Fascism Is Not "That Which Hurts My Feelings"

American social and political culture has shifted rather abruptly towards support for same-sex marriage. Many opponents of same-sex marriage have shifted their rhetoric with it. They have changed focus from increasingly unpersuasive primary arguments (such as appeals to religious norms) to arguments that same sex marriage will have unintended consequences threatening the rights of others. They argue that legalizing same-sex marriage will have the effect of oppressing people who wish to exercise First Amendment rights to dissent from it, whether by speech or association.

Here's the problem: in doing so, some opponents of same sex marriage ("SSM" from here on out, because I am lazy) are promoting ignorance and confusion about basic rights by conflating government action, private action, suppression, and response speech. Ignorance — and I know I am going out on a limb here — is bad.

Consider this Bob Unruh column at WorldNetDaily. Now, I realize that some will say I am setting up a strawman by treating WND as an example of anything other than WND. But the Unruh column has a rather comprehensive list of links to stories that SSM opponents actually cite, and a representative sample of what I see as the willful jumbling of speech and action.

Unruh advocates the use of the term "homofascism" to counter the term "homophobia":

Hunt for the word “homophobia” – purportedly a fear of homosexuality – and Merriam-Webster, the ADL, Wikipedia, Oxford Dictionary, The Free Dictionary, the Reference Dictionary and others are ready to provide help.

But look for “homofascism” – the use of homosexuality to bludgeon and batter the religious rights of Christians and others – and the logical resources are silent, leaving it to blogs and others to define.

(As an aside, I've always understood the suffix "-phobia" to encompass both fear — which foes of SSM disavow — and strong dislike or aversion. Most dictionaries seem to support that meaning. I've always thought the argument "I'm not homophobic because I'm not afraid of homosexuals" to be rather dim and dishonest.)

Unruh goes on to offer a long list of links "that show abuse of Christians’ rights" culled from a site called "Defend the Family." The problem with the list is that it collects, homogenizes, and labels as "fascism" a wide variety of legal and social phenomena. Some items on the list are genuine examples of conflicts between the government and the individual — like application of anti-discrimination laws to SSM issues. Others are individual incidents of alleged viewpoint-based violence or threats. But Unruh and his sources mix those incidents with examples of clear protected speech by supporters of SSM and gay rights.

Unruh cites an instance "when a homosexual activist demands a lawyer not be hired because of past support for traditional marriage." But the underlying news story reveals a rather mundane political battle over a candidate's past affiliations. Is Unruh suggesting that SSM opponents would not oppose politicians who have backed organizations that they dislike? Unruh calls out examples of boycotts by gay rights groups. But boycotts are classic examples of protected speech, not fascism. Is Unruh really decrying all boycotts? If so, does he decry them when groups like the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America employ them in an attempt to enforce anti-gay dogma? Unruh includes instances of gays complaining to the government about treatment by the government's agents in his list of fascism, even though such complaints are classic petitioning activity. Unruh complains about expressions of skepticism about a story of unfair censorship of a Christian, calling it "an LGBT publication desperately and through the use of unrelated arguments trying to convince people that they’re not getting the whole story and that the student harassed the teacher for the teacher being homosexual." But fascism is not characterized by a blogger asking skeptical questions about a news story. The list complains about pressure and rhetoric brought to bear against companies opposing SSM — but does Unruh really think that citizens bringing pressure and rhetoric to bear is fascist? Is it fascist when anti-gay and anti-SSM citizens do it?

Like many abrupt social changes, SSM and associated recognition of the rights of gay Americans will trigger some conflicts between statutory and constitutional rights. Those conflicts involve freedom of association (as when religious student groups wish to maintain religious qualifications for leadership) and freedom of expression (as when an artist's personal views conflict with the anti-discrimination laws of her state.) These conflicts are best discussed openly and honestly with an eye on the actual legal principles presented.

SSM and gay rights also triggers much mere disagreement, rhetoric, and social consequences for proponents of both sides. That is not a conflict of constitutional dimensions. Nor is it anything like fascism. That's the marketplace of ideas, functioning as intended. By mixing up government action and private speech, Unruh and WND are indulging in the trope that speech is tyranny — as WND has done before. But speech is not tyranny. Speech is what we have instead of tyranny. When you speak, and your fellow citizens disagree with you, that disagreement may take the form of condemnation and ridicule. But that's their free speech and does not impede yours. Suggesting otherwise — suggesting that condemning homophobia is comparable to threats or violence or government action — willfully promotes ignorance about basic civic principles.

We should condemn, investigate, and prosecute true threats and political violence. We should think carefully about the ongoing conflict between anti-discrimination laws and freedom of speech and association — a conflict that won't go away if we pretend it doesn't exist. But we shouldn't take anyone seriously if they suggest that being called a bigot is like being a victim of fascism.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

Comments

  1. Kat says

    Great article! Small typo here:

    like application of anti-discrimination laws to SMM issues

  2. Trebuchet says

    Well said! An incredible number of folks seem unable to understand the difference between censorship of speech by the government (which is, thankfully, very rare) and legitimate criticism of that speech by other private citizens exercising the same right.

  3. Pete says

    So you can be a homophobe, or an islamophobe, but what if you are averse to fear-driven douchebaggery? Are you a phobaphobe?

  4. Andy (not Andy) says

    You mentioned religious organizations wanting to have religion-based entrance requirements…a related thing that SSM opponents use to spread FUD is when they say that churches will be 'forced' to perform SSM.

    They must forget things like a Catholic church generally won't marry a mixed (i.e. 1 non-Catholic) couple, and a synagogue usually won't marry Gentiles. So, churches are *already* able to refuse marriages they don't wish to perform for hetero marriages. Why would SS marriages be any different?

    OTOH, I don't like seeing proponents of SSM doing things like . I figure if the small business doesn't want the sale, then they should be allowed to shoot themselves in the foot.

  5. mcinsand says

    Complaints of censorship is very ironic, given what happened to Dick Cheney. While still VP, he made a very good, articulate, and conservative argument for gay marriage, and I mean anti-big_brother, small government 'conservative.' His position boiled down to the government having no place telling us who we can choose as a partner in the pursuit of happiness. The far right muzzled him faster than his buckshot flew towards his hunting buddy.

    'Fascism' has become the non-Internet equivalent of tripping over Godwin's Law. Anytime someone advocates a position that someone does not like, the 'fascist' cry is one of the first yells. Rather than referring to a nationalist philosophy, the word is much like 'addiction'; over the past few decades of media use, both words are so watered down that they don't really mean anything.

    I think we've also twisted 'homophobia' to make it outward-directed. I am confident that these people fear homosexuality, but I don't think that most of them fear homosexuals. I am confident that most of them fear that there might be something inside of themselves or that others might see something about them that suggests homosexuality. The guy behind the crazy church in Kansas… if he was really concerned about the serious problems in the US, I think he'd be looking to take a different path from protesting at funerals. The fact that he's focused on men and men in uniform says a lot about what gets his attention, and I think he is enough evidence to let me rest my case.

    There is a certain arrogance that I have seen on both the far right and the far left, where the views can get more than a little extreme in wanting to ban/forbid/criminalize a position that the other side might have adopted. In this case, it is a belief that suppressing another person's right can happen without putting theirs at risk. If your rights are not secure, neither are mine.

  6. naught_for_naught says

    My new favorite argument is that breeders will gay-marry just for the benefits.

  7. Grifter says

    I've always disliked that "-phobe" is used for fear but more generally for aversion (such as hatred), because doesn't the greek word mean mean fear specifically? But its overall usage is, of course, for overboard aversion regardless of cause (Rabies used to sometimes be called hydrophobia, but there wasn't a "fear" component…it's used in chemistry, too)

    @Pete:
    I think you'd be a "Douchephobe".

  8. BNT says

    to arguments that same sex marriage will have unintended consequences threatening the rights of others

    This argument fascinates me. We can't give same-sex couples the actual rights they are currently denied because it might, theoretically, maybe, in the future, impinge on the rights of someone else.

    Truthfully, I think it boils down to "I'm terrified that they will treat my rights with as little regard as I treat theirs."

  9. Ish says

    "Lavandisaccophobe" doesn't really roll off the tongue, but someone really ouught to come up with a phrase that decribes the odium most Popehat readers hold toward douchebags.

  10. says

    As an aside, I've always understood the suffix "-phobia" to encompass both fear — which foes of SSM disavow — and strong dislike or aversion.

  11. says

    This is an important point that bears making but boy, even just debunking claims like those lends them more legitimacy than they deserve.

  12. says

    As an aside, I've always understood the suffix "-phobia" to encompass both fear — which foes of SSM disavow — and strong dislike or aversion.

    I think that the "strong dislike or aversion" meaning is a relatively new expansion of the meaning. Fear of spiders (arachnophobia), crowded bustling, market-like places (agoraphobia) and many others were words invented by doctors to describe people with fears disproportionate to the risk associated with the thing they fear; and fear was overwhelmingly what the feared thing provoked.

    Understandably, people who find something very frightening may well come to consider it something worthy of their hate, or that they want to destroy. Somebody with arachnophobia may well kill any spiders they encounter.

    I think the use of the suffix to describe groups of people is relatively recent; and its use in this context does, as you say, generally encompass not just fear of, but hatred towards the groups in question.

  13. lelnet says

    "I'm terrified that they will treat my rights with as little regard as I treat theirs."

    In what sense are their rights abridged? They can have sex with who they like, move in with who they like, merge finances with who they like, establish joint contracts with who they like, designate who they like as their agent and proxy while they're alive and their principal heir after they die, throw a big party in any venue that wants their business and call it a "wedding", and refer to anyone who dissents from this opinion as a "bigot".

    The _only_ power they lack is the power to drag those dissenters into court with the full weight of "protected class" jurisprudence behind them, to use as a weapon against what little remains of Freedom of Association in this country, forcibly shutting down any entity which dares to assert a position contrary to their ideology.

    No one is saying they shouldn't be entitled to privacy in the bedroom, and no one credible is saying they shouldn't be entitled to express their opinions.

  14. Grifter says

    @Peter:

    I think the usage of as a fear in clinical psychiatry is the newer usage, since it's a newer field. It was used in Chemisty, Biology, etc. before then, I think, to describe aversion (and is used in general medicine for sensitivity…like in "photophobia")

  15. That Anonymous Coward says

    The argument seems to boil down to…
    We have a god given right to treat others like crap and ignore their beliefs, but no one has a right to do it to us.

    But then I might be tired of living in a world where these people call me broken and needing to be fixed.
    That my presence is so disturbing they can panic and murder me and expect little punishment.
    That they demand the special right to say how everyone else should live to appease their beliefs.

