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Why We Won’t Wait

Posted on Apr 19, 2010
gay marriage sign
AP / Mike Groll

A protester holds a sign at a rally outside the state Capitol in Albany, N.Y., last April.

By Scott Tucker

(Page 2)

When organizations claiming the legacy of the civil rights and social justice movements decide that the best way to fight corporate culture is to become corporations, the justification is always some version of the adage that you fight fire with fire. Well, sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you fight fire with water, or by clearing dead wood away from your dwelling. The conflagration of our national economy is, however, not a natural disaster. This disaster was made in corporate casinos by gamblers who placed high bets using the hopes, wages and pensions of other people. They did not simply indulge in the more or less solitary vice of betting small sums out of private pockets. They were spinning the whole corporate Wheel of Fortune, and they became the biggest thieves in history. They were often cheered on in the boom years by wholly owned subsidiary players on editorial boards and in high office, before the whole spectacle went bust.

The editors at the Los Angeles Times are peculiarly unaware that their own ideology has any causal relation to the firestorm of our current economy and public life, and they may be quite surprised that the shelf life of the corporate nostrums they are peddling expired long ago. An old-fashioned devotion to news on paper (which I share) hardly requires any sentimental attachment to the hucksters of corporate civilization. In their own editorial realm, they collected tons of dry tinder and played with matches, and now the blaze is bearing down even upon newspaper offices. That is news fit to print, though not by editors at the Los Angeles Times.

Likewise, the moral and political horizon of those editors offers no clear view of the world at all. Proposition 8 was not simply an assault on the human rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. It was also an assault on the separation of church and state, heavily funded and promoted by fundamentalist groups, as well as by the Mormon and Catholic churches. It was thereby also an assault on secular values in public life and undermined the foundations of the republic. Who came to the defense of Dreyfus, a Jewish officer of the French army? Not the big businessmen of France, not the clerical reactionaries of that time, and not militarists with an ax to grind. No, the fighting camp of Dreyfusards consisted of radical republicans committed to secular equality. Those are historical lessons we should call back to public memory in these times.

Prop. 8 was not simply a legal move to enshrine the existing status quo. No, because there had been a brief period when the state of California affirmed the legal right of gay couples to marry in the same manner as any other couple. My husband and I chose to do so. Now we are left stranded as “exceptional cases” since Prop. 8 makes legal marriage impossible for other gay couples. Prop. 8 was a reversion to discrimination after a brief episode of legal equality, and the net effect is that painfully gained legal rights were stolen away. The political lesson is that the communities most at risk cannot count on politicians or corporate donors to defend their rights, not just in the seasons of progress but especially in seasons of reaction.


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The editors of the Los Angeles Times say the early campaign against Prop. 8 was ineffectual. This is true, if we are looking only at the wealthiest and most bureaucratic groups. But from the beginning, other community groups took an independent path of open resistance. It is very telling that the editors of the L.A. Times note the ineffectuality of the early campaign but end up giving the very same bureaucratic advice to wait until the stars align in our favor. Or until kingdom come. They advise us, once again, to wait.

The time to fight injustice is always now. The “big donors” and politicians like to jump to the head of a parade once other people have taken the real personal risks of creating a social movement of resistance. A simple tribute to those who stepped forward without big bucks is therefore in order. I will mention only two among the many community groups that did so. Restore Equality 2010 did not agree with the “pragmatic” timeline and pressed to put Prop. 8 back on the (November 2010) ballot for defeat. Plainly it lost that effort, but it won the more important moral and communal battle.  Likewise, Love Honor Cherish, a grass-roots community group that lacked the big budgets of more traditional groups, deserves great credit for daring to fight the good fight without any guarantee of winning the immediate legal or legislative battles. It set the high standard of not waiting for justice, and of building its campaign from a base of real communities. Love Honor Cherish understood that in a long social struggle we can expect to lose, to lose, to lose ... and then to win.

No one can predict the ideal timeline of events, least of all career politicians. In real time, gay community members took the initiative and began conversations with friends and neighbors. They trained volunteers with strong ideals to gather signatures, whereas better-financed groups hire part-time labor to do that job. Their door-to-door campaign was not wasted. Truly, they tilled the soil and planted seeds that will bear fruit. They were not able to rack up the number of signatures needed to put Prop. 8 on the November ballot for repeal, but in every other way they covered themselves in glory.

