Prop 8, boycotts, and villains who aren’t villains

Nine days after the election, the reaction to the narrow passage of Proposition 8 — eliminating the right of same-sex couples to marry in California — continues to build. Major demonstrations are planned at city halls across the state this Saturday, and a series of grassroots organizations have sprung up to work to overturn this decision. Some advocate a complex appeal to the state Supreme Court, arguing that the voters overreached. (The explanation of how that might work is here). Others talk of another initiative in 2010, accompanied by far better outreach to minority communities and other groups who were neglected by the campaign against Proposition 8. My students are galvanized and excited; when the happy day arrives that gay marriage is restored in California, this time for good, we may well come to see this defeat as a “blessing in disguise.” But it’s far too early for that sort of reflection; the pain now is real and the work is great.

Many of my students and colleagues are involved in organizing boycotts of those companies which supported Proposition 8. Others, such as Roseanne, are urging a broader boycott of every organization which has large numbers of Mormons on its executive payroll. (The Mormon church gave heavily to the “Yes on 8″ campaign). I cannot support that effort.

I make a clear distinction between boycotting a company that takes a public stand in favor of marriage inequality and boycotting a company which may have certain employees or executives who have given privately to support Proposition 8. It would be hard to think of many large companies that don’t have social conservatives on their payroll somewhere, including folks who use some of their pay to contribute to political causes that I regard as discriminatory. Google and Apple both gave major donations to the anti Prop. 8 campaign, and their CEOs (Page, Brin, Jobs) are all staunch supporters of marriage equality. But it’s likely that somewhere, even in San Francisco or Silicon Valley, these major companies have well-compensated employees whose views and donations are diametrically opposed to those of their bosses.

Boycotts have their place; one need think only of Montgomery, Alabama, to be reminded that the conscious decision to withhold financial support for public or private entities is a powerful tool in the arsenal of justice-building. But indiscriminate boycotts have their limits, and I am sure I was not the only progressive pained by the story of Scott Eckern.

Scott Eckern, artistic director for the California Musical Theatre, resigned Wednesday as a growing number of artists threatened to boycott the organization because of his $1,000 donation to the campaign to ban gay marriage in California.

“I understand my supporting of Proposition 8 has been the cause of many hurt feelings, maybe even betrayal,” Eckern said in a written statement. “I chose to act upon my belief that the traditional definition of marriage should be preserved.”

On the one hand, I understand the outrage. It’s one thing to work closely with someone whose views on the capital gains tax are different from your own. It’s another thing to ask a gay or lesbian person to give time and energy to an organization led by a man who believes, deep in his heart and in his wallet, that your relationship is not deserving of the same fundamental awe, reverence, and societal approbation as his own. When it comes to mounting a stage production, it is perhaps deeply unreasonable to ask a gay or lesbian artist or actor to devote time and energy to working in the close, intimate proximity of the theater world with someone whose time and money goes to causes so fundamentally hostile to one’s very identity. It’s all very well for heterosexuals to protest that a belief in traditional marriage ought not to be misinterpreted as private animus to gays and lesbians — but the reality is that intent is at best only half of the truth. Perception is the other half, and it is not an unreasonable perception that those who voted “Yes” on Proposition 8 are unwilling to embrace gay and lesbian relationships as fundamentally equal. It’s also not unreasonable to expect gay and lesbian artists to be unwilling to devote time, talent, and treasure to supporting a theater whose artistic director — no matter how kind, hardworking, and talented he may be — uses his salary (derived in no small part from gay and lesbian labor) to support a cause so fundamentally inimical to their most basic human interests.

That said, it appears a good man has chosen to leave his job, a job he was good at.

Although many contacted by The Bee disagreed with Eckern’s stance on Proposition 8, they lauded his artistic contributions.

Adrienne Sher, who worked with Eckern for seven years on the League of Sacramento Theaters board, said she was inconsolable.

“He’s done more for theater here than anybody. He was the League,” Sher said. ” … He struggled morally over every issue that came up. I think he’s a hero, and I’m just crushed that this has happened.”

“I am stunned that this happened,” said Stephanie Gularte, artistic director of Capital Stage. “I don’t feel anger or hostility to either side, but I do feel great sadness and I think the Sacramento theater community has lost an important leader.”

Added Buck Busfield of the B Street Theatre: “We know that every political and social movement has casualties, and it’s really sad that it should be Scott, who is such an incredibly, decent talented man and a friend of ours.”

Busfield used a theatrical allusion to sum up the conflict: “You want your villains to be villains, and Scott’s not that.”

In the hurt and rage over Proposition 8′s passage, the temptation to “look for villains” is immense. On the other hand, the temptation to lament boycotts as “unfair” ignores the reality that the boycott has been and will continue to be an important component of any civil-rights struggle. The $64,000 question: how do we channel anger productively and generously? How do gays and lesbians and their allies engage against a monstrous injustice without stooping so low as to paint those on the other side as monstrous? How do we honor the truth that many of those who oppose gay marriage are not only well-intentioned, but have what is to their mind sound, well-thought out theological reasons for taking the stance they have? Can we distinguish between those who are genuinely hate-filled and homophobic (an admittedly not insignificant number) and those who sincerely agonized over this issue before casting that fateful “yes” vote?

Boycotts and marches have their place in civil society. Non-violent disobedience has its place as well. There is such a thing as righteous anger; those of us who are Christians saw it flash forth from Jesus on more than one occasion. But righteous anger finds a way to see the humanity in those on the other side; Martin Luther King was adamant on that point. As a consequence of righteous anger, a good man has resigned his post. The artistic community in Sacramento has suffered a real loss — but it is a loss no more real than the loss that has been visited on the gay and lesbian citizens of California. Those already wed must endure a hateful, anxiety-ridden legal limbo for who-knows-how-long; those who long to marry but did not do so before November 4 must wait indefinitely for their next opportunity. Justice delayed is justice denied, as we all know. And those who gave time and energy and money to support a cause that was fundamentally antithetical to justice cannot expect acceptance and bonhomie from their colleagues whose rights have been stripped away as a consequence.

Few of us come from families where everyone agrees on these issues. Many of us have had heated rows over this very issue of gay marriage, rows with those whom we love. Most of us have experienced that cognitive dissonance of having someone you love very much hold a view that is incomprehensibly horrid in your eyes. (Some of those to whom I am close are nodding their heads as they read this, thinking of me.) We mustn’t compromise principles for the sake of superficial harmony. At the same time, we’ve got to work even harder to not let righteous anger twist into hate or bigotry. The vast majority of the protests against Proposition 8 have accomplished this; outbreaks of ugliness have been blessedly, even miraculously few. Let’s keep it that way, and as we discuss boycotts, let’s do so with the thoughtful goal of using our dollars as votes for justice. As to how we best do that — well, let the conversation continue!

My friend Richard Mouw has a fine post in this regard here.

75 thoughts on “Prop 8, boycotts, and villains who aren’t villains

  1. Hugo, boycotting a business that employs somebody who supported 8 would be pointless. The issue with the music director is that he’s the director, not just somebody who happens to work with the theater; obviously the LGBT community is pretty deeply involved with California Musical Theater; and the guy supported Prop 8 to the tune of a thousand bucks. This is not just a disagreement – this guy backstabbed the same community that’s been supporting his business.

    Threatening a boycott unless the business fires that person – even by implication – is wrong. Boycotting a business run by a homophobe is a different matter.

  2. Wow– great blog entry here, Mr,. Schwyzer. I’m a No-on-8 activist, and I believe strongly in boycotting as a peaceful tool that oppressed minorities can utilize to bring about change. But your post really made the topic a little more complex for me and made me think a little more, which is cool.

    It seems a whole subgroup of the Yes-on-8 crawd is emerging– people like Scott Eckern or the manager of the El Coyote restaurant in L.A., Marjorie Christoffersen. They seem nice, and they work with– and are deeply fond of– many gay people. And that’s what makes their decision to treat gays people like second-class citizens so strange. I just don’t understand it.

    The bottom line, though, is simple for me. A citizen has every right to donate money to a cause that hurts me. And I have as much right to express my disagreement by not patronizing their business.

  3. There’s a term that’s been bandied about over the past few years, but inaccurately. People, this is the proper definition. To intimidate those with an opposing viewpoint with such tactics as boycotting companies whose employees support certain cultural views there’s no other word for it — FASCISM! Those who support these boycotts are FASCISTS!

  4. I disagree, TruthHound – boycotts are at the heart of a free enterprise system. Private citizens have the right to refuse to do business with private businesses, for whatever reason, be it noble, frivolous, or any point in between. They have the right to organize, publicize, and protest.

