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David Benkof’s One Man Anti-Gay Campaign of Lies and Deception

Timothy Kincaid

June 16th, 2008

benkof.jpgDavid Benkof has been getting a bit of attention lately.

And at first glace David appears to be a young gay man who believes that there are better options for gay couples than marriage, that the community should join him in prioritizing other more pressing issues, that the marriage discussion is harming the efforts of gay couples in red states to get recognition for their unions, and that he wants to help. We’d also think that he’s a gay columnist, that he speaks for an influential collection of gay thinkers, and that he is part of the gay and lesbian community and shares our goals and dreams.

None of that is true.

David Benkof is an anti-gay activist with strong ties to the ex-gay community that has used a string of lies and deceptions to position himself in the mainstream press as a minority voice within the gay community. His goals are to defeat any efforts that would recognize our unions as being anything other than roommates. His motivation is his desire to conform society to his religious ideals. And he’s willing to lie, defame, and stand the truth on its head to do so.

Read more about it in our latest report, David Benkof: Behind the Mask.

UPDATE

Since the publishing of this report, some of the language on the Gays Defend Marriage website has changed. The site continues, however, to deceptively list as “concerned about defending marriage” those who whole-heartedly support marriage equality.

Comments

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queerunity
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

I have read some of his blog and can’t comprehend why he would be so anti-gay. I didn’t know he was linked to the ex-gay ministry. Do you have any proof of this? His recent post knocked Jonah a (Jewish ex-gay) group so perhaps he isnt linked?

Erica B.
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

As usual, well-researched and revealing!

David Benkof
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Well, you’re the first person to call me “young” in a long time, so I appreciate it. I’ll read your report, because I’d really like to know about my “strong ties to the ex-gay community”, particularly since I get hate mail from Jewish ex-gay supporters because I so thorougly reject their message as non-kosher.

I don’t understand why you feel there’s something wrong with traditionally religious people who want society to conform to their ideals, whereas secular and liberal religious people can try to get society to conform to their ideals all they want.

Scott
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Wow. Thanks for exposing just how disingenuous Mr. Benkof’s methods are. Seems to me that even in his comment (above) he’s spinning like a top, trying to prop up his straw men. i suspect that’s because it would be impossible (or at least incredibly difficult) to further his agenda by actually engaging the substance of your article in any meaningful or honest way.

TJ McFisty
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

The only thing here that’s not balancing out is that having a traditional religious view is not in line with being disingenuous or deceptive.

Young Mr. Benkof can be gay or not gay or bi or whatever, happy for him, but the problem of getting society to conform to traditional religious beliefs based on guile or “shading the truth” is defeats his own purpose.

AJD
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

VERY nice work in exposing this guy as the worm he is.

Whatever this guy wants to call himself is fine. He can call himself emperor of Mars and ambassador to Alpha Centauri for all I care, but he’s a disgrace to the journalistic profession.

Christopher Eberz
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Wow, this report is thoroughly well-researched and very interesting to read. I think work like this, work that debunks anti-gay messages and speech, revealing the deception and rhetoric that they often contain is very important work. Thanks for writing this.

Maybe one day we’ll see the end of one of the most laughable pieces of rhetoric of them all, the type of rhetoric that David Benkof uses above me, the claim that LGBT people fighting for *their* rights is completely equal and inverse to social conservatives who want their values to limit the opportunities of others.

David Benkof
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

As for Q-Notes, they absolutely were a biweekly subscriber, but they later canceled their subscription under community pressure. They are no longer listed at my Web site as a subscriber. They made some bizarre accusations that I was blackmailing them and of a lawsuit of some kind and that I have poor journalistic ethics, which is funny coming from a newspaper that has been running press releases as news stories for more than a decade, with the author of the press release’s byline listed as “Special to Q-Notes.”

As for Sean Kosofsky, Q-Notes never mentioned anything about him to me. My notes document every quote that Kosofsky gave me. He complains that my op-ed piece didn’t specify the number of minutes between his two unrelated comments I quoted. No op-ed piece in history has done such a thing. That’s the “extreme misrepresentation” they talk about?

I never claimed to be a member of the Dallas Voice staff. My deal with editor Tammye Nash is that they’ll run one Fabulously Observant column per month, possibly more if they have room. It’s a monthly subscription to the column.

And I’ve just been invited by one of the top 10 gay newspapers in the country to begin contributing opinion pieces written especially for them.

So, apparently, when I write a column for a gay publication that doesn’t agree to run my work in every single issue, I’m not a columnist? If I work on various people’s teeth, but they don’t commit to me permanently, does that mean I’m not a dentist?

I never claimed that every voice represented at GaysDefendMarriage.com agrees with me on every single issue. Before the blog’s debut, there was no one place on line where people who dissent from the LGBT community’s strategy of sue-at-all-costs-for-marriage could exchange views.

The Jonathan Rauch reference is due to an editing error, which I have corrected. Thank you for calling my attention to it. He is an example of the *middle* type of person, one who supports same-sex marriage, “but want to be very careful to reinforce the marriage idea by bringing same-sex couples into it, rather than destroying it through a rash redefinition.” No deception was intended; I simply added the section about the “Beyond Marriage” people to an earlier version without noticing that the following paragraph would require a change. Luckily, the page you cite gets far fewer hits than the main page.

It is completely unfair of you to criticize my comments about Armistead Maupin written on May 23, based on an interview the writer did not give until May 29. And if Maupin or Chai Feldblum want to disavow their support for the “Beyond Marriage” statement, I will certainly stop listing them as a supporter of it. But before I posted my thoughts about “Beyond Marriage,” I showed a draft of my reactions to a signer who’s a prominent LGBT activist I’m friends with, to determine whether I was accurately representing their viewpoint. She confirmed that I was. If Chai Feldblum would like to send me a statement clarifying exactly how she feels about marriage, I would gladly post it on my Web site.

You’re simply wrong that there are no other influential LGBT people who support marriage as the union of husband and wife. What about Al Rantel, the openly gay conservative radio talk show host on KABC in Los Angeles? I met him on the Ricki Lake Show when we were both presented as examples of members of the gay community who oppose same-sex marriage. I was later a guest on his program for an hour in which we talked about some of the reasons the gay community is wrong to ask for same-sex marriage rights. He’s the most prominent gay voice in Los Angeles radio, and one of the most prominent gay talkers in the country.

I’ve already reacted to Kosofsky’s bizarre accusations above. As for Sen. Murray, he is correct that saying “until they relent” was not completely supported by his statement, and I have apologized. I was basing my statement on his comparison to Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, who were jailed for contempt rather than given a specific jail sentence. Murray’s other comments in his letter to the editor (which you interestingly did not include in your excerpt) actually back up my claim about his harsh plans for traditionally religious people who continue to use their definition of marriage instead of his.

As for my identity, I have been clear that none of the labels fit me well. I use bisexual most of the time, gay some of the time, and queer when I’m confident nobody will think I’m using a homophobic slur. No deception is intended; I simply don’t think any of the options presented is a perfect descriptor for my particular sexuality. Given that I have written at length about how I do not believe every person is born with a specific sexual orientation permanently etched in their DNA (and gay history proves it), I think my ambivalence about labels is perfectly consistent with my worldview.

Your “proof” I support the ex-gay movement is from a five-year-old pamphlet that I wrote before having more exposure to the failures of reparative therapy and the thoroughly un-Jewish nature of the ex-gay movement. Today, I would write that paragraph somewhat differently, perhaps as follows:

“The extent to which sexualities change is a complicated subject. There certainly are many onetime gay and lesbian people who later find themselves in opposite-sex relationships, sometimes to their surprise, and sometimes after much therapy, study, and prayer. Certainly, therapy to help people live their lives consistently with their values in any area can be helpful. But it does not appear that so-called reparative therapy or reorientation therapy is effective in making gay and lesbian people straight.”

Unlike my fellow Republicans who delighted in the term during the 2004 election, I consider “flip-flopping” to be a sign of a mature mind, able to learn from experience and react to new information. It certainly is not evidence of hypocrisy.

As for the brief in the California case, I was not told it was sponsored by ex-gay groups. Had I known, I would have declined to participate. I was upset when I read the brief online to learn that I had been associated with such disreputable groups.

You claim I have not spent 10 minutes on issues like gays in prison. That is demonstrably false. Shockingly, I have been the most prominent voice in the gay press opposing prison rape. (Google “Prison Rape is a Gay Issue.”) I’m a journalist; I express my activism mostly through writing. And some of my writing (not all of which has been published yet) definitely deals with issues like HIV among African-Americans, the FDA’s offensive gay blood ban, and Florida’s insulting prohibition on gay adoption. It may not be your gay agenda, but it definitely is a gay agenda.

Thank you for asking about my opinion about the blood ban. What upsets me is that it is medically unnecessary and places a government disapproval of people just because of sexual activity that may have occured 20 years ago. It also pointlessly hurts the effort to tissue type people dying of diseases like leukemia. I think gay and bisexual men who are celibate or in sexually exclusive relationships should be allowed to donate blood. The Red Cross has even come out against current procedures.

I do support same-sex adoption, and I have never said a gay couple cannot adopt a healthy white baby. However, the gay community’s cruel position that adoption agencies may not favor families that provide both a mother and father when everything else is equal (which is the law in Massachusetts) is outrageous. I oppose it strongly. I have a new piece in a major East Coast daily this week about why lesbians makes lousy fathers.

You say you don’t know anyone who doesn’t oppose prison rape. Well, the Human Rights Campaign doesn’t oppose prison rape, at least as far as hrc.org is concerned. The Web site of the largest gay political group mentions marriage nearly 4,000 times and prison rape not once. Those are some pretty f’ed up priorities.

It’s funny that you would criticize me for supporting (in your mind only) lifting the ban on celibate but not sexually active gays in the military, given that that’s the position of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.). At a presidential debate in New Hampshire, the former first lady said, “I believe we could change the policy to let gays and lesbians serve in the military and be covered by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) so, just like those who are not gays and lesbians, if there were conduct problems, then the conduct problems would be looked at, but people would not be judged on who they are.”

What conduct problems is she referring to? Well, the UCMJ bans sodomy, which Clinton has not proposed amending. So the supposedly anti-gay position you think I hold is shared by the runner-up for the Democratic nomination for president. My actual position on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is that the military’s job is to fight and win wars. Military segregation ended not when President Truman ordered integration in 1948, as popularly perceived, but several years later when the generals in Korea found it was harder to do their jobs given the inefficiencies of segregated platoons. I hope someday soon the military brass finds they are losing more in gay and lesbian talent than they are gaining in morale and combat effectiveness, and that they recommend to the civilians who control our military’s policies to lift Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Until then, I have no problem with the current policy.

I find the gay community’s choice of opponents in various fights they pick to be, well, queer. Boy Scouts, New York City cops (the “villains” at Stonewall), and orphans in Boston are generally thought of by the wider society as admirable, sympathetic individuals. Yet LGBT people regularly demonize and victimize such people. I mean, even if the Boy Scouts’ policy is wrong (and I think it is wrong), don’t gay people have more important things to do than to make it harder for 11-year-old boys to hike, swim and build campfires on public property?

I do agree with freedom and equality for gay people. But my areas of agreement are apparently not in areas you think are important. I would like to see more education about the lesbian and gay past in high school and college history classes. There should be a huge increase in attention, spending, and research on syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases that are mostly transmitted through gay sex. Florida’s ban on gay adoption (and those in other states like Utah, Nebraska, and Mississippi) must be repealed. I would like to see a comprehensive federal nondiscrimination law with one consistent standard about who can be legitimately fired for non-work-related factors. I am more concerned that the law apply a consistent standard than that it cover or not cover sexual orientation and/or gender identity, but I would be happy to see it cover both. I opposed sodomy laws. I support second-parent adoption laws. Again, just because my pro-gay priorities don’t perfectly match yours, why does that disqualify me as an LGBT activist?

Please note that my comment about the memorialization of socialists over gays refers to monuments in Israel, where socialists have played a much more prominent role in the country’s history than gays ever did. Other than that quibble, I’m impressed that pretty accurately summarized what I believe. Thank you.

I do not, however, accept your banishment of me from the LGBT community. I identify with gay culture, gay history, I love show tunes (was glued to the Tonys last night), and my friends think I’m really, really gay. I’m sorry I don’t engage in enough sodomy or support the destruction of enough building blocks of society to qualify as gay in your eyes, but I think everyone should get to pick their own sexual identity, rather than have it be picked for them.

You write that I am “seeking to advance the rules of his faith by making secular argument, and not being honest about it.” Well, yes, but I’m being honest about it. I’m purposefully doing what the man you probably want to be the next president thinks people like me should do.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said in 2006, “our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.” However, when religious people argue for policies based on their beliefs, Obama says we should articulate “some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.”

So which is it? Should I argue in religious terms only, and if my policies win, then people with my religion really will be imposing our beliefs on everyone else?

Or, following Obama’s advice, should I continue to be motivated by religious belief, but make secular arguments to convince people who don’t happen to be Orthodox Jews?

Or do you really just want me to shut up? My hunch is it’s the latter. If so, in a free society, that’s not going to happen.

Bruce Garrett
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

I don’t understand why you feel there’s something wrong with traditionally religious people who want society to conform to their ideals, whereas secular and liberal religious people can try to get society to conform to their ideals all they want.

You’re being slippery here, which I guess is par for the course isn’t it David? Yes…I suppose you can argue, in a sophistic kinda way, that people who are agitating for a society where everyone is free to live their own lives as they see fit are trying to make society conform to their own ideals. But that’s a tad like saying there is no difference between fighting for Soviet style communism and fighting for American style democracy since either way you’re trying to impose your ideals onto society. But actually there is a difference.

Your “traditionally religious people” aren’t just fighting against gay civil rights, but freedom and individual autonomy generally, particularly when it comes to conducting your own intimate affairs as you see fit. And it isn’t just gay people they want to elbow into their mold. They want to do away with all forms of birth control, re-establish laws that regulate the sex lives of consenting adults, censor factual information about sex and sexuality, and any book, tv show, movie or music that strays from the party line on sex. Who is forcing what onto whom here?

This isn’t about choosing which way to force people to live, it’s about forcing people into one way of life verses letting them live their own lives. If you think same sex marriage is immoral, then don’t have one. If you think sex outside of wedlock is sinful then don’t do that. By all means, live your life according to your “traditional” religious values. But you need to extend the same respect to your neighbors. You know…the heathens in the church next door.

Ben in Oakland
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Bruce– I had picked up on that paragraph of Benkoff’s, and was going to write just what you wrote. thanks for saving me the time.

Scott
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

i’d be more inclined to give credence to Mr. Benkof’s arguments if he didn’t misrepresent the positions and writings of the people he claims share or at least are sympathetic to his views.

i went to his website, read a bit, then looked up the original articles and authors he references. What i found was that he quoted out of context and creatively edited the authors’ writings.

He now appears to express genuine surprise that these individuals’ opinions are different from his skewed portrayals. Yet it was so easy for me to surf a bit and see through his mis-characterizations.

I enjoy reading opinions that differ from my own, seeking them out often. However, Mr. Benkof seems more interested in misleading his readers than actually making an honest argument in support of his positions.

His right to free speech is not at question. His credibility, however, is.

Timothy Kincaid
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

For those who do not live in Los Angeles:

Benkof describes Al Rantel as “the most prominent gay voice in Los Angeles radio, and one of the most prominent gay talkers in the country.”

Rantel is openly gay. And Rantel does oppose gay marriage.

But his conservative radio talk show does not focus on gay issues. Rantel does not pretend to be a voice for the gay community and seldom discusses his orientation.

It is not honest to say that he’s “the most prominent gay voice in Los Angeles” or even describe him as a “gay talker”.

As for the rest of Benkof’s words, well there certainly are a lot of them. But I stand by my report.

Bruce Garrett
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

So, apparently, when I write a column for a gay publication that doesn’t agree to run my work in every single issue, I’m not a columnist? If I work on various people’s teeth, but they don’t commit to me permanently, does that mean I’m not a dentist?

The problem is you represented yourself as being one of their regulars (David Benkof is a columnist for several gay newspapers…) and you aren’t. “For several gay newspapers” is it? No. This is deceptive on its face. I’ve had my political cartoons published a time or two in various local gay publications, such as Stonewall News Northwest and Family and Friends in Memphis, but I wouldn’t even think of representing myself as…

Bruce Garrett is a cartoonist for several gay papers across the country.

The more honest way is…

Bruce Garrett is a cartoonist. His cartoons have been seen in local gay papers across the country.

The difference being between truth and truthiness. You know, these days having newsprint in your resume isn’t what it used to be either.

