Are gays selling out by seeking the right to marry?

A gay man and his terminally ill, bed-ridden partner fly to the state of Maryland from their home state of Ohio, which bans gay marriages.

They get married in the plane on the tarmac, by one of their aunts, who was specially ordained for this moment. (They raised money online to pay for the private jet necessary to transport the one husband, who is stuck in bed with ALS.)

The picture below is of them saying their vows.  The partner on the left was choking up.  The partner on the right, only barely able to move his hand, slowly forced out the words “I do.”

Are they civil rights sell-outs for wanting to get married before the one man dies?


Some would say yes.  And for a variety of reasons.  First, the two are gay, white and men.  Lately there’s been a growing chorus of scorn from some on the (far) left against the evil that is gay white men.  Gay white men run all the gay groups, we’re told. Gay white men run all the top blogs (as if someone hired us).  If only gay white men didn’t exist, the gay rights movement, and the world, would be a better place.

The demonization of gay white men goes hand in hand with the demonization of the modern gay rights agenda.  And I don’t mean demonization from the right, I mean demonization from the left. There are those who consider the two men in the photo above to be traitors because they’re embracing a heterosexual institution, marriage.  The naysayers are also not happy with gay rights groups that pursue marriage equality, or pursued the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Why?  Because they don’t like either institution, and they feel that these pursuits don’t benefit a large number of gay people.  Though it’s not clear what gay person doesn’t potentially benefit from marriage, and the same goes for access to the military, GI benefits, and more – it’s an equal opportunity opportunity.

What do they think would be more beneficial? Seeking passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would put into federal law a ban on workplace discrimination against gay and trans people (it’s currently legal under federal civil rights law to fire someone for being gay or trans).

And they’re not wrong for wanting ENDA.  It’s a great law, and I’ve been working on its passage since 1996.  But ENDA was going nowhere the past seven years, and we had to fight for something.  Marriage and DADT organically rose to the top of pile.  And I think you’re hard pressed to argue that ENDA is more beneficial than the right to marry, and the over 1,100 federal benefits that go with it.  Not to mention, the cultural sea-change that will come, and is already coming, with the advent of gay marriage.

As for DADT, the nation’s experience with racially integrating the military showed how important an influence it can be to force people of all walks of life to work together and realize that they’re all human beings, equally worthy of respect. I also think the symbolism of openly gay service members, risking their lives for their country, shouldn’t be underestimated in terms of its impact on the larger culture.

Of course, a good number of the folks upset that we pursued the repeal of DADT, and are pursuing marriage equality, would prefer that gay rights organizations abandon the gay rights legal and legislative agenda all together and focus instead on poverty, immigration, racism, and other liberal issues that all of us embrace, but most of us don’t define as “gay.”

I was reading a review of longtime lesbian activist and thinker Urvashi Vaid’s new book, “Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics.”  And I saw this quote, which got me thinking of the two men who got married on the tarmac in Maryland:

“The LGBT movement has been coopted by the very institutions it once sought to transform,” [Vaid] writes. “Heterosexuality, the nuclear family, the monogamous couple-form are our new normal. In place of activism and mobilization, with a handful of notable exceptions, LGBT organizations have become a passive society of spectators, following the lead of donors and pollsters rather than advocating on behalf of sectors of the community that are less economically powerful and less politically popular.”

I’ve written about this aspect of the topic before, specifically concerning immigration reform (but it’s happening with race and poverty issues too).  A number of people were trying to claim that immigration rights are gay rights and gay rights are immigration rights.  They’re not.  They’re all equally worthy struggles, but they’re not all the same struggle in practical terms.  What do I mean by that?  I mean, that if our national gay rights groups stop fighting for marriage equality and ENDA, and instead devote all of their resources to racism and poverty, then they will cease being gay civil rights organizations – they will not be fighting for gay rights.  Sure, they’ll be fighting for another worthy cause – in the same way that immigration groups could stop working on immigration reform and instead focus on defending a woman’s right to choose.  It too is a worthy cause, but I suspect a lot of immigration advocates would have a problem with the switch.

Some would argue, what’s so wrong with gay groups working on race issue – after all, we ask the NAACP to endorse marriage?  And that’s a fair point.  We make coalitions all the time, and it’s fair (and wise) to scratch your coalition partners’ backs on their issues, so that next time they’ll hopefully scratch yours.  And that’s why progressive groups in town routinely sign on to each other’s letters and protests and legislative battles.  We work as a coalition.  But that’s a different thing than criticizing gay groups for working on gay marriage instead of poverty.  Rather than enlarging the agenda for the sake of the coalition, some people want to change the agenda entirely by labeling non- gay rights issues “gay,” while abandoning gay issues entirely, in order to further a set of issues they prefer – issues which are simply not part of the “gay agenda.”

They don’t want us fighting for marriage at all, and even pushing for ENDA.  They want us doing the work of traditional race and poverty groups, full time, instead of gay rights.  And that simply doesn’t make sense if you’re going to claim that you’re a gay rights organization, or a gay rights activist.

To wit: this astonishing article from Rolling Stone on July 12 of this year.  And I quote:

For years, the larger LGBT movement has received criticism for focusing on marriage equality over issues seen as more relevant to working-class people and minorities. “If you’re a waitress in Jackson, Mississippi and you’re working at a job with no healthcare and your girlfriend is working at the local Target or Wal-Mart,” asks New Orleans writer and activist Kenyon Farrow, “how is marriage going to protect you from poverty?”

Excuse me just a moment.  But other minorities fought for their marriage equality 46 years ago, and got it.  But when we fight for ours, nearly half a century later, suddenly the battle is selfish and superfluous. Uh huh.

And we’re now to believe that gay rights groups should no longer fight for gay rights – and they should specifically give up on marriage equality, and probably ENDA too – because some gay people are poor.  The thing is, if you’re poor and your civil rights aren’t a priority for you, there already exist anti-poverty organizations that are fighting an anti-poverty agenda.  It’s unclear why gay rights groups need to disband in order to fight the agenda of organizations that already exist – how many poverty groups disbanded when Matthew Shepard was murdered?  He needed a hell of a lot more than a job.

No one is saying that we won’t help the larger progressive coalition, we will, and are.  But these folks quite literally want us to stop fighting for our civil rights, and more specifically, stop using our civil rights organizations to fight for our civil rights.  They think we should be ashamed that we’re fighting for our civil rights.

Okay, I’m game.  Then why not play the same game with environment issues.  Maybe environmental groups should stop fighting the Keystone Pipeline, and more generally stop fighting global warming, because neither of those causes will help poor environmentalists get a job today. It’s time the Sierra Club and WWF gave up on the environment and devoted all of their time to poverty.

And you know what else won’t help you get a job today?  Protecting a woman’s right to choose.  Opposing the death penalty.  Worrying about Edward Snowden and the NSA.  Fighting to strengthen the Voting Rights Act.  Getting guns off the street.  Immigration reform (how is that going to help some poor lesbian couple in Appalachia find a job?)  Or being outraged over the Zimmerman verdict, for that matter – a righteous cause, but it’s not going to help someone pay their rent.  According to these folks, we should all give up any battle we’re fighting, and dismantle any organization fighting that battle, and redirect all of our energies to fighting poverty.

Or to put it more succinctly: Please stop working on your pet issue, so you can work on their pet issue instead.

I chose to devote a good portion of my life to work on gay rights issues because I’m gay, and I’ve suffered a lot through my life because of it, including losing people I loved.  I work on other progressive causes too, but it’s clear that my #1 commitment is to gay rights.  And that’s fine.  Other people have made their #1 commitment immigration, or the environment, or women’s rights.  All of that is fine too.  And in fact, quite necessary.  If I spent as much time working on other issues as I did gay rights, I’d be an expert on none of them, and far less effective at advancing any of them.  Do I care about all those issues?  Absolutely?  Do I think they’re all equally meritorious in the grand pantheon of progressive causes?  Yes.  But I already work 14 hour days, so to work on the environment and race and poverty and women’s rights as many hours a day as I work on gay rights, would mean cutting back on my gay rights work.  And I’m not willing to do that, not until win a lot few more victories, and young gay, bi and trans kids stop killing themselves.

I count on the fact that others out there are working 14 hour days on their pet causes, just as I do the same on gay rights.  And our specialization, I’d argue, make each of us that much more effective than if we all worked on everything equally.  And that benefits all of our causes all the more.

The irony is, that for all the harping about how we’re working on the wrong agenda, and how it’s all the fault of the gay white men, the gay rights movement in America is considered one of the most successful, if not the most successful, movement in progressive politics today.

And it’s not just relative.  We’ve made some remarkable advances in the last decade, let alone the last year, and the last month.  For people who are so wrong all the time, we must be doing something right.

At San Diego Pride this past Saturday, there were reportedly more than 100 police officers in the Pride parade in uniform.  The contingent included this squad car containing two married gay cops – check out the front windshield:


“Just married” cop car in the San Diego Pride parade, July 13, 2013. Photo by Fergal O’Doherty.

A friend emailed me last night, after seeing the photo of the cop car.  He said that it ends not with revolution, but with assimilation.  And you know what?  I’m totally okay with that.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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212 Responses to “Are gays selling out by seeking the right to marry?”

  1. SarahDot says:

    ENDA is way more important than marriage equality. It stinks that gay couples don’t get spousal visitation privileges in a hospital without marriage. It sucks even worse when a gay man dies because he can’t get a job and health insurance to be in the hospital in the first place. DADT and Marriage equality rose to the top because the gay and lesbian establishment in NY and SF didn’t have those rights. They did have employment rights, so why fight for those? The fact that they don’t care about the employment rights of half the country for gays and 2/3 the country for trans people does not make those rights less significant.

  2. future_man says:

    Yes, marriage equity looks very much like a class issue…at least on the surface.

    Yet, if marriage equity is a ploy by evil gay white males to increase their power and dominate others then why are the majority of same sex marrieds female???

    In Vermont it’s two thirds women to one third men.

    How are we to imagine this works?

    In Vermont is there an especially large core group of coopted lesbian women being programmed to covertly assist in class domination by a smaller elite cadre of gay male evildoers?

    Or is it just that Vermont lesbians have produced more children over the last few decades than gay men and they are deciding to marry out of concern for the wellbeing of their offspring?

  3. For those seeking the abridged version:
    “Are these two men held up as the straw men in an argument which is in fact about White Gay Men of privilege specifically intending to change the definition of “equality” to the notion that relationships between couples such as the ones from Ohio deserve tax breaks?”