    Likewise, I’d extend that in reverse – any private business has the right to do the ol’ “Them groceries ain’t fer sale” routine. ANd a further caveat is that the government – save for seeing all is legal and peaceful – should stay out.

    Ethically and ideally, the media should do balanced reporting on it, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Where I get heartburn is where we get libel, slander, and protests turning into the blocking of access to the business, vandalism, and harassing customers and employees. The full weight of the law, or the full consequences of the principle of self defense, should fall on such people.

    Also remember – boycotts go two ways; and there is little room to complain about it when the tables get turned.

  5. Thanks for such a thoughtful discussion. I too was saddened by the resignation of Scott Ekern, especially as I think that his apology was heart-felt. On the other hand, boycotts are useful actions in the fight for equality, and it is nonsense to call people who support boycotts “Fascists.” One of the most successful boycotts was the one against Coors Beer, which led to fair employment practices. Moreover, the Yes on Proposition 8 people, who pretend to be so appalled at the idea of boycotts, attempted to extort donations from businesses that contributed to No on Proposition 8. Focus on the Family and other right-wing groups are always boycotting companies that support gay rights. The Southern Baptist Convention even boycotted Disney when the company provided domestic partner benefits to its employees. So I am happy to participate in boycotts against businesses whose owners supported Proposition 8. People have every right to make legal donations in the furtherance of their beliefs, but consumers also have the right to make thoughtful choices as to where they will spend their money, and I certinly do not want to spend my money supporting people who want to deny my rights.

  6. Hugo,

    Do you think it’s possible to oppose gay marriage and not be, for lack of a better word, a “homophobe”? I have a (celibate) gay friend who is an evangelical who opposes gay marriage. It would be hard to consider him ‘homophobic’ unless you consider that a gay person can be a homophobe. Why don’t his values and opinions count as equally valid to those of gay people who affirm their sexuality?

    Look, I really don’t feel strongly about civil marriage, as I don’t consider it to be equivalent to “sacramental” marriage in the first place. If gay couples want to get a certificate of paper from the government saying “Married”, then I’m more or less OK with that. This isn’t a country founded either on Christianity or on natural law. But I do want the right to be able to believe that homosexual acts are sinful, and I want to be able to try and influence my church to stand by the historic Christian teaching in this matter, so that it doesn’t perform gay marriages or teach that homosexual acts are acceptable in the eyes of God. How long until people are considered ‘bigots’ and made the target of boycotts for opposing homosexual acts in their hearts and in their churches, even if they don’t oppose gay marriage as a matter of policy?

  7. I’m at a loss to imagine any other basis for being opposed to gay marriage OTHER than homophobia, unless the person in question also supports denying marriage rights to other groups as well, for salient reasons. One is more than welcome to believe that “homosexual acts,” (whatever that means) are “sinful.” One is entitled to believe what one wants. When one forces one’s own beliefs on someone else to the point that it affects their life, it becomes oppression. I’m always fascinated when other Christians (like Hector) say they don’t believe civil marriage is equivalent to “sacramental marriage,” because without the force of civil law, sacramental marriage has no legal value, without which the parties are, according to Biblical law, adulterers. But civil marriage has always had the force of law with or without the blessings of the church. And in response the the rather naive question about people who “don’t oppose gay marriage as a matter of policy” but oppose “homosexual acts” in “their hearts and in their churches,” well, unless someone is “committing homosexual acts” in your church, I fail to see the relevance of the question, since the very discussion we’re having is about your homophobia leaking out of your church and into law. This is just more buttock-tickling unless the concepts are applied in realtime.

    Of course gay people can be homophobic, Hector. Ted Haggard is a perfect example, and I feel very sorry for your “celibate” friend. I suspect that if he were honest with himself (and you) he’d admit that he’s been taught to hate and fear what he is, to pray that God takes it away, and to suffer every day given that God can’t, or won’t.

    Also, TruthHound, calling someone a “fascist” because they support a boycott, or because they boycott, is to deny the entire history of civil rights. How ignorant and cruel to scream “fascist” at a member of an oppressed minority who has his or her civil rights voted on by the majority in a way that, had it been the right of women to vote, interracial marriage, or ending slavery, would have been rightfully seen as obscene. Civil rights were never intended to be voted on, and none of the things I just mentioned were achieved by votes.

    Lastly, Hugo, I love your writing (especially your wonderful commentary on Prop 8), but I saw nothing in Mr. Mouw’s post that made me feel good about it. I saw another privileged, compacent white male evangelical whose rights have never been at risk, calling for “dialogue,” knowing full well that his side was inflexible on this point while my side, and the side of my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, were losing entire years of their lives, years they could have spent married to the person they love, fighting for that right.

  8. How long until people are considered ‘bigots’ and made the target of boycotts for opposing homosexual acts in their hearts and in their churches, even if they don’t oppose gay marriage as a matter of policy

    You can choose to believe what you want, and I can, in turn, choose not to give you my money. *shrugs* I don’t see why you think that’s problematic.

    I see less reason to boycott people if they’re not going to take the money I give them for their products and use it to support policy that I despise, but would you, as a Christian, feel really good about giving your money to a company that was run by people who believe Christians are second-class citizens? I’m Jewish, and you better bet that I wouldn’t purchase anything from a company run by or filled with anti-semetics even if they weren’t doing anything political with their hate.

  9. B,

    Huh? I’ve bought lots of things before from Muslim shopkeepers. I’m sure that many of them believe that Christians are hellbound blasphemers. I have lots of atheist friends who think what I believe in is nonsense.

    Conversely, I think homosexual acts are sinful, but not any more sinful than, say, whacking off. Does that mean that anybody who indulges in that (near-universal) vice should feel free to fire me or boycott me?

  10. I’m basically in the same boat as Hector here, though I think he’s being a little naive about the important point which Hugo makes about perception: it is not an unreasonable perception that those who voted “Yes” on Proposition 8 are unwilling to embrace gay and lesbian relationships as fundamentally equal. This is especially the case when a great many of the arguments that were employed by the backers of Proposition 8–including many included in advertisements and literature paid for and distributed primarily by my own church–were patent and paranoid nonsense. In the face of that kind of misrepresentative campaign, a little targeting and even “misrepresenting” of those who supported the Proposition may not be absolutely “fair,” may be based merely on “perception,” but it’s going to be reasonable all the same.

    That said, again, I’m basically on Hector’s side here. I probably would have, reluctantly, voted Yes on 8 if I’d lived in California. I want very much to believe, and I would like to think I can communicate, that such a vote wouldn’t have been about discrimination and hate; it would have been about drawing distinctions. But I also have to accept that I may be wrong, and that I’m not in control of how such a statement of support is going to be perceived by others–who have could cause to feel angry–anyway.

  11. Indeed, Russell. And it’s a reminder of something we all ought to have learned as children: we don’t get to control other people’s perceptions based upon our intentions. Social conservatives may or may not be filled with hate — surely, a great many aren’t. But in the end, it’s exceptionally presumptuous to ask those who have lost a right thanks to Prop 8 to be able to distinguish between a “Yes” vote cast out of hate and a “Yes” vote cast out of a sincere and prayerful belief that there is something uniquely heterosexual about the marriage institution.

    We have this conversation all the time in the gender studies world. A man doesn’t need to be conscious of his sexism in order to be sexist. Intent is always, at best, half the story.

  12. I, too am saddened and also bothered by the story of Scott Eckern. Threatening a boycott unless the business fires that person I believe is wrong. I no longer live in Calif., so I haven’t been following this issue, but I must confess that I was surprised to learn that Prop 8 passed. In fact, I was under the impression that same sex civil cermonies were already the norm.

    I wouldn’t characterize everyone who opposes gay marriage as hate-filled and homophobic. At least the people that I’ve met wouldn’t characterize themselves that way, when I ask how they would vote or why they would oppose gay marriage. They express views which are more akin to those expressed by Hector and Russell that the vote wasn’t about discriminmation, but about drawing distinctions. Some of those people also don’t feel that they’ve lost rights either.

  13. Perception is the other half, and it is not an unreasonable perception that those who voted “Yes” on Proposition 8 are unwilling to embrace gay and lesbian relationships as fundamentally equal.

    It’s an obvious and undeniably factual conclusion to draw, not a subjective perception. Those who are opposed to same-sex marriage would certainly agree with me.

  14. Daisy, you and I might disagree, but I have been told time and time again by Prop 8 supporters of their belief that “gays and lesbians should be treated equally” but marriage should be “kept for a man and a woman.” We might think that’s an irreconcilable contradiction, but they apparently don’t.