Jim Burroway
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

I have had pieces published in several gay newspapers. I’ve even been published by the Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, which happens to be the only print magazine I subscribe to these days.

But I must say, it absolutely has never occurred to me to describe myself as a “columnist for several gay papers across the country.”

Maybe I should update my bio. ;-)

David Benkof
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Bruce-

Of course you think your ideas are more worthy than my ideas, and you have specific reasons why. But in a free society we all get to advocate laws based on our own values, and there is a specific neutral system that we must all work in. Radical gay activists used that system to get the California Supreme Court to redefine marriage, and people who prefer the old definition are using that system to try to restore the man-woman marriage definition. That’s our system, and your notion that your side should have an advantage because, well, you’re right is just un-American.

I work with a lot of defenders of traditional marriage, and none that I have spoken to have ever mentioned wanting to ban birth control or censor TV shows. There are gay people who want to lift age of consent laws and arrest ministers for “anti-gay hate speech,” but I don’t tar you with their names just because you agree with them that same-sex marriage should be recognized by the state.

You write, “If you think same sex marriage is immoral, then don’t have one.” Cute. But it so happens my belief system opposes same-sex religious and civil marriage. My rabbis have told me it is proper for me to fight government policies that will extend marriage to male-male and female-female couples. Of course you don’t like it, but I am expressing my religious belief when I write op-eds, lobby legislators, and vote in a manner consistent with my belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. Are you really saying I shouldn’t be allowed to do those things? Or are you saying you disagree with me? Well, duh. I disagree with you.

Scott writes, “i went to his website, read a bit, then looked up the original articles and authors he references. What i found was that he quoted out of context and creatively edited the authors’ writings.” By all means, give examples – either here or at GaysDefendMarriage.com, or E-mailed to me at DavidBenkof@aol.com. My site isn’t perfect; Tim Kincaid pointed out an unintentional editing error referring to Jonathan Rauch. If you can show me other mistakes, I’ll correct them.

Tim’s description of Al Rantel does not accurately reflect his show when I listened to it in the late 1990s. He regularly referred to being gay in a matter-of-fact way, including the first day he broadcast on KABC. I also know he was quite outspoken against gay marriage on the Ricki Lake show, for which he flew across the country to New York. He also enjoyed talking with me about the many reasons gay people shouldn’t push to redefine marriage when I appeared on his show for a full hour. He also wrote a NewsMax article opposing gay marriage. That doesn’t sound like the behavior of someone who is withdrawn about his opinions about gay marriage.

It’s so strange for Tim to say it’s “dishonest” to call Rantel a “gay voice” or a “gay talker” because he doesn’t talk about being gay often enough. Many if not most gays and lesbians would be thrilled to call Anderson Cooper a “gay news anchor” if he comes out or Barbara Mikulski a “lesbian senator” if she comes out – even though neither of them discusses gay and lesbian issues very much – certainly no more often than Al Rantel.

As for Bruce’s big difference between “columnist for” and “writer whose columns have been seen in,” I acknowledge a subtle difference between the two. I hardly think it’s a big deal at all, but if it makes you happy I’ll try to say “writer whose columns have been seen in” in the future.

MirrorMan
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Oh, Davey, watch where you’re spreading it! Redefine marriage? Hardly. The California Constitution specifically forbids discrimination based on gender. Since it already says that, it was not a ‘redefinition’, but more of a big ‘Aha!’, or a lightbulb, if you will. You also talk about how your rabbis tell you that same-sex marriage is wrong, but again, you are being a little disingenuous. You belong to one stripe of a broad fabric of religious faith, but believe yours is the only correct one. What about the Jews who disagree with you? And quite honestly, there are more of them than there are of you. And talking about a radio show from ten years ago is hardly reliable in the changing markets of the broadcast media. Most radio shows get rated one a year, and format changes are even more current. Ricki Lake? Are you serious? And blaming some of these glaring mistakes on editing errors is just a little too convenient. As a writer, you should know how that looks.

PiaSharn
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

David Benkof: “You write, ‘If you think same sex marriage is immoral, then don’t have one.’ Cute. But it so happens my belief system opposes same-sex religious and civil marriage. My rabbis have told me it is proper for me to fight government policies that will extend marriage to male-male and female-female couples.”

Your religion requires that no one should be allowed to legally marry a person of the same sex?

See, the problem I have with that is that I’m not a member of your religion. So I don’t understand why I should be forced to live my life according to your beliefs.

Not all religions think that same-sex marriage is wrong. But you seem to be saying that everyone should be legally forced to conform to your religious beliefs.

Just because same-sex marriage is legal doesn’t mean that anyone is forced to marry someone of the same sex. It doesn’t even mean that you have to think it is good and moral. Many people think that divorce is wrong, yet it is legal. If you don’t want to get divorced, you don’t have to. Similarily, even if same-sex marriage is legal, you can still believe that it is immoral and not participate in it.

Scott
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Scott writes, “i went to his website, read a bit, then looked up the original articles and authors he references. What i found was that he quoted out of context and creatively edited the authors’ writings.” By all means, give examples – either here or at GaysDefendMarriage.com, or E-mailed to me at DavidBenkof@aol.com. My site isn’t perfect; Tim Kincaid pointed out an unintentional editing error referring to Jonathan Rauch. If you can show me other mistakes, I’ll correct them.

Sure. Today’s top article on your website, referencing Lauri Essig’s July 2000 Salon article is misleading. If a reader didn’t click through to the full Salon article, it would be easy to conclude from your out-of-context excerpts that the focus of her article is opposition to same-sex marriage. However, her full article makes it clear that she stands in opposition to the institution of marriage, whether opposite sex or same sex. This is most evident from this statement, which is missing from your excerpts:
“In fact, I’m against same-sex marriage for the same reasons I’m against all marriage.”

Further she writes:
“My point is not that we should do away with marriage but that we should do away with favoring some relationships over others with state recognition and privilege. Religions, not the state, should determine what is morally right and desirable in our personal lives. We can choose to be followers of those religions or thumb our noses at them. But the state has no place in my bedroom or family room, or in yours, either.”

And:
“Still, as much as I hate to admit it, I am liberal at heart. If gays and lesbians want to get married, then I don’t want to stop them. I just want to lay a couple of ground rules:

First, do not expect me to be happy. The legalization of gay marriage does not make me feel liberated as much as it makes me feel depressed. It’s sort of like getting excited about gays in the military — until I remember that I don’t really care about the military as an institution.

Second, under absolutely no circumstances should you expect me to give you a gift for such a decision. If you’re insane enough to waste money on tacky clothes and bad cake, I’m not going to underwrite your actions with a toaster oven.”

Ms. Essig clearly is not, as you imply, one of the “left-of-center opponents of same-sex marriage.” She is an opponent of the institution of marriage. In fact, she states that she doesn’t want to stop LGBT citizens from getting married, if that’s what they want.

BTB has already done a better job than I can in citing instances where your tendency to misrepresent other writer’s viewpoints is par for the course. You seem intelligent, so i’m sure you already know where you’ve been disingenuous with others’ words. You don’t need me to identify them. I’m content to let others come to their own conclusions about your credibility (or lack thereof.)

Scott
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

One more thing before I get too far into this afternoon’s workload: a simple Google search on Laurie Essig turned up more articles. In one she discusses her June 2001 civil union with her partner Liza, filing joint state tax returns whereon they checked “Married or civil-unioned”.

Ms. Essig also refers to her split from her partner as a “gay divorce”, though she’s clear that it’s legally known as a “dissolution”.

Larry Seiferth Jr.
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

I’ve had 4 or 5 of my letters to the editor published in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. I should update my resume to read “Syndicated Columnust for a Capitol City Newspaper.”

I’m not suspicious of people who argue the merits of their faith in spiritual terms. Faith, by definition, exists in the absence of, and transcends the need for secular support. I am very suspicious of people who try to shore up and bolster their spiritual beliefs using secular arguments. That usually happens when authoritarian spiritualists attempt to sell their dogma to a larger society – especially one that is becoming more educated on the subject at hand.

This seems to be the trend when it comes to the religious right these days. The use of ‘junk science’ and the contexual manipulation of reputable scientific work has become as common as the use of Biblical ‘clobber verses’ as our society looks to more than spiritual authoritarianism for guidance on social matters.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of social stigma, it’s a good day when your detractors get to this point.

toujoursdan
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Good grief, it’s a bit rich that a Jew, who has been the target of “traditionalists” who wanted to impose Christianity on them can’t see the problem here.

GAYS DEFEND MARRIAGE » Behind my “mask”
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

[...] responded at length at Kincaid’s Web site, but I thought I’d put some excerpts here: So, apparently, when I write a column for a gay [...]

David Benkof
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Mirrorman – Before the Supreme Court decision, marriage was between a man and a woman. Starting tomorrow, and until we pass the CMPA the first week in November, it will mean something else. That’s a redefinition. As for Jews who disagree with me, I have never objected to their voting, lobbying, and speaking out in favor of their liberal religious values about what marriage is. Why shouldn’t I be able to do the same based on my conservative religious values about what marriage is? In the end, everybody gets one vote and the majority wins. I’m confused about your comments about the radio. It is indisputable that Al Rantel (who is currently undergoing treatment for cancer) is still an openly gay radio talk show host in the second largest radio market in the country. His sub while he’s out sick, perhaps the second most prominent LGBT radio talk show host in LA, is Tammy Bruce, and she has her own set of concerns about same-sex marriage.

PiaSharn- Yes, Judaism believes most laws in the Torah are only for Jews, but a small subset, such as Don’t murder and don’t marry a member of the same sex, are called “Noahide laws” and are forbidden to all human beings. One of us is going to have to impose his or her beliefs on the other. Either the law will prohibit you from having a civil marriage with another woman, or the law will force me to live in a society and spend my tax dollars on something I believe is deeply immoral. I know you think you should automatically win and get to impose your beliefs on me. I wouldn’t object if you let me automatically win so I could impose my beliefs on you. But what’s more likely to happen – and more fair – is for each of us to advocate for policies we agree with, using the regular political process, and we’ll see who wins. In Massachusetts, gay activists won – by playing dirty, but they won. In California, traditionally religious people are probably going to win. That’s how the game is played.

You raise the idea that some people believe divorce is wrong. I don’t, but I respect that some people do. Are you saying that Catholics and Mormons should not have the right to lobby, speak out, and vote for laws that make divorce harder or even impossible? Who will decide whose beliefs may be expressed in our democracy, and whose beliefs must stay private? Surely you don’t propose that you will be the one to decide. So who should decide?

Scott- Any person with even moderate intelligence understands that the point of my site is discuss same-sex marriage. So what would be the point of quoting the parts of Dr. Laurie Essig’s essay that have nothing to do with same-sex marriage? You contradict yourself by saying it is “clear” she stands “in opposition to the institution of marriage” but then you quote her saying “My point is not that we should do away with marriage.” So which is it?

You claim she is not one of the “left-of-center opponents of same-sex marriage.” But she’s left of center. And she opposes same-sex marriage. The fact she does so for reasons different than mine is a *good* thing – I want my Web site to be a home for all kinds of LGBT ideas about why the community’s prioritization of marriage is not a good idea.

I have shown Dr. Essig my post, and if she says I misrepresented her, I will fix it. But if this is the best example you can come up with about my misrepresenting people, I will breathe a sigh of relief because it’s not very persuasive.

Ben in Oakland
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Mr. Benkof– I’m not much interested in any kind of he-said-he-said-he-might have/might-not-have said kind of interchange, though I must say that I have always found BTB to be scrupulously fair and honest, and thus trust its founders implicitly… something I have not found to be true about anti-gay people

So let me reframe the problem as I see it. As a gay man, my goal is very simple: I want an end to the prejudice, an end to the lies, an end to the hypocrisy, and most importantly, an end to being treated differently by law, society, and social policy for no other reasons than 1) I prefer to share my life with another adult human being who happens to be a man, and 2) someone else doesn’t like it for whatever reason, and feels it is his duty to make my life, and the lives of people like me, as miserable and as difficult as possible. 3) They believe it to be of any importance at all because it has something to do with sex.

I have never heard one reason articulated for this difference in treatment or attitude that doesn’t boil down to one of three things: 1) I don’t like queers, I see them as a threat, I think they should be treated differently, and nothing you could ever say, do, or prove will cause me to think otherwise. 2) My religion says its ok if I don’t like queers, because it sees them as a threat, and insists it is speaking for G on this issue, so that means I am. So, queers should be treated differently. 3) Eeeee–eewwwww.

People who cite Reason #3 have a simple solution: if my sex life, or whatever you imagine it to be, bothers you so much, then please, do us both a favor and stop thinking about it. I’m positive that I would find your sex life equally as unhygienic and unattractive, if only I wanted to think about it. But I don’t. Your reaction should not be the basis of social policy.

Number 1 above we call plain old prejudice. We do not accept it in our society, generally speaking, except when we do. It is barely acceptable to be prejudiced against black people any more, or at least to admit it. And the law has changed to reflect the belief that treating people differently because of their race is WRONG. It doesn’t stop people from being prejudiced– they are still free to be hateful bigots if that is where their lives call them. But the law itself will no longer support that.

But somehow, this prejudice is OK. gay people can and should be treated differently, not for any reason that is actually true and provable, but just because someone doesn’t like it and requires no other reason.

Reason #2 above we call religious prejudice. It doesn’t matter whether it is based upon what one might be pleased to call ‘sincere religious belief’, because that doesn’t make it right, it just makes it prejudice justified by religion.

Witches were burned with the same moral certainty that the religious were doing G’s will with which they now pursue gay people– and with about as much a basis in either reality or G’s alleged will. Christianity has 2000 sorry years of ‘sincere religious belief’ to account for in its history of oppression and mistreatment of the Jewish people. It is no longer fashionable to hate Jews, which I’m sure you’ll appreciate just as much as I do, especially since the same slanders directed at the Jews for 2000 years are now being used against gay people. Funny how that is. You’d think that with 2000 years of practice, they would come up with something new.

We have laws at every level of government which forbid discrimination on the basis of religious belief. Why is this different?

I want one thing from the religious people who have made it their business to try to make the society into their own image– absolutely the same respect that you extend to every other group of people whom you believe are being sent to hell to burn forever to please your just and loving god.

but you see, mr. Benkof, this is what tells me that it really isn’t about ‘sincere religious belief’, because that religion-based discrimination is allowed and is cited as its own justification, because that respect isn’t forthcoming, because there isn’t the slightest concern about the damage that is done to gay people and their families and their lives on a daily basis in the name of religion, in the name of the myth of heterosexual superiority, in the name of heterosexual hegemony…

… because none of this is about the issue that it is claimed to be about. Just as the whole marriage issue isn’t about marriage at all, as DADT is not about military preparedness or unit cohesion, as sodomy laws are not about morality or G’s alleged words, as anti-adoption laws are not about what is best for the children, as anti-discrimination laws are not about special rights, as reparative therapy is not about healing broken people, as sex is not merely about procreation, etcetcetcetc…

…because NONE OF THIS is really about gay people at all. It is all about how much the very existence of gay people bother some straight people, as well as some gay-people-who-want-to-be-straight-but-they’re-not…

…who therefore believe that gay people should be treated differently from straight people.

So that is the problem as I see it. Differential treatment based upon prejudice. To my mind, I see no reason for it. There is not one single thing that anyone could say about gay people as a group that is true except this: we generally prefer people of our own sex for love, sex and romance. No more could you make a similar statement about straight people. So, if you or one of your cronies says ‘gay people should be treated differently than straight people’, then I have to say it is prejudice and nothing else. Any attempt to justify differential treatment is a product of imagination, not reality.

We have learned that there is no reason to treat any of the following groups differently: racial, religious, ethnic, lingual, to name a few, despite centuries of custom or sincere religious belief. we have always learned to call prejudice what it is, and label it wrong.

Just because it is prejudice that you or your crony has internalized in some way so as to justify the prejudice’s very existence, does not make it a not-a-prejudice… or right.

Why is this different?

Timothy Kincaid
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Yes, Judaism believes most laws in the Torah are only for Jews, but a small subset, such as Don’t murder and don’t marry a member of the same sex, are called “Noahide laws” and are forbidden to all human beings.

I’m sure no one will be surprised to read that this is simply untrue.

By “Judaism”, Benkof means only that small percentage that share his theological ideology. In America, Reform Judaism, Reconstructionist Judaism, and Conservative Judaism (totalling 78% of religious Jews) do not believe that marriage to a member of the same sex is forbidden to all human beings.