  4. Ask the correct question.

    “Are these two men, who are in a loving and committed relationship, traveling from a state which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity in state employment, even though it is this couple’s gender non conformity to cis-het binary notions of man/woman which is the root of discrimination they face, to the state of Maryland which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity, except in state employment, where, like Ohio, discrimination based on non conformity to gender, in state employment is issued only by executive order, such orders subject to revocation, in order to consecrate the bond of that loving and committed relationship in Maryland, a state which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity, except in state employment, held up as the straw men in an argument which is in fact not about whether these two men, who are in a loving and committed relationship, traveling from a state which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity in state employment, even though it is this couple’s gender non conformity to cis-het binary notions of man/woman which is the root of discrimination they face, to the state of Maryland which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity, except in state employment, where, like Ohio, discrimination based on non conformity to gender, in state employment is issued only by executive order, such orders subject to revocation, in order to consecrate the bond of that loving and committed relationship in Maryland, a state which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity, except in state employment, yet about the Gay establishment, aka Gay Inc, aka HRC, aka White Gay Men of privilege specifically intending to change the definition of “equality” from multitude of places like Ohio which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity in state employment, even though it is this couple’s gender non conformity to cis-het binary notions of man/woman which is the root of discrimination they face, and Maryland which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity, except in state employment, where, like Ohio, discrimination based on non conformity to gender, in state employment is issued only by executive order, such orders subject to revocation, to the notion that loving and committed relationships between couples such as the ones from Ohio,i.e. these two men, who are in a loving and committed relationship, traveling from a state which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity in state employment, even though it is this couple’s gender non conformity to cis-het binary notions of man/woman which is the root of discrimination they face, to the state of Maryland which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity, except in state employment, where, like Ohio, discrimination based on non conformity to gender, in state employment is issued only by executive order, such orders subject to revocation, deserve tax breaks?”

    {drops mic}

  5. trinu says:

    The Michigan case was dismissed, not allowed to go to trial. The New Jersey and and Michigan cases would have resulted in long sentences anyway; there was no charge in either case under any HIV specific law, just general assault laws and they were facing felony assault charges anyways for assaulting officers. The only case they mention of an HIV specific law being applied are the Iowa case where the man did not disclose his status and the Ohio case where the disclosure or lack thereof is a he-said/she-said case. Indeed, the article you cite mentions “more than 200 ‘failure to disclose’ convictions.” I have looked at the articles on HIV advocacy sites and most of the vitriol over these laws seems to be geared towards the repeal of disclosure laws, with the occasional mention of the Texas spitting case. I agree that the sentence and charge in the Texas spitting case were excessive but that does not mean we should repeal laws requiring informed consent for sex.

  6. dula says:

    The topic of discussion was well-off white gay men. Believe me I have no problem criticizing rich white and black straight men and women also…if they perpetrate class warfare.

  7. Julien Pierre says:


    Clearly the words “HIV criminalization” mean something different to you than to most everybody else.

    There are several more cases of specious prosecution based on HIV status that are not non-disclosure during sex listed here : . They have been brought in several different states.

    Even if not codified explicitly in law with the word HIV, the fact that the criminal justice system overall even allows these charges to be brought and go to trial clearly constitutes criminalization of HIV. The same charges could never be brought against people with almost any other disease.

  8. ThomasKDye says:

    Right… freakin’ …. ON.

  9. trinu says:

    “They know far better.” Please enlighten me as to issues other than non-disclosure. All I’m aware of is ONE instance of someone who was convicted for spitting, which is a far cry from “37 states,” and although overreaching still does not constitute a ban on having HIV in and of itself.

  10. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    ” reasonably wealthy, well connected, Gay white men are oblivious to the economic struggles of most Americans.”

    I know two men who would fit that description, but I know a lot of other gay men who are anything but reasonable wealthy and well connected. I’m not talking about friends, but just passing acquaintances. Do these reasonably wealthy, well connected gay men have a nest somewhere?

  11. Julien Pierre says:

    I would rather use their designation than yours, they know far better. Non-disclosure is hardly the only issue at stake. There have been plenty of horrendous other prosecutions based on HIV status that would never happen against HIV negative persons.

  12. trinu says:

    They can call them whatever they want, but the laws do not criminalize having HIV. They criminalize exposing someone to HIV without informed consent; there is a big difference. If you want to see a place that criminalizes HIV visit Uganda.

  13. What set me off is that she keeps saying well-off white gay men are the problem when it sounds like she’s describing well-off people, period. But for some reason the gay man thing keeps coming up. That’s what I have a problem with.

  14. Thank you :)

  15. I just updated the post with a wonderful Rolling Stone article talking about how gay groups should stop fighting for marriage equality since marriage equality won’t help the poor and minorities find jobs. The article quotes people explicitly arguing what I warned about in this piece. But I wonder, will stopping the Keystone Pipeline help poor minorities get a job? No. How about defending Roe? No. Or stopping global warming? No. Hell, even defending the Voting Rights Act won’t help you pay your bills. And neither will worrying about the George Zimmerman acquittal.

    What a load of garbage. Seriously, do go read that article in order to fully understand what these folks are trying to do.

  16. Julien Pierre says:

    Lambda Legal disagrees with you and correctly calls such laws “HIV criminalization”.

  17. trinu says:

    There are NO laws in the USA criminalizing HIV. They just say that people with HIV have to tell their sexual partners. Whether you support or oppose those laws, they are NOT criminalization of HIV.

  18. Dan says:

    Sounds more like you are promiscuous and you want to turn yourself into a persecuted victim.

    You are free to be promiscuous if you like, but as happens in life, others are free to take note of your conduct and draw conclusions about you. A person who goes from partner to partner, orgasm to orgasm, demonstrates a character deficit. When you sleep around, you don’t have to care about, let alone love, the person whose body you just used. If that’s what you are about, then go for it. But don’t expect others to celebrate hedonism and selfishness.

  19. Steven says:

    “I can easily foresee a time when young men and women come out and are expected to date, marry, and settle down, and where Pride parades are a thing of the past,”

    Good! Getting to know someone, having enduring social connection, having stable relationships based on love rather than large numbers of loveless encounters based on sex – sounds like a great trade.

    I am not of the belief that dating/marriage is the only way to be happy. Gays in the early 70s could have created a parallel culture that was different from mainstream society but just as sustaining. But they didn’t do that. What they created was little more than a more elaborate, commercialized version of what they had in the 1960s. It did a disservice to all LGBs. It has taken decades for this subculture to wither and now its demise has accelerated. I say “faster, please.”

  20. Steven says:

    If you want a good example of Vaid’s philosophy in action, just look at the so-called Task Force, a group that she used to lead.

    This is a group that has made it a primary objective to de-prioritize gay civil rights. Even while it opines on all manner of issues other than gay civil rights, it remains probably the least effective political group in existence. After 40 years, it is still working fruitlessly to achieve its legislative agenda items from 1973. It accomplishes no tasks and is not much of a force.

    If you leafed through the 2012 brochure for their major annual conference, you would find 5 pages of etiquette rules for transsexuals, polyamorists and the chemically-sensitive. You’ll find all sorts of workshops on classism and such. But you wouldn’t find any organizing for the 4 massive state marriage battles. And indeed, the “Task Force” did nothing in 3 of the 4 states and only a token amount in MN. Just as it was completely absent from the DADT repeal battle.

    What does it do? Well, go look at its annual report where it purports to justify its existence. Its “accomplishments” are invariably described in vague, meaningless language designed to shield their performance from evaluation. Lots of “worked with” and “in coalition with others” and “strove tirelessly” type language. But no actual accomplishments. It does hold the Creating Change conference, with its multiple pages of etiquette rules. But other than enriching the shareholders of Sheraton and Hilton, it is hard to see what change that conference has created after 3 decades. Oh, and it spent a lot of gay money producing a report on transgender Aleutian Islanders. Mind you, it didn’t actually reach out and help any transgender Aleutian Islanders; it just produced a nice glossy report.

    This is what Vaid sees as a model for the gay rights movement. Pretty sweet deal for the professional activist who doesn’t like to actually sully herself by working on gay rights and who dislikes being measured for performance. Not so sweet for the rest of us. The sooner groups like the Task Force dissolve themselves and are replaced by competent, focused orgs, the better.

  21. dcinsider says:

    You are too easily offended.

  22. karmanot says:

    I suspect that’s were a lot of we Iris got our zip! :-)

  23. karmanot says:

    Ah, that explains the Judge Judy nastiness.

  24. Kes says:

    ?? SC, pretty sure you’ve now crossed the line into outright delusion. I must’ve really pissed you off, huh? Who knew that a middle-aged white dude would go so off-the-deep-end over having his racial and sex-based entitlement complex pointed out? Oh, wait…feminism and critical race theory totally called that.

  25. karmanot says:

    Rattle your ovipositor Cicada, that will tell him off!

  26. karmanot says:

    “the delicate personal ideologies of the screechers.” Sums you up yo a ‘T.’

  27. karmanot says:

    “before you drag out poor Harvey Milk’s body” In my memory Harvey was never a buffoon. That is offensive. Asshole!

  28. karmanot says:


  29. karmanot says:

    I’d rather bring a can of RAID to your nonsense.

  30. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Grin through the embarrassment of your pathetic little power play blowing up in your face.

  31. Kes says:

    Ha ha ha. Yeah, okay. Whatever. :P

  32. ronbo says:

    Most excellent post, John. The proof is in the comments section.

  33. Skeptical Cicada says:

    If you’re a gay couple getting ripped apart by the immigration system, I don’t think ’70s revolutionary drivel is going to keep you together.

  34. Skeptical Cicada says:

    No, you’re just a dissembling poser. No one capitalizes Gay either, you fraud. Sorry, but we won’t be changing redirecting the movement to service your non-gay agenda.

  35. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Why, yes, I am an attorney, one who has been practicing civil rights law for 20 years. And you’re talking out of your ass, you mindless ideologue.

  36. Kes says:

    Don’t you have something better to do than follow my comments around, SC? I realize you have a bug up your butt, but this is kind of pathetic. By the way, Newsflash: Are you an attorney? Because I am. And I know precisely how quickly queer and trans theory is altering the operating definitions of “gender” v. “sex”. Hey, why don’t you go find some other feminist so you can complain about how they’re being mean to you, white man? :)

  37. dula says:

    Money is finite. You seem to have a lot of time.

  38. dula says:

    If society breaks down based on economic chaos, I don’t think Gay marriage is going to save us.

  39. dula says:

    Yeah, I’m just Gay today.

  40. silas1898 says:

    Perhaps, but they are labeled as leftists by the Village and in America today perception = reality. If it’s not on the TV, it didn’t happen.