  15. Hector,

    Do you think it’s possible to oppose gay marriage and not be, for lack of a better word, a “homophobe”? I have a (celibate) gay friend who is an evangelical who opposes gay marriage. Why don’t his values and opinions count as equally valid to those of gay people who affirm their sexuality?

    Anyone can be homophobic, gay, straight, or otherwise.

    Your friend’s views and opinions count — he has every right to live as he chooses, interpret his religion as he sees fit, express his ideas to others, etc. But since this isn’t a theocracy, his views should have no bearing on the law. And just as he is free to live as he wants, I am free to do the same. My marriage to another woman, endorsed by both the law and my religion, would not impede his ability to be celibate or go to church. Similarly, his celibacy and Christianity don’t impede my ability to marry and go to synagogue. Our rights’ end where the others begin. I support for legal freedom for fundamentalist Christians and full legal recognition of fundamentalist Christian marriages, even though I consider that religion misguided, unjust and, yeah, sinful, in the sense of missing the target (rather spectacularly, in my opinion) that G-d has placed for us.

    I know your friend probably has similar opinions about me and my religion. I don’t ask that we agree. I only ask that he treat me with the same basic decency I show him. Let us both think the other is mistaken and a sinner, and let us both enjoy fully equality under the law.

  16. Hugo: okay. I’ve honestly never heard anyone say that. I revoke my statement that SSM opponents in general would agree with me (though many would), but maintain that it’s factually the case that those people are “unwilling to embrace gay and lesbian relationships as fundamentally equal.”

  17. I think the question of motivation here is ultimately a red herring — which is to say, it’s an interesting academic question (and I say that as someone who loves academic questions), but it’s also academic in the prejudicial sense, i.e. irrelevant for practical purposes.

    The result of Prop 8 is discrimination. (And while I understand, at least in part, Russell’s attempt to draw the distinction/discrimination line, I think that line is utterly untenable in practice in contemporary life (and actually probably untenable even in theory, I would say.)) In the end, a vote is not a communicative, but rather a political, act — and the political effect of this vote was to restore gays and lesbians to a second-class citizenship, separate and unequal in rights.

    Prop 8 supporters may well not hate, may even love, gays and lesbians — I can’t read minds, and neither can anyone else. And they may believe that gays and lesbians should receive equal treatments while reserving marriage for straights. But they can’t vote that way, since the vote establishes inequality.

    Whether or not there is hate in their hearts, there is discrimination in their votes. Which, I claim, is ultimately the point.

    SF

  18. Hugo and Russell,

    I should make it clear that I’m not at all certain that I would have voted “Yes’ on Prop 8 if I lived in California. I’m deeply conflicted. My intellectual and moral convictions tell me that marriage is something special and tied to procreation, so I think I _should_ ideally have voted ‘Yes’. However, politics isn’t just about abstract ideals, it’s also about personal loyalties, including loyalties to family and friends. I have quite a few gay and particularly, lesbian friends, and I know they would have been deeply hurt if I had voted ‘Yes’. In general I’m the type of person who tends to value my friends as high or higher than my ideals- not in every case, but at least in a case like Prop 8 where I can see good arguments from both sides. So in spite of what I think as a matter of abstract moral conviction, I don’t know what I would have actually done in the voting box.

    Russell, on his blog, also raises the important point that California isn’t the best place to make a stand in defense of heterosexual, monogamous, procreative marriage. California is simply too diverse and too culturally libertarian place to make that case consistently, and such a case should be consistent if it isn’t to be seen as bigoted. If we lived in, say, one of the Latin American countries or in a place like Ireland or Poland, which still self-identify in some sense as Christian societies, then it would be easy to make the case that a Christian society should not count as ‘marriage’ relationships that can never be valid marriages according to Christian conceptions of natural law. In Peru, or Poland, or Santo Domingo, the horse isn’t yet out of the barn. In California, the horses left the barn long, long ago. And to hold back the last horse in the barn, when the others have all left, probably would seem unfair and cruel to that one remaining horse. (Whereas it wouldn’t seem unfair if all that any of the horses knew was captivity).

    What I really want to know is this. Is there a place for those of us who feel as a personal conviction that homosexual acts are wrong, and that gay marriage would not be part of our ideal society, but that in this place and this time the fairest thing to do is to allow homosexuals the benefits of civil marriage?

  19. Some great comments here. (Hector, you’re welcome to comment on my blog any time…)

    Stephen,

    While I understand, at least in part, Russell’s attempt to draw the distinction/discrimination line, I think that line is utterly untenable in practice in contemporary life (and actually probably untenable even in theory, I would say).

    I’d be willing to attempt to defend a theoretical justification for defining marriage in a restrictive way as an act of “distinction,” as opposed to “discrimination,” but doing so would require a good deal of philosophical/conceptual work having to do with the nature of relationships, communities, and human life, much of which is bound to seeming boring or irrelevant–not to mention probably intuitively wrong–to many people. As to the practical consequence of this vote, I really can’t disagree with Stephen; to borrow a line from Hector, that horse has left the barn, those rights have been granted, social life with that kind of understanding has proceded forward: how could the announcement of distinctions in an area that previously had been legally kept indistinct be felt as anything other that discrimination? Which is another reason why this was the wrong battle to fight, even if I was, in the abstract, willing to go along with it at least part of the way.

    Hector,

    [P]olitics isn’t just about abstract ideals, it’s also about personal loyalties, including loyalties to family and friends. I have quite a few gay and particularly, lesbian friends, and I know they would have been deeply hurt if I had voted ‘Yes’. In general I’m the type of person who tends to value my friends as high or higher than my ideals- not in every case, but at least in a case like Prop 8 where I can see good arguments from both sides.

    Well put. As I said on my blog, when I explained my “probably” caveat, I don’t live in California, and thus am not going to be confronted with the impact of this decision within my immediate family or circle of friends. Loyalty to religion and ideas and theories is often a good thing; loyalty to family and friends is usually even a better thing. I don’t know how I would have juggled the various pressures and priorities had I lived in Sacramento (maybe the way Scott Eckern did; maybe not), but I know that I certainly wouldn’t have been as Talmudic (good word, Stephen!) as I was in my post about it if that been the case.

  20. How about we eliminate civil marriage/civil union all together and couples/triads/quads write up cohabitation/splitting expenses agreements. Anyone has gone through a divorce with children finds out that marriage eliminates your option to take a job 25 miles from your ex, loses half of the money still left over when your worthless spouse blew most of your earnings up his nose, etc., etc. Why gays want to be married under the myriad of family laws and practices, I have no idea. If a stranger lied and defraud you of your entire life savings, you could sue and send the stranger to jail. If your spouse lies and defrauds you, you get to pay your spouse more money for the privilege and have to agree to continued abuse in order to “share” custody. Everyone would be much better off if they drew up a real contract with real penalties for breach. The religious could have their religious marriage and know what the sacrement means.

  21. Mythago:

    Threatening a boycott unless the business fires that person – even by implication – is wrong. Boycotting a business run by a homophobe is a different matter.

    Oh, I see. So if you’re at the very bottom of the totem pole, you’re allowed to have political views without fear of losing your job. Hell, you can even make political contributions to causes you care about, though as a practical matter you probably won’t make enough for a reportable contribution to be realistic. But if you’re one step up from the bottom, your rights as a citizen go out the window and suddenly you’re at the mercy not of your boss, but of those who report to you. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

    Speaking of crap that doesn’t make sense, I do still have a bet to settle in your favor, so let me know which charity to donate $100 to. Or better yet, let Hugo know and we’ll call it even (I beat him on a subsequent bet over Prop 8).

  22. Never mind that last part, he already contributed to the charity of my choice (Best Friends) so they don’t cancel out. Just tell me what your favorite charity is.

  23. I understand the arguments against boycotts — especially the wide-scale kind Roseanne is hyping against all Mormon-owned businesses on the planet.

    However, especially in these increasingly dire economic times, I believe that consumers should be able to choose where to spend their dollars. We can go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s web site and check to see what fish is environmentally-sanctioned (on a dynamically-updated basis)…why can’t we access an equally user-friendly database that would help us direct our dry-cleaning, dog-grooming, and daycare dollars?

    The databases that the LA Times and SFjoke are offering are jokes. They are not sortable by any user-friendly standards. I’m a librarian, so if I can’t get a short list of where not to spend money in my hometown, THAT is a problem…

    The opposing sides of the gay marriage issue will NEVER change each others’ minds. But if being a bigot starts to impact bottom lines, bigots will stop spending sick amounts of money to make love illegal. It’s a better way to bring about this “change” that our president-elect (who lost my vote when he said he opposed gay marriage — loser!) than riots and lynchings and such. Surely you must agree…

    Or perhaps…if gay people had to drink out of separate fountains, and ride in the backs of buses, and could be bought and sold as the slaves of heterosexual married couples, maybe THAT would help their cause.

