
Oh, nobody else can walk it for me
I got to walk it by myself.

If ever I could have thought this man in black
Was soft , had any yellow up his back
I gave that notion up the day
A lumberjack came in and a-wasn't a-prayin'
Yeah, he kicked open the meetin' house door
And he cussed everybody up and down the floor
And then when things got quiet in the place
He walked up and cussed in the preachers face

He hit that reverend like the kick of a mule
And to my way of thinkin it took a pure fool
To turn the other cheek to that lumberjack
But that's what he did, the Reverend Mr. Black
He stood like a rock, a man among men
Then he let that lumberjack hit him again
And then with a voice as kind as could be
He cut him down like a big oak tree when he said

You got to walk that lonesome valley
You got to walk it by yourself
For nobody else can walk it for you
You got to walk it by yourself

It's been many years since we had to part
And I guess I learned his ways by heart
I can still hear his sermons ring
Down in the valley where he used to sing
I followed him, yes sir, and I don't regret it
Hope that I'll always be a credit to his memory
'Cause I want ya to understand
The Reverend Mr. Black was my old man

You got to walk that lonesome valley
You got to walk it by yourself
Oh, nobody else can walk it for you
You got to walk it by yourself

You got to walk that lonesome valley
You got to walk it by yourself....

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-05-14 06:27AM | 0 recs
Uh-huh.
Paul, I am gay.  If I had to choose between a politican who said what you wrote, and one who said what I wrote, I'd chose the latter.  Obviously.  Because a politican who said that showed that they understood the fundamental issue - equality - and didn't give a shit about the trivial bullshit - wordplay.

Furthermore, that politician didn't say that they would wait on equality until bigots recognized the importance of "acceptance and respect," lest those bigots cause "divisions in our society."

Finally, that politician didn't act as if their support for equality was a "personal" virtue that needn't be "forced" on others.

Otherwise, Paul, I think your song would be more appropriate to this situation if the Lumberjack beat a parishioner while the Reverend tried to use "dialog" to "persuade" him to stop.  The Reverend wouldn't be as heroic, but he would be far more like the politician who would employ your rhetoric.

by Drew 2005-05-14 10:49PM | 0 recs

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