    This is scary and my leaders told me I should be against it. All of the problems in my life are their fault. They are lesser than me and by keeping them down I keep my position.
    Problem is historically you can insert all sorts of ethnic, religious, or different people into the arguments…

    I wish someone would challenge them to give up all of the special rights married people get so we can all be equal. I wish they could live through all of the horror stories and find a new respect for those "special" rights they contend I'm not worthy of having. Well that and I'd like to go a week without people claiming all gay people are pedophiles and connecting bestiality to the argument.

  16. freedomfan says

    Very good post. And, I think it's worth emphasizing that WND is doing something very much akin to what speech code advocates (often on the left) do in claiming that someone expressing criticism of their view is oppressing them. I'd say the danger is greater when such claimants go on to enact rules to punish that speech, but the starting point is pretty much the same.

    BTW, I would kindly disagree with your parenthetical aside. Whether "homophobia" specifically includes dislike as well as fear, the "-phobia" suffix carries with it a connotation of fear, and generally irrational fear. While I disagree with them on the point, I can certainly see why SSM opponents would want to differentiate their opposition to changes in the law from an irrational fear of homosexuality. And, I would assume that the other side is smart enough to know that the term "homophobia" is especially effective because it carries with it the implication that their opponents are fearful, possibly cowardly, etc. To be clear, homofacism is a nonsense term in this debate. But, it isn't necessarily dishonest to want an alternative to "homophobia".

  17. says

    @lelnet:

    "No one is saying they shouldn't be entitled to privacy in the bedroom,"

    Well, that's not right. It may not be the primary argument of SSM opponents. But plenty of people on the right argue that Lawrence v. Texas was wrongly decided and that the constitution permits states to criminalize private sexual conduct.

  18. Grifter says

    @lelnet:

    Ken already pointed out one flaw. It's also worth noting that they do not have the same right to designate principal heir as OSM couples, which is the point of the DOMA suit, if I recollect: they pay totally different tax rates (and thus, can't will away the same amount) simply because of OSM's "protected class" status.

  19. Grifter says

    I know the prefix "Mis-" can be used for a hatred (Misogyny, Misandry). Perhaps the currently defined "homophobes" could reclassify themselves as "Mishomos"?

  20. says

    @lelnet,

    Are you willing to concede that there are advantages to marriage that SSM-desiring partners are not automatically entitled to? Like spouse insurance, being able to see partner in hospital and over 100 other issues? If you are, I'll have a conversation with you about credibility.

  21. Andy (not Andy) says

    @lelnet,

    There's a reason they want same-sex *marriage*. It's not because they really care about the word so much. It's all the automatic benefits that the government has tied to that word. If marriages didn't have over 100 other 'automatic' benefits that aren't included by default in a 'civil union', then it wouldn't be an issue. But, those benefits exist. They want the rights that hetero couples get.

    I am against any special class abusing their position, and there are some in the gay community who do so. However, it's not like they have a monopoly on useless crackpots, either. Plenty of those in the anti-SSM movement.

  22. Tsagoth says

    Just a minor nit. Homophobia is not a fear of homosexuals, it is a fear of people like oneself.

  23. lelnet says

    "Are you willing to concede that there are advantages to marriage that SSM-desiring partners are not automatically entitled to?"

    For the record, those are not actually things that heterosexual married couples are guaranteed by law either. Insurance is provided by private businesses, except to the elderly and indigent, who get it from the state on account of their age and/or poverty regardless of whether they're married or which sex they prefer to see naked. And hospital visitations are covered by hospital policies…which needless to say are not nearly as simple as "legal spouses can always come in, and nobody else can". (If you're in for an extended stay, there are likely to be limits on hours of visitation and quantity of concurrent visitors, but I've visited quite a few people in the hospital in my life, and never even been asked about the nature of my relationship with them. Not all of them were my wife. Not all were even family of any sort. Some were merely friends from work. On the other hand, the last time my wife had an accident while trying to cut cheese and sliced open her hand instead, I had to wait over an hour in the ER waiting room between when I got to the hospital and when the staff was willing to let me go back and see her. This was more than a bit frustrating, but it never occurred to me that it was a fit subject to bring even to the county courthouse, let alone the Supreme Court.)

    There are indeed a few genuinely governmental advantages to legal marriage. The option to merge taxes is sometimes handy, if one party earns significantly more than the other, for example (although if the two parties have roughly equal earning power, that advantage disappears). And go ahead and throw in the pittance that Social Security pays as a death benefit, too…for as long as Social Security exists at all, why not? Far be it from me to kick up a Federal case over such minutiae.

    But the extent to which advocates will go to push this strongly implies, to me anyway, that it's not really about the minutiae.

  24. Grifter says

    @lelnet:

    Not to be mean, but you don't know what you're talking about. You clearly know nothing about HIPAA, and how it relates to hospital policies (it's not as simple as "hospital visitations are covered by hospital policies" at all). If you don't actually know what the "minutae" are, you shouldn't dismiss it. As much as I loathe the word, you're exhibiting your privilege.

  25. Grifter says

    @Tsagoth:

    No, it isn't. Don't confuse the etymological origins with what the word actually is used for and means.

    Etymologically, it is a compound of "same" and "fear". But that's not what we use it for in this context.

  26. says

    @lelnet

    Look, I don't know if you are trying to be insulting, but I'm 56 years old, I have taken wives, children and girlfriends to the hospital for everything from cuts to heart attacks, I grew up with many gay men and women, 3 of my uncles, two aunts and my late daughter are all gay. This is not a small thing in my family.

    That said, there are things called rights, which are codified in law and hospitals, among others are required to follow those laws. Are you seriously saying that we should try to get every law in every sate amended to include partners? It sounds like it. The rest of the stuff about visitation is just smoke. But when my daughter was killed, the LAW prevented her partner from seeing her because she was not "married". When my uncle was in hospital in Florida, the LAW allowed the hospital to prevent his partner of 35 years from being part of his care. These are not policies, they are settled law.

    If you cannot accept that the people most harmed by the law have a legitimate beef, then there is no room for discussion.

  27. Aron says

    Enlighten me, ignorant European, please, because I got lost reading the Wiki article on marriage in the USA. From a legal point of view, is there a differentiation over there between civil and religious marriage? I mean, if there is (which is the case here, where I'm writing from), why all the drama? The sacrament of matrimony (yes, I'm a Catholic) is church business, they're in control of deciding when to give it and when to decline it. From a religious point of view, the civil process is a wholly different, state-mandated business, to handle the legal side. I fully support the notion of SSM couples being able to inherit from each other or being able to see, say, a partner's medical record. I'm a bit more uneasy about adoption, but that's my personal battle with my inner demons. Anyway, putting the immense societal pressure potential of conservatives in the US aside, how does it work legally?

  28. lelnet says

    Is the HRC a sufficiently trustworthy source for you? The only references I've found to HIPAA and "visitation policies" or "visitor policies" are that page, other pages like it, and hospital policies where the word "visitor" is used to refer not to someone connected to the patient, but to someone observing the procedures of the hospital (as, for example, a student).

    If one of the most prominent organizations arguing _for_ the redefinition of marriage is prepared to publicly and prominently tell the world that existing Federal law "specifically provides a mechanism for patients to indicate their wishes in these areas", I don't see how the notion that visiting one's partner in the hospital is still a live issue can hold up.

  29. Toddsler says

    @lelnet @Grifter

    lelnet:
    "Far be it from me to kick up a Federal case over such minutiae."

    Grifter:
    "As much as I loathe the word, you're exhibiting your privilege."

    This. Exactly. Because $360k in taxes is minutiae.

  30. MattS says

    Ken,

    "(As an aside, I've always understood the suffix "-phobia" to encompass both fear — which foes of SSM disavow — and strong dislike or aversion. Most dictionaries seem to support that meaning. I've always thought the argument "I'm not homophobic because I'm not afraid of homosexuals" to be rather dim and dishonest.)"

    I would like to know which dictionaries you are referring to. Phobia is a medical term which refers not just to fear but a persistent and irrational fear.

    dictionary.reference.com/browse/phobia

  31. lelnet says

    And hey, anything that enables people to pay less in taxes is totally 100% cool with me. (The notion that marriage always involves a tax discount is a myth. But it sometimes does. And from where I sit, if two people think that merging their tax filing will save them money, they ought to be able to, whether they're sleeping together or not.)

  32. Noxx says

    The mere fact that we have to have this conversation makes me want to lay my head on my workbench and weep for humanity. I'm just so tired of saying the same thing to the same deaf ears, year after year.

  33. SPQR says

    "But plenty of people on the right argue that Lawrence v. Texas was wrongly decided and that the constitution permits states to criminalize private sexual conduct."

    And some of us argue that Lawrence v. Texas was wrongly decided, that the Constitution permits states to criminalize private sexual conduct, and that such laws are stupid.

    Some of us argue that "Stupid laws are not thereby unconstitutional".

  34. Grifter says

    @lelnet:

    "the law specifically provides a mechanism for patients to indicate their wishes in these areas" — Yes. But it also provides a default mechanism.

    If I get knocked out, and am in a coma my wife can, by default visit me, hold my hand, speak to me, and make decisions about my care. All she has to say is "He's my husband". Were I in a relationship with another dude, there are mountains of paperwork, and he would be required to carry it with him or he would be SOL.

  35. SPQR says

    Grifter, there are hardly "mountains" of paperwork, as even my most voluminous medical power of attorney only runs about ten pages.

    And filling it out is less burdensome than getting married.

  36. Nicholas Weaver says

    I find it more amusing (if, by amusing, you mean 'head achingly incomprehensibly stupid') how the SSM opponents basically are using the same language used against Loving v Virginia, with just a search-and-replace on the derogatory words.

    Heck, how many of the SSM opponents think that Loving v Virginia was incorrectly decided?

  37. Grifter says

    @SPQR:

    "And filling it out is less burdensome than getting married."

    I don't know about your state, but in mine getting married was a single sheet of paper where we put our names, checked off it was voluntary, promised we weren't related closer than 1st cousins, gave something like 30 bucks, and then had an ordained buddy to sign off. Considerably less burdensome than a POA.

    But I retract my "mountains" comment.

  38. That Anonymous Coward says

    @lelnet – "I don't see how the notion that visiting one's partner in the hospital is still a live issue can hold up."

    Then your being willfully blind.

    Might I draw your attention to the movie Bridegroom.
    http://bridegroommovie.com/about-the-film

    You might like to live in an insulated little imaginary world where these things don't happen, but they are real. Just as real as there being places in this country where overt racism is SOP, where old ol' boys still talk about lynching those damn * if they look at a women in a way the white men find questionable.