  41. dula says:

    Fair enough. People who have done well under predatory capitalism are oblivious (classist) to those who haven’t. You are privileged not because you are white but because your aptitudes, calling, talents, interests, are rewarded by capitalism. The fact that your ancestors and that you’ve worked hard is irrelevant. Any maid in any shitty motel in this country works harder than you. Clean toilets all day and then say you’re not privileged. Most of our ancestors worked hard in physically demanding industrial jobs or on farms. You got lucky that your particular interests and abilities led you to career paths that rewarded$ you more than a nanny, nurse, teacher, social worker, garbage man, etc. In order for our society to run well we all have to contribute what we can based on our own particular talents/aptitudes. The white, wealthy, well connected Gay men I was referring to in my posts are people who disregard the necessary contributions made by economically disadvantaged workers who keep society running effectively. It is nowhere on their radar. This is why the face of Gay activism, well off, white men, are perceived as privileged. That doesn’t mean Gay activists have to fight for other causes, just simply that more hearts and minds can be won if the movement doesn’t appear so out of touch with the economic situation of most Americans. Btw, you have done well to address these sorts of economic issues with your coverage of OWS, financial fraud, poverty, etc…so I wasn’t referring to you specifically, but to the face of Gay activism in general.

  42. Skeptical Cicada says:

    As a homosexual? Funny, I don’t know any self-respecting gay man or lesbian who self-identifies as “a homosexual,” terminology that even the GLAAD media guide advises journalists to avoid. Your usage raises an interesting question as to just what you are or are pretending to be.

  43. Skeptical Cicada says:

    It’s also possible to support progressive issues relating to class without pretending they are gay issues and diverting resources from gay groups to support them. Sorry, you’re not getting those resources diverted and you’re not hijacking this movement. Get over it.

  44. Skeptical Cicada says:

    I know what you said. Resources are finite, dear. You don’t get to have it both ways.

  45. Skeptical Cicada says:

    She should have taught you how to spell arguments.

  46. Skeptical Cicada says:

    As a gay man, I find your effort to exploit your sexual orientation in presuming to speak for me insulting. I have no doubt that your ideological commitment to neo-Marxism trumps everything in your view. You’re being gay has nothing to do with it.

  47. Skeptical Cicada says:

    OMG you’re so stuffed full of ideology. Newsflash: The word “gender” doesn’t have only the specialized meaning that it has recently acquired in feminist and queer theory, a specialized usage which–surprise–we’re all familiar with and don’t need precociously “educating” about. For 40 years, courts have used “gender” as a synonym for sex, and BeccaM is proposing a law, not pondering the nuances of feminist or queer theory. I seriously don’t know how someone as precious as you functions in daily life.

  48. Again, you’re using buzzwords and I have no idea what you mean. I think for a lot of you, on your side of the aisle on these issues, there’s a series of buzzwords, a vocabulary, that mean a lot to you, but don’t mean a lot to those of us on the outside. And you use them, in place of an argument you already know the details of, and you think we therefore understand the details simply because you used the buzzword. I don’t.

  49. I still don’t know what that means. What, they’re not active on labor issues? Who is, outside of labor activists? Are other white men, straight ones, in NYC and LA active on labor issues? I doubt it. I suspect they’re probably worse than gay men. I just don’t accept the underlying premise unless it’s explained in more detail – in what way are gay white men any worse than any other white man when it comes to any progressive issues? Again, I’d argue they’re probably better than white men on average.

  50. That was in yesterday’s schedule :)

  51. ldfrmc says:

    All causes or just a few?

    (the difference of public versus private causes – ENDA versus DADT and marriage)

    At the end of the day, all the labels fall away.
    I come home to you, my love, and say:
    If I can realize this much with you,
    I can realize as much for others too.

    Job, duty, marriage – all bonds. Each finds his own way. For me, that begins and ends with one other, each day, for each “cause.” And I cannot mistake myself, alone, for a “cause.”

  52. emjayay says:

    imbecile insect
    Sister Georgina taught us these are not legitimate arguements. Just before rapping our knuckles with a wooden ruler.

  53. dcinsider says:

    I believe my post reflects that I have met many, many far left politicos, hence the conclusion drawn. Larry Kramer, like all people, has his pluses and minuses, and I have no doubt he’d agree with that statement. He can also be a buffoon at times.

    Let’s not be so blind to suggest that anyone we admire is always correct or is always perfect, or is somehow immune from criticism. We see that too much from the President’s most ardent admirers.

    So, yes, Larry Kramer can certainly be a buffoon, and has been on many occasions. As for the people John refers to in his post, I have met many, including Urvashi Vaid and she is often wrong.

    And before you drag out poor Harvey Milk’s body, he was almost certainly a buffoon on occasion as well :)

  54. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Sigh. Enjoy that fantasy world of bad ’70s pop Marxism you’re living in.

  55. Kes says:

    Becca, I don’t necessarily agree that “gender” protection will cover discrimination on the basis of sex. For example, if somebody is being discriminated against because they menstruate or are pregnant, that is not gender discrimination (trans men can menstruate or become pregnant) – it is discrimination on the basis of being female, ie sex.

  56. Bill_Perdue says:

    I need a favor. If you see someone using my name misspelled as Purdue instead of teh correct Perdue, or Perdue without the avatar, or misspelled as Purdue with the avatar please give me a heads up.

  57. Bill_Perdue says:

    There is no draft and those who join to ‘get an education’ are fooling themselves – they’re either going to murdering civilians or enabling the murder of civilians to make the world safe for American corporations.

    Decent people won’t join the US military murder machine. They should be discouraged from doing and urged to get out asap.

    Marriage equality is a separate question and a valid one to fight for but other questions like ENDA or a CRA are more important, That doesn’t mean they’re juxtaposed, we can multitask and should try to involves as many people as we can in mass movements for marriage equality, for support for gay/antiwar hero Brad Manning and for tough anti-discrimination laws. The way to do all that is, of course, by abandoning Democrats and Republicans and building left and workers parties.

  58. Bill_Perdue says:

    No politics, just garbage personal criticisms. If you want to be taken seriously stay political.

  59. Bill_Perdue says:

    You’re not talking about the kind of laws I advocate. Tough anti-discrimination laws with robust penalties and making it easy to sue would be effective,

    It’s unclear why you think that rule by the rich – who use the cults, bigotry, racism, misogyny and immigrant bashing to prop up thier rule – is a good thing.

    “Support for gay rights does not positively correlate with being working class.” So? The fight to create a workers state will inevitably lead to advances in political consciousness.

  60. BeccaM says:

    Shunning and permanent underclass status often leads to lives of crime. It’s the same deal with the ‘untouchable’ castes in India.

    For what it’s worth, from the stories it was considered a hugely shameful thing and a scandal in the family when that ancestor hooked up with the Romani girl.

  61. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Femme men make great husbands.

  62. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    It’s funny that gay men (at least those of my generation) can be proud of the slut name. I would never criticize someone for being promiscuous as long as they show proper concern for their health and the health of others.

  63. Skeptical Cicada says:

    I don’t find your evidence very persuasive. Dan Savage has recently given more public attention to the idea of open relationships than at anytime in decades, and we just learned this week that college women are now driving hetero hook up culture as much as men. There is no increasing criticism of femme men; that hasn’t been true in years.
    I’m not sure what you’re grasping at. Some insistence that we stop seeking marriage equality?

  64. Skeptical Cicada says:

    How have we already passed these laws in more than 20 states and 200 municipalities covering well over half the population? Unclear why you think rule by the straight-dominated working class would be so good for gays. Support for gay rights does not positively correlate with being working class.

  65. karmanot says:

    Thank you!!!!

  66. Indigo says:

    I don’t know whether I’m a very old leftest or a very leftest old guy. The truth is I’m one of those faculty Marxists from B.D. [before Reagan] who managed to survive the academic purge. Not without scars. And yes, capitalism does need to be dismantled but the materialistic dialectic will take care of that. It’s inevitable. Meanwhile, we need to be sorting out where we stand, not dragging a false dichotomy like gay marriage vs. human rights across the table.

    The negative trope from the far left is a Bo-Chic posture. It has nothing to do with social analysis outside of admission to the oxygen bars of Brooklyn. Or is it Portland this year?

  67. Indigo says:

    or a lesson on paragraphing.

  68. dula says:

    It’s possible to be Progressive on some issues AND classist.

  69. dula says:

    Yep, as a homosexual, I believe class warfare trumps Gay rights. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe we shouldn’t fight for both tooth and nail.

  70. dula says:

    huh? I said it wasn’t necessary to divert resources to other causes.

  71. karmanot says:

    I suspect dc, you have never met a far left politico. Remember Larry Kramer? I doubt you would call him a buffoon or degrade his place in our history.

  72. karmanot says:

    You are cool, you are a honey pot! :-)

  73. karmanot says:

    They are not leftists……. agents provocateurs perhaps.

  74. zorbear says:

    He’s given us a sandal!

  75. zorbear says:

    Hey, leave me out of this!

  76. Bill_Perdue says:

    We disagree and in any case these kind of laws will not be passed until we have a workers government. Employers large and small practice wage discrimination and they’re only checked by unions who, after some fighting, began to demand equality in wages.

  77. Bill_Perdue says:

    Capitalism is the enemy. Pro-capitalist parties like the Democrats and the Republicans are the avowed enemies of working people, particularly children and seniors.

    Stagnant economies and the current depression are the result of rule by capitalists.

    Italy is a capitalist country.

    The US growth rate has been stagnant for years. (see chart below)

    For an explanation for economic questions always turn to Marxists for an answer and never trust ‘”I was in Italy’ or Democrat like Reich or Republicans like Michael Piwowari.

  78. karmanot says:

    Good point

  79. BeccaM says:

    Well, sorry, but I can’t get behind that because putting specific punishments into our Constitution is something that just isn’t done and sets a bad legal precedent.

    By the way, all I did to craft that amendment was to take the original language of the ERA, replace ‘sex’ with the word ‘gender’ and add LGBT protections.

  80. karmanot says:

    pppfftttt crickets, er cicadas.

  81. karmanot says:

    ouch! Sorry Becca, I have had terrible encounters with Romani in Europe.

  82. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Go get your prescription refilled.

  83. karmanot says:

    Ah, the same old Insect…..always ends up with an insult when challenged on a heaping pile of bullshit.

  84. karmanot says:

    I maintain that YOU don’t know the basics of respect. Your disrespect and imbecile tantrums bring disrepute to any argument you attempt to dominate by bad manners and a bad mouth immaturity. BTW, insect, Class Warfare is a bigger issue.

  85. Bill_Perdue says:

    Which is what I suggested regarding punishments.

  86. BeccaM says:

    Women = gender. And the 14th amendment already covers race.

    Constitutional amendments don’t include punishments. They just grant Congress the authority to write laws that do.

  87. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Off your meds again, I see.

  88. Skeptical Cicada says:

    You betray your bias by depicting “class warfare” as “the bigger issue.” That dismissive condescension is why the gay rights movement split from the New Left to begin with. Forty years later and people like you still haven’t learned basic respect.

  89. BeccaM says:

    My people* have always been hated, and often turn to crime because they had no other choice to get by. It’s what happens when an entire culture is shunned.

    (* = 1/16th Romani on my father’s side of the family. Had those particular ancestors not come to America in the late 1800s, all likelihood their kids would’ve died in the Nazi concentration camps.)