    Stop the H8!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    (I’m not even gay, and I STILL think prop 8 passing is embarassing)

  24. Oh, those ungenerous gays. Having just been informed that their cilvil rights to first-class, equal citizenship have been put to a vote and been denied, they now feel they have only one option left to fight with: their own money. Wasn’t it bad enough when those pesky gays wanted the right to enlist in the army, and fight and die (if necessary) for the people who voted for Prop 8. But boycotts? How cruuu-ell! Where’s the “dialogue?” Where’s their “patience?” Where’s their “respect” for the “religious beliefs” of their oppressors? I mean, it isn’t as if they’re the only social group in America whose civil rights get put to a majority vote….oh wait, sorry, they are. My bad.

  25. I am LDS, and I voted yes on 8, but I did it for very different reasons.

    I read the 100-plus page decision by the CA Supreme Court that ruled that Proposition 22 was unconstitutional, and I realized that I agreed with their reasoning. Attempting to take an idea that had already been determined to be unconstitutional and grafting it onto the state constitution in an attempt to bypass judicial review (the old “ha-ha, it’s in the constitution now, so, by definition, it’s constitutional and the courts can’t do anything about it” argument) seemed to be patently unconstitutional, and I was convinced that if the measure passed, it would be challenged in court, and that it would lose.

    I figured that if Prop 8 failed at the ballot box, the “yes on 8″ people would be back next year, and the year after that, and the year after that, until their measure finally passed. I think that unconstitutional amendments to the constitution that constitute violations of equal rights need to be killed off, permanently, as soon as they can be killed off.

    So, I voted to pass it (thus keeping to the “letter of the law” with regard to my church’s desire to see the measure pass), fairly confident that it would hasten it’s death sooner than a “no” vote would.

    According to this story, “The California Supreme Court has asked state Attorney General Jerry Brown to reply by Monday [Nov. 17] to lawsuits challenging the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage – a sign that the justices are taking the cases seriously and will not dispose of them quickly.”

    I think Prop 8 is on its way out.

  26. Mark N., would you care to explain what “unconstitutional amendment to the constitution” is supposed to mean? Surely you are not arguing that the Constitution is unconstitutional???!!!!

  27. “Others, such as Roseanne, are urging a broader boycott of every organization which has large numbers of Mormons on its executive payroll.(The Mormon church gave heavily to the “Yes on 8″ campaign). I cannot support that effort.”

    I can. These people, and the companies they work for need to be smacked down, and hard.

  28. I’m arguing that when you graft something onto the state constitution that has already been ruled unconstitutional, you make a mess of the constitution, and it needs to be undone.

  29. I just wanted to ask everyone to please not hurt any business in this bad economy just because they have a viewpoint that you don’t agree with. This is America where we should never fear the right to express our view or not. Please don’t assume that a business might take a stand against or for a cause just because maybe a sign was close to their business on a neighbors property that does’nt have a business. Please stop any and all hate against those who done agree with us. Stand tall and be proud of who you are , straight or gay and may neither shove it in the others face. Respect eachother and maybe we can get out of this crappy economey together and even have something to celebrate this holiday season personally that we like ourselves and are not threatend by straights or gays. get on with your life and move forward and there will be plenty of days ahead to express our views without hate or anger. It is good that we can vent on this site and I wish everyone the best and please keep love in your heart.

  30. Alan, I’m not really following you. “Disagree with” suggests that the business owner and I simply have an intellectual difference. We’re talking about a business supporting a change in the law that directly hurts my friends and family. Why should I give those business my money?

  31. I don’t understand the idea that keeps popping up here that people have a right to their opinion, but others don’t have a right to decide where to spend their money. Giving money, whether for charity or for a political cause, or in exchange for products, can be a form of speech. My money is also not something that anyone has a right to receive. If people are going to whine about me giving my money to Company A instead of Company B when I decide where to buy a product, while at the same time whine that they have a right to their opinions, the only thing that pops into my head in reply is “STFU”.

    The state of the economy is really irrelevant. If I’m shopping for apples, for example, and I’ve decided I must have them, I’m going to be choosing one company and one grocery store to buy them from over the rest ANYHOW. Regardless of any boycott, all the rest of the apple companies and grocery stores just lost out on my money. And whether they’re hate mongerers or totally neutral, they never had a right to it.

  32. Mythago , you have the complete right to do business with whomever you decide to do business with ,just be carefull that you haven’t judged a business against you when they are not and you have based your judgement on bad or wrong information. Then you have hurt the business who wasn’t against you in the first place. This brings to mind the other situation if you truely know the truth about a business and you really have correct information that they supported the oposite viewpoint from yourself. What about everyone that works in that company or business might also not agree with the owners but need the job and maybe the job basicly does not support anything to do with the election or it’s outcome and does’t discriminate it’s clintele but the owner just voted his choice. does everyone else have to suffer because you don’t agree that the owner has a right to vote his or her own beliefs of what is right or wrong , black or white , straight or gay? it is a very tight rope we walk and I only wish the inocent does not get punished in the wake of our politics.

  33. Mark N.

    I’m arguing that when you graft something onto the state constitution that has already been ruled unconstitutional, you make a mess of the constitution, and it needs to be undone.

    That doesn’t make sense. The whole point of a constitutional amendment is to … well, amend the Constitution. Show me a constitutional amendment that doesn’t make something constitutional that used to be unconstitutional or vice-versa, and I’ll show you an illusory “amendment” that hasn’t really amended anything at all.

    But perhaps I err. Maybe I should stop paying income taxes to the federal government. After all, the only reason they enacted the Sixteenth Amendment was to graft something onto the federal Constitution that had already been ruled unconstitutional. So by your reasoning, the Sixteenth Amendment makes a mess of the federal Constitution, and needs to be undone, thereby rendering income tax unconstitutional once again. Cool!

    On the other hand, your logic also leads to the conclusion that the Thirteenth Amendment is unconstitutional, as laws limiting slavery had already been held unconstitutional in Dred Scott v. Sandford. Maybe not so cool after all.

    Mythago: I just made the donation. But for the record, we’re not talking about a business involving itself in the political process at all. We’re talking about an individual who happened to work for one, and also spent some of his own money, on his own time, on a cause he happens to believe in. If the business itself had gotten involved in the issue, I wouldn’t blame anyone for threatening a boycott. But I do blame those who threaten boycotts against businesses whose sole sin is not firing individual employees for exercising their constitutional rights, particularly if they’re doing business in a state where doing so would be not only sleazy but illegal.

  34. Russell, you can also feel free to comment on my blog anytime! I don’t post on it everyday as I like to take time over my posts.

    Although I’m wavering on whether the United States should have gay marriage, I do want to point out that comparing the gay marriage movement to the interracial marriage question seems remarkably ill-chosen as a strategy. I really find that not only comparing apples and oranges, but also (as a non-white person) rather offensive. It may convince people who think that interracial marriage was basically a question of liberal freedoms and personal rights. But I don’t, andI tend to think more in natural-reason terms than in the terms of Lockean liberalism. I think that the laws forbidding interracial marriage were wrong because black and white people are not essentially different, and should not be subject to different rules about who they should marry. I do think (at the risk of offending some people in the feminist and “Blank Slate” camps) that men and women are essentially different, and therefore I think men should (in a perfect world) partner with women and vice versa; and I base that conclusion on a variety of considerations from evolutionary biology, sociobiology, anthropology, history, and personal experience. So it’s reasonable, to me, to say that interracial marriage is completely OK, while still not being fully convinced that homosexual acts are morally OK. (In a personal and religious sense that is- I certainly don’t think that the _law_ should prohibit civil unions or discriminate against gays.)

    I find the case for gay marriage most convincing when I think of it as a matter of kindness and charity, e.g. ‘Do I want to spoil the marriage of my lesbian friend “Deborah”, who has been planning this day for the last several years’, rather than a question of rights, e.g. “If you don’t affirm homosexual acts and gay marriage then you are the equivalent of Orval Faubus.” Partly because I don’t see those cases as analogous, and partly because I don’t like “rights talk” much to begin with- I’m basically in the camp of Simone Weil (and Mary Ann Glendon) on that score. What did she say: “To place the notion of rights at the centre of social conflicts is to inhibit any possible impulse of charity on both sides.”