    Your not related you can't make medical decisions for this person.
    If your husband and wife you don't need power of attorney to do this.
    If you can't be married you can spend a small fortune on all sorts of legal documentation that still might not appease some 'god fearing' bureaucrat who will do everything they can to cause problems for those evil sinners.

  39. Andy (not Andy) says

    @Nicholas: Glad you mentioned that! In a similar vein…

    I've known this guy for about eight years, and he makes roughly the point you just made. He's the pastor of the church my wife goes to, and that I visit in her company sometimes. It's a mainstream, Disciples of Christ church, nothing unusual or off the beaten path.

    Don't get mad and turn this off after two minutes. Listen to the end. :D

  40. MattS says

    Nate,

    The chemical usage of "phobia/phobic" is not applicable to the term "homophobia", only the psychiatric definition is applicable.

  41. Nicholas Weaver says

    lelnet: If I was married, my GF could be on my health insurance and it would not be a taxable benefit. For unmarried couples (homosexual or heterosexual), it is.

    So, add $6K to your adjusted gross income, thankyouverymuch. (Been there, done that, paid the IRS).

    This is just one of many such examples where marriage provides legal benefits that are simply not available for nonmarried couples.

  42. MattS says

    In my opinion the use of the term "homophobia" is a deliberate attempt to dismiss the opposition by medicalizing dissent. The opposition can be ignored because they are mentally ill.

    I am not opposed to SSM nor am I claiming that the medicalization of dissent is exclusive to just one side in this debate or the larger political debates between Democrats and Republicans.

    Attempting to medicalize the dissent is deplorable no mater what the cause or which side engages in it.

  43. Grifter says

    No, Nicholas, that's totally just "minutiae", don't you understand? Because it doesn't affect me. So it can't be a big deal.

    /sarcasm

  44. Grifter says

    @MattS:

    I don't think it's an attempt to medicalize it. I think it's an attempt to discredit it by calling it irrational. As it is irrational, I don't see a problem. Though from an etymological standpoint, I would love having a more apt word.

  45. MattS says

    Nicholas Weaver,

    If you were married and filling jointly and you were either close to the top of your tax bracket or if your GF's income is close to yours, adding her income to yours would push both of you into a higher tax bracket which could end up being a net penalty even counting the savings on health insurance premiums.

  46. princessartemis says

    On the aside, a lot of prejudices and bigotries are rooted in the fear of differences and the unknown; that doesn't make them phobias unless the fear is pathological. That's my issue with the word homophobia. It's a way to say "views I don't like are pathological".

    It's probably too late to get that horse back in the barn though, just as it might be too late to stop fascism = everything I don't like. Didn't equating fascism with everything bad and wrong in the world start with Stalin?

  47. Jay says

    lelnet, excellent job framing the issue to your benefit. You're essentially saying, "I don't see what all the fuss is about over SSM; why do people even care about it?" This forces SSM supporters to justify why SSM actually matters, which forces them to do most of the work.

    I don't think you actually believe that marriage isn't a big deal. If the government had prevented you from marrying your wife, would you have just said, "oh well, it's not really a big deal anyway?" Even if the government was treating many other people just like you in the same way?

    If you still would assert that marriage isn't a big deal, then you surely can't have any objection to SSM. I mean, it's not a big deal, after all. Why spend time arguing over it?

    If you think marriage is, in fact, a big deal, but you are opposed to SSM, what is the basis of that opposition?

  48. princessartemis says

    @Grifter, I'd suggest homosexist as an alternative word. I am certain it would carry virtually every meaning needed without needlessly painting people who suffer from phobias with the phobia = bigotry brush.

  49. Grifter says

    @princessartemis:

    I think that one still sounds weird, thanks to the hold "sexism" has in our society. But it could work.

    @MattS:

    But he can't marry his boyfriend (if he had one). See where that breaks down? One set of people having a choice, another being denied it for either no reason, or a religious one?

  50. Toddsler says

    @MattS:

    I imagine that racists took issue (still do?) over being called racist. IMO, "racist" and "homophobe" serve a very similar descriptive purpose.

    Speaking of medicalizing, some SSM opponents still point to homosexuality as a disease that can/'t be cured even though credible medical/psychiatric groups have declared otherwise.

    I realize you mentioned that it happens on both sides, but I just wanted to draw up this congruency for posterity.

  51. Grifter says

    To be clear: the quotation marks were just to indicate the way the word is viewed (along gender lines, which isn't necessarily the case for SSM opponents who find both types of homosexuals icky), not to be dismissive of sexism. I reread it and realized it might be seen as douchey, and that wasn't the intent.

  52. babby says

    @letnet

    You are clearly a ignoramus who doesn't know the first thing about what they're talking about. There's a phrase for loud morons like you, "blinded by privilege". It's amazing that you actually think there are no tax benefits to marriage, do you know anything about the tax system whatsoever?

    "from where I sit, if two people think that merging their tax filing will save them money, they ought to be able to, whether they're sleeping together or not."

    Yeah, you have awful, worthless ideals.

    Ken: Personal attacks are not acceptable. Cut that shit out. Now.

  53. princessartemis says

    On the subject of same-sex marriage, get the state the hell out of granting permission for consenting adults to marry. Change whatever laws are needed so that married people of any variety can visit each other in ICUs without hassle, etc., etc., etc.. It might be hard to do this, but it is right.

  54. princessartemis says

    @Toddsler, what about the people who legitimately suffer from phobias? I'm not so concerned with the feelings of the homosexist jackwagons it really applies to, I'm concerned about the innocent third party casualties who are already stigmatized enough by society for suffering from psychiatric disorders.

    (See Grifter? It might sound funky, but it gets the job done :) )

  55. Jeff S says

    As for wether there are a differentiation between civil and religious marriages. In the US one does not have a religous ceremony and then go have a civil ceremony. In the US just about anyone can be licensed by their state to perform a wedding. As far as I know all clergy are licensed. You dont have to be clergy to be licensed. In fact my brother was married by a marriage counselor. So since almost all clergy have a license from the state you have one ceremony. If you had a religious ceremony and your minister was not licensed to perform marriages you would have to have a "civil" marriage (i.e. go to the courthouse). In the case of Quakers, who have no ministers, you are married by the congregation as a whole and everyone in attendance signs you marriage license.

  56. Toddsler says

    @princessartemis:

    Yeah, I agree. It probably isn't the best word to use. You haven't completely sold me on homosexist though. :)

  57. Grifter says

    It does! :)

    But at the risk of going down a semantical rabbit hole, I don't think it handles both sides of the rhetorical coin as well as other "ists" of the same type…"racist" means one who thinks other races are inferior, and that their own is superior, sexists think their opposite is inferior, and that their own is superior. It's why someone on either side of the coin can be called racist or sexist. -Phobe expresses specific aversion. The opposite type would be a -Phobe of the opposite. So, semantically, do we want a word that can serve both sides equally well (an -ist, though that's obviously not the case for all ists) or do we want a word for just people who hate gays?

    I do think it's better than "homophobe", though, so maybe I should just shut up and let better be enough…

  58. Grifter says

    Also, strictly speaking, I guess "homosexist" would mean someone who thinks their own kind of sex is superior, though that might not come across as immediately clear…

  59. Another Woman says

    @ Aron (since no one else seems to answered you and the argument seems to have skipped over your question to rage in a different direction). In simplest form: Civil marriage (and therefore access to rights conferred by that) is basically what this fight is about. No one is (seriously) demanding that any given religious institution allow SSM. The religious marriage sanction is not required as part of the civil, but (I believe, and I am sure that someone will correct me if this is any way wrong) the civil marriage license/whatever is required before/with the religious.
    Example. I did not have a 'church wedding'. My sister did. We each have marriage licenses from the respective states where we got married.

  60. Nate says

    @MattS: I answered your assertion about the definition of the suffix -phobia. In that instance my example of hydrophobic as an instance of the second definition of -phobia was applicable. As to using the definition of phobia to mean aversion in regards to "homophobia", it may not have always been right, however definitions of words change as their usage changes. I think today we use the term "homophobia" as a sociological term rather than a medical term, so I think both meanings of phobia apply. That does not means homophobia is the best term to use.

  61. Noah Callaway says

    @Jay

    I think you made a key point here. The default question when the government is regulating our lives should not be what the government allows us to do; it should be what the government restricts us from doing. (1)

    So, it then follows that the question is not why should we allow SSM. It is what compelling reasons are there for us to not allow SSM. I have yet to hear a single compelling reason why we should not allow SSM. (2)

    So lelnet, or others against SSM, do you disagree with my premise (1), or do you disagree with my analysis of the evidence (2)? Both? Neither?

  62. Lago says

    @SPQR "And some of us argue that Lawrence v. Texas was wrongly decided, that the Constitution permits states to criminalize private sexual conduct, and that such laws are stupid.

    Some of us argue that "Stupid laws are not thereby unconstitutional"."

    Isn't it part of the justice system's job to balance against exactly that kind of impulsive 'majority rules' law?

    I'm not sure if you're against the ruling itself, or if you're against their reasoning for the ruling.

  63. lelnet says

    "If the government had prevented you from marrying your wife, would you have just said, 'oh well, it's not really a big deal anyway?'"

    Well, the government can't prevent me from marrying her, because that happened at the front of the parish church in front of witnesses. And if the government were to intervene to prevent that from happening, we'd have done it in secret. Or gone overseas. Or whatever. All the government could do is refuse to issue a certification of it.

    Honestly, the only reason I could even swear we got the government license is because I had to take the day off work to stand in line to apply for it. I'm pretty sure there's some sort of certificate we can get from the county, that confirms that we actually went through with the wedding (I know my wife and I and our respective best friends and the priest all signed some stuff in the rectory after the ceremony and before we went to the reception), but we never bothered to order one.

    You want the government per se to treat you as married? Fine. Whatever. If nothing else it'll be interesting to watch gays get their share of experience with the travesty of the Family Court system when they decide to break up. (Hey, you want marriage? See how you like our divorce laws!) The problem is the creation of a legal cause of action against private parties.

  64. Grifter says

    The one that doesn't exist?

    The places that such a legal cause of action exists, such as in the photographer case, would have had an equal cause of action if, for example, the photographer had refused an interracial wedding. Or a Protestant one. Which is not necessarily to defend those laws, but only to point out that if that's your problem, it has nothing whatsoever to do with SSM.

  65. MattS says

    Nate,

    I am saying that the people who originated the term were explicitly using the psychiatric definition in an attempt to paint the opposition as mentally ill. That people who don't understand this connotation use the term without that intent does not take that original connotation away from the word.