AJD
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Ben in Oakland,

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

David Benkof
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Ben in Oakland-

If you visit MarriageDebate.com, you will see that I have given many reasons for retaining man-woman marriage beyond the ones you list. But let’s pretend for a minute those are my only reasons. So?

If a voter wants to support same-sex marriage because her horoscope says the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiters aligns with Mars, would you try to stop her?

If a voter flips a coin and decides to vote against the California Marriage Protection Amendment, would you object to that?

If a voter is against same-sex marriage until he hears a really funny joke told by Jon Stewart and changes his mind, is that legitimate?

If all those reasons to vote, lobby, and speak out in favor of same-sex marriage are legitimate, can’t you accept that other Americans are going to oppose same-sex marriage based on some document that’s hundreds or thousands of years old and may or may not come from G-d but convinces them marriage should be between a man and a woman?

As for your claim that favoring man-woman marriage is “prejudice,” that’s fine. I think some prejudice is appropriate. I am prejudiced against child molesters who want to be nursery school teachers. I am prejudiced against stutterers who want to be radio talk show hosts. I am prejudiced against white guys who want to play Othello. I am prejudiced against women who want to be sperm donors. And yes, I am prejudiced against lesbians who want to be fathers.

The fact you call something prejudice does not end the discussion. It only raises the question whether the alleged prejudice in question is good or bad. I think prejudice in favor of man-woman marriage is good. You obviously think it’s bad. We have a process for deciding who gets to decide if a given prejudice can be manifested in our society’s laws. That’s what we’re going through right now. you don’t get to win just because you feel really strongly. I also feel really strongly. But one of us is going to win. And whoever loses is going to have to accept that their preferences have not been made law, or they can move to another state or another country, as with any issue.

MirrorMan
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Oh, Davey, for a writer, you have an extremely poor grasp of syntax, grammar, and definition. You wrote: ‘Before the Supreme Court decision, marriage was between a man and a woman. Starting tomorrow, and until we pass the CMPA the first week in November, it will mean something else. That’s a redefinition.’

From Merriam-Webster:

Main Entry: mar•riage
Pronunciation: \ˈmer-ij, ˈma-rij\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English mariage, from Anglo-French, from marier to marry
Date: 14th century
1 a (1): the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2): the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage b: the mutual relation of married persons : wedlock c: the institution whereby individuals are joined in a marriage
2: an act of marrying or the rite by which the married status is effected; especially : the wedding ceremony and attendant festivities or formalities
3: an intimate or close union

As you can see, only one of these definitions mentions male and female. The act of redefining it would mean ‘to change its’ meaning’. From all accounts, nothing has or will change. It is just no longer limited to opposite sex couples. That, Davey, is not redefinition, it is a word called ‘expansion’, which means to enlarge, or grow, or get bigger.

As for Jews who disagree with me, I have never objected to their voting, lobbying, and speaking out in favor of their liberal religious values about what marriage is. Why shouldn’t I be able to do the same based on my conservative religious values about what marriage is? In the end, everybody gets one vote and the majority wins.

And why should my life be dictated by your religious belief? What gave you the right to make choices for other people? I am not your family, your friend, or a member of your community. Why do you suddenly get to choose what is right and wrong for me? Personally, I find it a little insulting that you find something that doesn’t even affect you so foul that you would work to eradicate it for all. Does the term ‘mind your own business’ have any meaning for you?

I’m confused about your comments about the radio. It is indisputable that Al Rantel (who is currently undergoing treatment for cancer) is still an openly gay radio talk show host in the second largest radio market in the country. His sub while he’s out sick, perhaps the second most prominent LGBT radio talk show host in LA, is Tammy Bruce, and she has her own set of concerns about same-sex marriage.

Let’s look at that comment a little closer, shall we? Yes, Al is in the second largest radio market. Smack dab in the middle of it, actually. He has had a very long run on his show, but just being in the largest market doesn’t make him popular, good, or morally correct. The ratings I can find have KABC pretty much just below the middle of the ratings, with a 2.3 share of the market, right behind ‘Rhythmic Oldies’. He is in the market, but more than twice as many people listen to another station rather than him, and there are more than two stations, so your statement, while factual, is a little misleading. The fact that he has a radio show to espouse his views loses some of its’ meaning when you find out how many people are listening. And here in SF, Fernando and Greg on Energy 92.7 made it into last years OUT Magazine top 100. Does that mean they are royalty? Their rating is even lower than Al’s, although we have more stations than LA. But they are still the most prominent LGBT radio personalities in the market. So that statement, by and of itself, is pretty meaningless, although it sure sounds good. Hyperbole! Not just for breakfast anymore!

Ben in Oakland
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

..and I suspect the words “don’t marry a member of the same sex” don’t actually occur either, just something that may or may not forbid certain sexual acts, depending on whether you believe that’s what it says.

I’m still waiting for an explanation of ‘sleep the sleep of a woman’.

Zeke
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

I happen to know Nadine Smith personally and I’ve worked side by side with her, Equality Florida and Fairness for All Families fighting against the “Marriage Protection Amendment” that will be on the ballot here in Florida come November. She will be VERY interested and surprised to hear the things that David Benkof is saying about her.

Nadine will be getting a call from me tonight. I be interested to hear her take on all of this. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she doesn’t stop by here to set the record straight.

Mr. Benkof I sure hope you’re prepared to back up your claims about the opinions of Ms. Smith.

MirrorMan
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Davey, you wrote ‘We have a process for deciding who gets to decide if a given prejudice can be manifested in our society’s laws. ‘
That’s true, we do. But when you propose and advocate your position with information or data that is either flawed , misleading, or flat out inaccurate, you are, in effect, gaming the system. You are pretending to be supported and buttressed by facts and opinions that, when examined, turn out to not represent either your position or the original intent or conclusion of the original comments or findings. And that, sir, is an act for which there is a name.

It is called ‘lying’.

werdna
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Benkof-
Are you prejudiced against black actors who want to play Hamlet?

David Benkof
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy-

Conservative Judaism absolutely believes that marriage is only between a man and a woman. Every single opinion presented to the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards that approves of same-sex marriage has been defeated. There is some legal approval of same-sex commitment ceremonies, but definitely not marriages.

As for Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism, they are frankly not Judaism. Anyone with a Jewish mother or who converts under Jewish law is Jewish (so somewhere greater than half of the people affiliated with those denominations are Jews), but that doesn’t mean a group of Jews can invent ideas such as the Torah doesn’t come from G-d (Reform) G-d may not exist at all (Reconstructionist) and then declare it to be Judaism.

I’ve sometimes felt that Orthodox Jews should start referring to Reform and Reconstructionist (and increasingly Conservative) Joodaism. That phrase is modeled after Froot Loops which is spelled that way because the cereal doesn’t contain any fruit. Well, Reform Joodaism contains only incidental resemblances to Judaism.

My comments above are based less on my attitudes as an Orthodox Jew and more on my training as a scholar of Jewish history who has 3.5 years of graduate training in the field from top Jewish history departments at Stanford, Hebrew University, and NYU’s Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies.

Timothy Kincaid
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

You claim she is not one of the “left-of-center opponents of same-sex marriage.” But she’s left of center. And she opposes same-sex marriage.

Yet another example of deceptive and dishonest usage of another’s words.

Benkof is twisting Essig’s language to mean the opposite of what she was saying. By saying that she “opposes same-sex marriage”, the implication is that there is something about the same-sex part she dislikes as contrasted to other marriages which she does not oppose. This simply isn’t true.

Essig opposes ALL marriage.

Using Benkof’s argument, we could claim that Dr. Laurie Essig “opposes mixed-race marriage”. But I’m not willing to lie about Dr. Essig or falsely imply that she’s a racist.

David Benkof
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

MirrorMan, your circuitous attempts to prove that the California Supreme Court did not, in fact, redefine marriage are unimpressive. Any reasonable person knows that they did. But let’s say I agree with you – they “expanded” marriage instead of “redefining” it. So what? It’s still bad.

Also, I don’t believe we are friends. If you start to speak more nicely towards me, maybe some day we will be. For now, it’s pretty arrogant of you to assign yourself the privilege of making up a diminutive name for me.

You say I should “mind my own business.” Does that mean you will mind your own business and allow my adoption agency to prefer mother-father families? Will you mind your own business and allow my small business to offer benefits only to the relationships I believe are marriages, not the ones you or the government believe are marriages? I didn’t think so. The fact is, you want to impose your beliefs on my just as much as I want to impose my beliefs on you. You just think you’re right and I’m wrong. Well, I think I’m right and you’re wrong. The democratic process will decide who gets to impose their beliefs on the other, not the gay community’s temper tantrum.

Your comments about radio are interesting but totally off-point. I raised Al Rantel as one example of a prominent LGBT person besides me who opposes same-sex marriage. Tim somehow thought Al isn’t really a gay radio host, or somesuch. I didn’t really follow. How are your comments at all related to the subject at hand?

Ben in Oakland- the probition on same-sex marriage is in the Talmud masechet Chullin. As for the Leviticus verse you quoted, it means males cannot have anal sex with one another. The written Torah doesn’t mean whatever we think it means – it means what the Oral Torah says it means, and in this case it’s a prohibition on male-male anal sex.

Zeke-

Nadine asked me to clarify at my blog that she supports “full marriage equality,” and I have done so twice. Unless she disavows her support for the Beyond Marriage statement, though, I don’t see what’s wrong with listing her as one of the signers.

MirrorMan-

I made small mistakes with Ed Murray and Jonathan Rauch, and immediately corrected the one that I could (Rauch). You make it sound like I’m lying left and right. That’s simply not true. I will correct any factual error on my Web site. But much of what you consider “lies” are simply refusals to adopt your worldview. Most people agree that the Supreme Court redefined marriage in California. All right, so you have a peculiar theory about how it wasn’t a redefinition, it was an “expansion.” But my continuing to use the word “redefine” isn’t a lie. If I had your worldview, I’d use your jargon. But I don’t. I have my worldview. So I’ll use my jargon.

werdna-

It’s a fair question. I like racially creative casting, such as the all-black Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with James Earl Jones as Big Daddy. I’m a little more nervous about roles for people of color going to white people, but in certain circumstances I imagine it can be used to great effect. On the other hand, I would abhor a government law that restricted casting choices on the basis of race.

Ben in Oakland
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

you wrote; “If all those reasons to vote, lobby, and speak out in favor of same-sex marriage are legitimate, can’t you accept that other Americans are going to oppose same-sex marriage based on some document that’s hundreds or thousands of years old and may or may not come from G-d but convinces them marriage should be between a man and a woman?”

I actually have no objection to their prejudices, though I think them silly, stupid, and wrong. They can believe whatever they want to believe. What I object to is that they claim superiority, rights, obligations, and benefits by virtue of alleged heterosexuality that I am not entitled to by virtue of my admitted homosexuality.

What I object to are the lies and the hatred, the twisting of someone else’s sacred scripture to justify what cannot be justified by any other means.

The issue is that they will use the coercive power of the state to enforce their beliefs about marriage and why I shouldn’t have the same things that they have. No matter what their feelings about divorce, they don’t push that issue particularly because they know that dog won’t hunt. But they can use and exploit anti-gay prejudice for all sorts of political and monetary gain,or for their own personal satisfaction for showing the queers their place in a mostly heterosexual world.

I am glad that we can agree that it is prejudice we’re talking about. But your various examples of prejudiced-is-ok are just nonsense and/or offensive. I’m not a child molester, I resent being compared to one, and I would not misuse the word ‘prejudice’ to describe a very practical reason for not placing a child molester is a pre-school. Female sperm donors? Please make sense.

But my point is (and this you ignored) is that as far as I can tell, the primary motivation of most people who are against gay marriage is not something that is really about marriage at all, but about the very existence of gay people.

And yes, we will battle this out in the court of public opinion, and one of us will lose. and the other will have to live with it. But as I keep pointing out, it IS about prejudice and prejudice is never right. As a Jew, you should appreciate that– or read a little bit of history if you don’t appreciate it.

I know this is a great wrong because of the sheer volume of lies, distortions, half-truths, misrepresentations, and hate-filled rhetoric that is used to “argue” the point. If it is so true, why the lies? Using your example, we can both agree that placing a child molester in a pre-school is wrong, and we can agree about the reasons for it. Neither of us has to resort to anything but the truth of the matter to make our point.

The choice, as far as I can tell, is between these alternatives: are we going to try to advance mankind as a species by eliminating yet one more of our hate-filled stupidities, or are we going to take another step backwards and do what we have always done– one more nail in the coffin of the human spirit, singing a song about how we’re just doing some carpentry.

Ben in Oakland
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

‘As for the Leviticus verse you quoted, it means males cannot have anal sex with one another. The written Torah doesn’t mean whatever we think it means – it means what the Oral Torah says it means, and in this case it’s a prohibition on male-male anal sex.”

I actually know that what it has been translated as. It doesn’t mean that that is what it actually means. But since you are a hebrew scholar, perhaps you can answer the question.

I have asked several rabbis who said they were scholars what the phrase means. They said what you said, citing the opinions of a few years ago of some conservative schollars. I asked them if there were other contemporary documents which used that phrase in exactly that context so we would know that that is what it means (A similar problem exists with the alleged words of st. Paul on the subject– no contemporary sources use the words malakoi or arsenokoi at all, let alone in the same sense that translators and scholars claim St. Paul does. So, to claim that this is what Paul meant is strictly wishful thinking).

All three answered the question no, they were not aware of any material which would confirm that particular translation of the words “sleep the sleep of a woman.” All scholarship that they were aware of basically relied on someone elses statements about the meaning of the words, going back some hundreds of years. But no actual confirmation that this is what was intended by the words. I’d love to hear what your scholarship has produced.

On another note, your coments about Joodaism and hwo is a real Jew very much echo was Benny the Rat said aobut catholicism– it’s the only path to salvaition, and if you believe otherwise, you are sadly mistaken.

Actually, that’s what the Christians say about the jews, and the muslims about the christians, and so on. It is another reason why religious viewpoints should be kept out of public policy making.

Scott
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

So Mr. Benkof, apparently your preconceptions are so fixed that you cannot see what i’m trying to convey. I am interested in hearing what Ms. Essig may say regarding your presentation of her article. But not if it’s filtered through you. If she does respond to you hopefully she will provide a link to her unedited, unfiltered response. Frankly, considering what appears to be your penchant for mendacity, i doubt you’ve actually sought a response from her.

As simply as i can, for those of moderate intelligence and others:
You presented Ms. Essig’s article as being against same-sex marriage, with no reference to the fact that she finds little merit in the entire institution of marriage. Yes, your website is focused on same-sex marriage, not opposite-sex marriage, but the context of her article was not limited to just same-sex marriage, as your presentation implied.

She presents her position regarding marriage (whether same-sex or opposite sex) clearly. Since she obviously recognizes that the institution of marriage continues to exist regardless of her disdain for it, she then unequivocally states that she doesn’t want to stop gay people from entering into marriage if that is what they want. That hardly sounds like she’s going to stand against the reality of gay marriage. Yet you insist on presenting her as being opposed specifically to same-sex marriage.

And still, you do not acknowledge your attempts to mis-characterize her position. I can only attribute that to a willful choice of guile over honesty, since you seem to be of at least moderate intelligence.

MirrorMan
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Davey, you’re killing me! You wrote: ‘MirrorMan, your circuitous attempts to prove that the California Supreme Court did not, in fact, redefine marriage are unimpressive. Any reasonable person knows that they did. But let’s say I agree with you – they “expanded” marriage instead of “redefining” it. So what? It’s still bad.’

Any reasonable person? I work with an intensely talented, multi-racial, diverse group of people who, by any definition, would be called ‘reasonable’. And almost to a person they believe marriage was not ‘redefined’, so that’s one from your list. And as for ‘It’s still bad.’ that is strictly your opinion. Or maybe you can come up with the facts to back that up? Don’t worry, we know now to check your work.

‘Also, I don’t believe we are friends. If you start to speak more nicely towards me, maybe some day we will be. For now, it’s pretty arrogant of you to assign yourself the privilege of making up a diminutive name for me..’

Truer words were never spoken. I don’t think we have to fact check this one. And arrogant is when you decide that you know what is best for everyone and do what YOU think is right without regards to the rights or opinions of those you disagree with.

‘ Does that mean you will mind your own business and allow my adoption agency to prefer mother-father families? ‘

Only when you can show me proof that LGBT families are in some way inferior or damaging to the children. The children, remember? About what adoption is for?

‘Will you mind your own business and allow my small business to offer benefits only to the relationships I believe are marriages, not the ones you or the government believe are marriages?’

