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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.

(Page 4)

As often as Democrats try to bury such evidence, we must force these facts back into daylight. If they are ashamed, then they should stop their shameless appeals to religious bigotry. Agreeing to hold a major political forum at Saddleback Church was already a huge concession to the religious right, and Obama went right on to invite that church’s pastor, the Rev. Rick Warren, to deliver the invocation at his inaugural. After much protest, Obama also invited a gay priest to deliver a prayer at the Lincoln Memorial, but with much less limelight. Warren is a close colleague of right-wing evangelical politicians in Congress, some of whom have given aid and support to right-wing evangelical politicians in Uganda. Those political and religious colleagues sponsored a bill in the Ugandan Parliament proposing the death penalty for homosexuals. Only an international storm of protest stalled that bill—permanently, we may hope.

Winning secular space for legal rights takes a direct and open plan of battle. In every case, in every state. If that sounds like never-ending “culture wars,” so be it. We cannot give theocrats and fundamentalists the power to decide which citizens are allowed to choose a marriage partner under the law and which citizens are forbidden to choose. Consider the era of Jim Crow, when segregationists called upon Scripture and even “Natural Law” to outlaw intermarriage between blacks and whites. Consider the Aryan delusional system of the Nazis, which included special provisions under the Nuremberg Laws forbidding marriage between Jews and non-Jewish Germans. Indeed, the point of regulating kinship was precisely to define Jews as being outside the ranks of the German race and nation. We should not place a stupid equal sign between distinct periods and forms of reaction. But we do need historical analogies to shed light on present dangers. The right to home and to kinship—including the right to marry any person we choose—is not some trivial footnote in the catalog of human rights. This right is foundational for human rights and freedom. We must also make it foundational in a secular democracy.

We won’t wait for the charity of corporate donors, or for the timelines of politicians. If such people care to donate funds or even to take the risk of civil disobedience, they are welcome to join us. On our own terms. But the time when gay people were grateful for small favors is over. Whatever happens at the level of legislation and electoral politics, communities of resistance already exist all across this country. We will fight in earnest, and the lesson we must learn from the right-wing tea party protests is that class resentment without class consciousness is the wrong way to fight. Class resentment without class consciousness is the classic matrix of fascism. Some of the tea party protesters are angry white men from the middle class, but some are working people looking for answers. Why not surprise ourselves and others by having serious conversations with some of the very people who are now railing against big government? If we are clear about class politics, we have an open field for new alliances and for new coalitions against corporate power. Resistance must proceed by paying attention to reality, not by falling back on slogans that were progressive ten years ago but may be dead weight today.

Politicians in the big corporate parties have been insulated from the real anger and grievances of common citizens.  Gay movements are plural, not singular, so many of us did not bother paying attention to Democratic Party politicians such as Barney Frank when we decided to march on Washington in November of 2009. He might have shown more grace learning some lessons from gay constituents. Instead, Frank invited us to stay home and let the timeline of Congress rule our lives. He earned the contingent of young gay and lesbian people who marched in Washington shouting, “Barney Frank, fuck you!” The same weekend, my husband and I joined a group of activists gathered from round the country to protest at an expensive dinner event held by the Human Rights Campaign. Obama was the guest speaker and spoke nothing but high-minded promises of hope and change, all duly reported on HRC’s website but hardly mentioned anywhere else in public news. When police arrived on motorcycles to move us off the pavement outside the dinner, we sat down in unison and chanted: “We’re here, we’re queer, we won’t be quiet! Remember Stonewall was a riot!”


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No, I’m not going to play elder statesman and urge the youngsters to lower their voices or sing hymns. Every generation learns from the past but also creates new forms of resistance. Whatever happens in legislative chambers or in voting booths, we will fight day by day as we choose. In my study there are framed photographs of Rosa Luxemburg and Frederick Douglass. If I have any lessons to pass on to younger activists and community organizers, these might be summed up briefly. In the words of Luxemburg: “Freedom is always the freedom of those who think differently.” And in the words of Douglass: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

Scott Tucker is a Los Angeles writer and a democratic socialist. His book of essays, “The Queer Question: Essays on Desire and Democracy,” was published by South End Press in 1997.

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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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