  90. karmanot says:

    I don’t think you know what is ‘far left’ from your positiver Cicada.

  91. Bill_Perdue says:

    I agree but I think it should to ourselves, people of color and women and that it should include provisions for passing robust punishments for offenders.

  92. Bill_Perdue says:

    I agree, an inclusive, robust (in terms of jail time and fines for offenders) constitutional civil rights amendment covering housing, public services and employment is what’s needed.

    My comment was not so much about the law as it was about the almost forty years of betrayal by Democrats. They’re only pushing it now because it won’t pass and they refused to take it up in 2009-2010 when they could have passed, if not for the fact that so many Democrats are bigots or bigot panderers.

  93. karmanot says:

    I would have been happier in the tumulus age of goddesses, then Stonehenge came along and the sky Mr. ruined everything.

  94. BeccaM says:

    Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

    Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

    Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

    A new Equal Rights Amendment for the 21st century.

  95. karmanot says:

    What offensive stereotype? Dula is talking about diversity, What set you off? Nothing can offend Harvey or Kramer, they knew well their enemies and their lives are not offended by ignorant slurs or BS tropes. I disagree with Dula on one point a few of the wealthy gay white males I have known are not oblivious to the struggles of the greater GLTBQ communities and even most have lost partners to HIV. The fact is they just don’t care and can’t be bothered. You are lucky in your acquaintances not to have experienced these people.

  96. BeccaM says:

    It was when we women were traded between men like brood mares.

  97. BeccaM says:

    Well yeah — it is a red herring. And professional-level concern-trolling.

    What gets me is the conflation of personal discrimination with outright institutionalized oppression.

    Discrimination is usually between people. It’s when you don’t get a job because the hiring manager prefers male candidates. Or you’re denied housing because you’re a gay couple. One might even argue that hate crimes are a form of bias discrimination.

    Yet in the case of DADT, it wasn’t just discrimination. Serving openly was illegal. Same thing with DOMA and all those mini-DOMAs: It’s not just individuals disrespecting our marriages, it’s the full weight and power of the government declaring them illegal, null and void.

    There’s a difference between legislating a disincentive to discriminate versus a grant of previously denied equal rights under the law.

    You can pass laws to make discrimination illegal, but it won’t force people not to be bigots. It can’t. All you can hope for is for them not to be able to act on their bigotry as openly as they’d prefer. We can, however, pass laws that make it illegal to ban gay people from certain jobs — or with DADT, repeal that awful ban. Likewise with marriage equality: We can pass laws to extend those rights to all the gay and lesbian couples who wish to marry under civil law.

    Or to put yet another TLDR; post in shorter words: We can’t outlaw prejudice and bigotry, but we can remove prejudice and bigotry from our laws and system of government.

  98. Julien Pierre says:

    ENDA is crumbs, though. The Civil Rights Act of 1965 should be amended to outlaw discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity. That would be much more comprehensive than ENDA.

  99. karmanot says:

    You are so full of bs on this. Dula is not attempting to disprove a bigoted prejudice and you know better.

  100. karmanot says:

    “The anger is probably directed at the percentage of upwardly mobile,
    neoliberal, white men who manage to feel so satisfied getting married in
    an oligarchy.” You are conflating here. Don’t tell me wealth and status don’t shield privilege from the brunt of what most of us have endured and overcome–or not.

  101. karmanot says:

    “The anger is probably directed at the percentage of upwardly mobile,
    neoliberal, white men who manage to feel so satisfied getting married in
    an oligarchy” This is true and to deny it, damages the quest for equality, because these folks are either silent, uninvolved, or speak like Obama and act like Log Cabin closet cases.

  102. Julien Pierre says:

    Of course not, it’s a silly question to ask. Marriage rights are extremely important. We still have 37 US states and 183 countries to go. We should not let up.

    That said, it pains me that many mainstream LGBT organizations are now paying lip service to many other important issues, such as HIV/AIDS. Criminalization laws on the books today in more than half of US states and many other countries are horrendous. Access to medication is still too limited in the US. Sex education is insufficient. In developed countries, about half the cases of HIV/AIDS are in MSM (men who have sex with men). These organizations would be very wise to start looking into these causes again, lest they want to become irrelevant like SLDN-Outserve after the repeal of DADT, once we gain full marriage rights in the US, which may not be very far off.

    There are certainly many other international problems as well, such as criminalization of homosexuality, but it’s understandable that many domestic LGBT organizations aren’t interested.

  103. Bill_Perdue says:

    Marriage equality is not a sellout but ENDA will be much more important when the Democrats get around to passing it late this century.

  104. karmanot says:

    I still have a Howard Dean sticker on my car. His brother is no slouch either.

  105. FLL says:

    That oft-repeated argument that civil marriage should be abolished is untenable simply because, beginning in the 1930s, all industrial nations have involved their citizens in a network of relationships with government, like Social Security. That myriad of federal government arrangements necessarily involves civil marriage.

    Thank you for suggesting that voters not passively accept, like a flock of sheep, the dictates of political parties or the media. That is what happened in 2004 when Howard Dean really should have gone on to victory after his speech in Iowa. All he really needed was a glass of water, but the public was so cowed by the professional political class that they couldn’t make a reasonable judgment.

  106. karmanot says:

    There is no greater curse than the Romani in Rome today. They can pick your pocket ten feet away by telepathy.

  107. karmanot says:

    Clearly she absolutely no understanding of what Capitalism is in the context of an historical economic evolution. My guess she doesn’t even know Marx, except for her cartoon version of his mid 19th century essays. Marriage and its relation to contract and wealth may very well be capitalist, So?

  108. Julien Pierre says:

    And you still couldn’t fit it in your schedule to eradicate HIV ? Shame on you !

  109. BeccaM says:

    Romani Ite Domum

  110. karmanot says:

    She is just a cracked-pot with a better vocabulary than Ann Coulter. I am an old very leftist gay senior who not only supports but demands women’s equality and reproductive freedoms. I don’t understand this negative far left trope that has crept into the discussion. It doesn’t get more far left than me and I reject this red herring, which has been brought to bear.

  111. karmanot says:

    True, just a taste of them bloats the mind.

  112. FLL says:

    Your second to the last paragraph summarizes an unfortunate tendency that I hope progressives don’t repeat today: never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

  113. karmanot says:

    Whose greatest attribute might be solid survival. I’ve noticed that too.

  114. BeccaM says:

    And as ever, for some reason, the actual social patterns of lesbian relationships are all but invisible and unremarked upon.

  115. BeccaM says:

    But what she fucking won’t be doing is barking orders at me and defaming me because I’m gay.

    …nor questioning our motives or sincerity simply because we choose to fight for issues affecting us directly or nearly so.

    Besides which, the last time I checked, although progressive groups and causes generally are expected to have each others backs, we don’t expect them to give up their primary focus to deal with OUR issues first. Nor should we have to give up ours for theirs.

    For example, as a bi woman married to another woman, even though I’m childless, women’s equality and reproductive freedoms are very important to me. And sure, this affects lesbian women, too — but I don’t conflate all women’s issues as lesbian ones. Nor would I go to some LGBT forum and tell them, “That’s all fine, but you need to stop fighting for equal rights for yourselves and instead dismantle the entire capitalist patriarchy. Anything less is unacceptable.”

    That’s the level of extremism I expect to hear from the radical Maoists back in the 60’s.

    “The LGBT movement has been coopted by the very institutions it once sought to transform,” [Vaid] writes. “Heterosexuality, the nuclear family, the monogamous couple-form are our new normal.

    I’m sorry, but I must’ve missed the LGBT movement meeting where it was declared that heterosexuality, the nuclear family, and monogamy were institutions that needed any degree of transformation in order to accommodate gay rights equality. I mean, really, just what the hell is she arguing for anyway? Promiscuity as the only accepted way of life? Kids raised in parent-less group home creches? Heterosexuality discouraged? It’s ridiculous.

  116. karmanot says:

    Interesting that in hetro society sleeping around makes a woman a slut and a man a player, while in the gay male society it is considered a natural anarchism.

  117. karmanot says:

    Pox Romana

  118. karmanot says:

    And there is the success of the co-operative Mondragon model in Spain.

  119. BeccaM says:

    What’s funny is your young gay male friends appear to be encountering what we women have known for ages, those of us who are or who (as in my case) tried to be hetero: If you sleep around a lot, you will become known as a slut. And not in a good way.

    Welcome to mainstream society. ;-)

    And yes — from overwhelming passage of DOMA and DADT to this, in less than 20 years? I’m still reeling.

  120. karmanot says:

    I don’t think it’s jealousy at all—it’s Bogarting the power and assuming the identity of progress as a singular privilege. For example, the black church communities opposed to GLTBQ rights and marriage, because the Civil Rights mandate applies only to them.

  121. steve303 says:

    You may be right; however, as I mentioned above, we are already seeing some of this behavior, and I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t escalate once marriage becomes a national right.

  122. BeccaM says:

    Reg: All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

    Attendee: Brought peace?

    Reg: Oh, peace – shut up!

  123. karmanot says:

    “This is legit internal conflict from other camps” I don’t think the minority rantings of anarchists comprise ‘legit’ conflict or merit serious weight.

  124. steve303 says:

    I’ve already heard from younger men that they feel a need to hide their ‘promiscuity’ to fit into a new ‘norm’ – my issues with this revolve around shame in testing and disclosure. Additionally, we’ve seen more assimilationist behavior with things like the ‘gaybros’ movement and the increasing criticism of femme or flamboyant men. You may be right, however. If you would have told me 20 years ago that we’d have some marriage rights today, I would have thought you were crazy…

  125. BeccaM says:

    Hey! (lol)

    Anyway, the problem as ever was that while heteros always had the option to settle down and form a lasting family whenever they wanted, that privilege and the legal rights associated with a family unit were what they wanted to deny to us gays and lesbians.

    Sorry, but pressure from one’s parents to find a nice partner, settle down, get married and have some grandkids is just one of those things that goes with having marriage as a social institution. Mothers in particular can wield guilt like pros, but that doesn’t disadvantage gay folks at all with respect to choosing not to settle down.

    It wouldn’t be right to deny everyone the right to settle down, just so some wouldn’t have to endure the social pressure to do so.

  126. karmanot says:

    I believe a top priority should be poverty as should equality and civil rights. Indulging these immature anarchists with dignity of intellectual validity is a waste of time.

  127. Skeptical Cicada says:

    That’s a cute trick. Coercing a diversion of resources in order to disprove a bigoted prejudice.

  128. karmanot says:

    I don’t get it either. What do some extremist nutcases have to do with the skimpy, tattered far left. Unless what exists of the far left has been co-opted by lunatics. I am far left and don’t recognize what in the hell these far left tropes are talking about.

  129. BeccaM says:

    Besides which, the women’s equality movement and two-income household requirements have pretty much upended gender relations and roles in hetero marriages anyway.