  35. “How do we honor the truth that many of those who oppose gay marriage are not only well-intentioned, but have what is to their mind sound, well-thought out theological reasons for taking the stance they have?”

    I for one would love to see evidence that such a group exists and is statistically significant. Given the ‘yes on 8′ advertising I saw, ‘truth’ and ‘well-intentioned’ anythings have been in precious short supply.

    In any case, before we honor these worthies, perhaps we should give a thought to the well-intentioned, theologically-sound opponents of miscegenation whom history has so treated so unjustly?

  36. XRLQ – there’s a somewhat bizarre argument (to my mind) which has been endorsed by Gov. Schwarzenegger (in a sure sign that the entire world has gone stark raving mad) to the extent that Proposition 8 was a revision rather than an amendment and, therefore, could not be placed on the ballot without prior approval by a 2/3 majority of the legislature.

  37. I just wanted to ask everyone to please not hurt any business in this bad economy just because they have a viewpoint that you don’t agree with. This is America where we should never fear the right to express our view or not.

    Wow, Alan, you seriously don’t get it, do you?

    This post is a prime example of an attitude that’s almost worse than overt homophobia, which can be challenged at face value. This sort of simpering, sniveling attitude—”this is America where we should never fear the right to express our views or not”—shows that, to you, using a majority vote to deny a minority its civil rights is nothing more than “expressing our view.” No one asks you people not to “express your views” (it would be a waste of time anyway) but it isn’t an expression of your views, is it? It’s a vote to amend a constitution to deny equal marriage (something even convicts are legally allowed to enter) to law-abiding, tax paying Americans.

    Do you seriously think that this can be swept under the carpet because of “this bad economy,” or that the gays and lesbians whose civil rights were just raped by the Mormon church to the tune of $20 million dollars are going to say, “Well, maybe we asked too much when we expected you not to spend $20 million dollars IN THIS BAD ECONOMY to make sure we gays and lesbians remember our place at the separate drinking fountain of civil marriage. Forget the boycott of Mormon-owned businesses, I’ll take two Donny and Marie CDs to listen to in my suite at the Marriot, please, and thanks for the lesson?”

    Not bloody likely.

  38. “Others, such as Roseanne, are urging a broader boycott of every organization which has large numbers of Mormons on its executive payroll.(The Mormon church gave heavily to the “Yes on 8″ campaign). I cannot support that effort.”

    I can. These people, and the companies they work for need to be smacked down, and hard.

    Which would mean terminating people because of their religion….

    HAWT DAWG! Wait’ll I inform the Religious Right that they have the left-wing imprimateur to start firing atheists, Muslims….

  39. Aphrasel, I am familiar with the revision/amendment distinction, and agree that the argument is bizarre. It’s different, however, from Mark N.’s apparent position that constitutions can’t be amended at all.

  40. I tend to think more in natural-reason terms than in the terms of Lockean liberalism. I think that the laws forbidding interracial marriage were wrong because black and white people are not essentially different, and should not be subject to different rules about who they should marry. I do think…that men and women are essentially different, and therefore I think men should (in a perfect world) partner with women and vice versa; and I base that conclusion on a variety of considerations from evolutionary biology, sociobiology, anthropology, history, and personal experience.

    I’m not much of a fan of natural law reasoning, mainly for reasons having to do with the particular theology of my own religious tradition, though I confess I do respect it a lot more today than I once did. But in any case, I think I basically agree with everything you say here. Interracial marriages, at the most rudimentary level of what marriage is about–organizing and giving social meaning to sexual relations–don’t do anything different than intra-race marriages; hence, the bans against them couldn’t be understood as grounded on anything besides bigotry. Whereas an attempt to develop marriage arrangements which organize and give social meaning to the distinct sexual relations of gay people does have a reasonable ground besides bigotry…though obviously, as Hugo and Stephen have both argued cogently in this thread, when you’re talking about taking rights already granted away from people, how can you truly separate bigotry out from such an action entirely? You probably can’t, which puts all sorts of people like me on the spot.

    I would demur from the idea that gay marriage is a matter of “charity,” though–gay people are citizens like all the rest of us, and as such deserve recognition as equal members of the polity. Figuring out an appropriate arrangement here–which may, in the end, include marriage, or perhaps the state getting out of the marriage business entirely–is incumbent upon us as fellow members of the community, and not just a form of sympathy.

    Thanks for the comment and link, by the way. So you’re a “syndicalist socialist in terms of economics, strong environmentalist in matters of natural resources, generally Third World nationalist in matters of foreign policy and moderate in matters of social/personal morality,” huh? I think we’d get along great.

  41. The Religious Right wouldn’t even hire atheists or Muslims, in the first place, Gonzman. They’d be hired by what you quaintly call the “left wing.”

  42. And, Gonz, how does a Mormon-owned company fire Mormons to de-Mormonize itself in the event of a boycott?

    All of this self-righteous huff-and-puff about how awful a boycott by gays of Mormon-owned businesses is a little hypocritical. If an organization gave heavily to abortion rights groups and Christians organized a boycott of it, the same people who are tut-tutting about how mean “the gays” are to call for a boycott of Mormon-owned businesses would be knocking each other to the ground to defend “the Christians’” right to boycott it because of their “pro-life” religious convictions.

  43. Re: The Religious Right wouldn’t even hire atheists or Muslims, in the first place, Gonzman.

    Huh? I don’t know many Mormons or Mormon organizations personally. But I do have some experience with Catholic and Adventist charity/relief/development organizations, and have had the opportunity to work with them both in the US and abroad. Both the Catholic and Advenist churches are opposed to homosexual acts and gay marriage, so I guess they count as part of the Religious Right in your book. I can tell you that they hire plenty of people who are not of their particular denomination.

  44. Hector, try to follow the entire discussion if you can, and see if you avoid parsing the parts you feel might boost the legitimacy of your previous homophobic arguments. The point was not charities, as you can see if you follow, but BUSINESSES that contributed money to Prop 8. And no BUSINESS that defines itself as a “Religious Right” business is going to hire atheist or Muslims if they can help it.

    By the way, I couldn’t care less if you as a non-white person find it “offensive” to compare the fight for legal gay marriage with the fight for interracial marriage, and I don’t care for a number of reasons–not the least of which is the fact that the legal language used to deny the original gay marriage decision in Hawaii is almost identical to the legal language used to craft the argument against interracial marriage in the landmark Loving vs, Virginia case.

    Which, by the way, wasn’t settled by a popular vote, but by a court which deemed denying interracial marriage morally and legally wrong—just like the Supreme Court of California did when it ruled that discriminating against gays and lesbians was legally and morally wrong. I suspect that if Loving v. Virginia had been settled by a ballot initiative, this would be a very different discussion, and a very different America.

    There are ENORMOUS similarities in the gay rights struggle and the post-1960′s civil rights struggles. Trying to access well-intentioned white guilt to shut gays and lesbians up when they compare racism and homophobia, in order to make your case, is more than a little pathetic, and it isn’t really applicable here, anyway. Millions of gays and lesbians worked hard to get Barack Obama elected in significant part because they thought it was an important move for America to have its first African American president. And what’s ironic is that, even now, gays and lesbians are going out of their way to be respectful and polite about the fact that millions of what you call “non white” voters, whipped into a frenzy by millions of dollars spent on hate advertising by the Mormon church (as well as the well-documented pre-existing homophobia in evangelical African American churches) stabbed them in the back on election night.

    So no, thank you for your condescending hypothesis that gays and lesbians should be considered worthy candidates for legal marriage as a matter of “charity,” and turn it around: ask yourself how African Americans might feel if their rights to be married to whites was a matter of “kindness.” Many of the arguments made in Virginia vs. Loving were also based on the same so-called “Christian” principles you and your sad, self-hating celibate gay evangelical friend cling to so ardently. It doesn’t feel as “Christian” when it’s applied to you, does it?

  45. RE: Loving v. Virginia.

    When I went into the booth to vote on November 4, I thought about my own marriage. I thought about my privilege as a heterosexual person to be allowed to be married four times (despite the bible’s injunctions against divorce; talk about heterosexual privilege!). I thought also about the courts — here in California, the state supreme court in 1948, 19 years before the SCOTUS in 1967.

    Prior to 1948, my wife — who is half-black — and I could not have been legally wed. It took the courts, not the voters, to make marriages like mine legitimate. Thank goodness for the courts trumping the prejudices of the masses. I cast my “No” on 8 with that in mind, as well as in solidarity with my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

  46. So if you’re at the very bottom of the totem pole, you’re allowed to have political views without fear of losing your job

    You shouldn’t have your job threatened. A boycott that says “Your employee gave money to Prop 8, we will boycott you until you fire her” is wrong. That’s the case whether it’s a CFO or the floor sweeper. But unless you are arguing that boycotts themselves are wrong, what do you believe is terrible about saying “Your business, or the people who run your business and are its public representatives by your own lights, gave money to this cause with which I disagree”?