As a private business, you can offer whatever benefits to whomever you want. Just don’t expect me to throw money your way when you treat one group or people differently than another. It’s called market forces, and major companies adopted same-sex benefits policies because it made good business to do so, not because someone told them to.

‘Your comments about radio are interesting but totally off-point. I raised Al Rantel as one example of a prominent LGBT person besides me who opposes same-sex marriage. Tim somehow thought Al isn’t really a gay radio host, or some such. I didn’t really follow. How are your comments at all related to the subject at hand?’
Well, he can’t be that prominent if I have never heard of him until today! And in SF, we are buried in LGBT news and issues. I can make all the claims I want about ‘prominent voices’, but when you delete the context, it affects the veracity of the statement. As a journalist, again, you should know this. The fact that you conveniently ignore it does speak much for your credibility.

‘I made small mistakes with Ed Murray and Jonathan Rauch, and immediately corrected the one that I could (Rauch). You make it sound like I’m lying left and right. That’s simply not true. I will correct any factual error on my Web site. But much of what you consider “lies” are simply refusals to adopt your worldview. Most people agree that the Supreme Court redefined marriage in California. All right, so you have a peculiar theory about how it wasn’t a redefinition, it was an “expansion.” But my continuing to use the word “redefine” isn’t a lie.’

No, it’s not lie. And if that was all you did, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. But the selective editing of people’s comments to make them sound as if they are in agreement with you, and bogus claims of circulation and employment, when that gets revealed as outright untruth, then yes, it is called lying. But maybe that’s just my ‘worldview’.

And one more thing:

‘My comments above are based less on my attitudes as an Orthodox Jew and more on my training as a scholar of Jewish history who has 3.5 years of graduate training in the field from top Jewish history departments at Stanford, Hebrew University, and NYU’s Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies.’

How nice for you. But that still just makes you a ‘student’ and not an expert. You have yet to write your thesis, and for all we know, you are just barely passing your courses. The ‘experts’ are both the ones teaching you and the ones writing dissertations on a variety of subjects. And as any ‘reasonable people’ could tell you, all that means is that you have studied the subject matter in depth. By no means does it make you correct on the issue.

cowboy
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Mr. Benkof said:

“…or the law will force me to live in a society and spend my tax dollars on something I believe is deeply immoral.”

That is the lamest argument I’ve heard or read. Not even anyone in my ultra-conservative family would agree that same-sex marriage is about tax dollars and they wouldn’t give a damn about living in a society with our without same-sex couples. You’re already living with same-sex couples amongst you…the law requiring them to be treated equally is all that is being debated.

I believe what Ben in Oakland is saying. It’s not just ordinary prejudice but it is deep-seated, irrational (unrecognized) bigotry.

Jake
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

The more you argue, the more ridiculous you sound. Yawn.

PiaSharn
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

David Benkof: “Yes, Judaism believes most laws in the Torah are only for Jews, but a small subset, such as Don’t murder and don’t marry a member of the same sex, are called ‘Noahide laws’ and are forbidden to all human beings.”

Well, that’s your interpretation of your religion (which you have every right to), but I know many Jews who don’t believe that same-sex marriage is prohibited by their religion.

I’d also like to point out that the U.S. is not a theocracy, and the laws of this country are not supposed to promote one religion over another.

As I mentioned before, there are religions that do not oppose same-sex marriage, and I don’t see why the people who practice them must conform to this particular interpretation of Jewish law rather than the laws of their own religions.

Once again, I’ll ask you why I can’t live my life according to my own beliefs, why I must be forced to live according to your religion. Especially since the right to practice my own religion is guarenteed by the Constitution.

“One of us is going to have to impose his or her beliefs on the other. Either the law will prohibit you from having a civil marriage with another woman, or the law will force me to live in a society and spend my tax dollars on something I believe is deeply immoral.”

But who is harmed more? If your beliefs dictate the law and my (hypothetical) partner and I are not allowed a legal marriage, this means that we do not have access to the rights and protections a legal marriage grants. If she were to go into a coma, I could not make medical decisions for her. If I were to die without a will, she would not inherit my assets tax free. We may not be able to share insurance benefits, and so on. We become second-class citizens in the eyes of the law.

If you are forced to live in a country that has laws that go against your morals… Well, I’m not trying to be rude, but I’m having a difficult time seeing how that makes you a second-class citizen.

No society is going to be able to conform to eveyone’s beliefs. There are plenty of laws in the U.S. that I don’t agree with on a moral level, and I’m still able to go about my life without feeling that I am put at a disadvantage.

“I know you think you should automatically win and get to impose your beliefs on me.”

Out of curiosity, how do you know that is what I think? Did I ever write that?

For the record, no, I don’t want to impose my beliefs on anyone. I just want the freedom to live my life according to my own beliefs.

What you do is your business, and, as long as you are not harming anyone, I couldn’t care less.

Would I like my beliefs to win? Yes, because I would like equal protection under the law. Because I do not like being a second-class citizen. Because I am a U.S. citizen and am supposed to be treated equally and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I don’t think I’m better than other people, but I would like to be treated equally under the law.

“But what’s more likely to happen – and more fair – is for each of us to advocate for policies we agree with, using the regular political process, and we’ll see who wins.”

Um… isn’t that what is currently happening? I already am “advocating for policies [I] agree with” and “using the regular political process”.

What do you think I’ve been doing?

(I’m not being sarcastic; I’m honestly baffled.)

“You raise the idea that some people believe divorce is wrong. I don’t, but I respect that some people do. Are you saying that Catholics and Mormons should not have the right to lobby, speak out, and vote for laws that make divorce harder or even impossible?”

I believe strongly that people have the right to vote, lobby, and petition the government, even if their beliefs clash with mine.

So, yes, I believe that these groups have every right to their beliefs and to advocate them. I’m not sure where you got the idea that I believe otherwise.

I was using divorce to illustrate how something can be legal even though certain groups feel it is immoral, and that just because something is legal doesn’t mean that those who disagree with it should be forced to participate against their will.

“Who will decide whose beliefs may be expressed in our democracy, and whose beliefs must stay private? Surely you don’t propose that you will be the one to decide. So who should decide?”

Er… where did I imply that I alone will decide?

I should certainly have a say in the matter – that’s why I go out and vote, after all. But I don’t think that it’s all about me.

As to who will decide, I’ll take a wild guess here and say it will be the voters and/or the various branches of the government.

Bruce Garrett
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Of course you think your ideas are more worthy than my ideas, and you have specific reasons why. But in a free society we all get to advocate laws based on our own values, and there is a specific neutral system that we must all work in.

A decent respect for that system means you make your case honestly. That’s the problem here. You aren’t. And it starts with how you are representing yourself to various audiences, according to whether being bi, gay, or “queer” gets you the most mileage. Then there is the issue of your dishonesty in how much other LGBT advocates agree with you. It’s one thing to advocate your position, and another to claim other people hold it too when they don’t. An honest discussion of the issues is always welcome. You should try having one someday.

I work with a lot of defenders of traditional marriage, and none that I have spoken to have ever mentioned wanting to ban birth control or censor TV shows.

You ever bring it up? Because if you don’t know how they feel about birth control and censorship you aren’t paying attention. Never mind this recent California decision. Never mind Lawrence or even Roe. It’s Griswold they really regret. Before Griswold, it was illegal in most states for a single, unmarried man to buy a condom, never mind have sex with another man. Yes, they talk about Roe a lot, but it’s Griswold they really want to revisit. Badly.

If you’ve talked to the “traditionalists” in any depth you have to know their quest to legislate sexual morality covers a lot more ground then same sex marriage. But then, maybe you have and you’re just glossing that part over like you glossed over Rauch’s view that same sex couples should be allowed to marry, as opposed to creating a new form of marriage-lite for them. How could you have actually read him and missed that? It isn’t like Rauch is coy with what he really believes. Unlike you.

You write, “If you think same sex marriage is immoral, then don’t have one.” Cute. But it so happens my belief system opposes same-sex religious and civil marriage.

Fine. I am not Jewish. Your belief system and a couple bucks get you a nice warm cup of coffee but not the right to dictate how to live my intimate life and they sure as heck don’t grant you the right to force me to live as if I am a conservative Jew. I’m not. Any more then I’m a cartoonist For several gay newspapers. Any more then all those people you claim share your views on same sex marriage actually do. Your problem isn’t with same sex marriage, it’s with authenticity. You don’t seem to like it very much.

My hopes and dreams for love and happiness are not your stepping stones to holiness. Live your own life any way you damn well please. I don’t care. Really. But get off my back. I have my own problems finding love and happiness in this poor angry world. I don’t need yours too.

LAwaters27
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Masterful! I am reading this discussion wondering if anyone will be able to keep Mr. Benkof on point. Instead, he has masterfully evaded the central point of Mr. Kincaid’s article, namely that he:

“has used a string of lies and deceptions to position himself in the mainstream press as a minority voice within the gay community”

Instead, at this point, Mr. Benkof has succeeded in taking the discussion to gay marriage, democratic process, his religious scholarship – anything but the central question!

Well played: spin, distortion and rabbit-trails.

Not that I really expect a disagreement with Mr. Benkof to stay in the realm of logic or reason.

The core question is whether Mr. Benkof is gay or anti-gay? Or, throwing away the “I don’t like or fit labels” rabbit trail, to claim to have same-sex attraction, but also to believe that acting on that attraction is deeply morally wrong, can he still truthfully, without creative semantics, claim to be part of the gay community?

And why would anyone want to claim to be part of a community that is “deeply morally wrong?” Seriously, why attempt to identify as gay/bi-sexual, or anything so clearly against the teachings of his faith?

This is the same person who belittled someone’s comment on his blog because she wrote him on Shabbat! Granted, she was pushing JONAH’s ex-gay idealogy on him. The point is that her religious hypocrisy offended him. While I lack Mr. Benkof’s scholarly credentials, I am mystified. This is not an invitation to a lengthy treatise on Mr. Benkof’s faith. It’s a simple question: why continue to claim to be part of a community so thoroughly wrong on so many levels according to your faith?

Bruce Garrett
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Either the law will prohibit you from having a civil marriage with another woman, or the law will force me to live in a society and spend my tax dollars on something I believe is deeply immoral.

So how’s that antiwar protest you’re organizing among the “traditionalists” going…?

Emily K
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

“I’ve been trying to think about the accomplishments of gays in Israeli history. The only two things I can think of are 1. they defiled the holy city of Jerusalem with their provocative and pointless “World Pride” celebration in 2006; and 2. they won Israel the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest with Dana International’s song “Diva.” That means gays have done one large horrible thing and one small nice thing for Israel. Does that deserve a monument? Or am I missing something? What have been the contributions of gay men to Israeli history?”

Talk about a self-hater. (If he still declares himself a member of and spokesman for “our community,” that is.)

David Benkof
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Ben in Oakland writes “What I object to is that they claim superiority, rights, obligations, and benefits by virtue of alleged heterosexuality that I am not entitled to by virtue of my admitted homosexuality.” So what do you propose? Should such people not be allowed to vote? Should their blogs be shut down by the government? I object to your claim of equality by virtue of having gay sex, which I think is immoral. But I don’t try to stop you from expressing your opinion. We should each support public policies consistent with our own values, and whoever gets the most votes wins. Do you support a different system?

Are you saying you don’t plan to use the coercive power of the state to enforce your views about marriage? Because that’s what’s happened in Massachusetts. Why can you use state power when the law is on your side but we can’t use state power when (after November) the law is on our side?

You write that “the primary motivation of most people who are against gay marriage is not something that is really about marriage at all, but about the very existence of gay people” and complain that I haven’t addressed the point. That’s because I assumed it wasn’t aimed at me, since I have no problem with the existence of gay people. Half my friends are gay. I have been a part of the LGBT community since 1989. I don’t know that your opinion about my allies is true, but if it is, how am I responsible for that? Should I support marriage policies I abhor because some of my allies have mistaken ideas?

It’s fine that you think prejudice is never right. I disagree. I think prejudice as you’ve defined it is sometimes urgently necessary. You don’t get to win the debate by saying it’s about prejudice.

Orthodox Jews believe the verse in question refers to male-male anal sex because we believe that’s what G-d told Moses at Mt. Sinai it means when he handed him the Written Torah, which along with the Oral Torah was handed down for generations until being written down between the 3rd and 6th centuries.

Of course you don’t believe the Oral Law comes from G-d. If you did, you’d be an Orthodox Jew and an opponent of same-sex marriage. But what matters is I do believe the Oral Law comes from G-d, and it is the most important (but not the only) source of my opinion about gay sex and same-sex marriage.

I hope you don’t misunderstand me on who is a real Jew. Anyone with a Jewish mother or who converts to Judaism under Jewish law is a real Jew – that includes Reform, Reconstructionist, secular and even “Messianic” Jews as much as Conservative and Orthodox Jews. My point was you can’t believe and practice whatever you want and call it Judaism.

Of course you’d like religious viewpoints to be kept out of public policymaking. You don’t have a traditionally religious viewpoint. I’d like secular viewpoints to be kept out of public policymaking. But it’s a free country, it’s a democracy, and we each get one vote. You don’t get to decide whose viewpoints don’t get to contribute to the public debate.

Boo
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

2. they won Israel the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest with Dana International’s song “Diva.”

Dana International isn’t even gay.

Responding to this guy is a waste of time. He’ll a master of the whole passive-aggressive bobbing and weaving thing typical of the ex-gay/anti-gay movement.

But oh, what the heck. Hey David, you silly silly person- if you set the precedent that it’s okay to impose religious beliefs on civil society, guess what? It won’t end up being your beliefs that get imposed. It’ll be ultra-conservative Christian beliefs. You know, the kind of people who think all Jews should convert to Christianity. You probably won’t like living in the society you’re advocating.

Ok, no more troll feeding for me.

Popsiclestand
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

LAwaters27,

I too have been silently following this “debate” and find that, even without reading anything Mr. Benkof has written or the BTB report about Mr. Benkof, I find his character disingenuous in each and everyone of his “arguments”.

Mr. Benkof seems to have a blindspot when it comes to the ideas of fairness and equality for all. It’s such a large blindspot that I almost think that he is some sort of caricature of a certain mindset of anti-gay sentiment.

While I’m pretty sure most have already understood this, I’ll just state for the record the basic nature of his arguments as being the same as those of a school yard bully. The bully wants to beat you up but is angry when you decide that you’d rather stand up for yourself and not be punished because he doesn’t like/approve of you. He can even make the arguments that his belief that you are not worthy of safety is equal to your belief that you should be safe from his beatings. But any logical person can see through this. Others who use such tactics (for they are definitely tactics) are politicians, thugs, pimps, and cult leaders. It’s a control tactic that reframes the argument in such a way (creating strawmen) that the “victim” can never win.

He insists that in a free society somebody’s beliefs must impede upon the beliefs of others when that is just not true. The quest for true human freedom in society is probably best illustrated in America since our Constitution and the ideals behind it specifically push for complete equality and freedom. The struggle of minorities in America (from women to blacks to Jews to gays) illustrate the sticky process of extracting freedom from the multitude of unnecessary cultural/religious beliefs that, in the face of a changing and more educated society, prove completely futile.

Mr. Benkof seems to be very unsure of himself, like many other anti-gay people. He wants his morality legislated on everyone…and why? Is it because he doesn’t trust himself to live by his own acquired moral compass? Can he really not stand the idea that others are making choices that don’t go along with his own life choices?

Speaking for myself, as Christian, I can say that there are several things in this world that I do not approve of and in which I, personally, choose not to engage. However, to think that I should impose such restrictions on the lives of others is not only anti-American, it is anti-Christian because inherent in this push I would definitely be asserting two things:

1. I am infallible. My interpretation of my religion is also infallible.

2. I have some sort of authority over the freewill of other human beings. Despite that fact the Jesus Christ himself did not take such authority over others, I somehow can/must.

Is Mr. Benkof really so arrogant as to say this and completely believe it? How very typical. Does the Jewish faith (of which I admittidely have limited knowledge of) really dictate such beliefs?

I originally came here to peruse the responses then read the article when time permitted. I actually came here giving Mr. Benkof the benefit of the doubt, that perhaps the excerpts I read about him across the web were somehow overemphasized to demonize him because he held a different perpsective.

Thanks to BTB for printing this article and pulling Mr. Benkof out to respond. It is his own evasive and doublespoken reponses that have damaged his credibility, at least for me.

In all of that arrogant espousing about his own authority over the lives of others, any sort of moral standing he might have had falls apart completely.

Without reading anything that he has written, but just getting a whiff of it through his comments here and at Pam’s House Blend, I can say that he is no different than any other flailing anti-gay moralist.