  130. karmanot says:


  131. Skeptical Cicada says:

    How predictable. When gay men condemned as “privileged” have the audacity to challenge your ideological impositions, you respond with mockery designed to impose your will through bullying. Good luck with that.

    The issue raised by John was NOT black lesbians asking the gay rights movement to take on particular manifestations of anti-gay bias that affect them in a specific way. That would be intersectionality. The demand instead is for the gay rights movement to drop all activism on gay rights and divert all its activism to matters of race and poverty having nothing to do with anti-gay bias. You’re the one trying to force intersectionality theory where it doesn’t fit. As I said, your analogy fails.

    That you can’t even distinguish a progressive gay man from the far-right bigots at freerepublic is a testament to how far off the deep end you really are.

  132. karmanot says:

    I find no cogent arguments in the above threads, just nebulous terms and cross talk. there are at least two directions of assimilation: Legal and cultural. The first is absolutely mandatory for civil rights. The second, who the hell wants Hetro assimilation, except those who chose to do so

    BECAUSE of equality assimilation under the law. I still celebrate diversity in this country as the richness of inheritance many of us carry—ie. John’s family account above.

  133. karmanot says:

    Who is the far left? What is the definition? Or is this some nebulous trope?

  134. Personally I find that an offensive stereotype based on absolutely nothing. If anything the gay white men I know are more into liberal causes than the straight guys I know because we’re gay – so just like Jews, who tend to be Democrats, in the same percentage as gays (70% ish and up), you tend to find more progressive folks. I’ve never seen any actual explanation for the ill that is gay white men. And in fact, we are where we are today on gay rights because of mostly gay white men, but not excluding the work of men, of AFrican-American gays, etc. But a lot of gay white men gave their lives, and fought like hell, for all of our rights. So don’t buy the historical slander that some have created of late. IN fact, I find it offensive to Harvey Milk, to Larry Kramer and many more. I’m happy to hear counter-proof, but I’ve never seen it.

  135. “I can easily foresee a time when young men and women come out and are expected to date, marry, and settle down, and where Pride parades are a thing of the past” – yes, though those are multiple issues. Nothing wrong with urging people to settle down, and nothing wrong with some people not wanting to settle down. I’m not sure I see the harm? Though I’m to hearing to listen. As for pride parades, it’s possibly that gay will become irrelevant, but so far black isn’t irrelevant, and neither is any other ethnic group. Hell, the Irish still have their parades ;) We’ll have to see. But men are men, I doubt they’re giving up sex any time soon :) Women on the other hand… :)

  136. karmanot says:

    “the far left understands marriage as little as the far right does” That is absolute nonsense. This far left trope as boogie man is absurd. There exists very little of a far left these days and what remains is institutionalized in apologists without much effect like Bernie Sanders. I agree that literary exhibitionists like Vaid are poseurs —similar to Anus Rand and Anus Coulter, who have absolutely no credentials, nor credibility to take seriously.

  137. karmanot says:

    Old nags envy new ponies.

  138. karmanot says:

    This hating on the ‘left’ is a red herring and bs propaganda. There is no legitimate left anymore.

  139. karmanot says:

    You do need a brake.

  140. Skeptical Cicada says:


  141. karmanot says:

    Well done. Agreed!

  142. Skeptical Cicada says:

    I think there’s a difference between assimilation in the sense of having the same rights as everyone else and assimilation in the sense of taking on the cultural norms of everybody else. To me, the former is crucial but the latter anathema. We absolutely will be extended the same civil rights under law as heterosexuals, but I see no reason at all to believe that the fucked up cultural norms surrounding heterosexual courtship, marriage, and domestic life are so obviously perfect as to merit wholesale adoption. I don’t believe equal legal rights automatically requires cultural assimilation. It’s not as though all heterosexuals organize their lives or marriages the same way. I suspect there will always be some significant differences between male couples, female couples, and mixed couples. It’s the same reason why I quite doubt that gay marriage will upend gender relations in heterosexual marriages. I do agree that there will be pressure to conform, from both inside and outside the gay community, but I suspect lots of us will ultimately refuse to submit to that pressure.

  143. karmanot says:

    There aren’t leftists anymore.

  144. silas1898 says:

    These are the “leftists” that give the rest of us a bad rap. And ammunition to support the wingnut’s crackpot theories.

  145. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Yes. It’s related to the point that came up below about jealousy of gay progress, with an insinuation of not deserving it or not being important.

  146. steve303 says:

    John. as someone whose also been lectured about their evil, white, cis, gay maleness, I tend to agree with much of what you’ve written, However, I have been neutral to skeptical on the issue of assimilation over the years. I think you are correct that it was necessary to begin to achieve marriage equality and to pass military inclusion. Yet, we are already beginning to see the desire in some quarters of the gay community to apply heterosexual norms to all gay men and women. I can easily foresee a time when young men and women come out and are expected to date, marry, and settle down, and where Pride parades are a thing of the past, and our ethos as group whose formed a more critical political and cultural sensibility, as discarded outsiders, is lost. Is it a fair tradeoff to ensure young gay men and women don’t loose their homes and families, like I did, when they come out? Definitely. But let’s not suggest that something of value is not being lost in this trade.

  147. Skeptical Cicada says:

    What a PERFECT analogy!

  148. dula says:

    It might be less about diverting resources to other causes and more about changing the perception that reasonably wealthy, well connected, Gay white men are oblivious to the economic struggles of most Americans.

  149. You’d have to define what that means in practice. We already are in a larger coalition with them – hell, we had to force them in the late 80s, early 90s to give us a seat the civil rights coalition table (and they still didn’t to give us a full seat). But now we are in a larger coalition with them. So the question is what specifically is being asked.

  150. Exactly, not everything is about Obama and Hillary :)

  151. BeccaM says:

    I could kind of tell. :-)

  152. BeccaM says:

    Thanks, and sorry for the length of the comment. It’s been on my mind a great deal ever since the posts several weeks back from that one commenter (whose name eludes me… and probable troll anyway) kept insisting there was no good to be achieve in seeking marriage equality rights, that we should be looking to abolish civil marriage altogether. Obviously I disagree vehemently.

    I’m not looking particularly to get into a pro/anti-Obama discussion in this case either. Only to note that no matter the politician, it’s clear in our current system of governance that we only achieve successes when we try to elect the best choices possible — and then wield both carrot and stick to ensure they do what we want. The problem as ever right now is they take our carrot for granted and never fear us wielding that stick, because we never do.

    Elections do matter, but we can’t just settle for Lesser Evils. If they end up in office, then we need to do all we can to push them away from the evil they’d do if left to themselves. And we cannot be timid. Remember all the concern trolls who said “Don’t push for DADT repeal in the lame duck session, it’ll backfire and won’t be accepted as legitimate”? Or who said, “Don’t file those court cases — we’ll lose and it’ll set us back years, if not decades”? Or, “Don’t push Obama on this, he’ll get around to it in his own time, and we can’t afford to undercut him”?

    Anyway, I’m not going to abstain from participating, because all that does is leave the reins of power in the hands of the far right radicals. I am, however, going to apply my own sense of what’s right and wrong and won’t hesitate to call out those who are leading us in the wrong directions.

  153. dula says:

    Maybe the critics are asking if the GLBT community will consider branching out to combine with the bigger picture in the way that the civil rights movement later moved on to class equality and labor rights.

  154. We already are together. It’s not like even though this is gay-ish blog, we don’t work on women’s issues, and racial issues, on immigration and more. We work on all of that. This is about stopping work on our issues, or at least somehow being embarrassed that we work on our issues – and more generally about being ashamed about who we are (white, gay, male) because per se that makes us bad people, makes people who aren’t white gay and male good people, etc. Far more complicated than just saying “let’s all help each other.” We already are.

  155. FLL says:

    People’s Front of Judea asks, “What do we have to thank the Romans for?”

    (1) Centuries of successful governance without the poison of fundamentalist religion.
    (2) A tradition of sexual tolerance.
    (3) The fundamentals of modern plumbing.

  156. emjayay says:

    Wow that was long. Also excellent and I agree with all of it for what that’s worth.
    I am also reminded of an attitude on certain blogs (ahem) of commenters name calling (me for example, “Obamabot”) and deriding people who think it was a good idea to vote for and generally support Obama (despite yes his multiple faults and far too much compromising etc.) and before him vote for Al Gore instead of the Corvair guy or not voting at all because you know the system is so corrupt we should abstain from participating.

  157. Sure, but anyone who isn’t working class is less than fully versed in what it means to be working class. That’s a given. And straight people don’t fully understand what it means to be gay, and I don’t fully understand what it means to be black or a woman. Yes. But that really doesn’t have anything to do with Urvashi complaining that our groups are focusing on marriage equality. If gay men – strike that, ANY man who wasn’t black and poor – were more aware of what it means to be black and poor, or blue collar, or a latino immigrant, these folks would still be complaining that we’re focusing on marriage. And they’d still want our gay rights groups to devote most of their time to poverty, or some other issue for which we have groups already working on, groups that don’t spend the majority of their time working on gay rights issues, and understandably so.

  158. dula says:

    Observing economically exclusive Gay white men, while living in NYC and LA for the past 30 years, I’ve found many to be wonderfully active in the Gay rights struggle but condescendingly oblivious to the struggles of the working class. I suspect it’s the same in DC and other politically and financially influential cities. Maybe the left is concerned they will remain out of touch on the bigger issue of class warfare.

  159. 10am Dismantle capitalism.
    11am Marriage Equality.
    Noon Gym.
    1pm World Peace
    2pm Cocktails.

  160. Kathy says:

    Most of these arguments remind me more of Monty Python’s People’s Front of Judea more than a workable political movement. Yes, by all means, let’s dismantle world capitalism first. That will be so much easier than marriage rights.

    Overall, in terms of gay rights, nine years after we first gained marriage here in Massachusetts, nothing else has ever done as much for real equality than marriage.

  161. That’s funny, I just wrote that in response before I even saw yours.

  162. Maybe you should respond to what I wrote. I found that’s a common theme when arguing these points – people responding to things I never said, and ignoring the ones I did. What exactly was incorrect about what I wrote above – tell me. Were Greek peasants privileged or not? Was my grandfather, who was an orphan on a farm in a village in Greece privileged? Were my immigrant grandparents and mother privileged when they moved here and people looked down on them for having dark skin and being dirty mediterraneans? And how privileged was I when I considered killing myself because I “knew” that being gay I’d never fall in love and some day my family would disown me, my friends would leave me, and I’d never be able to get a job?

    I never said that I did not enjoy advantages from being white in America. It’s a rather facile point to even make. But people like you like to argue that the only thing I ever accomplished with my life – that my family ever accomplished with its history – was being white.

    I’m happy to discuss the facts, and what I’ve actually written. But don’t come here and starting pulling straw men out of, wherever, because I disagree you and we all know it’s far easier to shut me up by calling me white, gay, and a man than by actually responding to what I said.