Corporate liberals, unsurprisingly, give corporate advice. But even on the democratic left (generously defined to include people inside and outside the Democratic Party), there are some people who are now giving the most regressive advice possible. They like to flatter themselves by saying queers think only of their own small petty cause, while they themselves have their eyes on much wider horizons. We’ve heard all that before. Gay people recognize this as a more genteel form of anti-gay bigotry, sometimes dressed up in Marxist guise but more often encountered in the usual bogus pragmatism of the Democratic Party. Some of these “progressives”—yes, the word must be braced in cold iron quotation marks—even advise waiting beyond 2012. They, too, advise queers to wait in line behind their preferred agenda and timeline.

The old debate about marriage versus civil unions has become strictly academic.  So let’s grant the most obvious point and the most secular premise up front: If we had divine powers and were making the world from scratch, no state would be in the business of regulating marriages at all but would simply attend to common justice and civil unions. The ceremonies that “sanctify” a marriage would be left strictly to personal faith, and to your local mosque, synagogue or church. Those marriages would have no special privileges and no higher standing in secular law.

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By Robert, April 22, 2010 at 8:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Joe said:
“The question that got me kicked-off a well-known leftist website was “Why should I support gay marriage?”  This article didn’t answer it.  I still don’t know.”

I suspect you were given numerous valid reasons but rejected them because they did not fit into your stated narrow explanation of why marriage exists.  I am not even going to attempt to answer your question because I believe the reasons are obvious.

And to Dave Thomas, gay marriage does not have to wait for a majority of citizens to support it.  We are not a democracy - contrary to popular belief.  We are a consitutional republic, and are governed by a constitution.  And that document protects our right to equal treatment under the law.  Regardless of how many people do or do not support it.  Courts are a 3rd branch of the government and using them to realize equality is perfectly legitimate in our Republic.  Appealing to the courts for redress of grievances is not subverting anything in a nation that guarantees equality to all. 

Appreciate your personal support though.

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By Arouete, April 21, 2010 at 2:14 pm Link to this comment

Because legal education (the thing most lacking in this so-called debate) has gone begging and can not be put on a bumper sticker I respond in three parts. 

Part one.

“The Proposition 8 campaign was particularly well funded on both sides .... That said, we never thought 2010 was the best time for a new vote on Proposition 8.

Please lay most of the blame at the doorstep of so-called gay activists who have squandered most of their resources and acted more like toothless sycophantic lap dogs than watchdogs.  Gay activists have been piping vapid bumper sticker slogans and doing nothing to educate our community. Equality California in particular has proven itself a rather pathetic excuse for an activist group and its inability to even muster sufficient signatures to repeal Prop 8 put the final nail on its coffin. It is a totally ineffective public relations group that has caused a great deal of harm. How did we get here in the first place?

First, because EQCA, boasting of millions of dollars in its coffers and thousands of foot soldiers was utterly asleep at the switch and busy preaching to the choir in the Castro and not getting out and talking the fight to our adversaries. Silly cocktail party activists.

Second it engaged in inconsistent pleading to the public. On the one hand it went door to door asking people to repeal Prop 8 (you DO get to vote on it) but on the other hand it worked to overturn Prop 8 on the grounds of it being unconstitutional (you do NOT get to vote on it). When you beg people to vote on an issue and then, behind their backs, argue inconsistently that they don’t even have that right to start with we have a word for that – it’s called ‘deceit.’  People, especially educated people see through that deceit and resent us for it.

Third, EQCA was, like many activist groups, first adamantly against San Francisco trial in Perry v. Schwarzenegger which is the only really effective remedy - federal court. The irony is that the vast majority of gay rights organizations were utterly chicken shit and railed against this trial.  They preferred to stick with the tired old red-herring of ‘state’s rights’ and majority rule rubbish which are utterly self-contradictory.  Loving v.  Virginia stands for the proposition that Marriage is not a ‘states rights’‘issue.  OBVIOUSLY if it were the high court would have deferred to the Virginia Jim Crow law.  No-brainer.  Where have you seen any gay activists address that second year law school issue?

Why do our own activists insult us with this preposterous bull? This is no more a ‘States Rights” issue than a Negro water fountain or a Jim Crow Railroad car. And it really irks me that gay activists even go for that despicable tainted bait that should not fool a second year law student.  They will get a lot more financial support from educated gays if they stop insulting our intelligence and stop trying to exploit legal ignorance.  They should be EDUCATING the community not engaging in disingenuous intellectual rubbish and pandering to classic ‘state’s rights’ segregationist claptrap.  Shame on them!

But when they realized that if we win in Perry they will all be made to look utterly ridiculous toothless sycophantic lap-dogs they all suddenly ‘evolved” (that’s the euphemism for flip-flop) and decided to support Boies et. al. 