Fortunately and inevitibly, such ignorance dies quickly in the face of logic coupled with the inherent sense of fairness that most human beings are either born with or soon grow into.

Thanks BTB, and thank you, Mr. Benkof

David Benkof
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Scott-

Of course I’ll post Dr. Essig’s unfiltered response should she have one. I absolutely contacted her yesterday. This notion that I’m trying to misrepresent her is rather silly, given that I linked to her entire essay on my blog. If I was consciously trying to fool people, why would I make it so easy for them to read her whole piece?

The piece in question was headlined “Same-sex marriage: I don’t care if it is legal, I still think it’s wrong — and I’m a lesbian.” And you think I was deceptive by presenting “Ms. Essig’s article as being against same-sex marriage”? If I’m wrong, then Salon is wrong in its headline, which if it was true, Dr. Essig (not Ms.) had many, many years to ask for it to be changed.

MirrorMan, I won’t be responding to any more posts by you until you address me respectfully. David or Mr. Benkof are fine. I already asked once, I won’t ask again. If you can’t handle that, I’ll focus on dialogue with other people.

cowboy-

You’re right, we’re debating the law demanding that same-sex couples be treated “equally” (in a purely semantic sense, since domestic partners already had all state marriage benefits). I actually want you to speak out and vote in favor of your belief that marriage can be between two members of the same sex. Good for you – it’s a free country. Why do you have a problem with me doing the same based on my belief that marriage is between a man and a woman?

PiaSharn-

Many Jews don’t believe in G-d. Many Jews don’t believe there’s anything wrong in eating pork. Many Jews believe it doesn’t matter if you marry a Jew or a non-Jews. They’re all wrong. Judaism beileves in G-d, prohibits pork, and bars intermarriage. Does the fact that some Democrats support the Iraq War make that a Democratic ideal?

I don’t want the government to promote one religion over another. But someone’s definition of marriage is going to have to be enforced. The majority of Americans, based on their religious and secular attitudes, support man-woman marriage. A minority of Americans, based on their religious and secular attitudes, support all gender combinations in marriage. The government absolutely has to promote some people’s religions over other people’s in choosing whose definition of marriage to use. I’m just hoping a democratic process will prevail.

I have never opposed the celebration of same-sex unions in liberal churches and Reform temples. They can even call their ceremonies “marriages” if they want. Just don’t demand that I roll over and let you start making the government treat them as actual marriage without my fervent opposition being taken into consideration.

You absolutely can live your life according to your own beliefs. Have sex with a woman. Have a “wedding” with her. Enjoy. But when you start to involve me – I have equal input in the government’s laws as you do – don’t tell me I have to shut up and not fight something I think is terribly wrong.

You claim that if you “are not allowed a legal marriage, this means that we do not have access to the rights and protections a legal marriage grants.” That’s nonsense. Domestic partners in California have every single right the state offers married couples. You’re just upset because it hurts your feelings to have to have a different word, it makes you feel less equal. Poor baby. I’m going to worry about the actual harms of same-sex marriage on innocent people far more than I care about your bruised ego. Get over it.

I’m glad we agree that the current political process is how we should adjudicate our differences. I apologize for projecting onto you the opinions of many, many gay activists who think it’s wrong for me to be advocating policies I believe in if they feel they harm gay equality.

If you’re not saying that I shouldn’t be pushing for man-woman marriage, given that that’s what my beliefs demand, what exactly are you saying? That you disagree with me? Well, OK. Thanks for sharing.

Bruce Garrett-

Yes, I’m sure you believe that every human being has a single sexual orientation that is etched on their DNA. Good for you. I don’t. And many gays and lesbians don’t either. If I felt there was a single term that described my particular sexuality well, I’d use it. I don’t. And sometimes people expect a sexual label, so I use the one I think best fits the situation. For example, I might have a gay sensibility in fashion (I don’t), but bisexual interests in porn (if I liked porn). It’s unfair for you to demand that I pick a label and stick with it.

You missed the part discussed above where I pointed out the Rauch reference was an editing error, an honest mistake. I should have changed “latter” to “middle” – and I now have. So any perception you have that I was misleading people about Rauch is completely unreasonable. People make mistakes. Even Timothy Kincaid spelled my name wrong over and over.

I just don’t understand your point about Judaism and the law. Why can someone support policies based on their secular belief system, or their MCC belief system, but I can’t support policies based on my Jewish belief system? Now *that’s* something unconstitutional.

LAwaters – I responded to every single accusation of dishonesty Mr. Kincaid raised. He had two small but correct points – about Ed Murray and about Jonathan Rauch. I corrected the one I could correct (Rauch). What else am I supposed to do?

It’s nice that you say that identifying as gay or bisexual is against Judaism. I’m sure the non-religious Jews at JONAH would be happy to quote you on that. The problem is, it’s not true. I’ve spoken to many Orthodox rabbis about my decisions relating to sexuality, and none has told me gay identity is forbidden in Jewish law.

Emily K-

It’s funny how I can be accused of being taken out of context but nobody complains when you do the same thing. That quote – which I stand by – explained why I believe if Israel chooses to build a monument to a non-Jewish victim group from the Nazi era, they should start with socialists, because socialists played a fundamental role in the shaping of the state of Israel. Gays have played virtually no role in Israeli history. How is that self-hating? It’s historically accurate.

One more thing – if my quotes of Murray and Kosofsky are so outrageous, why are the newspapers that published them still purchasing my op-ed pieces?

I have an opinion column in tomorrow’s (Tuesday’s) Los Angeles Daily News about two very specific ways gay marriage hurts marriage. The Daily News was the first newspaper to print the Murray/Kosofsky piece.

David Benkof
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Boo-

My first version of that comment mentioned that Dana International wasn’t gay, but I had to cut a bunch of words to fit the character limit. (I hate character limits.)

If Christians try to force Jews to practice Judaism I’ll fight it. If I lose, I can always move to Israel (which I hope to do anyway.) I’m not going to let fear of that happening stifle my advocacy of policies that are consistent with my beliefs.

LAwaters27
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Nope. I did not say that identifying as gay or bisexual is against Judaism. I wondered why you would want to claim to be part of a community so thoroughly wrong on so many levels (having sex with each other, for example) according to your faith.

You were upset by a rabbi being disingenuous about her own marriage. You wrote:

One problem with the “marriage equality” movement is that too many of its leaders have no idea what marriage is. For example, one of the most prominent rabbis defending same-sex marriage in California is in an open relationship with her husband in which each has the other’s permission to commit adultery.

And you described your first-hand knowledge of her open relationship. You concluded with:

So the next time someone proposes changing the definition of marriage, ask a lot of questions about what they think marriage is all about.

You felt she misrepresented herself. Why? Because most would assume her marriage was monogamous, traditional, adhering to the tenets of Judaism. You don’t like that people don’t know what she really practices. You believe it would make a difference in how much her support of same-sex marriage matters to those who hear of her support.

Fair enough.

You likewise should prominently feature on your blog bio, and everywhere that your writings appear that you identify as gay, but do not act on your sexual attractions. And you should tell the readers why: because you believe same gender sex is immoral. You should make it clear that it is your hope to marry a woman. Why? Because most would assume that identifying as gay means that you have (or hope to have) a loving relationship, including sexual, with another man. Because it would make a difference in how much your opposition to same-sex marriage as a gay man would matter to those who hear of your opposition.

That is the dishonesty you are being asked to correct, just as you expect this rabbi to be corrected. You misrepresent yourself as “gay” in the same way she misrepresents herself as rabbi and as a married person. You don’t want her to take advantage of people’s assumptions.

Gays who are in loving relationships with full intimacy who do not see their lives as immoral do not want you to take advantage of people’s assumptions. But you do. You have been called on it, just as you called the rabbi on it (though you omit her name). You continue to evade responsibility for what can now only be a willful decision to misrepresent who you are through omission of key facts. Omitting truth is the same as lying.

AJD
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

I object to your claim of equality by virtue of having gay sex, which I think is immoral.

Well, then you’ve officially relinquished your membership in the gay community. You can sing along to all the show tunes you want, but if you consider gay sex “immoral,” then you’re not one of us. The whole reason why so many homophobes people hate us is because of gay sex, and if you’re with them, you’re certainly not with us.

On top of that, you’re a blatantly irresponsible journalist who misrepresents himself and the people he quotes. Instead of apologizing for your unethical behavior, you have the temerity to deny and defend it. You’re truly a disgrace to our profession.

David Benkof
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

LAWaters27-

You write, “You likewise should prominently feature on your blog bio, and everywhere that your writings appear that you identify as gay, but do not act on your sexual attractions. And you should tell the readers why: because you believe same gender sex is immoral. You should make it clear that it is your hope to marry a woman.”

It’s a real problem. One of my gay friends of more than a decade wrote me today with the same suggestion. The problem is, more often than I hear your point, I hear from LGBT people who say that I should stop talking about my religious beliefs and focus on secular reasons for opposing same-sex marriage. Which is what I do.

I don’t know how to fulfill your legitimate concern while also fulfilling the legitimate concerns of the larger number of gay people who ask me not to talk about my belief that gay sex is immoral and that G-d prohibits same-sex marriage. If you have a suggestion, I’d like to hear it.

My Web site does say “David Benkof is openly bisexual, but as an Orthodox Jew he is guided by Jewish law in the areas of sexuality and family life.”

I have also written on the blog “But as an Orthodox Jew I am certain that G-d’s definition of both civil and religious marriage is a union of a man and a woman, as specified in the Torah.”

But I’m uncomfortable waving the fact that Judaism thinks gay sex is a very, very serious sin in front of all my readers, many of whom are LGBT. I’m not a fire and brimstone kind of guy. But I’d be open to hearing your suggestions.

Do gay couples that are not monogamous (about two-thirds of them) lie through the omission of key facts when they go on television and claim they’re just like any straight couple, they just want their rights? If you apply your policy to them as well as me, I’m willing to take your suggestion very seriously (especially since someone I greatly respect said the same thing earlier today).

AJD- where is it written that one must think G-d thinks gay sex is terrific in order to be gay? Was that a line in Tales of the City or Well of Loneliness that I missed? Were all the people in the late 19th and early 20th century that the gay community loves to claim as LGBT Americans not gay if they thought gay sex was immoral? Because a lot of them thought gay sex was immoral, it led to lots of conflicts in their lives. If they were gay, why can’t I be gay?

I have apologized for both of the errors Mr. Kincaid pointed out. I’m not going to apologize for not admitting I’m an ex-gay, because I’m not an ex-gay. If you can point me to a third or fourth error I have committed, I would be happy to check it out and correct it if necessary.

And please don’t suggest I hate gay sex. I love gay sex! I also love Chicken McNuggets. But I avoid both (except for at the kosher McDonalds in Jerusalem) because I believe it is wrong to partake in them.

John
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy,

Excellent article on Benkof.

His primary goal seems to be to raise his own profile by whatever means he can exploit.

It is a fine line trying to call attention to the dishonest nature of someone like Benkof who craves publicity, without giving him even more publicity. Fortunately, Benkof’s painfully long posts in this thread do as much to demonstrate his shortcomings as the original article. I am sure that he is completely blind to the further damage that he does to his own reputation here by trying to defend himself.

I suppose he just can’t stop himself.

LAwaters27
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

My answer to you is quite simple: what you risk in loss of offended readers you will gain in integrity. Just as you cannot separate your democratic right to vote based on your beliefs, you cannot separate what you write from your beliefs.

The problems with open discourse in our current culture are many. Most unfortunate is that we discount potential truth based on a person’s political or religious affiliations, among others. Critical thinking is not encouraged. Still, we cannot fully evaluate someone’s position without knowing the basis for their conclusions. To mislead people engaged in the discussion further erodes trust and harms open discourse.

As for whether those same-sex couples lie through omission by claiming to be just like any straight couple, considering the statistics on marital infidelity (some estimates are at 80% of marriages affected by infidelity), I’d say neither group has claimed the moral high ground in that regard. I’d also say it’s pretty honest, as well as unflattering, to make such a claim to be just like a group that has increasingly violated their vows. (Note also that our government does not withhold marital rights from straight couples because they are likely, statistically, to cheat after they marry.)

If a non-monogamous same-sex couple uses such a statement to deliberately mislead people into thinking they have a traditional, committed, monogamous relationship, then, yes, they are lying by omission.

If they are saying they want the right to marry, to make their promises to one another and to live out their commitments as best they can, (and perhaps to forgive each other when they don’t), just like straight couples do, then they are being honest, and quite human.

John
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Mr. Benkof wrote:

“MirrorMan, I won’t be responding to any more posts by you until you address me respectfully. David or Mr. Benkof are fine. I already asked once, I won’t ask again. If you can’t handle that, I’ll focus on dialogue with other people.”

This sounded very familiar to me from an Exgaywatch thread that involved none other than Timothy Kincaid. In that thread Mr. Benkof wrote:

“Nine times he called me “Mr. Bekhof” even though I asked to be called David twice, and signed my name “David Benkof” over and over again.” http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2008/03/glydsa-shows-how-to-be-jewish-observant-and-gay/

Claiming to be offended over how he is addressed (directly or indirectly) seems to be one of his diversionary tactics when being challenged. It could also represent some sort of demonstration of controlling your adversary. In any case, I find it an interesting Benkof quirk.

David Benkof
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

John-

My primary goal is to defend marriage. Because many of the people currently doing that have, shall we say, less than optimum arguments, I am doing my best to take an important role in the debate. My posts are “painfully long” because virtually everyone is addressing me, and I am giving them the courtesy of a direct response. Other posters write shorter posts because they’re addressing generally one person, not many. You may not care if people misspell your name or use a diminutive nobody else uses as if they’re an intimate of yours, but I do. In both Kincaid’s and MirrorMan’s cases I politely pointed out my preference to be called by my actual name. I only became more confrontational after I was ignored. I get to decide who I dialogue with. After MirrorMan showed he refused to show me any basic decency, I end our conversation. I make no apologies for that.

PiaSharn
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

“The majority of Americans, based on their religious and secular attitudes, support man-woman marriage. A minority of Americans, based on their religious and secular attitudes, support all gender combinations in marriage.”

That all depends on what polls you look at. From what I’ve seen, there isn’t a clear majority on this issue. Rather, it seems to be roughly a 50/50 split.

“The government absolutely has to promote some people’s religions over other people’s in choosing whose definition of marriage to use. I’m just hoping a democratic process will prevail.”"

What I don’t understand is how legalizing same-sex marriage promotes my religious beliefs over yours. You are still allowed to have your traditional marriage if you want one.

“I have never opposed the celebration of same-sex unions in liberal churches and Reform temples. They can even call their ceremonies ‘marriages’ if they want. Just don’t demand that I roll over and let you start making the government treat them as actual marriage without my fervent opposition being taken into consideration.”

You don’t oppose the ceremonies, you just oppose the legal recognition. Why? Why does it matter if two men can file jointly on their taxes? What is so wrong with the government treating all marriages equally?

“You absolutely can live your life according to your own beliefs. Have sex with a woman. Have a ‘wedding’ with her. Enjoy. But when you start to involve me – I have equal input in the government’s laws as you do – don’t tell me I have to shut up and not fight something I think is terribly wrong.”

First off, I’m curious how me having a legal marriage with another woman involves you at all. It’s not like we’re going to get married on your front lawn. How does it affect you if any same-sex couple has access to legal marriages?

Second, I never once told you to “shut up and not fight”. I stated in my last post that I am a avid supporter of freedom of speech and the freedom to lobby, even for people who have opposing views.

Again, you are putting words in my mouth, and I really don’t appreciate it.

Seriously, where are you getting this stuff? Because I sure as hell never wrote it.

“You claim that if you ‘are not allowed a legal marriage, this means that we do not have access to the rights and protections a legal marriage grants.’ That’s nonsense. Domestic partners in California have every single right the state offers married couples. You’re just upset because it hurts your feelings to have to have a different word, it makes you feel less equal. Poor baby.”

*sigh* Here you go again. You’re still assuming that you know what I feel and think. Please, I would really appreciate it if you would stop it.

No, I’m not advocating for same-sex marriage because only having civil unions “hurts my feelings”. For the record, I don’t give a damn what it’s called as long as we get the same legal rights and protections.

This isn’t just about me or people living in CA. Yes, that’s where I happen to currently live, but I care about this because I want equal rights for all GLBT people. Just because I have access to those rights does not mean that every other person in the country also has them.

“I’m going to worry about the actual harms of same-sex marriage on innocent people far more than I care about your bruised ego. Get over it.”