  66. princessartemis says

    @Another Woman, AFAIK, you are right, nowadays, most who wish to be married in the eyes of society and allowed the protection of the law must apply for permission to do so from the government. A religious ceremony does not confer a legal marriage where a liscence is needed. I'm not sure if there is anywhere left in the US that recognizes a new common law marriage. This is an abridgement of all of our rights; if one has to ask the government permission to marry and the government grants it via a license, then it isn't a right, it is a privilege. In California, every religious marriage I have attended ended with the minister solemnizing the marriage "by the power vested in [him] by the State of California", which is frankly a frightening thing to hear in a religious ceremony.

  67. Noah Callaway says

    @lolnet

    "You want the government per se to treat you as married? Fine. Whatever."

    Yes, this is the aim of the vast majority of the people arguing in favor of SSM. Your church won't have to hold a ceremony it doesn't agree with (much as, as stated previously, a Catholic church can choose to not marry non-Catholics). Was it ever unclear that the argument was over civil marriage and not every religious institutions form of marriage?

  68. lelnet says

    @Noah,

    I dispute your formulation of the issue in terms of "allow" and "restrict". Our problem is lawsuits and causes of action, and proponents' problem (at least, so they say) is government benefits. Framing the issue as "should 'gay marriage' be _allowed_" misrepresents _both_ sides, by implying that we're really arguing about the passive tolerance by the state of purely private behavior.

    Were that the case, I'd have no dispute at all. I do not want what goes on in my bedroom to be any of your business, nor do I want what goes in in your bedroom to be any of mine, and the principle remains the same whether the one intruding is the almighty Leviathan state or just one nosy busybody, and regardless of the sex of the occupants of said bedroom.

    But this is not about what goes on in the bedroom, it's about what goes on in the courthouse. Which makes it necessarily everybody's business.

  69. Jay says

    lelnet, I'm sure you recognize that SSM and legal causes of action against private parties are two different issues. Ceasing to forbid SSM does not automatically grant SS couples any novel legal causes of action. In fact, assuming you're talking generally about allowing individuals to sue on the basis of discrimination in certain contexts, SSM would undercut some arguments for such additional legislation. If we allow SSM, there's less evidence that such people are in need of protection because certain people view them with malice. Think of it like this: it would have been much more difficult to pass civil rights legislation if states didn't cling to their Jim Crow laws.

    At any rate, I'm glad that we've all agreed that the government should stop preventing SSM.

  70. Noah Callaway says

    @lolnet

    "Our problem is lawsuits and causes of action"

    Others have pointed this out, also, but I don't see a correlation to allowing SSM and related causes of action. So that we can have a more productive conversation can you be specific as to what new causes of action would be created by allowing SSM?

  71. Malc says

    @lelnet,

    The profound failure with most of your argument is that, while there are techniques that exist for same-sex couples to achieve similar effects as are available to opposite-sex married couples (such as "living wills" and the like), those very techniques are unnecessary for one class (OSM) _and_ require upkeep and maintenance that are not required with state-sponsored marriage.

    Basically, you're trying to advocate "separate but equal", which is a bit of a discredited notion.

    (And the fact that some married couples don't use/benefit from their perqs — such as the married-filing-jointly thing — is totally irrelevant).

  72. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Ken – I'm behaving… kinda…sorta…maybe…

    @lelnet –
    "Well, the government can't prevent me from marrying her, because that happened at the front of the parish church in front of witnesses. And if the government were to intervene to prevent that from happening, we'd have done it in secret. Or gone overseas. Or whatever. All the government could do is refuse to issue a certification of it."
    They totally can deny you all of the rights and benefits of being married if you don't have the piece of paper from the state.
    Going overseas doesn't work, I know of several gay couples married outside of the US and the Feds and States refuse to accept they are legally married. I've heard a story about someone detained at the border because the border agent claimed the passport had to be false.
    Each state can then decide if you are or aren't married and how they will treat you and your "wife" in these matters.
    They might even have rules about unmarried couples sharing accommodations, keeping you from living under the same roof as your "wife".

    The piece of paper from the state is required. The church portion is optional and does not have to be recognized by the government.

  73. Noah Callaway says

    @lelnet

    Just noticed that I twice erred in my spelling of your name. Apologies for both typos! I should have copied/pasted like I usually do when responding to people…

  74. Andy (not Andy) says

    @Noah:

    I think I was the first to mention the wedding photographer case.

    To clarify my reasons for mentioning it, I'll first confirm that I'm in favor of SSM.

    However, I don't think a business refusing to take photos at a same-sex wedding is discrimination in the same way refusing to serve a couple would be. I think they should have been allowed to make their bad business decision under a religious exception, and let the market handle whether they still *had* a business after that, rather than the court doing what they did. I dislike the court action as much for the precedent as anything. I mean, there were other businesses who would happily have taken the photos, so a monopoly wasn't present.

  75. lelnet says

    @Jay: "the government should stop preventing SSM"

    I'd be in perfect agreement, if the government _were_ "preventing" it. (That is, restricting by force of law the actions of those individuals who wish to call themselves "married" and participate in the activities normally associated with that state of existence, whether those individuals be of the same or opposite sex.) It's not.

    I'll even agree (and have already said so) that as far as interactions with the government itself are concerned, there ought to be no distinction made on any such basis. It is no part of the government's affair who you or I have sex with, nor does that question have any ethically legitimate bearing on such inescapably governmental concerns as taxes, survivorship benefits, or (to pick an issue that hasn't been mentioned here yet, but which is a perennial source of injustice on all sides of the equation) immigration. We are all supposed to be equal before the law, and to whatever extent we aren't, that's a problem that should be fixed.

    But seeing as how American anti-discrimination law has poked the government's nose into literally every single aspect of the lives of private citizens, those of us with opinions have no effective choice but to keep fighting these battles.

    I don't know you. You, as an individual, may be perfectly sincere in saying you have no desire to exploit a preferential position before the law to harass, impoverish, and drive out of business, private association, and the public square those who simply disagree with you. But the record of the last few decades does not lend encouragement to the notion that all those campaigning to redefine the word "marriage" will be likewise so honorable, if they win.

  76. Grifter says

    @Andy(not Andy):

    However, I don't think a business refusing to take photos at a same-sex wedding is discrimination in the same way refusing to serve a 'pick-a-race' couple would be.

    (I fixed the typo you mentioned inline to the quote)

    Why is it different? If someone said "My religion forbids miscegenation" and/or "The children of Ham to marry" (if we keep the mixing out of the equation), why shouldn't they get the same exception as someone who hates the gays? It's the same underlying reason: religious exemption.

  77. lelnet says

    BTW, @Noah…I did not assume ill intent in what was pretty obviously a typo or similar error even before you noticed it. And I'm sure Ken wasn't talking to you. (I think he was talking to somebody whose comment I don't see here anymore, but got emailed a copy of. Certainly I hope he wasn't talking to either of us, or Jay, or any of the other high-volume participants in this conversation either. Unlike some folks, who yes, can be found on both sides of the national argument, I don't think anybody _here_ is confused about the difference between speech and force.)

  78. Grifter says

    @lelnet:

    I'm sorry, but that's still you deciding what the definition of marriage should be, albeit because of your fears of the applicability of certain laws.

    The problem is not the marriage debate, but rather the specific types of cause of action that you're referring to. You don't fix the problem by disenfranchising a group of people.

    Advocate against the types of laws you're talking about all you want (although, and forgive me for using personal anecdote of other people expressing similar sentiments, I have a hard time believing you fight so hard when the laws are benefitting you), and we can debate those.

    To return to the photographer: either the law is wholesale wrong, or it isn't. To draw a distinction at the place where you happen to care isn't fair to those who care about other things.

  79. Andy (not Andy) says

    @lelnet: I submit that they'll have less ground to stand on to do those things (such as the wedding photographers, which I think was wrong, as well) once the restriction keeping them from equal status under the law is removed.

    Having said that, equal status is all that should be given. Instead of giving groups 'protected' status in the courts, more work should be put into making sure equal treatment happens the way it should for everyone. Making gays a protected class is supposed to do that, but, as we saw from the wedding photographer decision and from things over the years with abuse of other protected statuses, it only creates another inequality that's just as stupid as the first one.

    Anyone in business for themselves should definitely be questioning what the courts are doing with protected classes. However, you shouldn't use that as a basis for opposing giving them equal rights.

    You have to realize that as a guy who repairs computers on the side, sometimes you just get a hunch you probably don't want to do work for some customers. If they're white men, no problem. Sorry dude, I'm not sure I can help you. Woman? Other race? Gay? Crap, better help them now that they've contacted me, or someone will sue me like they did the wedding photographers. Basically, my right of refusal as a business owner has been removed when dealing with protected classes.

    Again, I don't use that as a pretext to oppose SSM, as lolnet does, but, I do worry about where this is going.

  80. Noah Callaway says

    @Andy (not Andy)

    Based on my reading of the case (very quickly, I may be in error here) it looks like it was based on a photographer refusing to shoot a marriage ceremony between a gay couple in New Mexico in 2008.

    There's a major difference between the facts of that case, and the question I posed: SSM is not provided by the government (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recognition_of_same-sex_unions_in_New_Mexico) and (as far as I can tell) was not in 2008.

    That means the cause of action in that case would not be new if we allowed SSM. Apparently that cause of action exists without (state recognized) SSM. I'm very curious to hear specific causes that would be created by allowing SSM.

  81. That Anonymous Coward says

    "no desire to exploit a preferential position before the law to harass, impoverish, and drive out of business, private association, and the public square those who simply disagree with you. "

    *sets down a folder of news clippings of the horrors visited upon abortion and women's health clinics bombed and driven out of business by people who simply disagree with a choice other people make*

    People who gleefully picket outside of their homes, expose their children to horrific images, call them murderers while helping to hide people who murdered people in the clinics. They use the preferential position of having more money to elect candidates who will pass laws to make their beliefs the law of the land.

    And I'm the threat…

  82. Andy (not Andy) says

    @Noah: Agreed. The short version is:

    I do worry about where all this is going. What if I just would rather go home than work on someone else's stuff that night? Would I get sued if I refuse a gay person rather than a white man on those grounds? And it's not about whether I would lose or not. The thought of having to defend such a suit alone, only because I didn't want to serve *anyone* a particular night, is making me think I should just stop offering any services at all, and put my part-time assistant out of a job, too, or let him take over my side business.

    I'll keep my primary job and go forward.

    Again, I don't think the above is a pretext to not support SSM rights. It isn't.

  83. Andy (not Andy) says

    @Coward: Extortion by court is wrong, whether you're on the right or on the left. Supporting someone doing so again for 'revenge' is also stupid.

    Nothing lately has shown the similarity of Rep/Dem or right/left positions better than their respective positions on SSM and gun control. Both of them want to control your lives, just in different things.