    I mean, there are probably people boycotting businesses that gave to No on 8, and they are within their rights to do so.

    Regarding charities, part of the bet was that the winner would not pick a charity that the loser morally opposed, so I’m not going to ask you to give money to Planned Parenthood or something. You can pick from Doctors Without Borders, the Heifer Project, or Mazon and I’ll consider us even.

  47. I agree with Mythago on principle, with the one caveat that I also believe artists are well within their rights to either threaten to not work with, or not work with, an artistic director (or any employer, if they can afford to) who gave money to Prop 8, which moved his personal beliefs (which everyone is entitled to) into political action. Likewise, the public is well within its rights not to attend spectacles organized or directed by such a person.

  48. And, Gonz, how does a Mormon-owned company fire Mormons to de-Mormonize itself in the event of a boycott?

    Wow.

    We go from Roseanne calling for boycotts of companies with Mormons on payrolls in executive and managerial capacities to “Mormon owned.”

    Quite a job of moving the goalposts there.

  49. Not as impressive a job as your hinting that everyone who is opposed to Prop 8 “left wing,” or that all the pro-Prop 8 people are “the Religious Right.”

  50. Mike Rowe,

    I had a nice long post full of scathing criticism against your position, but I’m feeling full of Christian charity right now so I deleted it. It would be nice if you extended the same politeness to my friend who has chosen the path of celibacy, at considerable personal and spiritual pain, instead of calling him pathetic. I’ll wait and see.

    I will say that I am only mildly interested in what U.S. courts have or have not said. They’re working in a broad liberal tradition, and the liberal tradition seems to me to be based on many flaws. I prefer to stick with arguing from natural reason and innate intuitions, in the tradition of people like the Scholastics.

  51. Actually my comment was sarcasm directed at Roseanne’s suggestion – and the implied endorsement from a position of far left, Kossian Zealotry – that people should boycott companies with Mormons on their payroll; The only repair possible to that would be firing Mormons, well, because of their religion. (The reference to the Religious Right was a “Pot, I’d like you to meet kettle” snark)

    I guess that’s why it’s the last respectable bigotry.

    Same coin, just different sides. No wonder ya’ll hate each other with such vigor – you’re so alike.

  52. Given that some of the largest financial backers of No on 8 are Mormon, it’s a little silly to “boycott Mormons” or “boycott Mormon-owned businesses.”

    They’re working in a broad liberal tradition

    Hector, if you meant to say that the entire United States judicial system leans to the left, you’re frankly just making stuff up. If you’re defining “liberal tradition” as “not conservative Christian,” well, you know, I’m so sorry we’re not a theocracy.

  53. Mythago,

    Huh?

    No, I didn’t say it “leaned to the left”. Liberalism is usually defined as an ideology of the center, not the left (opposed to crown and altar on the right, and to socialism on the left). Both parties in the U.S. are variations of liberalism- the broad tradition of Jefferson, Locke, Adam Smith, Mill, and others. That’s the broad tradition that I don’t agree with.

  54. Hector,

    I’m sure your “nice long post full of scathing criticism” would have contained more of the sludgy, torpid bigotry that the entirety of your posts on this topic contained, so I do feel as though I’ve already read it. Sadly, it was already unoriginal before I read it. I could address your asinine notions of legal marriage being based on “natural reasons” and “innate institutions, but there are limits to which I won’t go in order to dumb down an argument so bigots can understand it. They don’t want to understand it, so it hardly seems worth the descent.

    The “liberal tradition” you deride to contemptuously is what ended slavery, gave women the right to vote, prompted prison reform, ended child labour abuses in the United States, allowed blacks to serve in the army as equal soldiers, and allowed interracial marriage. There is ample historical precedent for the sneering tone with which you’ve addressed this topic among opponents of any of the social advances I’ve just indicated.

    And lastly, regarding your sad gay friend who has been taught to hate himself the way God made him, and who has that hatred reinforced by people like you with self-righteous, clammy fake piety and “Christian charity,” here’s a notion: if you don’t want his situation commented on, don’t bring him into the discussion like your personal gay trick pony, garlanded with pink ribbons, as an example of why gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry since, like him, they have the choice sublimate the enormous beauty and bounty with which God endowed him—not the least of which, the ability to love, and be loved, as he was made—in order to buttress your own ugly, condescending arguments about gay rights.

    Oh, and Hector? If you don’t want to read me, boycott me. I’ll more than understand. This is 2008, after all.

    I doubt very much that you’re full of “Christian charity,” now or ever. Christian charity and bigotry are rarely on speaking terms, and usually don’t coexist in the same individual. You don’t strike me as special enough, based on your homophobic posts, to be the exception.

  55. The “liberal tradition” you deride to contemptuously is what ended slavery, gave women the right to vote, prompted prison reform, ended child labour abuses in the United States, allowed blacks to serve in the army as equal soldiers, and allowed interracial marriage. There is ample historical precedent for the sneering tone with which you’ve addressed this topic among opponents of any of the social advances I’ve just indicated.

    I agree with your defense of the liberal tradition generally. It bears noting, however, that nearly all the reforms you cite are the product not of the courts but the democratic process. Slavery didn’t go away because five unelected justices decided that the it violated emanations and penumbras of the original Constitution; it went away because we fought a long and bloody war, followed by 2/3 of both houses of Congress voting to adopt the Thirteenth Amendment and 3/4 of the states’ democratically elected legislators voting to ratify it. Ditto for women’s suffrage. By then they had a 14th Amendment, so presumably women could have made at least as good an equal protection claim for suffrage as gays make for marriage today (albeit not under the 14th Amendment itself, for tactical reasons, but for its substantially identical counterparts in state constitutions), but instead they persuaded an all-male Congress and scores of all-male legislatures to enact the 19th Amendment. Blacks in the Army alongside whites? Executive order. Child labor? Legislation – and in fact, legislation to which the courts initially resisted. The only exception on your list is interracial marriage, and given the clear intent of the 14th Amendment with respect to race (vs. the courts’ horrendous record of under-enforcing it in the early years), I’d argue that that was more the exception that proved the rule. No one would have called it judicial activism if the Plessy court had nipped the “separate but equal” canard in the bud in 1896, and then gone on to strike down anti-miscegenation laws a few years after that. Brown and Loving only look like judicial activism because they overruled past court precedents under the 14th Amendment, not because they were strained or unreasonable interpretations of the amendment itself. [Note that when I say Brown I refer the basic holding of undoing "separate but equal" and desegregating schools, not to every detail of the court's unnecessarily long opinion. Parts of the opinion do indeed stray into judicial activism territory, needlessly so in my view, but that's another matter.]

  56. My point was about “the liberal tradition.” Slavery didn’t end because Lincoln woke up one day and thought, “Hmmmm, I’ll start a war.” Anti-slavery activists had been working for year beforehand agitating against it, and being derided and abused by the social antecedents of the Prop 8 supporters like Hector. Likewise every other one of changes I mentioned. The “conservative tradition,” was even then prepared to justify its opposition to those things using the bible and “the natural order.” None of those advances that today we take for granted (and whose “amendment” we would find barbaric) were put to the masses to decide, because, among other things, the masses would likely have voted them down. And I would again point out that if gay marriage was allowed by executive order, these people would be screaming about dictatorship.

  57. I do think (at the risk of offending some people in the feminist and “Blank Slate” camps) that men and women are essentially different, and therefore I think men should (in a perfect world) partner with women and vice versa; and I base that conclusion on a variety of considerations from evolutionary biology, sociobiology, anthropology, history, and personal experience. So it’s reasonable, to me, to say that interracial marriage is completely OK, while still not being fully convinced that homosexual acts are morally OK. (In a personal and religious sense that is- I certainly don’t think that the _law_ should prohibit civil unions or discriminate against gays.)

    This remark comes close, as often simplistic essentialist arguments do, of putting Chalcedon in grave question. If we take this to its logical end. Jesus, being male, is essentially different from women. And if essentially different cannot save 51% of humanity. As the Fathers remind again and again, what is not assumed is not saved. So hardened essentialist arguments that do not begin rather with our similarity are theologically suspect.