What harms of same-sex marriage? In all your posts here, I have yet to see you give any examples of what will happen, much less back it up with any data.

Will divorce rates go up? Will more children be born out of wedlock? Will STD rates skyrocket? What will happen?

Look, the couples that would get married are already living together. They’re already sharing the bills and raising children and doing all the same things that heterosexual couples are doing. The only thing that would change is that these couples would have legal protections that they currently do not have access to. And I fail to see how this will impact your life in the slightest.

“I’m glad we agree that the current political process is how we should adjudicate our differences. I apologize for projecting onto you the opinions of many, many gay activists who think it’s wrong for me to be advocating policies I believe in if they feel they harm gay equality.”

Well, apparently you don’t feel very sorry for projecting other opinions onto me, because you’ve managed to do it several more times.

“If you’re not saying that I shouldn’t be pushing for man-woman marriage, given that that’s what my beliefs demand, what exactly are you saying? That you disagree with me? Well, OK. Thanks for sharing.”

When did I imply that you couldn’t express your opinions or try to get laws passsed based on them?

Yes, I am saying that I disagree with you, and I have been trying to illustrate why I feel that your actions are wrong.

Please, if you’re going to reply to me again, all I ask is that you stop making assumptions about my beliefs and feelings and actually read what I have written. If I didn’t tell you to “shut up and stop fighting”, for example, then don’t say that I did.

Evan
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

Wow.

This is unreconstructed self-loathing up close and personal…

Great report, Timothy.

Evan
June 16th, 2008 | LINK

“But someone’s definition of marriage is going to have to be enforced. The majority of Americans, based on their religious and secular attitudes, support man-woman marriage. A minority of Americans, based on their religious and secular attitudes, support all gender combinations in marriage. The government absolutely has to promote some people’s religions over other people’s in choosing whose definition of marriage to use. I’m just hoping a democratic process will prevail.”

My God, you don’t understand civics, do you? Oh, and the majority you speak of is shriveling faster than…

“You absolutely can live your life according to your own beliefs. Have sex with a woman. Have a “wedding” with her. Enjoy. But when you start to involve me – I have equal input in the government’s laws as you do – don’t tell me I have to shut up and not fight something I think is terribly wrong.”

Um, it doesn’t involve you. You’re gay, but you’re not one of us.

“And please don’t suggest I hate gay sex. I love gay sex! I also love Chicken McNuggets. But I avoid both (except for at the kosher McDonalds in Jerusalem) because I believe it is wrong to partake in them.”

You need Jesus.

*chuckle*

Just kidding.

Jonathan Justice
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

While the foregoing is a compelling reminder of the wisdom exercised by King James’ translators in choosing to render the commandment referring to lying as, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.”, I think it about time to make some other connections.

The guy writes like a drunk who thinks he has a patron. How many times have each of you encountered some ostensibly witty nihilist whose remarks attempt to march you around the bar on a woosey foundation of Log Cabin/Decline of the West “realism.” It is, of course, a huge waste of time, and that is the point. Even when these folks think themselves adherents of “The Austrian School of Economics (and the consequent politics)”, their main business is to waste your time. If they failed, you might actually have a life in which some portion of your efforts went to political action aimed at bringing about an open, constructive, and just public life. The vampire metaphor is appropriate.

My thanks to Mr. Kincaid for preparing such an apt stake for nailing this one back in his coffin. This is not even the first one of these guys to crash and burn here this year. As I remember, the other one was from the Florida Panhandle.

Willie Hewes
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Excellent report, very interesting. Mr Benkof lost me a while ago, when he argued that straight marriages are never “based in part on the eroticization of incest and of chattel slavery” – that is, kinky.

Most people I know don’t need to use google to know that’s just wrong (although a quick google WILL tell you) but Benkof maintains that these marriages just don’t exist, or not enough of them, or they’re not a significant subculture, or “look, there are gay people on this site you referred me to therefore it’s not a ‘straight’ kink site”.

This post: http://www.gaysdefendmarriage.com/?p=4 and its comments show Mr Benkof argue his absurd position that while (many, most, enough) gays are kinky perverts, all (or most, or enough) hets are perfectly normal and don’t have open relationships or BDSM roleplaying and sex. Therefore, THEIR relationships are marriage, but gay relationships aren’t. My favourite quote:

“I fail to see how non-monogamous relationships will be barred under the new California marriage regime.”

How are non-monogamous relationships barred under the OLD California marriage regime, guys? I’m Dutch and not familiar with California law, but my hunch is that they’re, like, totally legal.

I side with Boo: you can’t argue with this guy.

Jason D
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Do gay couples that are not monogamous (about two-thirds of them) lie through the omission of key facts when they go on television and claim they’re just like any straight couple, they just want their rights?

Being that we don’t have any accurate stats on how many actual gay couples there are in the US, how on earth could we possibly know that thwo-thirds are non-monogamous? I’m interested to know where you got that bit of misinformation.

Dan Savage, for his book “Skipping Towards Gamorrah” did a little research on adultery. He found that there are many straight couples who are swingers. The attendance numbers for a swingers convention (couples only, no singles) shows that there are more straight folks involved in swinging then our best estimates of the gay population. In other words, there are more straight swingers than there are possible gay couples. This comes from a conference attendance, so the number of actual swingers is probably higher due to some people who were not at that particular convention.

Boo
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

If Christians try to force Jews to practice Judaism I’ll fight it. If I lose, I can always move to Israel (which I hope to do anyway.) I’m not going to let fear of that happening stifle my advocacy of policies that are consistent with my beliefs.

Must… not… feed… narcicistic… troll… oh dang.

Then I hope your bags are packed, cause pretty much every cultural battle in this country is between ultra-conservative Christians and liberal Christians/secularists.

David Benkof
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

PiaSharn-

If you can can show me polls that say 50% of Americans support same-sex marriage, I’ll stop claiming that the majority of Americans don’t support it. Links, please. In my reading on the subject, the only to get to 50% is if you count support for civil unions, or survey only the most liberal states, or ask whether people oppose amending the constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage, which is a very different question than whether people support it.

Of course, I can have a religious marriage. But my religious beliefs are that a society that allows same-sex marriage is inherently corrupt. Orthodox Jews believe one of the reasons for the flood at the time of Noah was same-sex marriages. I don’t want to live in a society I believe G-d views as negatively as He way G-d viewed the pre-flood generation. I know that’s nonsense to you, but it’s real to me. So you vote your way on same-sex marriage and I’ll vote my may.

Two men can file jointly on their taxes in California, and I never have fought that. I certainly want the government to treat all marriages equally. I just want them to recognize only marriages, and not unions of two men or two women as if they were marriages.

I have a piece in today’s LA Daily News that gives just two examples of how same-sex marriage hurts marriage:
http://www.dailynews.com/editorial/ci_9605977

I give many others at GaysDefendMarriage.com. I’m not trying to avoid your question, but since I’ve answered it at length elsewhere I don’t see the point in wasting bandwidth here to repeat myself.

I apologize for putting words in your mouth, but if you don’t oppose my pushing for the definition of marriage I believe in, what is your point in saying “you seem to be saying that everyone should be legally forced to conform to your religious beliefs.”

If you were simply trying to summarize my views and not say they are illegitimate, then I have no problem with your comments.

If you “don’t give a damn what it’s called as long as we get the same legal rights and protections,” great! Domestic partnerships are a completely fair compromise between your position and my position.

I didn’t know we were debating the rights of Americans in Texas and Ohio. I do support increased rights for same-sex partners in those states. The fact they have constitutional amendments barring even domestic partnerships is the fault of gay activists like Evan Wolfson who rushed to sue for marriage in gay-friendly states without caring about the gays and lesbians he was hurting in more homophobic environments.

If you’re willing to vote for the California Marriage Protection Act, I’m willing to push for vastly increased protections for same-sex couples in the dozens of states where a lesbian can’t even be sure she’ll get custody of her lover’s children or the right to visit her in the hospital when she gets sick.

One harm of same-sex marriage is a good percentage of marriages will for the first time have among the terms of the relationship the agreement that monogamy is not important. See my piece in the LA Daily News and last Sunday’s news story in the New York Times on this subject.

You write “The only thing that would change is that these couples would have legal protections that they currently do not have access to.” which in California is just not true. The only thing that would change to benefit gays is what they get to call the relationship. Then, there would be many harms to the institution of marriage and to traditionally religious people. On balance, it just doesn’t add up.

Evan-

Saying “you don’t understand civics” is not an argument. If you want to point out an error in the democratic process I’ve described, be my guest.

You say gay marriage doesn’t involve me. Does medical marijuana involve me? I don’t have cancer. Is there something wrong with my pushing for government policies that help get relief to people who are suffering? Does the War in Iraq involve me? I’m not in the military. I think public policy involves all Americans. What you do in your bedroom or your church does not involve me. What the government calls your relationship does.

It’s very cute of Willie Hewes to quote me saying I don’t see how non-monogamous relationships will be barred under same-sex marriage, as if the concept was my idea. But anyone who actually reads my word in context will see I am responding to a lesbian who asserted that the power to regulate same-sex marriage “will fall on either the leaders of the marriage equality movement, judges or other elected officials of the United States government, or perhaps both. And they will -not- include non-monogomous relationships under the title of Marriage.”

Jason D-

The statistic on gay non-monogamy comes from Michael Shernoff, an openly gay psychotherapist who writes for gay.com. If you need a “less homophobic” source, I’ll see what I can come up with.

And excuse me if I don’t immediately accept the assertions of self-proclaimed “faggot” who is a prominent advocate of same-sex marriage about how non-monogamous straight people are. I cited a pro-gay source that admitted the extent of gay non-monogamy. If you can provide me a neutral or traditional-marriage-defending source that claims there are more married straight swingers than gay people in the country, I will give it due consideration.

werdna
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

David, could you link to some of your columns where you advocate *for* something that would benefit the LGBT community?

This to me was one of the most significant points in Timothy’s report, that you frequently hint that you support LGBT rights but you spend all of your time attacking LGBT advocates for the work they’re doing. Maybe I missed it somewhere in your lengthy replies (when do you sleep, queen?) but I’m honestly curious: what have you done for us lately?

Scott Smith
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

I absolutely think Mr. Benkof is being misleading. Throughout this comment thread he gives unconvincingly facile responses, and seemingly cannot stop himself from misrepresenting what others have said in their comments. He also likes to use belittling terms when he knows his statements aren’t playing well with readers.

Perhaps he actually isn’t completely conscious of what’s he’s doing. That does seem to be a typical characteristic of self-deception and denial.

Regardless, i’m not wasting my time responding to him any longer. My time will be better spent sharing BTB’s exposure of Mr. Benkof’s foolish deceptions.

jmc
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Orthodox Jews believe one of the reasons for the flood at the time of Noah was same-sex marriages.

Now I finally have a good reason to oppose same-sex marriage!

Seriously, this argument is about as productive as debating a “scientific” creationist. The epistemological gap on the core issues is to large. Benkof can cast his ballot based on his belief that the moon is made of cheese, so let’s just put that issue to bed. However I agree that he should note his religious objections more prominently, since I would rather not worry about engaging in a debate with empirical evidence when the primary reason for his opposition cannot be touched by any available evidence.

MirrorMan
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Bye, Davey! Forget to write!!!

To everyone else: LAwaters27 is absolutely right. All Davey does is prevaricate, dodge, weave, and wiggle out of arguments while never addressing the core accusations, that of his journalistic integrity and extremely elastic understanding of fact. I don’t think he quite understands the separation of Church and State, but it doesn’t really matter, because if he doesn’t like it, he can just take his ball and go to Israel.

I found it interesting that John noticed that Davey had an issue with Timothy Kincaid over being called ‘Mr. Benkof’ instead of ‘David’, as though the former were some kind of insult instead of a respectful address. Well, Davey, you just take your ball and go home. You won’t address the issues, you continually put words into other peoples mouths, and quite honestly, you are not nearly as entertaining as I could have hoped.

Bye, Davey! We won’t miss you!

Ben in Oakland
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

You have stated repeatedly that this is about your religious beliefs.

I wrote: “We have laws at every level of government which forbid discrimination on the basis of religious belief. Why is this different?”.

And I’m still waiting for a response.

cowboy
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Mr. Benkof,

I never even alluded you can’t have a say in this nebulous debate. I just said this one particular argument/reasoning was/is lame. I’m just giving you some friendly advice in case you use that reasoning again somewhere else.

I think PiaSharn is correct in assessing your willingness to read into or misrepresent what people have typed here.

One other item I thought I would share. It’s a bit of wisdom my Mother once said to me:

“An empty wagon rattles the most.”

Ben in Oakland
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

I read your article in the dailynews. Morally and intellectually bankrupt.

Gay people are not monogamous, and therefore harm marriage.I wouldn’t know. we’re monogamous, so we must not be harming marriage. People who think like you do have done everything they can to discourage gay people from forming lasting, positive, and healthy relationships, then throw up their hands in horror and disgust when we don’t meet the ideal of hetersoexual fidelity, which by the way, does not appear to exist. When you get all the heteros to honor their vows, please get back to me. you could probably appreciate Jesus’s dictum about casting the first stone– if you were a Christian.

The miracle to me is that so many gay relationships last, whether fidelitous or not, despite all of the social forces arrayed against them. Whereas, some 50% opf all hetero married relationships fail, despite all of the forces arrayed to support them.

Your comment that gay marriage harms marriage for heteros because they don’t get to choose when their children learn about homosexuality. Well, yet another crock. they don’t get to choose the what and when of all kinds of things that their children learn. And it is a good thing that there is some counterbalance to the prejudice. After all, as in south pacific– you must be carefully taught– to hate all the people your relatives hate.

Your statement that you are for all kinds of equality for gay people– just not in marirage– rings very hollow when you want the children to have no antidote for the hatred that their parents would teach them.

so, mr. Benkoff, you have made it abundantly clear, as i have always said. this is all about prejudice, and nothing but. It’s not about gay people at all, but about how much of a threat 3% of the population appears to be to the other 97%, and least in the minds of 1/2 of that 97%. And because it is about YOUR prejudice, then it must be right. No amount of rationality reaches you, because you have been carefully taught.

Unfortunately, you have been taught to hate yourself. You say you have gay friends– well maybe you do. I know that as a self-respecting gay man, if one of my friends spouted off this kind of garbage, he would not be one of my friends for long.

Timothy Kincaid
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Hey folks, a reminder.

Let’s keep it civil, OK?

rusty
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

David I can’t believe that you continue with your rant.

I have worked with families and young children for over 22 years. I have worked with the full spectrum of ‘family units’. American families are our greatest resource. Families are better defined by what the people in them do for each other than by the way they are structured. They deserve to be preserved and nurtured in all their diversity. *

I do not know where you come from or your background but your arguements and your position is so transparent. It is the same arguement used to deter inter-faith, inter-racial and other forms of marriage. And yet the growing number of families in America come from blended families.

Your idea of the ‘traditional family’ is dated. Yes families are important. That is why gays and lesbians look to form relationships often that resemble the families they grew up in.

You seem like a bitter soul at this point, not an advocate of gays and lesbians.

Traditional marriage, Man at work, wife home – barefoot, pregnant, subserviant. Don’t think that we will see that again. David you are seeing social evolution and it is happening world wide.

* http://www.cyfernet.org/parent/nontradfam.html

Timothy Kincaid
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

For those who don’t live in Los Angeles:

I caught about 40 minutes of Al Rantel’s show last night. The topic was gay marriage. Either Al has changed his views somewhat, or David Benkof is misrepresenting them.

Rantel stated that he would prefer that marriage mean what it once meant. But it doesn’t and so there is no “tradition” or “sactity” to protect.

He also said he wasn’t opposed to two men marrying, just that it should be determined by the people instead of judges. He laid out a number of arguments that could be made in favor of marriage and said that they might be right. Further, he said that amending the constitution is pretty drastic.

I got the sense that he’s not a big fan of gay marriage… but that he’s not the opponent that Benkof presented him to be.

That doesn’t surprise me.

David Benkof
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Werdna-

It’s a fair request. Here are two recent pieces:

http://www.dallasvoice.com/artman/publish/article_9094.php

http://www.nypost.com/seven/06092008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/marriage_fight_wastes_gay_dollars_114674.htm

jmc, I have never advocated that any non-Jew vote for man-woman marriage because of Noah’s flood. I raised that in answer to a specific question about Jewish beliefs. I could care less if you don’t agree with my religion’s beliefs about the Flood. I spend zero time and energy getting people to oppose same-sex marriage because they should agree with me about the flood.