  84. Zebulon says

    @lelnet
    I just wanted to point out that one of the privileges that come with marriage is divorce. By granting SSM, gay couples who have lived together and decide to split up now have a legal path for alimony and custody battles, etc.

    @MattS
    Just a note: in the link you posted, under "Synonyms" the words "aversion, hatred" are listed

  85. lelnet says

    @Grifter: "either the law is wholesale wrong, or it isn't"

    You are right. The law is wholesale wrong. Period. If it were "right in some cases" for the government to step in and command private parties to compromise their principles in the manner of conduct of their private affairs, then it would be plainly right for the government to do so in any case which pleased enough pressure groups to get the law changed. It is not. Not in any case. Not whether it benefits me, or harms me. Wrong is wrong.

    It is also, unfortunately, the state of the law. Has been since before I was born. And judging by present trends, will remain so forever, perpetually adding more and more groups to the list of "protected classes", to appease more and more political constituencies and erode more and more of what little still remains of Americans' freedom of association and freedom of conscience, which is already damned little and poised to become even less.

    This is merely the latest battlefront. If it's lost, there will be another, and another, and another, until exhaustion finally sets in, and the notion that there are domains of life outside the rightful control of the all-encompassing state dies out forever from human memory.

    If there were hope of righting the law, we wouldn't have to keep fighting these depressing rearguard actions, where every single blasted time the fight gets painted as being just one pressure group against another.

  86. mcinsand says

    One of the greatest ironies to me is the way so many of the people that decry the nanny-state are happy with the nanny-state telling us who we can and cannot commit to as a life partner… whether you call it marriage, civil union, or whatever. I'm lily-white, male, straight, and feeling very threatened when the government is dictating what groups can freely form sanctioned associations.

  87. Noah Callaway says

    @lelnet (triple checked this time! :)

    I recognize your concern of creating new causes of actions by adding groups to protected class status.

    My question is does granting SSM add sexual orientation to the list of protected classes? If so, why? If not, why is SSM a cause for concern in creating new causes of action?

  88. Andy (not Andy) says

    @lelnet:

    The difference is that I see the same protected status issues you do, but you use them as a pretext to be against SSM, and while I acknowledge the issues, I won't withhold equal rights to others because of it.

    I just will speak out against superior rights for anyone. No one should be given 'special rights'. Enforcement of equal treatment is all that's needed. Withholding equal rights for a group isn't going to get there.

  89. perlhaqr says

    lelnet: I don't think the state of being married does confer any preferential position before the law. I'm pretty sure that simply "being married" (heterosexual union, BTW) won't grant my wife and I any position to sue any business for anything any more so than we might have on our own.

    I'd be in perfect agreement, if the government _were_ "preventing" it. (That is, restricting by force of law the actions of those individuals who wish to call themselves "married" and participate in the activities normally associated with that state of existence, whether those individuals be of the same or opposite sex.) It's not.

    This is a false statement, and you know it. You have even referenced it in this thread. Gay couples cannot file married jointly for their tax returns. Ergo: The FedGov is discriminating against them.

  90. Andy (not Andy) says

    @noah: Well, gays have gotten themselves made into a protected class already, before any SSM decision, in many jurisdictions.

  91. Andy (not Andy) says

    @perl:

    I'm pretty sure that simply "being married" (heterosexual union, BTW) won't grant my wife and I any position to sue any business for anything any more so than we might have on our own.

    That's true…for a hetero couple. But, a gay couple sued and won because a small business didn't want to take photos of their wedding. If they had refused you and your wife, then there would have been no recourse for you.

    That's the issue I have with 'protected classes'. It was only wrong to refuse to take pictures for some people. So, in this case, the court said the protected class had more rights than you and I. Superior rights, as well as inferior rights, are bad.

  92. lelnet says

    @perlhaqr: I left the word "private" out of where that quote came from. Sorry. My mistake. I'll assume you read the rest of that same comment also, where I said that I was also in favor of removing government restrictions on who one could partner with for necessarily-governmental issues like taxes and immigration. I see no reason why sex (in the sense either of "which kind of genitals you were born with" or "the stuff you enjoy doing with them") ought have anything to do with such matters one way or another.

    Had I any say over matters, I'd say get government entirely out of the marriage business entirely. (Yes, including the "benefits" available to me as a married heterosexual. They're not usually worth nearly as much as folks think.) If someone with any intention of bringing such an outcome about were to campaign for public office, I'd support them. I don't see any such, and I'm not holding my breath, but it'd certainly be the ideal solution, in that it would return at least some of what ought to be private to being _actually_ private. A small step, but nevertheless a step in the right direction.

    Like I said…not holding my breath.

  93. Grifter says

    @Andy(not Andy):

    That's not true.

    While implausible, had the photographer refused to shoot a straight wedding specifically on the grounds of finding straight people icky/immoral, the same cause of action would exist, I believe (again, without reference to whether such a cause is a good thing).

    The problem is not that gays are a special class, but that "sexual orientation" is, in some places, protected, and nobody's discriminating against straight people for being straight.

  94. Andy (not Andy) says

    @perl:

    An added thought on this is that generally, if you refuse service to someone in your business, even if that reason has nothing to do with what makes them protected, (as in the example where I didn't want to do business with *anyone* right then) if they sue you, you're already assumed to have not served them for their protected class reason, or at least that will be why you're being sued, no matter what was said.

    That's wrong, and scary.

  95. says

    Framing this as "rearguard actions in the fight to eke out protected rights for specific groups" iis precisely the sort of argument that lead us to this current state of affairs. It's a specious position.

    Some classes of people are granted certain contractual rights. A specific class – same sex couples – are denied those same rights. If we piled up every justification for that on our left, and had our pet giant Utahraptor take a huge dump to our right, we'd have two roughly equivalent piles.

    This is why we cannot have nice things.

  96. Narad says

    Looking a bit more closely, Unruh's simultaneous invocation of fascism and reliance upon Defend the Family isn't that surprising, as Scott Lively has opined that "homosexuals invented and ran the Nazi Party."

  97. Andy (not Andy) says

    @Grandy: I hope you're not talking to me. I've said several times that I'm all for equal rights on the marriage front, even while sharing some of the protected class concerns that lolret has mentioned. I just hate when doing the right thing will lead to some/more of the wrong thing as part of it.

  98. Noah Callaway says

    @Andy (not Andy)

    "Well, gays have gotten themselves made into a protected class already, before any SSM decision, in many jurisdictions."

    Right, I'm in roughly the same camp you are in terms of thinking the "protected class" arguments and the "SSM" arguments are orthogonal.

    Previously lelnet stated "Our problem is lawsuits and causes of action, and proponents' problem" (in relation to my formulation of "allow" vs "restrict" of SSM). I would argue that because the protected class and SSM arguments are orthogonal, that this rebuttal to my formulation doesn't hold water. This orthogonality argument could be shown to be wrong, though, if provided with specific causes of action that would be created by allowing SSM.

    That being said, it seems like lelnet, nor anyone else in this thread is actually opposing SSM. Instead the conversation seems entirely focused on the protected-class arguments people don't seem to be particularly far apart in their thinking…

  99. MCB says

    @lelnet "If it were "right in some cases" for the government to step in and command private parties to compromise their principles in the manner of conduct of their private affairs, then it would be plainly right for the government to do so in any case which pleased enough pressure groups to get the law changed."

    I read things like this and I just wonder if you've thought that through. Do you really think that the government has no power to tell private parties how to conduct their affairs, so long as the private parties disagree with the government on principle (and how, by the way, can we tell whether they disagree on principle)?

    By that standard do you think the government can't regulate drugs? I assume you are very adamantly pro-choice? Should people be able to opt out of all state and federal taxes? What if I think the second amendment gives me the right to sell plutonium to private parties?

    If you really think the government shouldn't be involved in any of those cases your position doesn't have much to do with gay marriage. Which makes one wonder why you are bringing it up here. You also said:

    "The _only_ power they lack is the power to drag those dissenters into court with the full weight of "protected class" jurisprudence behind them, to use as a weapon against what little remains of Freedom of Association in this country, forcibly shutting down any entity which dares to assert a position contrary to their ideology."

    Ummm, no. Being a protected class and getting heightened scrutiny only covers government action. Religious groups would be free to continue proudly express anti-gay bigotry and refuse to marry gay people in their churches. This is about what the government can do.

  100. MCB says

    @Andy,

    You are confusing different issues. The issue with respect to a "protected class" for 14th amendment purposes applies only to state action. It has nothing to do with who can use a business (that is the Civil Rights Act, and that is an entirely different legal question). If SCOTUS says that homosexual get "heightened scrutiny") that will apply only to state, not private actors. Wikipedia's State Actor page is a helpful place to get the basics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_actor).

  101. Anonymous says

    Were this my house, I would have kicked lelnet out by now.

    Unfortunately it is not, so instead I will leave.

  102. Narad says

    @MattS

    The chemical usage of "phobia/phobic" is not applicable to the term "homophobia", only the psychiatric definition is applicable.

    No. "Homophobia" is not a DSM diagnosis; you are insisting that a vernacular use, for some reason, needs to be crammed into a different context. You have no evidence whatever that "the people who originated the term were explicitly using the psychiatric definition in an attempt to paint the opposition as mentally ill." Is the same true for "xenophobia," which well predates the DSM?

    As for others' claims about the meaning of the Greek root, this is the etymological fallacy writ large.

  103. Narad says

    (I will, however, grant that George Weinberg, who is credited with the original coinage [n.b. not "the people who originated the term"] was a psychologist. So was K.T. Smith, who competes with Weinberg for vernacular primacy, but if one examines his original paper [PDF], it is not fear- or panic-based, as is the case for current DSM "specific phobias.")

  104. Malc says

    While there has been much decrying of the problems of photographer refusing to shoot a gay wedding losing a New Mexico equal rights case, after thinking about it, I've concluded that the correct outcome occurred.

    Consider the situation had the photographer refused to shoot a inter-racial wedding _because they were inter-racial_. Or a black wedding _because they were black_. Or a Jewish wedding _because they were Jewish_

    How about if fired someone _because they were Jewish_ (or black, or gay)?

    As a photographer I feel that I have an absolute First Amendment right to decline to take pictures that I feel wouldn't conform to my artistic principles. Had I been that photographer, and had I declined because my aesthetic principles would have rendered the service I delivered beneath my standards, then I believe no cause of action would have occurred.

    In short, just as I can fire someone for incompetence even if they happen to be gay/black/Jewish/whatever, I can decline to take a job because I would not be able to deliver according to my standards even if they happen to be gay/inter-racial/black/Jewish.

    Of course, that's ripe for abuse, but no less ripe than the abuse against minorities that happens without protection. And to a certain extent, if a equal-opportunity regulation makes someone have to jump through a hoop and THINK about why they are discriminating, is that (socially) so bad?