    Check out the work of Fr. Tobias Haller for a more nuanced understanding of natural law in the Anglican tradition. The Scholastics and the Neo-Platonists before them did not view men and women as essentially different. They both share one human nature. If you will, using Aristotelian terms, the substance is the same, the accidents different. The accidents of femaleness were considered inferior, but not different in substance. Thomas Laqueuer’s history of ideas on the matter of gender questions the complementarian and rather Modern interpretation severely, an interpretation that wasn’t really possible until we learned in the 19th century that women contributed to procreation.

    Not only that, but we know enough of human development that sans certain hormones, female rather than Augustine’s or Aquinas’ male is the default position of the human even in XY cases. What this should tell us, is not that we are essentially different, but at root we all share in similarity–human nature. Moreover, in examining women and men in particular (and not simply as abstract categories), studies find as much difference within the two categories as across them.

    As for natural law, both Aquinas and Hooker admit that the general case always has exceptions. So it’s a bit more complicated than arguing that because the general case is male-female that there could not be a minority case. If in minority cases, of male-male or female-female, we see virtues, we should give pause to reconsider. And if so, then that requires zooming out to something both might share, which in the case of Anglican natural law theology, requires turning to Jesus in whom is founded all that is natural and fully human: faithfulness, patience, peace, kindness, etc. In this case, fidelity is a good virtue/fruit with which to begin when thinking about what is natural in directing human sexuality.

    So, natural law is more complicated than what Hector offers here, and as we should be ware, natural law was used to justify slavery and ill treatment of women as Christian and good, and has a tendency to sacralize without due regard for consideration that it might have misapprehended the diversity of creation as well as treating one another as we would wish to be treated.

  58. Christopher,

    I was considering bowing out of this thread, since Michael Rowe’s and my conversation is generating more heat than light, and is tempting me to some un-Christian excesses of prideful self-righteousness (which is one of my bigger personal vices.) But your post is thoughtful and compelling, so I’d like to respond.

    Yes, I used the word ‘essentially’ in a sloppy and un-Scholastic way. What I should better have said is that men and women are, _on the average_, basically and innately different in many physiological, emotional, psychological and spiritual ways. Obviously there are women who have stereotypically ‘masculine’ traits and vice versa. I have a couple of personality traits that would be considered traditionally ‘feminine’, for example I’m especially moved by babies and enjoy holding infants to a degree that’s unusual in most men. That doesn’t change the fact that this is, in general, a trait that more women than men tend to display, and I’m an exception in that regard.

    What I deny, vociferously, is the idea that gender is socially constructed and that, say, the fact that women tend to be more forward-thinking, less ideologically fanatical, and more spiritually inclined than men, is a result of social conditioning. No, it’s a result of nature: it’s a result of evolution, and perhaps also a reflection of the fact that reality is at the fundamental level, gendered.

    Blaming slavery on Christian natural law conceptions seems a very weak argument. Slavery disappeared from most of medieval Europe under Christian influence, and even where it persisted (at Byzantium and in the Crusader Kingdoms) it was far less cruel and brutal than slavery in the United States (for example, a man was not allowed to have intercourse with his female slave). Slavery made a comeback in the New World at precisely the time when the power of the Papacy was beginning to wane; the slave trade was most enthusiastically pursued by the notoriously secular Dutch and English; slavery was always much more cruel in the secular British and Dutch colonies than in the more highly religious Spanish and Portuguese ones; the slave trade was condemned by the Vatican quite early on; Aquinas stated clearly that there is no such thing as a ‘slave by nature’, and that slavery was a result of the Fall; the anti-slavery movement was largely driven by British Nonconformist Christianity, and the arguments against slavery (just like the argument against aristocracy made by the German and English radical Protestants) relied on the idea that equality is the _natural_ state of man, and that slavery was a result of human choices, not natural law.

    I do appreciate your points about Anglican natural law tradition and will have to look more deeply into your sources and suggestions. I’m Anglo-Catholic myself, FWIW. Best,
    Hector

  59. five unelected justices

    I’m always baffled when people attempt to place the Supreme Court outside the government because its justices are unelected – as if that were not a deliberate choice by the Framers. The strictest constructionist judge is “unelected,” yet one rarely hears anyone point this out, particularly when agreeing with a court’s opinion.

    Overruling a past precedent is certainly “judicial activism” if it creates new law and/or is not based on existing law. Loving and Perez v. Sharp are both “judicial activism” by the standards of those who disagreed with their results (see the dissenting opinions).

  60. Mythago, your comment about unelected judges (intentionally?) misses the point. No one is saying judges are supposed to be elected. The purpose of pointing out they are unelected judges is to remind the reader why it is inappropriate and undemocratic for them to usurp the role of legislators, who rightfully should be elected rather than appointed for life. Even if judges were elected they should still stick to their proper judicial role. However, if judges were voted in and out like everyone else, failure to adhere to that rule might not be such a big deal. I want (largely) unelected judges. I don’t want unelected legislators.

    Defining “judicial activism” to include every case that overrules a court precedent, even if the precedent is unsupported by law and was itself activist in nature, is to strip the phrase of any useful meaning. Defining it as “judicial activism” solely because some disagreed with the ruling is equally pointless. A ruling is either supported by law or it isn’t. Everyone knows that the purpose of the 14th Amendment was to put the races on equal footing, so there’s nothing “activist” about construing it to prohibit laws that were clearly intended to accomplish the opposite and, not coincidentally, were enacted shortly after the Fourteenth Amendment in hopes of gutting it (with assistance from a Supreme Court which, at the time, was strongly activist the other way). Neither the California law at issue in Perez nor the Virginia one at issue in Loving even made any pretense of race neutrality; both forbade whites to marry non-whites, and neither even tried to maintain the “purity” of any other race.

    Another refreshingly non-activist aspect of Perez, which I didn’t know until Googling it just now, is that unlike the current string of gay marriage cases, the Perez court didn’t try to insulate itself from federal review by drawing any weasely, too-clever-by-half distinctions between the Fourteenth Amendment and its own (substantially identical) state equivalent. Rather, they grew a pair and ruled under the Fourteenth Amendment directly, thereby opening themselves up to a potential appeal to the same U.S. Supreme Court that ended up endorsing their position 20 years later. Good for them.

  61. I think the formula “no gay person should be expected to give their money to pro-Prop 8 efforts by way of Scott Eckern,” is kind of strange. It’s frankly picking on weaker, isolated participants and private individuals who were part of a larger political effort to change the law of the state. So it’s two or three degrees removed from the actual grievance, which is California law.

    I think that’s a kind of cowardly strategy (it reminds me of the “flip off a Hummer” idea from a few years back. How about “Scowl at an opponent of universal helth care!”?) It’s within people’s rights, it’s an exmaple of people peacefully voting with their feet. But it lacks the moral authority of other examples of boycotts, since it’s not directed at the unjust institution itself, it’s focused on peeling off some of the politically and socially weaker supporters, in order to tip the political balance, or even to intimidate people who might in the future get involved on the wrong side. I don’t think any average voter is going to look at the predicament of Mr. Eckern and say, “Wow, maybe Prop 8 really is an injustice.” They’re going to say, “Poor guy.” or “Serves him right” according to what their preconcieved view of the issue is. If, for example, gay people took on the state directly, e.g. sitting in marriage license bureaus, as Dale Carpenter has proposed, it would have a much better morally and I think more effective.

  62. Mark N.’s apparent position that constitutions can’t be amended at all.

    Of course they can be amended. But how often does a constituency attempt to take the same exact wording that has already once been determined to be unconstitutional when lodged (where it seemingly belongs) in the Family Code section of the law books and then graft it onto the state constitution itself, almost as a challenge or a dare to the courts to see if they have the stones to throw it out again?

    Which I hope to see them do.

    Of course, the timeline for these events is a little bit different from my simplification above; the move to put Prop 22′s wording in the state constitution as Prop 8 happened before Prop 22 was determined to have been, shall we say, constitutionally deficient. Had they known that Prop 22 was going to be thrown out before they started the Prop 8 movement, they might have had second thoughts about not changing the wording at all, and might have made some kind of attempt to make it less offensive to the constitution’s equal protection clause.

    But, as they say, timing is everything.

  63. I already gave two examples of past constitutional amendments that were deliberately passed to undo court decisions on constitutional issues (slavery and income tax). A third is the Eleventh Amendment, which was designed to strip federal courts of jurisdiction over suits the framers never intended the courts to have in the first place, but which the federal courts had handed to themselves.