I have the right to support or oppose same-sex marriage for any reason I choose, or for no reason at all. When I push for it publicly, I would be smart to use arguments that have the widest possible impact, but there’s no reason I can’t say I believe in Global Warming because the Tooth Fairy told me so if that’s what I choose to do.

As for “the primary reason for his opposition cannot be touched by any available evidence” you’re right, just as many gays and lesbians are absolutely sure that there were gay people in every culture throughout history, even though all the evidence (most of which has been collected by lesbian and gay scholars) suggests that is far from the truth. I don’t debate “marriage equality” people because I think they might come up with an argument that will change my mind. The odds of that are very, very long. I debate “marriage equality” people so undecided third parties can learn about some of the harms associated with redefining marriage, and the fact that the benefits, at least in California, are purely semantic and symbolic.

Ben wrote, “We have laws at every level of government which forbid discrimination on the basis of religious belief. Why is this different?” I’m sorry for not responding. It just isn’t true. I’m not thrilled with it, but the Civil Rights Act of 1964 contains a broad religious exemption (Section 702) which allows religious organizations to discriminate based on religion even for jobs that are unrelated to ritual affairs. There are sectarian hospitals that don’t hire Jewish doctors, for example.

Ben- I’m getting sick of reading the fake statistic of 50% of all marriages fail. I seem to have to debunk it at least twice a day. Go to snopes.com and let them debunk it for me, I don’t have the energy.

It’s Benkof, one f.

Well, I have lost some gay friends since speaking out on my traditionalist perspectives of gay and lesbian issues. I was particularly saddened to lose one friend who I had been close to for a decade – I flew to another state for his and his partner’s wedding – because he was shocked and offended that I would dare criticize two unfortunate gay community “heroes” – Matthew Limon and Gwen Araujo – both of whom had gay sex with men without their consent. Other gay friends disagree with some – but usually not all – of what I’m saying. And others really don’t care.

Sorry, Timothy. I’ll try to be more civil.

AJD
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

“I have a piece in today’s LA Daily News that gives just two examples of how same-sex marriage hurts marriage”

Wow, you did a wonderful job in your rather badly written article* of … not really proving anything.

So according to you, gay couples should be denied the right to marry because gay men are supposedly disproportionately non-monogamous.

I have news for you: A lot of straight couples have arrangements like that as well. By contrast, my partner and I have been together for more than a year and have never cheated or even had agreed-upon trysts with any third party. What you’re basically saying is that my partner and I should be denied the ability to marry because of the supposed practices of other same-sex couples, while quite a few straight couples do precisely that and can still marry.

where is it written that one must think G-d thinks gay sex is terrific in order to be gay?

Don’t get me wrong: I still think you’re gay (and I don’t think you’re bisexual). But you’re gay in the same respect as Ted Haggard and Larry Craig: You may like guys, but you’re not part of our community. I never wrote literally that you’re not gay, but your insinuation that I did is not surprising, considering your habit of misrepresenting what people say to you.

What proves the point even more is when, in your article, you side with the authorities at Safeco Field for how they treated a lesbian couple that exchanged a few pecks so that a few uptight parents could shield their children from the reality that gay people exist.

Really, there’s nothing you’ve done or said that convinces me you’re on the side of the gay community in any way, shape or form. Go ahead, listen to musicals and love gay sex all you want, but you burned your GLBT membership card a long time ago.

* Because of space, I’ll just point out two examples here.

Statements such as that are the mark of a mediocre writer, and you’ve only further demonstrated how bad a journalist you are.

Regarding your statement earlier about apologizing for “errors,” you didn’t make mere mistakes, but brazenly deceptive statements. You deliberately misrepresented statements made to you by sources and also lied about your status as a “columnist for several gay newspapers.” The “corrections” you offer to make are not corrections at all, but attempts to cover up your lies so that others don’t notice them.

Do you even get any of this or have the slightest understanding of why I’m criticizing you? I mean, people get fired from newspapers and magazines for less than what you’ve done. You have a track record of dishonesty and disregard for the truth. What’s more is that you further undermine your credibility with every post here.

But why am I even bothering to write this? There’s no way I or anyone else will ever persuade you of how warped your views are. Someone could take you outside, and point to a blue sky, yet you’d still insist that it was yellow and green. That’s what happens when you adopt a fundamentalist religious worldview: Your faith and beliefs dominate your thinking to such a degree that you start tuning out reality itself, especially those parts of reality that don’t conform to your worldview.

David Benkof
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy-

That’s certainly not the Al I heard on the Ricki Lake show and on his show and in his 2004 NewsMax piece. Maybe he has changed his tune. But some of what you describe sounds pretty inconsistent, and given the way you described me in your “Mask” piece I’m not ready to completely take you at your word.

For example, he wants the people to decide, but not to amend the constitution. Well, that’s the only way for the people to decide – to amend the constitution. You seem to imply that he wouldn’t support the CMPA, but since he wants the people to decide I don’t see why he wouldn’t.

I’m happy he’s back on the air. He’s got cancer and had been off-air for a while. I hope he makes a full recovery.

MirrorMan
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Davey, times, they change. Maybe Al had a little change of heart over a ten year period. What are the odds?

Timothy Kincaid
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Yesterday

As for Bruce’s big difference between “columnist for” and “writer whose columns have been seen in,” I acknowledge a subtle difference between the two. I hardly think it’s a big deal at all, but if it makes you happy I’ll try to say “writer whose columns have been seen in” in the future.

In the LA Daily News Today

David Benkof is a columnist for several gay newspapers around the country and blogs at gaysdefendmarriage.com. Write to him by e-mail at davidbenkof@aol.com.

Timothy Kincaid
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

On the comments section of his latest rant:

The 50 percent divorce rate is a myth that has been debunked on snopes.com . The divorce rate has been falling for decades, and it’s much lower than half. But “marriage equality” supporters cite it anyway because anything that makes marriage less sacred helps their cause, which is making marriage less sacred. But please use real statistics, not those of your fantasies.

But snopes.com says

Sorry, no matches were found containing divorce rate.

Evan
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

I’m interested, from a religious perspective, in whether or not Mr. Benkof agrees with ALL of the Mosaic laws concerning sex, considering the fact that most of them are based on a worldview that considers women property. The incest rules that come right before the famous “lie with a man as with a woman” verse actually don’t condemn incest because it’s incest…but rather, it’s “do not sleep with your aunt, because it dishonors your UNCLE, do not sleep with your son’s wife because it dishonors your SON.” Notably missing is a condemnation of a father sleeping with his daughter. Why? Because she’s HIS PROPERTY. Likewise, the male-male sex condemnation follows the same pattern — because one partner was assumed to be making himself a woman, he was thereby turning himself into an inferior being, turning himself into property.

That’s why.

So. Would Mr. Benkof agree with his religious texts that there is a fundamental difference between sleeping with one’s mother (because it’s disrespectful of Dad) and a father sleeping with his daughter (All-righty!)?

Seriously. If you’re Orthodox, defend ALL of it.

Otherwise, you’re just a cherry-picker like anyone else.

AJD
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Seriously. If you’re Orthodox, defend ALL of it.

Good point. I’d also like to see if Mr. Traditionally Religious would be okay with legalizing the sale of one’s daughter into slavery. How about parents’ overseeing the execution of disobedient sons?

Ben in Oakland
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

two more avoidances of reality:

http://www.divorcerate.org

Ben in Oakland
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

whoops.

http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/religdisc/religionpamp.htm

I just don’t know what to think. benkoF says the divorce rate of 50% is a myth, refers me to snopes, but it doesn’t seem to exist there. Meanwhile, a little google search in divorce rates in the US seems to indicate that if 50% is not right, it isn’t far off, either.

BenkoF cites the one exception in the civil rights act, but ignores both what the DOJ says and the fact that anti-discirmnation laws exist at nearly every level of government.

honey, you remind me of that idiot Kmiec, who claims that somehow, SOMEHOW, falling fertility rates in europe are because gay people want to get married.

No more postings for you. you’re the original “grin without a cat”. Whether it’s “words mean exactly what i say they mean, nothing more and nothing less” or “I can believe six impossible things before breakfast” I’m not interested in your version of wonderland.

To quote myself: “The choice, as far as I can tell, is between these alternatives: are we going to try to advance mankind as a species by eliminating yet one more of our hate-filled stupidities, or are we going to take another step backwards and do what we have always done– one more nail in the coffin of the human spirit, singing a song about how we’re just doin’ some carpentry.”

It’s clear where you stand now. I wonder where you’ll be standing– and who will choose to stand with you– at the end of your life.

Timothy Kincaid
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Guys,

I’d caution against arguing someone else’s religion, especially if you are not well versed in the Oral Torah. Benkof is entitled to his religion, no matter how bigoted you may find it.

However, what he is not entitled to do is to lie and deceive without being called on it.

Evan
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy, that’s precisely the reason I bring it up: Despite Benkof’s protestations to the contrary, his worldview, and thus, the conflict between the personae he presents to different audiences, seems to be informed by his orthodox Jewish beliefs.

Those of us who were raised in conservative sectors of both Christianity AND Judaism, and who happen to be gay, tend to have studied these passages ad infinitum, and a truly deep study of said passages has shown, for many of us, to be a quite liberating exercise.

I do believe it’s significant to point out that Benkof, like so many of his anti-gay counterparts in Christendom, seems to selectively interpret which doctrines, which laws, to take literally.

I also think it’s relevant to the discussion to point out the fact that, as with so many gays who suddenly “find religion,” they tend to veer toward the most extremist manifestations of said religion and yes, tend to become vehemently outspoken against that which they are. This is textbook fundamentalist anti-gay rhetoric, and it also ties into the lies and deception, for they are the hallmark of the vehemently anti-gay right wing.

We are dealing with someone, remember, who, in this very thread, summarily dismissed a plurality of American Jews as not following “real” Judaism, just as Peter LaBarbera and company dismiss any Christian who doesn’t advocate for their theocratic worldview as less than a true Christian.

Different faith system, same game.

Scott
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

The only thing reliable about Benkof’s “journalism” is that it that you can’t trust what he writes. The man seems to be incapable of real candor, at least when it comes to the topic of gay marriage. Even the name of his website is delusive. A more genuine domain name might be “manhattaninstituteshilldefendingstraightprivilege.com”

Gary
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy,

PLEASE forward your article to the Seattle Post Intelligencer (citydesk@seattlepi.com), and to my friend and representatives office (murray.edward@leg.wa.gov).

Up here in the Northwest, we are still reeling over the Benkof swiftboating of Ed.

LAwaters27
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

I also could find no matches on snopes.com for as many variations as I could think of for the divorce rate.

A search on Google linking to census information and other sources did support the assertion that the divorce rate is no longer hovering at 50%. It is between 30% and 40%.

Note that marriage rates have declined during the same period. Most of the sources stated that tracking and measuring is imperfect, and drawing conclusions is difficult.

The point is that marriage is clearly not being treated as a sacred commitment by all heterosexual couples. We can’t say how well people honor their marriages with any pure accuracy.

Unless the government restricts the right to marry to those who absolutely will stay together, be faithful, etc. – then the argument to keep supposed non-monogamous same-sex couples from marriage on that basis is illogical.

Is actual harm caused by redefining (or expanding) civil marriage to include those who might be in a mutually agreed upon non-monogamous relationship? Is real harm caused by allowing same-sex couples to enter a civil contract and call it marriage?

Look at the premise of harm another way: central to Judaism is that they worship the one true God. By definition then, all other religions are false, and do not worship the one true God at all. Yet as a civil matter, those religions enjoy the same privileges of tax-exempt status, protection and freedom that others, such as the Catholic Church do.

Does the government definition and recognition of, along with granting of the same civil benefits and protections to other religions in any way harm Judaism? After all, their practices are idolatry and blasphemy: very, very serious sins according to Judaism.

Yet no religion takes up this cause. Why? Because it would be seen for what it is: a violation of freedom and an attempt to have government sanction a religion.

If Judaism as a religion is not harmed in a real way by civil recognition of other religions, then marriage is not harmed by civil recognition of same-sex marriage.

Evan
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

And lest we clarify it again, we’re NOT talking about Judaism as a whole. This is one small segment of belief in American Judaism, and it’s not necessarily Israeli Judaism either, since Israel is, in many ways, more progressive on gay issues than the US is.

PiaSharn
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

“In my reading on the subject, the only to get to 50% is if you count support for civil unions…”

Yes, I was including civil unions.

However, support for same-sex marriage alone has grown a lot over the years. If these trends continue, there will come a time when the majority does favor same-sex marriages.

“Two men can file jointly on their taxes in California, and I never have fought that. I certainly want the government to treat all marriages equally. I just want them to recognize only marriages, and not unions of two men or two women as if they were marriages.”

One more time… this is not just about people in CA.

And you failed to answer the question of how allowing a same-sex couple access to the rights and protections of a legal marriage affects your life.

“I have a piece in today’s LA Daily News that gives just two examples of how same-sex marriage hurts marriage…”

Those reasons were weak at best. Infidelity? There are plenty of heterosexuals who cheat and sleep around, yet that has never affected their legal rights.

I googled Mr. Shernoff’s website, and I’m having a hard time locating the statistic you stated. What article is it in?

When did this study occur? How many couples were questioned? Were they all from the same area, or were they randomly selected across the country?

What makes you believe that this study is representative of all same-sex couples, or even all male/male couples?

I noticed that your example deals only with gay men. What about lesbians?

For the sake of comparison, how many heterosexual couples are unfaithful?

And the bit about parents having no control over when their children learn about homosexuality is pointless. They don’t have much control over it now. How would legal rights for same-sex couples change anything?

I lived most of my life in MI, which does not have same-sex marriage or civil unions or any kind of legal protection for GLBT people. And you know what, I was still exposed to the existance homosexuality as a kid.

Look, it’s a big world, and we really don’t have any control about how and when we learn about it. I had no control over when I learned that homosexuality existed. I had no control over when I learned about death or racism or bigotry or violence or anything else. Neither did my sister or my cousins or my friends or my classmates.

No one has complete control over their life. We’re like leaves in a stream; we go where the current takes us. Sometimes it’s a smooth, pleasant journey, sometimes it’s rough and turbulent. But we have no choice in the matter.

Besides, as I pointed out, the couples that would get married are already doing all the things married couples do. They’re kissing at baseball games and holding hands in public and all that jazz. Giving them legal protections will not make kids more or less aware of them.

“I apologize for putting words in your mouth, but if you don’t oppose my pushing for the definition of marriage I believe in, what is your point in saying ‘You seem to be saying that everyone should be legally forced to conform to your religious beliefs.’”

Because I believe what you are doing is wrong, and I have been trying show you why.

“If you ‘don’t give a damn what it’s called as long as we get the same legal rights and protections,’ great! Domestic partnerships are a completely fair compromise between your position and my position.”

So you don’t oppose same-sex couples having equal protections, you just object to calling it “marriage”?

Why does the word make such a big difference? Calling them civil unions is OK, but if we call them marriages then civilization will collapse and fire and brimstone will fall from the sky?

“I didn’t know we were debating the rights of Americans in Texas and Ohio.”

Where did I ever say (or even imply) that I was only referring to CA? Nowhere.

You really need to stop assuming and start reading.

“One harm of same-sex marriage is a good percentage of marriages will for the first time have among the terms of the relationship the agreement that monogamy is not important.”

Huh?

How?

Seriously. This is mind boggling; how did you even come to this conclusion?

“You write ‘The only thing that would change is that these couples would have legal protections that they currently do not have access to.’ which in California is just not true.”

For the love of all that is holy, please read what I wrote!

Again, this is not just about CA. Did you completely ignore me when I wrote that this is about all GLBT people in all 50 states?

Look, this will probably be the last time I reply to you. In only a few posts, you have managed to make assumptions about my beliefs and feelings, you’ve insulted me, you’ve put words in my mouth, and you’ve repeatedly ignored what I have actually written. And I’m tired of it.

I don’t see how we can have rational debate on this subject when you only read what you want to read, and not what I’ve actually posted.

Sure, you appologized. Then you turned around and did it all over again.

I do have one final question for you, though:

Looking at how you’ve distorted my posts (and the posts of others), how can I trust anything you write? If you’ve managed to twist my words so badly, what proof do I have that you are not doing the same thing in any of your articles?

Why should I trust you after what you’ve done here? How can I think you are an honest, truthful person when you can’t even be honest about what I’ve written? How can I trust that you’ve quoted people accurately in your articles when you repeatedly put words in my mouth? If you are so eager to project opinions onto me, why should I doubt that you are not doing so to any of the people discussed on your website?

You’ve lied about me, so I don’t see why I should believe that you’re not lying about other things.