  105. MattS says

    Narad,

    "Is the same true for "xenophobia," which well predates the DSM?"

    I will go so far as to say that the same is true for any use of phobia in any remotely political context.

  106. AlphaCentauri says

    Nobody has mentioned the concept of "next of kin." Your state likely has a defined list of who is your legal nearest relative, and the next nearest after that, etc, right down to who comes first among your adult child, your parent, your sibling, and your spouse. When there are disagreements among those people about the correct course of action, the nearest relative is more likely to be given primacy, though a judge could still choose someone other than the next of kin. I don't know if there are any states where the gay spouse would be on the list at all. So it's not a case of the hospital telling you that you can't visit. It's that if your partner's parents hate you, they can instruct the hospital not to let you visit and not to give you any information, and the hospital will follow their instructions until such time that you can get a court order giving you authority to be the one making decisions. A large percentage of young people do not have advance directives of any sort, so whether the paperwork is simple or a mountain, it just doesn't exist in an emergency situation. Marriage creates a default set of legal guidelines for those sorts of situations.

  107. Joe Pullen says

    @Grandy – nicely put

    @toddsler RE the part of your comment

    Speaking of medicalizing, some SSM opponents still point to homosexuality as a disease that can/'t be cured even though credible medical/psychiatric groups have declared otherwise

    You can of course provide peer reviewed credible medical research sources yes? If so please cite.

  108. Narad says

    I will go so far as to say that the same is true for any use of phobia in any remotely political context.

    So, you are asserting that "only the psychiatric definition is applicable" to a term that was coined well before there was a psychiatric definition? And why do you single out "any remotely political context"?

    Let's extend the argument: The DSM defines paraphilias. Do you similarly insist that any coinage that ends with '-philia' must be interpreted in terms of the psychiatric definition? If chronophilia, which most certainly was coined within such a context, denotes merely a preference, why does '-phobia' exclude simple aversion.

    Finally, would you be happy with the obvious, yet barbarous, neologism "heterocentrism"?

  109. John David Galt says

    Noah Callaway: "Was it ever unclear that the argument was over civil marriage and not every religious institutions form of marriage?"

    Unfortunately, yes. Canada now requires all churches to offer gay weddings. Their Orwellian-named "Human Rights Commission" also puts preachers in jail for "hate speech" for saying homosexuality is a sin.

    I say, let the gays have civil marriage but let people discriminate, too. If someone truly is a bigot (in the eyes of the majority) I'd rather he be allowed to say so publicly, so that the market can have its way with him.

  110. Narad says

    (Oh, and please address the Smith paper rather than simply flinging assertions. I will note that your sole "reference" in this matter has been… dictionary.com.)

  111. Delvan says

    @Joe Pullen:

    2004. Homosexuality Not a Disease to be Cured. Reproductive Health Matters 12(24): pp 229-230

    Goldberg, A. 2001. Depathologizing homosexuality. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 49: pp 1109-1114.

  112. Narad says

    Further to Delvan's comment, the final trace of references to homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder was eliminated with the DSM-III-R in 1987. The American Psychiatric Association made their stance crystal clear in 2000 (PDF).

  113. That Anonymous Coward says

    @AlphaCentauri – I tried to touch on these things, but it is very hard for people to 'get' the concept that without the piece of paper recognized by the state often times parents who have disowned their child are placed in charge of the affairs because they are the next of kin.
    People the person laying in the hospital wanted nothing to do with suddenly get a chance to 'strike a blow' against the evil partner who lead their poor child astray.

    Long term partners have found themselves shut out of the hospital, denied any information, thrown out of their shared home, their possessions taken by people who should have no say in these things. But because even if they got married the current state doesn't have to recognize it.

    Everyone is hung up on how SSM will destroy traditional marriage and it will have this chilling effect on religious people. Traditional marriage is already pretty screwed, you can fly to Vegas and get married while completely bombed out of your mind. You can be married for 70 days in a tv special.

    I don't have a problem with people who don't like gay people, I opt to avoid them. I have a problem when they compare me to pedophiles and bestiality enthusiasts. I have a problem when they claim its gays secretly invading the church and raping children. I have a problem when they call for gays to be put to death. I have a problem that all of these things are done and when anyone tries to speak out against it the refrain is your oppressing my religious freedoms! Many people enjoy having their bigotry safely hidden behind religion.

  114. princessartemis says

    TAC, that's one reason I think the law on marriage should be fairly similar to common law, but with an updated description here and there and no requirement for consummation. Anyone who acts married, calls themselves married, consents to one another to marry, and are adults…are married. The law should recognize and respect that; it shouldn't be something anyone needs to petition the state to accomplish. That's as much to get out in front of the next group down the road that might end up in the same place homosexuals are now and help them as it is to help same-sex marriage now.

    No one should be separated from their spouse just because their parents are closer relatives.

  115. Nate says

    According to my Wikipedia research (and the Smith paper thanks to Narad), Weinberg used the term "homophobia" to refer to a medical fear of homosexuality. He suggested it was akin to a fear of contagion and defined it as "a dread of being in close quarters with homosexuals- and, in the case of homosexuals, self-loathing" (Herek 2004). Smith researched homophobia in reference to a societal effect. He wanted to evaluate individuals (a small sample size) whose negative attitudes regarding homosexuality may have contributed to homosexual problems. Smith defined homophobia as "particularly negativity or fearful regarding homosexuality" (Smith 1971). (Interestingly both of these definitions of homophobia seem to include both definitions of phobia, fear and aversion (dread, negativity). They were put forth to describe what homosexuals were feeling from other people.)
    A congressman, William Dannemeyer, was the one who said that the term homophobia suggests that it is "those who disapprove of them (homosexuals), who are mentally unbalanced" (Herek 2004). He did not coin the term, his words were in response to the widespread usage of it, and perhaps ironically, to support the idea that homosexuals were the ones that were "mentally disturbed". I guess theoretically you could apply Dannemeyer's assertion to any politically charged "phobia" but that does seem rather disingenuous.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homophobia
    Herek, G. 2004. " Beyond "Homophobia": Thinking About Sexual Prejudice and Stigma in the Twenty-First Century. Journal of NSRC. 1(2):6-24

    Seeing as how opponents of SSM have resorted to schoolyard taunts (takes one to know one), fear-mongering, and fascism relating, maybe that means they realized logic isn't on their side.

  116. James Pollock says

    "Anyone who acts married, calls themselves married, consents to one another to marry, and are adults…are married. The law should recognize and respect that"
    The reason we went away from that is the fuzzy nature of the evidentiary record. With statutory marriage, you can either go down to the courthouse and pull the completed marriage license, or you can't. Of particular concern was the number of cases of purported spouses claiming inheritance… it's notoriously difficult to establish a decedent's state of mind, and state of mind is an element to common-law marriage. (Yes, this is argument for registration of marriage rather than licensure of marriage, but if you accept that there should be some state-imposed limitations on marriage, such as age, consanguinity, or present state of matrimony, then the registration folds neatly into the licensure, and you get the present system.)

  117. Nate says

    I think we all agree that homophobia is a poor term. I kind of liked homonegativity; it seemed descriptive.

  118. James Pollock says

    Not that anyone asked for my 2 cents, but I don't think anyone uses the term "homophobia" to suggest that the person(s) so labeled have a mential illness. Rather, they are suggesting that the aversion is irrational. The principle arguments against gays generally work out some combination of either A) God says not to have gay sex, and B) thinking about people having gay sex makes me feel icky. For the first, well, God will take care of that as He sees fit, when He sees fit… and as for the second, well, stop thinking about it. The mental health professionals finally decided that homosexuality is not a mental illness, but they still think that obsessing over the sex lives of others is.

    Disclaimers: I'm not married, I'm not gay, and I'm not a member of an organized church that objects to gays on religious grounds. YMMV.

  119. htom says

    @Aron — re: civil and religious. Part of the confusion is that there are three things, not two. Religious marriage, civil marriage, and civil union. In general, those two kinds of marriage are the same, and are reserved to heterosexual couples. Some states now offer "civil unions" to homosexual couples; these are different than civil or religious marriage, coming with a list of rights and privileges that may or may not be those of those marriages. A state could say in its statutes that "In this state, a civil union is a marriage with all of the rights, duties, and privileges of civil and religious marriage." but none has done so. Separate and not equal.

  120. says

    For all those who are pedantically debating whether phobia or 'ist' is correct, or whether 'homo' only refers to one class of the genus sapiens then I and the rest of the world that isn't America propose a simple term to use with these individuals who are vehemently and hypocritically opposed to equitable treatment for anyone other than whom they think deserves it for mostly religious, ideological, egotistical, or irrational reasons (ie: the SSM opponents)

    Call them Ignoranus's basically since they are acting both Ignorantly and are being arseholes about it.

  121. Narad says

    He wanted to evaluate individuals (a small sample size) whose negative attitudes regarding homosexuality may have contributed to homosexual problems.

    Not quite. The sample was random, not selected on the basis of negative attitudes.

    Smith defined homophobia as "particularly negativity or fearful regarding homosexuality" (Smith 1971). (Interestingly both of these definitions of homophobia seem to include both definitions of phobia, fear and aversion (dread, negativity). They were put forth to describe what homosexuals were feeling from other people.)

    While he did use this term in the introduction, an examination of the actual inventory questions reveals only marginally related items, Nos. 4, 22, and 23. None of these rises to what is meant by "specific phobia."

  122. Narad says

    (It is interesting–to me, at least–that "homophile" well predated "homophobe," as related by Herek. It seems quite natural that Weinberg, a psychoanalyst, would work backward from the characterization, viz., a prejudice, and bang it back into one of his traditional conceptual categories while simultaneously obtaining the obvious linguistic counterpart. Smith, on the other hand, seems to have been more of a social psychologist, and certainly not coming from analytic tradition.)

  123. Tom says

    Scene: a blog post

    Ken: People telling you that you're an asshole for your position on SSM isn't fascism.

    I understand that in America people can cause serious trouble using fuzzy "anti-discrimination" laws (or lots of other laws). This issue has no specific relevance to SSM or fascism.

    I also understand that there is some dispute about terminology. I may find this issue interesting as a linguistic exercise, but that's not the point, either.

    The point, once again, is that other assholes are allowed to tell you that you're an asshole for disagreeing with them about, in this case, SSM.

    A Bit of Thread: "If gays can get married then they can abuse bad laws and sue me better for not liking them (even though I don't not like them) whenever I can't accommodate an extra-sensitive gay. It'll help other protected-class jerk's lawsuits, too.

    And the feelings of those anti-gay people (not me) isn't what the ancient Greeks were thinking when they said "phobia," and that terminology is just meant to DSM-ize SSM opponents."