By attacking the Perry trial and abjuring the ONLY valid and sure-fire legal remedy (resolve it ALL in one fell swoop!), gay activists betray the very constitutional bedrock at issue: the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the word “person.” It really is that simple.  The smoke and mirrors and pandering of my own “leadership” disgusts me.  Cut to the chase.  Lead, follow or get the hell out of our way.

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By Arouete, April 21, 2010 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment

Part 2:

Fourth, every step of the way EQCA has squandered its assets and discredited itself by wanting it both ways.  Again, marriage is no more a states’ rights issue than a Jim Crow railroad car. Authority?  Again, Loving v. Virginian! My god do these people even bother to READ the precedent they banter about? OBVIOUSLY if marriage were a matter of state’s rights the High Court in Loving would not have struck down Virginia’s invidious marriage laws. So… HOW many children have been left behind?  Where are the advocates?

When so-called activists began adopting our adversaries’ arguments (states’ rights) and dignified that specious argument they conceded precious ground. By refusing to take a stand, by wanting it both ways, by engaging in deceit, by inconsistent pleading, and by flip-flopping on this trial, by squandering it’s assets in preaching to the choir, LGBT activists have damaged their own credibility.

Finally, by utterly lacking the courage to take the fight where it belongs (to the steps of the churches that trash the First Amendment) EQCA and other activist groups have again discredited themselves. They seem to think that smoke and mirrors can hide the fact that this is more about the First than the Fourteenth Amendment.  Who are our adversaries? What is their argument?  Another no-rainer.  The primary opponents of marriage equality are the churches who want to deny rights solely for religious reasons.  So what part of the First Amendment don’t our activists get and why are they so gutless to take on the real issue?

By failing to take the fight where it really LGBT activists have failed repeatedly and miserably in every regard except as a pack of utterly ineffective and toothless cocktail party activists who prance about preaching to the choir, running like cowards from both the law and our adversaries and has proven itself of little use except to provide a fund-raising forum for self-congratulatory politicians eager for press coverage in bar rags.

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By Arouete, April 21, 2010 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment

Part three

EQCA has become more a liability than an asset and if the community continues to entrust it with our dollars we’ll all be shipped off in a gay Jim Crow railroad car.  When LGBT activists stop chomping at the tainted bait of ‘states’ rights’ and start railing against efforts to take down Jefferson’s proverbial “wall of separation” they might redeem come of the respect they have lost in their own community. 

Of course their problem is twofold: fear and political correctness run amok.  They are afraid to admit it’s not a states rights issue because that admits the right it right - the only way you can stop it is to amend the U.S. Constitution.  Second gutless fear and political correctness of not questioning one’s religious beliefs and insisting on what is first in our Constitution have made activists look rather foolish.

Marriage is no more a ‘states rights issue than a Jim Crow railroad car and colluding to trash the First Amendment for the purpose denying rights guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment demonstrates that Political Correctness truly is a doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical, liberal minority, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.
Since Scott Tucker so astutely refers to the Nuremberg laws I leave him with the wisdom of the late Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson who was also the chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials.  Over 70 years ago, i,In West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, he wrote a stinging dissent that is now the law

“The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”

Marriage equality, not being a ‘states’ rights matter’ can only be addressed in the U.S. Supreme Court.  Activists need to turn up the heat against the churches that trash the First Amendment and they need to secure a fair and just judiciary.  Otherwise they just fiddle while Rome burns.

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By Yaxier, April 21, 2010 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

Anybody is at a disadvantage when they are by
themselves, weather they are a homosexual or a heterosexual, a male or a female.
If two individuals are married and happily settled
together, is that not better for the community than
two individuals who are upset for being considered
outsiders, though in actuality they still function as part of the
community? - financially and socially
Nor should politics be able to dictate morality, such
is the reasoning for separation of church as state. It is equally applicable in this situation. Why
should you, or anyone, be allowed to limit another
person or persons’ actions if they are not harmful in
anyway either to yourself or the community?


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By Gman, April 20, 2010 at 7:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Don’t Tell.  Don’t Ask”

(for any donations - send donation forms back with this message and no money).

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By Anthony, April 20, 2010 at 4:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Steele:

In the USA, being married has its advantages.  I am sure you are aware that there are tax and income benefits involved as well as general legal advantages to being married. 

Some people marry for a variety of reasons such as mutual love, court immunity in some cases, tax and income benefits etc.. 

That being said, why is it ok for only heterosexual marriage if gay people cannot marry each other because they love one another.  It is ok for heterosexuals to marry on the basis of love, but why not gay people?  Sure a gay male person can marry a straight female person and vice versa for the legal and tax benefits - but surely they would not marry for the kind intimacy reasons that straight couples can marry for.

