Skip to main content

On gay marriage: Civil liberties are not a zero-sum game

I respect Rod Dreher's work on most things, even though I disagree with much of it, because he's thoughtful and eloquent and tries to think outside his own biases. Except when it comes to matters of sexuality: Then turns a bit shrill. So it is today, when he posts the story of a U.K. "housing manager" who received a demotion for criticizing gay marriage—on his own time. Says Dreher: "Move along, nothing to see here. It didn’t really happen, and if it did, this man, History’s Greatest Monster, must have deserved it for his thoughtcrime."

This is part of the argument made by Dreher—and anti-marriage conservatives more generally—that allowing gay marriage will necessarily entail a restriction on the rights of Christians to hate gay marriage. There's just one problem with the evidence they marshal in support of the argument: It's almost always from Europe, and Europe has a very different tradition with regards to civil liberties than the United States.

For example: I’m from Kansas, home to the notorious Fred Phelps family—the folks who display a kind of homophobia far beyond what’s on display in Dreher's example. And a number of family members have been employed over the years as state or county civil servants—despite the fact that the family is held in very low esteem by the community at large. The state doesn't have the right to boot them for privately held opinions—even those that are publicly expressed—that don't interfere with the performance of their duties. What's more, we're the same country where the ACLU defends the rights of racists to march in public.

This isn't to say Dreher's nightmare scenario can't happen here: We must always be vigilant in defense of our rights. But it's much, much, much less likely to happen—and it's unlikeliness makes Dreher's concerns seem desperate instead of considered. The great thing about the First Amendment is that it protects people with wildly differing—even diametrically opposed—outlooks on life. In the United States, at least, civil liberties aren't a zero-sum game. In my ideal future, homophobic old housing managers will be able to keep their opinions and their jobs in the same society in which gays, lesbians, and transgender people are free to exercise their rights to marry each other. The day can't come too soon.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Yoga

I've been making some life changes lately — trying to use the time I have, now that I'm back in Kansas, to improve my health and lifestyle. Among the changes: More exercise. 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. Doesn't sound like a lot, but some is more than none, and I know from experience that getting overambitious early leads to failure. So. Thirty minutes a day.

One other thing: Yoga, a couple of times a week. It's nothing huge — a 15-minute flexibility routine downloaded from an iPhone app. But I've noticed that I'm increasingly limber.

Tonight, friends, I noticed a piece of trash on the floor. I bent over at the waist and picked it up, and threw it away.

Then I wept. I literally could not remember the last time I'd tried to pick something off the floor without grunting and bracing myself. I just did it.

Small victories, people. Small victories.

Liberals: We're overthinking this. Hillary didn't lose. This is what it should mean.

Interesting:
Nate Cohn of the New York Times estimates that when every vote is tallied, some 63.4 million Americans will have voted for Clinton and 61.2 million for Trump. That means Clinton will have turned out more supporters than any presidential candidate in history except for Obama in 2008 and 2012. And as David Wasserman of Cook Political Report notes, the total vote count—including third party votes—has already crossed 127 million, and will “easily beat” the 129 million total from 2012. The idea that voters stayed home in 2016 because they hated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is a myth. We already know the Electoral College can produce undemocratic results, but what we don't know is why — aside from how it serves entrenched interests — it benefits the American people to have their preference for national executive overturned because of archaic rules designed, in part, to protect the institution of slavery. 

A form of choosing the national leader that — as has happened in …

I'm not cutting off my pro-Trump friends

Here and there on Facebook, I've seen a few of my friends declare they no longer wish the friendship of Trump supporters — and vowing to cut them out of their social media lives entirely.

I'm not going to do that.

To cut ourselves off from people who have made what we think was a grievous error in their vote is to give up on persuading them, to give up on understanding why they voted, to give up on understanding them in any but the most cartoonish stereotypes.

As a matter of idealism, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on democracy. As a matter of tactics, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on ever again winning in a democratic process.

And as a long-term issues, confining ourselves to echo chambers is part of our national problem.

Don't get me wrong: I expect a Trumpian presidency is a disaster, particularly for people of color. And in total honesty: My own relationships have been tested by this campaign season. There's probably some damage…