    Most of Thread: "Nuh uh." [counter-arguments and citations provided by Most of Thread]

    SPQR: "Not all stupid laws are unconstitutional! Just cuz it only applies to gays doesn't mean any (heightened or not) 14A EP analysis applies, because that whole paradigm is bogus. Let the states compete for the wannabe-gay-married entrepreneur tax base! I'm a weird bald kitty with a taste for ROCKING OUT, or something!" [I really fucking want an SPQR if its comments and avatar accurately represent it's IRL essence; I'd alternate between snuggling it to stupendously loud Mozart, Brahms, etc. and chasing it around the neighborhood trying to whack it with whatever was handy to sphincter-rattling N.W.A and Queen.]

    Me (off screen): "Shit, I better have a few more beers and watch an episode of Shameless to help me find a more pragmatic state of mind before I wade into this mess, or Ken's gonna drop his ban-taint on me before I've even reached a score of popehat comments."

    Me: [What I typed above]

    End Scene

  124. Narad says

    I think we all agree that homophobia is a poor term.

    I don't, really. Having gotten through Herek's piece,* which is frankly embarrassing in parts (such as aimlessly devoting two paragraphs to whether a Latin or Greek derivation should be assigned to 'homo-'), it's plainly postmodernist in nature — indeed, Herek appears to be a fan of "neofunctional theory," which is a direct descendent.

    [As an aside, the later paragraph about Dannemyer illustrates what Stephen Law refers to as an "immunizing strategy," which Herek claims to "have some merit." I'm sorry, but I'm not putting up with "hate the sin, love the sinner" no matter how baroque a framework it's embedded in.]

    It ultimately devolves right back to the etymological-fallacy construction of "homophobia" before getting to the meat of the paper. Are the distinctions finally drawn sensible? Sure. Are they useful in application? Pretty much only if you're a critical theorist.

    I will happily swing prescriptivist on certain items (e.g., misuse of "via" gets on my nerves), but revisionism has little place when it comes to the vernacular. "Homophobia" may be a broad term, and one can fruitlessly lament that it didn't enter popular usage rather than some other, more soothing term, but it's here and it's understood.

    * I did skim a bit in the middle.

  125. AJ says

    Is no-one going to point out this utter falsehood from "John David Galt"?

    Canada now requires all churches to offer gay weddings.

    The Supreme Court of Canada said, in Reference re Same-Sex Marriage:

    Absent unique circumstances with respect to which the Court will not speculate, the guarantee of religious freedom in s. 2(a) of the Charter is broad enough to protect religious officials from being compelled by the state to perform civil or religious same-sex marriages that are contrary to their religious beliefs.

  126. SirWired says

    @Andy (Not Andy) – FYI, the Catholic church WILL marry a Catholic to a non-Catholic. This is not a problem and is a matter of utter routine. While the procedure differs as to how much paperwork is required (there are different procedures depending on if the other party is Christian, a Baptized Christian, non-Christian, or unaffiliated) the church understands that blocking a loving union between two people (okay, sadly still restricted to opposite genders) does not serve god's purpose. All the paperwork does is confirm Christian (or not) status of the other party (it changes some of the details of the ceremony) and it requires the couple to confirm that they have received counseling on how to deal with religious differences.

  127. Nate says

    @Narad-You are correct. That sentence regarding Smith's goal was poorly worded. I pulled most of it from the summary then tried to amend it. (I shouldn't write after midnight. My thoughts get garbled.)

    I disagree with you, though, regarding Smith's definition. He also defined it, almost word for word as the introduction, in the methods: "Nine of the items comprise homophobia or H-scale, the intention of which is to measure negative or fearful responding to homosexuality." The definition would have to be established before writing the questions so as to write questions that would unambiguously identify a person as the label and to prevent a circular definition. If you look at the appendix of the Smith paper (last page) which lists the identifier questions, they most certainly do support the definition I posted. Smith was also looking to see if other traits correlated to the homophobic feelings, which are the questions you cited.

  128. Tom S. says

    @ John David Galt

    The assertion that Canadian churches are required to perform gay marriages is an untruth. The Supreme Court of Canada in 2004 specifically advised — in response to questions put to it by the Canadian Government — that religious officials are free not to perform same-sex marriages if that would violate their religious beliefs under section 2(a) of the Carter of Rights and Freedoms. See the court's response to Question 3 in their advisory decision re: same Sex Marriage.

    The hate-speech issue is a lot more complicated, but let's just say that you're exaggerating the situation. No one has gone to jail for calling homosexuality a sin. At least one person has been fined for hate speech that advocated discrimination against gay people. There's a difference, especially under Canadian law. (Now, I'd argue that Canada's hate speech laws are overly broad in general, but that's a different issue.)

  129. darius404 says

    I had been of the opinion previously that "homophobic" was an inaccurate term to describe what it's often used to describe. Recently however, I've begun to rethink that position for a pretty simple reason: social and cultural aversion is not the only place we use "phobia" to refer to something other than fear.

    In science, the word "hydrophobe" is used to describe an aversion to water, even though it isn't strictly a state of fear. If it's permissible to refer to mere aversion as a "phobia" in scientific endeavors, why should it be impermissible to use it in regard to social and cultural aversions?

  130. htom says

    The Catholic Church wouldn't marry my wife and I, because I would not become Catholic (I was at that time a TALC Lutheran.) If there was a way to appeal the Bishop's decision, we could not find it. We had a civil marriage, and have been happily together for going on 39 years.

  131. Grifter says

    @htom:

    It's a dispensation issue. It can be done by the church, it just isn't done all the time.

  132. Goober says

    mcinsand • Apr 8, 2013 @9:21 am

    Complaints of censorship is very ironic, given what happened to Dick Cheney. While still VP, he made a very good, articulate, and conservative argument for gay marriage, and I mean anti-big_brother, small government 'conservative.' His position boiled down to the government having no place telling us who we can choose as a partner in the pursuit of happiness. The far right muzzled him faster than his buckshot flew towards his hunting buddy.

    OMG OMG OMG, I have a quirky quibble here that I can't leave alone…

    I'm sorry! I'm totally not an internet pedant! I swear!

    He wasn't shooting buckshot. If he had been, he'd have killed his buddy dead as a door-nail. He was shooting birdshot, and since they were quail hunting, it was probably pretty light birdshot at that.

    The range of loading available in shotguns is much more varied than most people think. It ranges from buckshot and slug loads that will skin a moose at 50 yards, to low-base target loads that are little more than equivalent to throwing a handful of sand at someone past about 15 to 20 yards. I've been accidentally shot at ranges further than the Cheney incident with similar loads, and the shot bounced off my carhart jacket. Buckshot at that distance, however, would have resulted in one room-temperature Goober.

  133. Andy S(Was Andy, so as to not confuse with Andy(Not Andy) anymore) says

    Having glanced through the thread, rather than having read through it in its' entirety, mainly due to a lot of it arguing points I wasn't that interested in, the one thing that came to mind for myself was a simple question, at least for me.

    Without having had the opportunity to read the text of DOMA, why can the right to be married come down to a handful of simple tick boxes.

    Are you of age of consent?
    Are you of sound mind to enter into said contract?
    Is your intended spouse related to you to this degree or further?
    Are you entering into this of your own free will?

    If all of these can be ticked yes, why should the religious beliefs of others stop it happening?

    The restrictions laid down in various religious texts may well have been relevant social husbandry of their time, but lack the same conviction today. If people wish to follow some of the precepts of their little book, then they should be forced to follow all of them, especially if they wish to attempt to enforce said precepts on the masses.

  134. Narad says

    In science, the word "hydrophobe" is used to describe an aversion to water, even though it isn't strictly a state of fear.

    Unless we're talking about rabies.

  135. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Andy S – because it makes them feel icky. They have successfully gotten their way on a majority of issues, and without an enemy to focus the flock on people might question what the church is doing.

    Abortion – they have people passing laws that get more extreme with every rotation. When people question why they want it banned the answer is nearly always it is an affront to god. They now claim there is NEVER a danger to the mothers life from pregnancy and spew more made up answers to anyone trying to debate them. Religious people are forcing their choices onto society as a whole. 'You can't use any Federal Dollars to pay for an abortion!' should be countered with many people don't want their tax dollars funding GitMo or the various wars and other thing they dislike, why are your rights more important?

    Because some leaders tell them to, they go all in on a topic that should not and does not concern them. If you don't have a uterus why do you get a say? Why do people who demand no abortions then feel compelled to go after a single mom at the grocery store using food stamps to feed her kids? In their mind there is a disconnect between not allowing the pregnancy to be terminated and that a single mother will not be able to earn enough to take care of herself and offspring. They go on and on about how people want to adopt your baby, ignoring unless the baby is white and in perfect health the odds of someone adopting that child plummet. Then they complain about their taxes funding programs to keep these kids in foster care or complaining they come out of foster care and aren't prepared for life.

    They tell us how the bible says homosexuality is wrong, yet other things listed in the same area they decided they can ignore. A cheeseburger means your going to hell kids, and every football player is going to hell. Judge not lest ye be judged is a powerful term that is ignored as well. They judge everyone else by their beliefs they want enshrined in law. Thou shalt not kill vs the silly number of god fearing people who are pro death penalty. The guy with a tattoo with the man laying with a man phrase on his side, I guess he missed that getting tattooed is a sin.

    I don't want a law to force everyone to be sweet and loving to gay people. If you find them icky that is your thing, but I'd hope you got to know some before making that decision – the stories you've heard are in many cases lies.
    I want the right to find someone I love and marry them. That the State recognizes it, and the Feds recognize it like every other union of 2 loving people across the nation. I want people to stop screaming how it will let people marry animals, will ruin other marriages, and destroy the country.
    If traditional marriage is so important to these people why the hell are they silent about the polygamists? They have a freaking TV series promoting that lifestyle, and well gee add a gay character to any show and "millions" send in petitions going on and on about how its corrupting kids.

    More time and money has been wasted trying to make sure they can keep other people down. In that time more people became homeless, more people went to bed hungry, more children went to bed in fear of the door opening in the night, more people felt alone and ended their pain, etc. But stopping gay marriage somehow is still more important than making sure every citizen has a roof over their head, has food to eat, and children feel safe. Those are some f'ed up priorities.

  136. Nemo says

    I'm very late to this party, but after skimming the comments, I hadn't seen this point discussed, and wanted to throw it out there. While nothing that Ken wrote is wrong or untrue, by my reading, I think he is missing the point.