  163. I responded just that way about someone who was upset that we won on DOMA the day after the VRA, and that gays were so focused on marriage in the weeks before the Sup Ct decision came out, and we didn’t pay attention to the fact that VRA and affirmative action decisions were upcoming as well (about which I had no idea, but apparently that’s my fault). I responded, in part, that yes, we were looking forward to the biggest day in our civil rights movement since civilization began, a court victory that others won 46 years ago (and won it much more holistically – our victory was not 100% for marriage nationwide).

  164. I didn’t even get into Mumia, but trust me he was in the back of my mind as I wrote this.

  165. BeccaM says:

    My short answer to the question posed in the title of this post: No, it’s not selling out. Not even close.

    Much longer answer: Yes, it does bother me a little that there are so many rights and privileges associated with civil marriage. When I learned there were over 1,100 of them at the Federal level, my first response was “Wow” — and my second was, “Is that fair?” In some respects, no, it’s not. Single folks and those couples who simply don’t want that level of legal attachment are getting the short end of the stick. I think sometimes in an ideal society people would actually be free to create whatever legal familial arrangement or contract they wanted to, and the government should accept it.

    But we don’t live in that society. We live in this one right here. And I’m sorry this offends the idealists, but there is no single far reaching, concrete set of useful, usable, and difficult-to-alienate rights than those associated with civil marriage.

    We have a hate crimes law, yet gay people continue to be assaulted and killed. One could reasonably argue it hasn’t done much of anything for us, especially with the ongoing record of lack of enforcement. Suppose we had ENDA. Others here, including Nicho, have noted that no matter how many of these anti-discrimination laws we have, the bigots can and will find ways around it. Boss doesn’t like gay people — well, he’ll just give you crap assignments or just say that you weren’t performing up to snuff and fire you, and there’s not much you can do, not unless there’s a pervasive pattern or the boss says in front of witnesses, “I hate gay people. You’re gay, and that’s why I’m firing you.” The landlord who refuses to rent to gay couples, the merchant who makes it clear that gay people aren’t welcome (without crossing the legal line), and so on.

    With marriage on the other hand, there are so many positive, affirmative rights, to the point most straights never give them a second thought. Of course a spouse will have full authority to make medical decisions for their married partner. And inherit their joint property, tax-free. And adopt their spouse’s kids. And be able to sponsor a foreign citizen for permanent U.S. residency. And be entitled to follow their military-serving spouse to their assignments, with family billeting and support. And be entitled to Social Security survivor benefits. The list goes on and on.

    We’re supposed to abstain, eschew that proverbial brass ring, Wonka’s ‘Golden Ticket’, because there are other injustices and we’d rather our society be completely transformed in another direction, to some fuzzy theoretical outcome which these folks cannot even seem to truly articulate, much less agree upon? We gays and lesbians closer than we’ve ever been to winning a seat at the recognized, legal family table, and Vaid would have us turn away because the seating arrangement isn’t to her liking, we neglected to invite all the homeless people to eat first, she’d rather everybody be sitting on the floor because chairs are an elitist capitalist construct, and oh, by the way, not every dish is vegan and gluten free. Plus somewhere, someone is being oppressed because… well, just because. All that needs to be ended before we’re allowed a single bite.

    One of the most fundamental units of human association is the family. Nuclear, extended, blended, chosen — it doesn’t matter. The desire to have a close circle of people whom we love, whether it’s through blood bonds or marriage, is core-deep in us hominids. This is so important to us that nearly every culture we’ve created has some kind of ‘family’ unit in it, and we almost always give that unit special protections and rights, along with responsibilities. Parents are expected to treat their kids decently or risk having them taken away, for instance. (Doesn’t always work that way, but that’s our ideal.) A family granted civil legal recognition can’t just say “We’re not a family anymore” — we make them go through civil adjudication. We require legal, informed consent among adults wishing to create a new family through civil marriage.

    To me, there’s an unwarranted arrogance in asserting that we LGBTs can’t seek inclusion in our society as it is, but instead must work to tear it down and rebuild it to an untested, unrealistic pseudo-utopian ideal. I see it at the heart of the comments from those who’ve shown up here on this blog, saying we shouldn’t fight for marriage equality rights, but for the abolition of civil marriage altogether. Not only can’t I get behind that sentiment, it’s also a losing proposition, because instead of winning allies among the straights, all it does is declare them the enemy. And that’s not what we want. We want acceptance and support, not antagonism, not to instill fear in them that we mean to take away that which gives them comfort — namely, their own families, and the legal protections they enjoy.

    Put simply, I will not give up the fight for the right to be legally married to my wife. There literally is no cause more important to me right now. If that makes me selfish, so be it. I’m entitled to make my own choices as to which causes I wish to focus upon.

    When I see the canard, “well, this is just about white gay males and their privilege”, my takeaway is this is a rhetorical trick known as poisoning the well. Do marriage rights solve the race problem, or the sexism problem, or the discrimination of the disabled, or income inequality or fascist corporatism? No, of course not. On the other hand, marriage rights can be exercised regardless of gender or race, and so there is no inherent inequality in their extension to all, regardless of gender and sexual orientation.

    Vaid claims the LGBT movement has been co-opted by the institutions it sought to transform. Really? I can think of no less effective way to transform a social institution by attacking it from the outside, constantly creating and increasingly hardening enemies among those who like and value those institutions.

    I’m with my friend (and occasional verbal sparring partner) on this, Skeptical Cicada: This feels like an attempt to co-opt the movement and drag it back into the self-sabotaging never-achieve-anything chaos of the 1960s radical leftist movement, a tendency that seems always to rear its head whenever anything of concrete significance threatens to be achieved. ENDA opposed because it’s capitalistic and fails to advance worker’s rights and collectivism. Grass legalization opposed because it doesn’t legalize all drugs. Women’s rights opposed because women of color will still endure discrimination. “Free Mumia/Manning/Snowden!” Gay rights in general opposed because it’s asserted that gay white men apparently will enjoy more of them than the rest of us, and because unless it’s a collectivist group of disabled lesbians of color who led the effort to win them, well, we shouldn’t have those ‘tainted’ rights.

    I’m with you, John: It’s clear these folks would have us not fight for the causes we care about, but the causes they care about. As far as I’m concerned, the right to choose our battles, our causes is another fundamental individual freedom.

  166. Kes says:

    Wow, John, that reads pretty similarly to a lot of the “why do we still need civil rights” crap that comes out of white Republicans’ mouths nowadays. Maybe you should take a solid look at some of the “I haven’t gotten any real benefits for being a man/white/straight, so there’s no sexism/racism/homophobia” diatribes, and then take another look at your comment. I’m sure I can expect a crap ton of down votes for this, but the similarity is pretty blatant.

  167. Naja pallida says:

    Of course, this direction is entirely off the topic at hand, but since you brought it up… were at a time now where the “1%” is stronger both economically and politically than they pretty much ever have been. So why is the economy of the US basically stagnant? Why are there about a dozen massive corporations, that control pretty much everything, resulting in less competition than we had just a couple decades ago? They’re making a fortune off of keeping the economy stagnant and stifling competition… and where you can’t stifle competition, you collude with those who would be your competition.

    Anyway, one group complaining that their priorities weren’t the priorities of the majority, so weren’t addressed first, seems absurd on the face of it. Progress is progress, and each step forward brings us all closer to getting the more complex issues addressed. The sky hasn’t fallen since DADT was repealed. It hasn’t fallen since DOMA was struck down. The hope is that voters and legislators will see that, and continue until full acceptance is attained. Trying to pick a fight from within is not helping anything.

  168. Kes says:

    So you think that talking about privilege is a way of getting people to “shut up” and you accuse me of “patronizing superiority” by bringing it up. What’s the matter, SC, been called out on racism and/or sexism before and got your feelings hurt? Maybe you could go whine on freerepublic about that, since I’m sure they’d agree with your analysis. If you don’t think that lesbians face homophobia AS white women or AS women of color, and that heterosexism is somehow excluded from intersectionality, then you’re a moron. I will decline your offer to be “fucked.”

  169. FLL says:

    No part of the political spectrum has ever had a monopoly on homophobia. Whatever their economic philosophy, the far-left and right-wing critics you mention share either a common bigotry or a common form of sexual repression, as the individual case may be.

  170. FLL says:

    Skeptical Cicada notes that gay people cross demographic lines no more and no less than women and blacks. The hypocritical tell in Vaid’s argument, then, is that she is only asking gay people to “broaden” their focus; she’s not asking the same of women or blacks, whose membership also crosses into other demographic groups. Vaid’s double standard is homophobic. What I think is insulting is that Vaid thinks that people in general are so stupid that they can’t connect the dots. My advice to Vaid (and her ilk) is that people are not as stupid as she thinks they are.

  171. Skeptical Cicada says:

    No. I chose to criticize you, and I will continue to do so whenever I deem it appropriate. Get over it.

  172. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Which actually shows how they care far more about their delicate personal ideologies and how much less that actually care about the poor. Access to marriage is a net boon for poor couples, a little reality that gets erased because it doesn’t fit so well with the delicate personal ideologies of the screechers.

  173. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Calling you “privileged” is simply a far-left way of telling you to sit down, shut up, and do as you’re told.

  174. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Yes, and let’s recall that the vehicle for that co-opting was the old National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

    How is it doing as a force today?

  175. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Right. More to the point, since we’re just now accomplishing things other groups accomplished fifty years ago, it would be even more accurate to say, someone’s pissed because they got their pony fifty years ago, and someone else just got one for the first time.

  176. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Ironically, they have their own little cottage industry of always bemoaning progress and trying to find something negative in it. It feeds their general attitude of utter bleakness toward everything–and pads their wallets a bit too, ironically.

  177. Skeptical Cicada says:

    What she wants is to co-opt the gay rights movement for her other pet projects having nothing to do with being gay. “Queer” people do not “cross all those lines” any more than any other group. The black community contains women, gays, people with disabilities, etc. just as much as the gay community does. Women contain blacks, gays, people with disabilities, etc. just as much as the gay community does. The very premise of her argument makes no sense.

    No one is stopping her from forming a pan-oppression movement that relegates marriage equality to an afterthought. She’s welcome to raise whatever money she can for that movement. She welcome to solicit me for support for that movement. But what she fucking won’t be doing is barking orders at me and defaming me because I’m gay. My response to that is she can go fuck herself.

  178. Ron Robertson says:

    These arguments remind me of what a weird world we live in. Some far left people are complaining that we’ve made strides toward equality before the law? To me, that puts them in bed with right-wingers who didn’t want us to have equality before the law. I don’t care that much how they arrived in bed together, but the fact is that they are. That should be a wake-up call for them. I don’t know how it is in other countries, but there is a sickness in this country of wanting to tear down others who have achievements. When someone has worked hard to achieve a worthy goal, it should be applauded, not vilified.