Of course, if the local state and federal governments were not involved in any kind of marriage - nobody would be having this discussion/debate in the first place.  I am not saying you did this, but some people argue from religion or tradition as to the reasons why gay marriages should be outlawed.  However, in the USA, marriage is not strictly a religious issue.  I am certain you agree with this as again there are obviously legal benefits to being married as opposed to being single. 

Therefore, if in the USA straight couples can get married to each other with all the legal and financial benefits for such an arrangement plus the couple may marry simply on the basis of loving one another; gay couples should have these reasons for being married also.  After all, these legal and financial benefits are offered by the government for being married.  Gay couples should have the means to have these benefits too.

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By Dave Thomas, April 20, 2010 at 7:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Anytime I had the chance I voted to legalize same sex marriage. My wife and I celebrated our 22nd anniversary with our son last year, and I’m not threatened by same sex marriage at all.

I am threatened by any attempt to subvert the democratic process. Same sex marriage advocates have to wait until the democratic process votes them the right to marry and not before.

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Joe Steel's avatar

By Joe Steel, April 20, 2010 at 6:32 am Link to this comment

Marriage is both a “civil” and “personal” act.  As a personal act, I don’t care if two individuals wish to married. 

As a civil act, that is, as an act sanctioned by the community, marriage has to have a reason.  What benefit does a civil community gain from the marriage of two homosexual individuals?  I can see the benefit to the community in the marriage of two heterosexual individuals.  Marriage protects the rights and interests of the female who, as the person expected to be the partner most obligated to the welfare of any children produced by the union, is presumed to need the assistance of the community. 

Neither partner in a homosexual union is at a relative disadvantage and, thus, is not in need of any assistance from the community in the protection of any interest or right.

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By December 5, 1933, April 20, 2010 at 6:11 am Link to this comment

Why won’t you support it? If civil unions are enough “for you” why isn’t the official act of marriage allowed in your cognitive maps?
Are you married? Why?
I support gay marriage because this society should not deliniate two separate classes of individuals; you do remember the whole “separate but equal” conundrum the SCOTUS gave us, do you not? For me it’s simply a matter of social justice - you probably heard the line before: “Do unto others…”
I should mention, by way of disclaimer, that I am not gay, but I am married. I do support the gay community in their push for marriage; it’s simply the right thing to do.
Having said that, I do hope that the gay community will come forward and help in my efforts to legalize cannabis. Of course, I’ll probably catch some flak for “cross-posting” or being “off topic,” however, when one’s actions do not harm the person or the property of a non-consenting other, then those actions should be tolerated in the “land of the free.” Gay marriage “neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

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By Joe Steel, April 20, 2010 at 5:46 am Link to this comment

The question that got me kicked-off a well-known leftist website was “Why should I support gay marriage?”  This article didn’t answer it.  I still don’t know.

Civil union seems enough to me but Scott Tucker waved-off that arrangement.  Apparently it’s not good enough for the activists.  They demand “marriage.” 

Well, before I can support marriage for gays someone is going to have to do a much better job of explaining to me what it really is and why gays just have to have it.

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By Thomas J. Coleman, April 19, 2010 at 8:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We need to see a lot more of this and good to see it here, paricularly about the clueless, lying, hypocritical “love me I’m a liberal” political/media class. 

The LA Times lectures us about a “winning” strategy for “gay marriage” but has NEVER itself had a single really openly gay or lesbian staff writer or staff columnist. What shrill, shreiking hypocrisy.  And now we discover, via its former reporter David Cay Johnston, that the LA Times devolved to utter, gutless cowardice in its coverage of former police chief/cheap gutter crook Daryl Gates. No wonder the paper’s maximum leader is now business bottom feeder Sam “everyone likes pussy” Zell and once the BK is completed looks to be run by its largest unpaid “creditor,” the ultra predatory JP Morgan Chase, with notorious Bankster scum Jamie Dimon at the helm.

And the media lets Obama get away with whining about a phony “dilemma” between civil rights and religious “values.”  There’s no upside to rank, utterly unsupported bigotry no matter how it’s served up but he gets away with it, like his two faced lies about repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” The hate and the “estblishment” defamatory lies about us are open, notorious and routine.  We are sick to death of it, and we will let them know, loud and clear, like we did at Obama’s Boxer fundraiser speech tonight, again and again, until they really start doing the right thing for a CHANGE.

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By DaEggman, April 19, 2010 at 8:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wow, you think its tough being gay, try atheism!! Once you guys get your freedoms, they’ll be coming after us!! Good luck, keep up the good fight, we’re right there with you!! Discrimination and bigotry, the bastion of perfectly stupid humans everywhere..

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