    This isn't a discussion or even a war of words, where definitions and meanings matter, it is a war of /slurs/, and what matters is painting the opponent with a tarry brush. Bigot, privileged, racist, sexist, -phobes, fascist, and the like, quibbling over the definitions doesn't mean much, the fact remains is that neither side, in general, wants clear, tight definitions, they want nice, broad categories that can be used to discredit the other side, without meeting opposition with argument and logic.

    The instance Ken describes above is nothing more than the anti-SSM bunch reaching for another bucket of mud to sling. Are they abusing the definition in doing so? Certainly. Will calling them out change things? Not likely.

    For anyone who's interested, I'm not part of the anti-SSM camp, but to address the more fervent supporters of SSM, I'd like to point out that even if you believe that your side doesn't resort to slurs and name-calling (and on that point, I will disagree), the anti-SSM crowd certainly believes that they /are/ on the receiving end of such. Or maybe you agree that they are having slurs used against them, but that the opposition /deserves/ such treatment. Either way, it doesn't matter, when it comes to their reactions.

    Perhaps my observations on these points will fall on deaf ears, but it seems to me that accurately identifying what is going on is the first step in dealing with the situation. Perhaps I'm wrong, but this is how I see the situation.

  137. Goober says

    Consider the situation had the photographer refused to shoot a inter-racial wedding _because they were inter-racial_. Or a black wedding _because they were black_. Or a Jewish wedding _because they were Jewish_

    I don't want to live in a country where we force people to do things against their will, even if they are refusing to do these things because they are bigoted assholes. In a free country, a photographer necessarily has the right to refuse to photograph any wedding for any reason whatsoever, including those reasons listed above.

    As was said before, the photographer isn't forced to do something he doesn't want to do ( which is wrong, no matter how you parse it) and the rest of us get to see the bigoted asshat's true colors. We shouldn't restrict bigoted asshats from showing their true colors, otherwise we'll continue accidentally doing business with them.

    How about if fired someone _because they were Jewish_ (or black, or gay)?

    If a person owns a business, it is his business, not yours, not mine, and not the government's. If he doesn't want to hire someone for being black, or wants to fire them for the same, then in my opinion, he has every right to do that and no law should stop him from doing so. Simply because there are currently laws on the books that do make this illegal doesn't make it right.

    I say this for the same reasons I stated above. Personal freedom trumps all, and that business belongs to the businesses owner, not anyone else. In this day and age, such a business wouldn't last for very long, anyway, so even without that law, i suspect that this would never, ever be a problem.

    Besides, what person in the above listed groups would want to work for a person, whom the only reason that they don't fire them is because it is illegal?

    And why would you want to create a law that would essentially cover for these buttholes, when without the law they will gladly show us their true colors and ensure that we all know who they are and can then not do business with them anymore?

  138. says

  139. That Anonymous Coward says

    @JMJ – And if someone refused to offer a service to someone else specifically because of their relationship with their religion, there would be such outcry from the religious community talking about how that service provider trampled on their right to practice their religion.

    We have organized boycotts of stores for daring to switch to the neutral Happy Holidays, so as not to offend people who don't believe in Christmas. They stand outside and demand they Christ be put back in Christmas, and their rights are being trampled by these evil companies.

    We have organized groups who work to make sure they can get a manger display on city owned land, but will fight to bitter end to keep any other religious displays getting equal billing.

    Granite 10 Commandments in a court house, and all sorts of offered justifications why that religious monument should be enshrined in a public place.

    Much of the pushback they see in these areas might have something to do with all of the pushing of their religion on everyone else.
    They can not see that if the situation was reversed they would be outraged, and when someone pushes back they immediately fall behind religious freedom as the answer, ignoring that their freedom to practice their chosen religion does not give them the right to demand everyone else conform to their demands.

    As I pointed out before, women are told they can not have an abortion because it is wrong according to god. Even if they do not worship that god, they are forced by the law to follow that belief.

    This country has a long history of being racist and bigoted.
    No Irish, No Italians, No insert a long line of ethnicity here, No Blacks, No Mexicans, No Arabs.
    All men are created equal, yet we have to have laws to try to stop bigots from treating others unequally.
    But now because it oppresses religious freedom, it is wrong to have a law saying you can't say No Gays.

    The KKK more than likely has enough membership to be declared a church, shall we strike down all of the laws protecting African Americans because it infringes on their religious freedom?
    Why not?

  140. says

    @The anonymous coward

    I suppose that your entire post is what they call a straw man argument. It has nothing to do with the facts which I posted, because nothing you allude to is happening.

    Let's review what did happen: a business owner gladly served a customer regardless of faith, creed, orientation, on an individual basis. but when said customer required a service for a function which directly contradicted the business owner's beliefs, the business owner refused.

    Another example would be a restaurant owner gladly serving racists, but refusing to cater a KKK rally.

    You seem to miss the point.

  141. Julie says

    Eh, I would be much more sympathetic to your line of argumentation if we weren't already seeing people bludgeoned into supporting SSM. It's actually happening in places where SSM isn't even a thing (AFAIK, New Mexico, home to Elane Photography, doesn't even have civil unions for same-sex couples). The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker, thanks to anti-discrimination laws (not SSM laws, it is worth noting) can be made to violate their religious beliefs and their freedom of association. While this may have been an obvious social good at a time when state laws were actively prohibiting restaurant owners and the like to serve African-Americans, so that they could not get service anywhere, this is just not the case anymore. For every one florist who objects to gay marriage, I suspect there are at least 10 who, even if they object in principle, aren't going to give up the potential business.

    I don't know if it's "fascism," but it certainly strikes me as tyrannical. "YOU WILL SERVE ME whether you like it or not" seems to me to be a pretty tyrannical viewpoint, and in cases of conflict between two gays planning a wedding who get their feelings hurt and another person's freedom to decide whom they will associate with, I have to come down in favor of the latter. Demanding that people serve you because you're getting your feelings hurt is…um, kind of what you're complaining about here, no? "Rights for me but not for thee" cuts both ways.

    So, I mean, it might not be a reasonable argument against SSM, it doesn't need to be. The fears are based on reality and real rights violations.

    Although, obviously, I am totally forgetting that part of the Constitution where it guarantees everyone the right to the florist and baker of their choice for their wedding ceremonies.

  142. princessartemis says

    Adrienne, I have known a decided feminist who has reacted to the word "prejudice" used in their vicinity as if it were a slur. Hell, this one I am thinking of even broke out the "You wouldn't try to defend the use of 'that's gay' that way!" when they encountered resistance to bowing to their feelings of offense. For all practical purposes, this person had equated using the word prejudice correctly to unintentionally slurring homosexuals. Perhaps more people need to be told that the equivalence is false? Not everyone appears to have gotten the memo.

    Otherwise, I agree with you on this, they're not the same. A note about how "racist" is used as an insult–once it becomes an insult, its usefulness in other ways is severely reduced. Same with "bigot"…one cannot use it as an insult and then expect people not to be insulted when it is used. (That last point in reference to an Alas, A Blog post I read once where the author felt strongly that calling something "bigotted" was descriptive and seemed unusually incapable of figuring out why their target found the use insulting.) Same thing with "privilege"…use it as an insult, and you cannot pretend to be surprised when people are insulted.

  143. Adrienne says

    princessartemis: I left out a word. Should read, "they are INSULTS, perhaps, yes…"

    They ARE descriptions. They certainly *could* be neutral ones: this conduct is bigoted; that statement is racist; white cismen are privileged in the USA. The fact that they are perceived as insults is largely because people regard "racist" and "bigot" as BAD THINGS TO BE.

    If I say, "you pick your nose and it's disgusting," you may be insulted; to that extent, what I've said is an insult. But it may also be a true descriptive statement. If i say, "you are a bigot and it's disgusting," the same things are true.

    You can dispute the factual basis of a statement that calls you a bigot or a racist (or that says you pick your nose), and you can dispute whether you should feel bad about those facts even if they're true, but EVEN IF such a statement is an insult, it's not the same thing as a SLUR. Ultimately, "you're a bigot" is a statement about what you DO — act bigoted, make bigoted statements, show your ass in public — and not about what you ARE.

    ('Privilege' is a different conversation; that really should be a neutral description, and I have seldom seen it used disparagingly — although I have sure as hell seen a lot of people take offense at neutral usages of it. But it muddies the waters here, I think; I'd rather have that bit of the conversation elsewhere.)

    The person you've described above sounds like an idiot and possibly an asshole. Feminism is not exclusive of idiocy or assholery, by any means. There are feminist assholes and feminist stupid people, just as there are nonfeminist assholes and nonfeminist stupid people. Ideally, they would be attacked and mocked for being assholes and idiots, not for being feminists.

  144. princessartemis says

    As I said, I do agree with you, that they're not the same thing. Slurs don't usually have any reason to exist except to insult people.

    Although, "you are a bigot," really is telling someone that is what they *are*, hence the word 'are' in the statement. Use the word as an insult, be not surprised when one's target is insulted.

    I used to lurk at several feminist blogs; lots of good, useful ideas there, but the comments sections spoiled them, as comment section are wont to do at times. Those are where I saw (likely stupid) feminists using originally neutral terms like privilege as an insult. After that, I really can't be surprised that others take a dim view of the term. I bring it up because it looks related to me: a descriptor that is slowly taking on a payload by the way it is used, much the way racist and homophobic have.

  145. Adrienne says

    princessartemis: Well, yeah, English makes people lazy about making is-statements; I'm definitely with Jay Smooth that it's usually much more useful to say things like, "that statement was pretty racist", or "that's a homophobic argument." Focus on the behavior, not the person. (But then, some of my ability to do that is because i've got more privilege than a lot of folks, so my outrage meter isn't turned up to 11 all the time just by daily life. (It's turned up to 9, but not 11.))

    Fundamentally, people who think that they're being insulted by being called a bigot, a racist, or a homophobe are people who have bought into the idea that those are *bad things to be*, and they just can't conceive of themselves as being bad people or doing bad things. (Dave Sim, writer of the comic Cerebus and misogynist extraordinaire, famously refuses to correspond with anyone who won't sign a document saying they don't think he's a misogynist.) What they are hearing is, "You are a bad person." What they SHOULD be hearing, probably, is, "Your statement/action is bad and you should feel bad." And yeah, people who care about social justice and eradicating bigotry could often do better about making that distinction.

    But it is important to note that I absolutely believe that people who are acting in racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise bigoted ways SHOULD FEEL BAD. I just want them to feel bad about the right things — ie, their bigotry — rather than the wrong things (being insulted).

    (Also note that i DON'T think people who are told they are privileged should feel bad. Privilege isn't a thing to feel bad about; it's just a thing to be aware of so that those of us who have it, in whatever situations we have it in, can Use Our Powers For Good. The goal isn't to abolish privilege, per se; the goal is to make it no longer *privi*lege, but rather everyone's-lege.)

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