  179. Yes, I remember the agenda of the 1993 march on Washington. There was definitely some mission-creep there.

  180. David Lynd says:

    Selling out !¿ For centuries we’ve been murdered to make the freaks , (just as deformed freaks too were murdered for the same reason of abolishing queers freaks forever) out of shame , cursed , & inadiquate to achieve normal recognition deemed unworthy as qualified members of church (state) as the ultimate extinction of those “other mistakes”.. Unless family (intimidated, threated & forced out of guilt , stupidity, shame, uneducated etc… Simply abandoned & murdered thier own is) (still barbarically exercised!) pursue these actions (sacrifice) to protect there fearful, selfrightous positions of the (GAG!) church. What is that like ? To surrender your own flesh & blood to be constantly ridiculed, stoned , tortured , hanged ! Just to twist & turn it around so a picture perfect family will be pardoned merely to not be excommunicated ????? And now what ? Every aspect of being free is scrutinized even by other gays ? White black red yellow ! It doesn’t matter how we get there ! We just have to get there no matter who leads the way ! One thing we need for us all ! Is to be unified for strength, protection & purpose ! Selling out is when you deliberately murder your own !
    Go hug a tree !(and may it not fall on you!) or listen to some folk music ! And GIVE ME A BRAKE !

  181. Excellent analysis. I’d also argue that the word “capitalism” was a “tell” in her quote. This is about people who have a fundamentally different view of the world than many of the rest of us. Yes, if you think capitalism needs to be overthrown, then perhaps you (not you, but one, I mean) also sees marriage as a capitalist construct and we’re never going to agree.

  182. FLL says:

    No one ever said that marriage equality was more important than ENDA. Marriage equality is coming before ENDA because many aspects of marriage equality were doable through the court system. It should be obvious that unelected judges feel freer to do the right thing than elected politicians. Unlike marriage equality, ENDA is something that must be passed through state and federal legislatures, which is why it is taking more time. It is simply the nature of the political beast. There is no sinister conspiracy to bump marriage equality ahead because it is more a more conventional institution. Also, marriage equality has a trickle down effect; when marriage equality wins, even gay people who are not married and don’t intend to marry benefit from the increased acceptance of gay people by the larger society.

    On to your next mention of people on the left complaining about gay people fighting for gay rights. That complaint, insofar as it exists, is bizarre and best ignored. When the day dawns that gay people are no longer discriminated against, gay people will no longer need to fight for gay rights. Until then, left wingers who complain about gay people “selfishly” fighting for gay rights do so for exactly the same reason as right wingers: homophobia. it’s not too difficult to connect the dots.

    And finally, we arrive at your question about assimilation. I believe that human history provides many examples of how the segregation and ghettoization of a minority makes it easier for the government and larger society to oppress that minority. This has been true of African-Americans in the U.S. Another example is the Jewish ghettos of 19th- and early 20th-century Europe. The Warsaw Ghetto in 1939 is a cautionary tale regarding the danger of a minority that remains segregated and ghettoized.

    And guess how unassimilated minorities fare in the U.S. Senate, the ultimate measure of prestige in American society? African-Americans do very badly indeed. There was only one black senator during the mid- and late 1990s: Carol Mosely Braun. There was only one for a four-year stretch in the mid-2000s: Barrack Obama. Not a single African-American has won a senate seat in an election since Obama left the senate. Not one. Burris was appointed by the Illinois governor, served briefly and declined to run after scandal forced him out. Tim Scott, a Republican, and Mo Cowan, a Democrat were only appointed by governors this year. And there are still no openly gay senators. Why the piss poor record for black and gay people winning U.S. senate seats? Because they are still substantially unassimilated into American majoritarian society, although that is changing. Now look at a demographic that has always been fully assimilated into American majoritarian society: white women. How have they fared in the U.S. Senate? Very well indeed, and they have fared well in the U.S. Senate for decades. The political, economic and societal advantages of being assimilated into majoritarian society should be clear, and the dangers of being segregated and, therefore, marginalized should also be clear, as the fate of the Warsaw Ghetto shows us.

  183. I believe Urvashi Vaid has been a long time critic of the push for marriage equality, arguing that it
    won’t create true inclusion of gay persons within society so her argument is not new or surprising.

    Reading Doug Ireland’s review of Vaid’s book, I stopped as this phrase “I also agree with Vaid when she regrets the way in which the gay movement has abandoned the inclusive, liberationist, and
    anti-racist politics of the 1970s for a much narrower agenda and set of values.” I believe that is not an accurate picture of 1970s activism. The activist community in that decade had the same divides and struggles we have today and they were possibly even more pronounced. The 70s were the heyday of lesbian separatist politics, as for example. We can’t move forward by trying to recreate the fantasy of a golden age that never was.

    It seems to me, the core argument is an argument about shared significance. Over the years, I’ve heard many lesbians argue that they experience far more discrimination as women than as lesbians so they prefer to work on women’s issues. I’ve heard gay persons of color argue they experience more discriminaton as persons of color than as gay men or lesbian women so they prefer to work on racism. I believe, for white, gay men, the primary experience of discrimination is around sexual orientation. These various communities have largely agreed on the shared significance of marriage equality, and have been able to include other progressive groups in the argument for marriage equality. We’ve guitl a point of shared significance around marriage equality.

    Vaid seems to be arguing that queer people are unique and we have to work to transform all of society, to undo assumptions about marriage and relationships and gender roles and race because we as a community cross all those lines: ” It misunderstands the challenge queer people pose to the status quo. It shamefully avoids the responsibility that a queer movement must take for all segments of LGBT communities. And it is deluded in its belief that legal, deeply symbolic acts of recognition and mainstream integration, such as admission into traditional institutions like marriage, or grants of formal legal rights within the current form of capitalism, are actually acts of transformation that will end the rejection and marginalization of LGBT people, without deeper and more honest appraisals of the limits of the traditions to which LGBT people seek admission… The LGBT politics currently pursued will yield only ‘conditional equality,’ a simulation of freedom contingent upon ‘good behavior.’”

    As I read this argument, she is arguing our point of shared significance should be around “queer identity” rather than specific legal goals. If she’s right, that we should unite around queer identity then marriage equality is selling out. I believe she’s wrong – I’m not convinced that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender means a person is inherently different. I believe most glbt persons are genuinely mundane, we want to fit into society, we want to assimilate and not stand out. From that perspective, marriage equality is an important and absolutely necessary goal.

  184. The irony of course is that we’re showing too much emotion over something other people won decades ago. As for fabulous – a lot of those fabulous rich gay white men considered committing suicide because they’re gay, lost their families because they’re gay, lost their friends because they’re gay (or because their friends did of AIDS), got bashed because they’re gay, and learned at an early age that they would never fall in love because they were perverts. So, I don’t care how rich the proverbial gay white man is, anyone who calls him privileged either has no idea what it’s like being gay, or doesn’t care.

  185. Stev84 says:

    Yeah, moron, now it’s my fault and not Sean’s. Go whine at him. He brought it up.

    And get some fucking perspective. A simple comment is not “hijacking a movement” :rolleyes:

  186. nicho says:

    So, basically, someone’s pissed because they didn’t get a pony, and someone else did.

  187. MyrddinWilt says:

    I think it is important to ask what the priorities are and where Progressives should invest their energies from time to time. If marriage equality is going to happen without further effort then there would certainly be an argument for investing energy elsewhere, ENDA for example. And those issues would have to be evaluated against other options.

    At this point however it seems clear that ME is not going to happen by itself and so the calculus is not quite so straightforward. The progressive movement as a whole has invested a lot in ME over the past 5 years. There are other groups who put aside their priorities to work on ME because it was a clear urgent need and it was a winnable fight.

    But investing energy in ME vs other priorities is not a zero sum game. One reason that ME was a priority for the progressive movement as a whole was that defeating the bigots on that front rolls helps back the frontiers of bigotry on other fronts as well. Gay Marriage was the Replican party’s Waterloo in the culture wars. They have invested everything in the fight and they have lost completely as far as the national agenda goes. The chance that that might happen is precisely why straight white guys like myself were arguing to put energy into ME as the priority: It was a fight we could win in a way that would help progressives generally.

    ENDA is not going to be on the agenda unless the Democrats have control of the House and Senate. And when it does come up it is not going to just address discrimination against gays and trans people. The partisan hacks on the Supreme court have been rolling back previous non-discrimination laws, doing their best to interpret every decision to favor bosses over workers. ENDA is going to have to fix those holes as well as extending coverage so it is going to be a bill that addresses more than just discrimination against gays and trans people.

    Immigration is not the same thing as ME. But I don’t think Immigration reform would even be on the agenda if the Republican party had not just invested a huge amount of energy carrying water for the Religious Reich and lost.

    After immigration and the ENDA, things are going to get tricky. The progressive movement is united on support for abortion rights but very little else. And it is the right that wants to re-fight that battle.

    I don’t think the progressive cause is united on the economic front. The Democratic party is a coalition of true progressives and conservatives who can’t stand the stupidity and bigotry of Republican ideology. Progressives can all agree on spending more money on infrastructure, education and ending poverty. But fewer are going to agree with me that the way to pay for it all is to reduce the militarism budget to what I consider a proper amount. When I say 10%, I mean that is the amount I think should be left after the cuts. The idiots in Congress think that is the amount that growth in the military budget should be limited to.

    It is going to be hard to get agreement on privacy rights as well. The executive will be against us on that. And at some point the progressive movement is going to have a heck of a rupture over Israel.

    So right now its Marriage Equality, ENDA and Immigration reform. If people have a different idea they have to make the case for it. Calling people names like traitor is not an argument. I don’t owe anyone else my loyalty.

  188. kladinvt says:

    The whole argument is ridiculous, a distraction and an effort to undermine the good outcomes that have occurred over the past few decades. Either we come together and continue to succeed or we allow others to divide us and we fail.

    The fight for marriage equality is and will continue to go a long way in expanding equality for our entire community because it’s changing the attitudes of the dominant society toward all of us. It’s always been about educating those who don’t know us. And as for the argument against following a heterosexual model, it may not be for everyone, but I for one, love being married.

  189. rmthunter says:

    Just a quick response, which I may try to fill in later (on my way out the door, but couldn’t let this pass).

    This reeks of the New Left’s co-optation of the gay rights movement in the ’80s, in which they “allied” themselves with us, and suddenly everyone else’s agenda came first. Vaid was one of the chief movers in that area, and I’ve had no respect for her ever since.

    The problem with their attacks on the marriage equality movement is that the far left understands marriage as little as the far right does, especially in the context of American society. Marriage and military service are two biggies in this country, the two things that do more to establish legitimacy for a group than anything else. I suspect that, like the anti-gay right-wing hate groups, Vaid and her ilk are as much motivated by cash flow and perceived influence than any real desire to win anything for the LGBT community. They’re poseurs.