    In any event, your point about a constitutional amendment “offending” the existing constitution is not taken. It is a basic rule of both statutory and constitutional interpretation that where two laws/amendments conflict, the more recently enacted one wins. Another is that if one law states a general rule (e.g., equal protection overall) while another states a rule on a more specific subject (e.g., same-sex marriage), the more specific law will trump the more general one. It might be a more interesting question if the newer constitutional provision were the more general one, but we don’t have that problem.

  64. I reread the quote and realized it makes a value judgment on same sex relationships. That was not my intent. I just wanted to point out that the involvement of the state in marriage/relationships is not required or necessarily desirable.

  65. But it lacks the moral authority of other examples of boycotts, since it’s not directed at the unjust institution itself

    Weak. It’s not OK to criticize supporters of the unjust institution itself?

    Xrlq, you know what the point was, which is that “unelected judges” is a buzzphrase, like “judicial activism,” designed to hit a rhetorical hot button. If an elected judge usurps the authority of the legislature, that would be wrong. Separation of powers does not hinge on how we select our judicial officers.

    As to the California law, if you’d read the decision, you’d know it was not rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment or, for that matter, in federal law – only in California state law.

  66. Xrlq, you know what the point was, which is that “unelected judges” is a buzzphrase, like “judicial activism,” designed to hit a rhetorical hot button.

    Close. Obviously, your real point was “Dammit, I like judicial activism, as long as the activist judges support the same political goals that I do. And as long as the bullies in robes are on my side, I even more like the fact that no one else can turn around and unelect them.”

    If an elected judge usurps the authority of the legislature, that would be wrong. Separation of powers does not hinge on how we select our judicial officers.

    I’ve already acknowledged as much. However, if an elected judge starts acting like just another political hack, at least voters have the option of getting rid of him. It’s still wrong, of course, but it’s a hell of a lot easier to fix. Just ask Joseph Grodin, Cruz Reynoso and the ghost of Rose Bird.

    As to the California law, if you’d read the decision, you’d know it was not rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment or, for that matter, in federal law – only in California state law.

    Well, you got me there. After all, if I had actually gone out and, like, read the Perez decision, there is no way in hell I would have interpreted this:

    The provision of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States that Congress shall make no law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” is encompassed in the concept of liberty in the Fourteenth Amendment. State legislatures are therefore no more competent than Congress to enact such a law.

    or this:

    The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects an area of personal liberty not yet wholly delimited.
    “While this Court has not attempted to define with exactness the liberty thus guaranteed, the term has received much consideration and some of the included things have been definitely stated. Without doubt, it denotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint, but also the right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and, generally, to enjoy those privileges long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.” (Italics added; Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 399 [43 S.Ct. 625, 67 L.Ed. 1042].)
    Marriage is thus something more than a civil contract subject to regulation by the state; it is a fundamental right of free men.

    or this:

    Race restrictions must be viewed with great suspicion, for the Fourteenth Amendment “was adopted to prevent state legislation designed to discriminate on the basis of race or color” (Railway Mail Ass’n. v. Corsi, 326 U.S. 88, 94 [65 S.Ct. 1483, 89 L.Ed. 2072]; Williams v. International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, 27 Cal.2d 586, 590 [165 P.2d 903]) and expresses “a definite national policy against discriminations because of race or color.” (James v. Marinship Corp., 25 Cal.2d 721, 740.) Any state legislation discriminating against persons on the basis of race or color has to overcome the strong presumption inherent in this constitutional policy. “Only the most exceptional circumstances can excuse discrimination on that basis in the face of the equal protection clause …” (Oyama v. California, 332 U.S. 633 [68 S.Ct. 269, 275, 92 L.Ed. 249].) We shall therefore examine the history of the legislation in question and the arguments in its support to determine whether there are any exceptional circumstances sufficient to justify it.

    or these (from the Carter concurrence):

    It is my considered opinion that the statutes here involved (Civ. Code, §§ 60, 69) are the product of ignorance, prejudice and intolerance, and I am happy to join in the decision of this court holding that they are invalid and unenforceable. This decision is in harmony with the declarations contained in the Declaration of Independence which are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and reaffirmed by the Charter of the United Nations, that all human beings have equal rights regardless of race, color or creed, and that the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness is inalienable and may not be infringed because of race, color or creed. To say that these statutes may stand in the face of the concept of liberty and equality embraced within the ambit of the above-mentioned fundamental law is to make of that concept an empty, hollow mockery.

    [...]

    The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides: “Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    [...]

    In the years following the adoption of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, many courts still did not think that there was real equality among men despite the fact that the language of the amendments is quite clear. Another round of the vicious circle was begun, this time by limiting as far as possible the language of the amendments.

    [...]
    It is my position that the statutes now before us never were constitutional. When first enacted, they violated the supreme law of the land as found in the Declaration of Independence. It is further my position that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States invalidated the statutes here involved. In a powerful dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, supra, Justice Harlan said, at page 559: “Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. … The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved … the judgment this day rendered will, in time, prove to be quite as pernicious as the decision made by this tribunal in the Dred Scott case.” This language needs no elaboration. The time at which this judgment has become pernicious has arrived.

    or these (from the dissent):

    It is apparent from what has been said that if the law under attack bears a substantial relationship to the health, safety, morals or some other phase of the general welfare of the people of this state, it would not be invalid because incidentally in conflict with the conduct and practice of a particular religious group. Similarly if there is a rational basis for the law, if it is reasonable, and all within a given class are treated alike, there is no violation of the due process or equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. (See Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337 [59 S.Ct. 232, 83 L.Ed. 208]; Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 [47 S.Ct. 584, 71 L.Ed. 1000]; Radice v. New York, 264 U.S. 292 [44 S.Ct. 325, 68 L.Ed. 690]; Patsone v. Pennsylvania, 232 U.S. 138 [34 S.Ct. 281, 58 L.Ed. 539]; Noble State Bank v. Haskell, 219 U.S. 104 [31 S.Ct. 186, 55 L.Ed. 112].)

    [...]
    Petitioners first contend that the above quoted statutory provisions deprive them of the religious freedom guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the federal Constitution and article I, section 4, of the Constitution of this state.

    [...]
    The contention is also advanced that the statute must fall before the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because of lack of a sufficient showing of clear and present danger arising out of an emergency.

    to imply that the Perez decision had anything to do with the Fourteenth Amendment or any other part of the U.S. Constitution.

  67. Obviously, your real point was “Dammit, I like judicial activism, as long as the activist judges support the same political goals that I do.

    Project much? I disagree quite strongly with judicial activism by judges of any political stripe, which is why I joined the Federalist Society and law school and left it promptly thereafter. (It became rather obvious that the national organization’s alleged support of ‘judicial restraint’ melted away when conservative judges did it, and that conservatives like you are quite happy with bullies in robes as long as they’re named Scalia and don’t mess with property rights.)

    The justices of the California Supreme Court sit for election every twelve years, so they’re hardly unelected and untouchable. There’s no reason to steam about “unelected judges” except, as you admit, to imply that those durn judges are a-messin’ with the Will and Wisdom of the Common Folk.

    In Re Marriage Cases depended on the California state constitution, not on the US constitution, so I’m not quite sure what your intention in cutting-and-pasting random sections of Perez is about. I’m sure you’d agree with the dissent, though, which cautioned against making an unpopular change in the marriage laws.

  68. I’m sorry, but I don’t care if people work for organizations that are gay supportive… those who garner their incomes from the mass public should be challenged if they contribution to organizations or causes that take away our fundamental rights. I don’t care what Marjorie, Alan, or Scott believe religiously; they make their money in a secular society. Wherever you spend a dollar, that dollar is a VOTE for that organization and the people who run it. I don’t care if others agree or not. I do not wish to fund homophobes, religious right hate squads, or hypocritical “friends” of the gay community. You may well disagree. That’s YOUR vote. Support Alan Stock if you wish, give to the Mormon Church, patronize Outback Restaurants, whatever. Ever dollar is a vote, and when people are voting against other people’s freedoms, they should be glad that all that happens is a boycott…

  69. The whole argument about whether a vote for Prop 8 was done because the voter is a hate filled homophobe or because they simply wanted to make a distinction that the term marriage should be only for heterosexuals is strictly academic. A yes vote from a homophobe and a yes vote from someone trying to make a distinction have the same end result, the discrimination of gays and lesbians and treating them not only as second class citizens but also treating their relationship as being wrong and less equal to others.

    As to the issue of Boycotts I think they are a perfectly acceptable form of protest. Why would someone who is homosexual want to spend money that will line the pockets of those who not only think you should be treated with less respect than someone who is heterosexual but worse use some of that money to actively try to beat you down in respect to your civil rights.

    Thankfully I live in Canada where we have for the most part put this whole issue of same sex marriage behind us.

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