  190. dula says:

    If there is hatred against Gay white men from the left it’s not because they fought for and won Gay marriage in some states. The anger is probably directed at the percentage of upwardly mobile, neoliberal, white men who manage to feel so satisfied getting married in an oligarchy. It’s great to celebrate a win like marriage equality, but anybody who cares about the sustainability of the US shouldn’t be all that happy or satisfied right now. It’s sort of like winning the lotto on the day of the Newtown shootings…you can’t really show too much joy when others are devastated. It appears narcissistic. Americans are notorious for not giving a fuck about others as long as they got theirs. People are hypersensitive to that, and perhaps that is the fear from the left regarding Gay white male activism. There are more than enough Gay white men with ample disposable income who see marriage as another way to have the perfect husband and Gayby, now that they already have the perfect career, perfect house, perfect dog, and perfect car. They are just so fabulous. People hate fabulous.

  191. Well, it’s also based on Turks :)

  192. I think the idea is, from one camp, that marriage is an oppressive heterosexual institution used to oppress women, etc. So why would we want to adopt their method of oppression The second camp thinks, in essence, we’re a poverty organization, since black lesbian couples are the poorest couples statistically (forgetting that they’re poor because they comprise the two poorest demographic groups, African-Americans and women – the tie to being lesbian and poor is less clear). So our top priority should be poverty, not marriage, which only in their view benefits rich white people.

  193. Boringly better, I like that.

  194. Well, yes and no. The only reason I’m in America at all is because my family was of peasant stock in Greece and my grandfather’s (one of whom was an orphan) decided to strike out and try for a better life because Greece was so impoverished – and Greece was impoverished because of four centuries of oppression from the Turks, so that was an even greater lack of privilege that got me to America. My ancestors were hardly privileged. In fact, their lack of privilege is what inspired them to make a change. The privilege game is tricky – I find people often cherry-pick their woe-is-me privilege, and that far too often it’s an almost panacea argument to explain away something else, anything else.

    As for blogging, it wasn’t my privilege as a gay man – who knew that being gay was now privileged – and it wasn’t Markos’ privilege as a Latino (another group that suddenly became “white” of late – and it wasn’t Arianna’s privilege being a woman, or Jane Hamsher’s for that matter, that made her a successful blogger. It was the fact that each of took a risk. Now you can argue if you want that risk-taking is privilege-based, and even then I might disagree. Again, my immigrant grandfathers weren’t privileged but they took risks that paid off, as did many immigrants. And what actually let me blog was the fact that I took a risk and started consulting years before, so I was able to work “for free” part of my dog, blogging. It also helped make me a successful blogger that I was a good writer and thinker and understood politics. All of that goes to my previous jobs, which I got in part because of my studies, and just genetics (it helps to be smart, and none of us can fully take credit for that, but I don’t think that’s 100% privilege based either). And sure, if you want, you can “blame” my education on my white privilege, because my parents were able to live in a better suburb with better schools, etc. But at some point, the reductionism strikes me as absurd. We can always find some privilege somewhere to justify anything.

    A final note about blogging – most of it was anonymous at the beginning, or pseudonymous, so we didn’t know the blogger’s gender, race, age or anything. So privilege played no part there. And I question to what degree you can only “blame” privilege for Markos’, Arianna’s or my (more limited) success. Sometimes people are held back because of their lack of privilege, and sometimes people do well because they busted their ass for decades to get where they are. We shouldn’t assume one or the other per se. And I find the privilege crowd tends to assume it’s always the p-word, and never you yourself that actually accomplished anything. And what bothers me, among other things, is that it sounds like a recipe for justifying inaction, not taking risks, not even getting an education. After all, no matter what you don’t do to make your life better, you can always explain it away as your lack of privilege that held you back.

  195. To play devil’s advocate a bit, and I am NOT saying I agree, I do see that marriage has kind of taken over. Yes it’s important, but it’s not for everyone and there are still major issues to tackle. I also, for one, will not be getting married because I do not want to pay the marriage penalty tax.

  196. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Jealousy of gay progress is a huge factor here. And what is most offensive about that jealousy is that it often comes from within groups that achieved the very things we’re now trying to achieve FIFTY YEARS AGO.

  197. Skeptical Cicada says:

    And not one word in your comment relates to an issue of gay equality. If you want to hijack a movement, go take over PETA.

  198. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Your analogy to feminism fails, and doesn’t justify your patronizing superiority. That controversy in feminism involves women of color putting forward a somewhat different set of GENDER issues than white women. You’re attacking gay men for not dropping gay rights and focusing entirely on NON-GAY issues. The answer to that is no. And the response to your patronizing superiority is fuck you.

  199. cole3244 says:

    right now the hatred & violence directed at the gay community (mainly men) trumps all other groups because the religious right says it is a choice which it isn’t, one of the groups that will be solidly against gay rights is the black community and its religious fervor, when the time comes i believe most in the black community will align with the anti gay coalition and against the left, i hope i’m wrong but thats the way i see it unless things change drastically.
    fight for your rights gay citizens because no one else will fight as hard and passionately.

  200. Skeptical Cicada says:


  201. dcinsider says:

    Amen. I’ve listened to the far left and this crap for years. It is very important to ignore these people, they are buffoons.

  202. Kes says:

    You see the same thing in feminist circles. There is a lot of frustration that the most oft-quoted authors, popular blogs, most-interviewed activists, and the heads of most major organizations (IOW the people who get the most attention, most money, and most influence) are straight(-acting), white, middle and upper class, US citizen women. Because of sexism, racism, classism, etc., it’s the most privileged of the marginalized who tend to get the air time and attention. And the issues of the “group” then become defined as those issues which separate the most privileged of the marginalized from straight, white, middle-class, US citizen men; the ways in which the marginalization affects people who are not as privileged disappear from the discourse.

    It’s certainly not your fault, John, that you have the privileges you do or that the media is more likely to give you air time than they are a black lesbian blogger/activist. And I’m a big believer that people need to be willing to work for their own needs and protections, too. But I also understand the anger of those for whom the possibility of marriage really doesn’t help in any meaningful sense, and who feel like those “leading” the GLBT movement don’t understand the issues they face. Be realistic – somebody who is not class/race/sex privileged typically can’t AFFORD to devote “14 hour days on their pet causes.” For instance, women (including lesbians) of all colors are disproportionately responsible for children and elder-care, and people in poverty have to focus too much on just trying to get by on a day-to-day basis.

  203. FLL says:

    Yes, human beings are multi-tasking concerning social justice.

  204. Fireblazes says:

    Listen to the anarchists, but never let them determine your course of action. Anarchists are like a tiny but loud wind chime trying to be heard in a hurricane.

  205. UncleBucky says:

    Revolution is often needed to get people’s attention. But assimilation is ultimately the boring end of a revolution when people forget what divided them to the point that the oppressed had to make a scene. And that same end is not all there is, because a new revolution gets people attention about yet another oppression by the powers that be that needs to end.

    Revolutions are good, but assimilations are boringly better! I have laundry and dusting to do. Hah!

  206. caphillprof says:

    Anyone alleging “selling out” regarding same sex marriages has no belief in, let alone understanding of, equal protection of the law. My partisan view is that gay equality is the sine qua non for progress on other issues.

  207. Bj Lincoln says:

    We can’t spread ourselves too thin because we risk not getting anything done. The equal marriage battle creates waves in the other areas we need to change. As soon as SCOTUS ruled DOMA unconstitutional, the changes in benefits were far reaching. From the military to immigration reform to each state in the union, DOMA’s death has had positive effects for LGBT people. It has changed the conversation on ENDA as well.

    As for marriage as an institution, I don’t think we are just copying str8 people. So what if some of us do?! There is nothing wrong with wanting to get married, settle down and have a family. Many of us have dreamed of the pretty wedding and the solemn vows only to be denied for a lifetime. I am lucky to have found a woman, legally married her, and have both state and federal benefits. Never in my wildest dreams. If you don’t want to get married, fine by me, but don’t deny me the choice.

  208. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Perhaps it’s all about how we view ourselves. There are a whole lot of people who see it just as a matter of sex. Besides being sexually attracted to men, I form emotional attachments to men. In other words, I fell in love with a guy. I not only wanted the world to know of our love, I felt we deserved all the benefits of being married. Without those benefits, we are only marginal citizens. I have at least one friend who believes that gay men cannot fall in love. I can remember feeling that way as well. Then it hit me.

    We need ENDA as well. I live in a state that has an ENDA. ENDA along with marriage rights came from the state. It seems a lot easier to get state legislators to do what is right than a federal legislature that seems unable to make any headway.

  209. Stev84 says:

    There are plenty of successful economies that don’t depend on the super rich to sustain it. Which is a highly absurd idea anyways, since they can’t spend all their money and only donate to charity because they have nothing else to spend it on. (Never mind that a healthy society does not need such a huge amount of charity in the first place).
    Germany’s economy, for example, is mainly based on small- and medium-sized companies (often family owned), not huge ones in the hands of billionaires. Trickle-down just doesn’t work and never will.

  210. Indigo says:

    Because if you want a wedding cake, you can’t support human rights for others? I don’t get the question.

  211. Sean Kirkpatrick says:

    John was pretty clear, this isn’t “phony tension… creat by outside forces”. This is legit internal conflict from other camps, essentially jealous of the progress of gay rights. It comes down to not losing our focus until we achieve full equality. We don’t demand other groups abandon their cause and take on our identity. John used the NAACP as an example. We work together, but also seperately: voter suppression is real, but not necessarily a gay issue. Immigration equality is real, but not exclusively a gay issue (speaking as a bi-national same-sex married couple). We can join together, but can’t take on the world, otherwise our limited people and resources lose any potency, and lose any chance for achieving our goals.
    And this stick it to the man crap is just that. Without the 1% everyone rails against, there would be no capitalism. Without capitalism, there would be no competition. No competition = stagnant economy (I have been living in Italy for 2 years, so I am speaking from experience). Socialistic policies cannot be sustained in a socialistic economic model. You may hate Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, or any other the other top earners, but keep in mind how many they employ. They changes they have made on the world, and the unsurpassed amount of money that they donate to charity every year.
    Being married does mean shit, in fact. Otherwise, only the well-off would get married. My folks both worked 2 full time jobs to pay for me and my siblings, and I couldn’t be more grateful to them for it.

  212. dommyluc says:

    Personally, I don’t believe anybody’s rights are going to be worth a damn unless we fight all of the things that are going to destroy every average – i.e, not the 1% or .1% – person, no matter what ethnicity or sexuality. Rights don’t mean much if you’re out of work, have nothing to eat and have no legal recourse in the courts or Congress or in the voting booth due to voter suppression. We have to forget about these phony tensions between us created by outside forces, such as pitting blacks against gays and whites against Hispanics and so on. The powers that be have one great nightmare: that we’ll stck together and drive them out of power, which is what we should be doing. The right to marry doesn’t mean shit if you BOTH have to beg on the street for change.

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