AJD
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

PiaSharn,

Remember that there’s a huge difference between domestic partnership benefits, civil unions and marriage — more than just the name. The number of rights and responsibilities that marriage confers, at the state and federal levels, dwarf those that you would get from a civil union or registered domestic partnership.

Ben in Oakland
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

AJD– plus, as i would like to point out again:

This is not really about marriage for (I think but have no proof) the majority of marriage equality opponents, BenkoF included. the lies, distortions, half-truths, and generally slipperyness of its opponents are a good indication that they don’t have much more than a moralizing– not moral– leg to stand on.

Evan
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Pia, you said:

“I noticed that your example deals only with gay men. What about lesbians?”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t lesbians have an extremely high rate of monogamy?

That could be why Benkof (like most other anti-gay activists) doesn’t tend to focus on lesbians. It’s extremely inconvenient for the cases they’re trying to make.

Of course, gay men, especially the younger generations, are changing a lot on the monogamy issue as well, now that *cough* our relationships aren’t quite so stigmatized and it’s easier for us to seek after the same normalcy as anyone else.

werdna
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

PiaSharn-
Shernoff’s comment can be found here.

The full quote is:
The research that has now been confirmed shows that approximately one-third of long-term male couples who have been together for maybe five years or more are sexually exclusive, and that two-thirds of couples are honestly nonmonogamous.

It’s not quite clear what “the research” is that Shernoff is referring to, but even if what he says is entirely accurate it’s also totally irrelevant to a discussion of an institution from which those same gay couples have been legally barred. Since gay marriage has been legal in the US in only one state (until this week!) and even there for just over 4 years, all of the relationships Shernoff is discussing began before it was possible for the men in question to be married to one another.

Timothy Kincaid
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

AJD,

For accuracy sake, in California (as in Oregon and other states) domestic partnerships provided all of the benefits and obligations that the state provides to marriage couples. Those provided by the federal government are still denied.

However in discussing “all the rights of marriage”, one must consider that the right to equal application, equal title, and equal name is a VERY valuable right. If it were not so then anti-gays would not fight so hard against it.

The right to call yourself “married” is of incredible value and for as long as it is denied to a class of persons then “all the rights of marriage” are not granted to that class.

It is this very important distinct right that the California Supreme Court said could not be withheld from a class of people without an especially compelling reason. The majority of the court heard no such reason.

AJD
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy,

I don’t dispute the importance of the title of “marriage,” but I was under the impression that the domestic partnership/civil union laws were mostly “marriage-lite.” I stand corrected.

Evan
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

^^

You’re both right. On a state level, the benefits are nearly the same…

But there are a LOT of federal benefits that are missing…

So, in a very real sense, it’s still separate, yet also unequal!

Ben in Oakland
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Domestic partnership can range from merely registering to marriage lite to all-but marriage.

And therein lies the problem. My domestic partnership, valuable in california, is worthless if I go next door to nevada, and less than worthless if I were to make the mistake of stepping into virginia, where the law forbids (as i understand it) any agreement which attempts to confer the rights of marriage onto the consenting parties..

David Benkof
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

AJD-

You claim I made a statement that shows I’m a “mediocre writer,” but you didn’t say what journalistic rule I violated. Certainly, if I broke a big journalistic rule the LA Daily News would have edited it out, no? I learned my journalistic skills primarily at Stanford. Where did you learn your journalistic skills? And what rule did I violate?

There you go again about how I “lied” about being a columnist for several gay newspapers. It is unquestionable that my columns have appeared in more than 75 gay and lesbian newspapers in 47 states over the last 12 years. Since May, my new column has appeared in five different papers. That’s pretty good for a new column. I’m negotiating with a sixth, which is a bigger paper than any that currently run my work. Where’s the lie?

Timothy-

I turned in my column to the Daily News on Sunday, and Monday I said I was willing to try to identify myself differently. Is there a problem?

You really need some training in Internet searching. Go here:

http://msgboard.snopes.com/message/ultimatebb.php?/ubb/get_topic/f/39/t/000964.html

[Ed. - the link connects to the snopes message board and not to Snopes' results. Snopes has a procedure by which a rumor is veried and given a rating. This is the procedure that is followed when something has been "debunked" by Snopes. The link provided does not support Benkof's assertion: "The 50 percent divorce rate is a myth that has been debunked on snopes.com"]

Evan-

I believe in every jot and tittle of Jewish law. But Orthodox Jews are not Biblical literalists or fundamentalists. We believe in the Torah as it has been explained by the Oral Law. It is absolutely forbidden by Jewish law for a father to have sex with his daughter. I think it’s very nice that you have a theory as to why that male-male sex act is forbidden; I also have a theory. But in Judaism “taamei hamitzvot” – the reason for the commandments is considered an interesting but utterly irrelevant issue when it comes to the binding nature of Jewish law. I don’t think there’s a fundamental difference between a man sleeping with his mother or a woman sleeping with her father. I’m pretty sure Judaism doesn’t either.

I am not a cherry-picker. I am happy to defend all of it. It seems a strange use of boxturtlebulletin’s bandwidth, and everyone should understand that it’s not my preference to be going over this stuff.

I don’t want to legalize the sale of one’s daughter to slavery, or to legalize slavery. I have a column coming out in late July about “Leviticus Traps” that explains why all such arguments (and the famous Dr. Laura letter and its counterpart on the West Wing) fundamentally misunderstand Orthodox Judaism. Anyone who wants a sneak peek can E-mail me. No Jewish court ever, ever executed a disobedient son. If you can prove otherwise with documentary, archaeological, or other evidence, I’d love to see that. If you can’t, please don’t claim that Judaism executes rebellious sons, because it doesn’t.

Ben, why are you quoting a psychologist about the divorce rate? Would you quote a sociologist about neurosis?

Timothy, you make a good point. I am 100% sure that my religious system is internally logically consistent. I will have an answer for every objection or question raised by any poster on here – and if I don’t, I’ll call my rabbi and get the answer. Some of you may want to be able to “stump” me and prove Judaism is inconsistent, but it simply is not going to happen. Thousands of rabbis and yeshiva students spend at least 14 hours a day looking for precisely such apparent inconsistencies, and then they go ahead and show how they’re not actually inconsistent. You may hear some of those explanations and reject them, but you’re not going to convince me that Judaism is inconsistent. And since as Timothy implies the Oral Torah is very complex, the odds are you’re going to end up stating opinions about things you know absolutely nothing about, especially if you know no Hebrew and Aramaic. That said, I’m not going to ignore questions I do get asked.

Evan-

You’re right (not that it’s such a shocking revelation), my politics are informed by my beliefs. So what? Aren’t your politics informed by your beliefs?

Evan, please E-mail me for my Leviticus column so you can understand why I do not selectively interpret the Torah.

LAWaters27-

I think it’s really funny that as one of the people causing the harm to opposite-sex marriage and traditionally religious people, you feel qualified to determine whether in fact there is harm. Shouldn’t we let the people allegedly being harmed be the ones to determine whether there is, indeed harm? Should we let the Boy Scouts decide whether their policies hurt gay men and boys?

I don’t know where you got this concept of the “one true God” in Judaism. Every morning we pray “Mi Chamocha Ba’elim Hashem” – “Who is like you among god, O G-d?” That prayer would be nonsense if we thought G-d was literally the only god, as opposed to the greatest G-d, the one that we worship.

Evan-

What is your source or what are your qualifications? Because Judaism absolutely opposes same-sex marriage. Some Jews may support it, and some Jewish organizations may as well. But there is no question that Judaism supports only man-woman marriage.

Pia-

It doesn’t work to project future public opinion like one predicts the size of an interest-bearing bank account. In 1925, attitudes toward women’s equality were on the rise. But in the 1930s, they declined. In Germany in the 1920s, things were looking up for Jews. You’ve probably heard how things turned out. So it is just as possible that same-sex marriage will recede in popularity as it is that it will grow.

You can read my examples of how same-sex marriage hurts people like me at my Web site. There are many.

You missed my point on infidelity. The problem is not that gays cheat on each other, it’s that when they have sex outside the relationship, they don’t think they’re cheating. Extending marriage to male-male couples changes the nature of marriage to mean a bond that does not necessarily agree to be monogamous. I don’t agree with that.

Shockingly, Michael died today after a battle with cancer. I’m pleased I put some of his ideas before public view on the day of his death. It’s weird that I E-mailed him this morning, just about the time he died, to tell him about my piece. You can read his stuff here:

http://www.gay.com/news/roundups/package.html?sernum=1314&navpath=/channels/health/mental/

I believed the study because in my decade as a sexually active gay man, far more committed couples admitted to me they were non-monogamous than the ones who claimed to be monogamous. As a matter of fact one-third sounded high to me.

[Ed. - The link does not lead to a study. The link connects to an opinion piece by "psychotherapist and writer Michael Shernoff, MSW" and his statement: "The research that has now been confirmed shows that approximately one-third of long-term male couples who have been together for maybe five years or more are sexually exclusive, and that two-thirds of couples are honestly nonmonogamous." Shernoff does not indicate from where he derives "the research". While that may be acceptable to others, at Box Turtle Bulletin such a bold statement absent of any substantiation would not be adequate support.]

If the gay community starts to argue for lesbian but not gay marriage, I will drop this argument.

I don’t care how many heterosexual couples are unfaithful. Infidelity hurts a particular marriage, but not marriage in general. I care how many heterosexual couples are consensually non-monogamous. The answer is very few. Certainly not two-thirds!

If I had more space I would have spelled out what you’re asking about, completely fairly. What’s at stake is what kind of society we live in. Will prefering male-female living be considered bigotry like racism, or will it be a respect opinion by people with a certain moral or religious perspective. The gay community appears to want choice #1. The more we give in to LGBT “equality” demands, the harder it is going to be for people like me to raise my people to respect gay people and be friendly to them, but to not personally approve of having gay sex or entering a same-sex relationship. I want the freedom to teach my children my values, and same-sex marriage is a major step toward making my values publicly labeled as “hateful” and “bigoted.” Sorry, I’m not going there.

I would not choose to write my state’s domestic partnership law precisely the way California did, but I do not believe it is a threat to my way of life. Marriage is. So if we could just compromise on domestic partnerships with equal benefits – which is not the first choice of either of us – I think the most good for the most people would be done. But most LGBT advocates are far more intereste in the government declaring them “equal” than in rights and benefits.

Look, my religious and moral beliefs do think the word makes a huge difference. There are also the repercussions I’ve discussed here and at GaysDefendMarriage.com. I don’t see why we can’t go with a compromise where neither of us gets everything we want.

Yes, I’ve been focusing on California because that is where the action on this issue is right now. But I’m happy to talk about the other states, especially since the problems in those states were caused as much by LGBT arrogance as by homophobia.

You have lots of good questions (I’m liking you more and more) but I’m taking the special-needs grandchild of my mother’s gentleman friend to a movie. I hope I’ve put fewer words in your mouth this time. I’ve tried.

I’ll continue when I get back. Ta ta!

Ben in Oakland
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

I didn’t quote anyone as far as I can tell.

Ben in Oakland
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

I was quoting Lewis carroll. I quoted me.

Jason D
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

So David’s article is all about :

1) A certain sub-population of the gay community may not be 100 percent monogamous, a theoretical, but not compulsary part of hetero marriage. You’re saying no gay couples can get married because some may not be monogamous, and thus this hurts marriage. You have no way of knowing how many straight couples are already swinging, and I doubt you care to know either. As proof, you cite a doc on a gay website who doesn’t bother to cite any sources for this 2/3 statistic. Do you believe everything that openly gay docs are paid to say on a website directed at gay singles (not couples) or just the stuff that supports your worldview?

2) Gay couple performing any PDA in public is gross. Even if it mirrors acceptable straight PDA, the fact that the participants are the same sex means it is somehow so offensive to scar people for life. The government is not saddled with the responsibilities of defending and enforcing delicate religious sensibilities, it just can’t stop you from having them.

Those are some pretty weak arguments. No gay marriage because some gays might fulfill the letter but not the spirit (ignoring straights doing the same or worse) and general offensiveness at the reality that gay couples like to be affectionate. Those are your harms?
Hmm, nobody murdered, maimed, raped, sold into slavery, or treated differently than the rest of the country.

Evan
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

“You’re right (not that it’s such a shocking revelation), my politics are informed by my beliefs. So what? Aren’t your politics informed by your beliefs?”

Well, first of all, I don’t use my religious beliefs as a crutch for my bigotry, so…

It’s going to be kind of comparing apples and oranges, isn’t it?

But I will say that I look at political issues from a secular standpoint, then bring them back into my spiritual beliefs and support policies that are most likely to foster justice for ALL people.

And that’s both a Jewish and a Christian principle…the problem is that so many people zero in on moralistic beliefs about laws, and they miss the wider points…

Zeke
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Yet more confirmation that Benkof is a liar.

I just spoke with Nadine Smith and told her that Mr. Benkof had dropped her name in a list of people who he claims shares his views on marriage equality. She is on the road and unable to respond for herself at this time but she asked me to respond on her behalf in order to set the record straight as soon as possible.

Nadine says that she has received a barrage of emails and “press releases” from Benkof over the last year or so but she has for the most part avoided responding to him because he seems to be “nutty”. She did respond to him on at least one occasion when she told him that she disagreed with virtually everything he had sent to her. She has NEVER been a participant on ANY of his websites and she would never agree to be included in ANY list of people who agree with him on ANY issue.

Nadine will probably be stopping by to speak for herself on the matter as soon as she is able to find the time to sit down with her laptop and read this blog.

She wanted me to immediately let everyone know that she categorically denies Benkof’s assertions. She FULLY supports the fight to secure and to defend equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples. That is why she has devoted so much of her time and energy to fighting Amendment 2, the “Marriage Protection Amendment” that will be on the Florida State ballot in November.

Jerry
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

It seems pretty clear to me at this point, and after having experienced a similar ENDLESS discussion at Independent Gay Forum where Mr. Benkof writes novel after novel in the comments, this man is nothing more than a contrarian with an ENORMOUS ego who really gets off on stirring up this kind of “discussion” and then keeping them going as long as possible. The more outrageous he can be, especially by lying through his teeth and libeling people the more of a negative response he will get and the more he will get off on it. This is like porn to him. He uses this to avoid dealing with his truth, his feelings, his nature and his attractions. It really is a sickness.

I personally think we should challenge every publication that publishes his garbage and write letters to the editors correcting all of the false claims that he makes but we should AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE arguing with him directly. No one will change his mind with a good argument because he already knows that what he’s saying is bullsh*t. He’s not saying these things because they’re true, or because he believes they’re true; it’s clear that he’s never allowed truthfulness to get in the way of his game. He is just spewing his silliness to get exactly what he’s getting here.

He is a Super-troll who should be starved to death with silence.

MirrorMan
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

I, for one, agree and am absolutely ready to serve up one heaping helping of nothingness the next time he drops by. He really is a rather joyless person, and I hope he enjoys himself in Israel (assuming he actually gets there).

LAwaters27
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

“I think it’s really funny that as one of the people causing the harm to opposite-sex marriage and traditionally religious people, you feel qualified to determine whether in fact there is harm. Shouldn’t we let the people allegedly being harmed be the ones to determine whether there is, indeed harm? Should we let the Boy Scouts decide whether their policies hurt gay men and boys?”

Wrong again. I was married for 19 years. I was a youth group leader and worship leader in several fundamentalist churches. I have intently studied the Bible for over 30 years. As a participant in opposite-sex marriage, and as a traditionally religious person, I could not (though I tried) come up with a harm caused to my marriage or my faith by gay marriage that was intellectually honest. I am following the course of this discussion wondering if you can. So far you haven’t.

The Boy Scouts can set their own policies. They just can’t get federal subsidies or other freebies they feel entitled to while discriminating against gays, or anyone else. As you said: them’s the breaks.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am now in a committed same-sex relationship and we are raising the two (of four) daughters who are still minors. I have not rejected Christianity, only those humans who defile it with their hate.

Who harmed my marriage? My ex, who had molested his 11-year old sister in the past and grew up to covertly molest our daughters, along with having a psychotic breakdown. I have loved & supported one daughter through bulemia and attempted suicide; one through severe social anxiety; and a third is now manifesting all the symptoms of covert incest because they still have their father in their lives. (Not enough evidence to prosecute – yet). Each one of several professionals involved in helping my family has said they have never seen a mother respond in a more healthy, loving or mature way to their children’s emotional difficulties.

Believe me, sir, there are worse things to have to explain to your children than why two people who love each other kiss.

Lesbians do make lousy fathers to quote another sound bite you love so well. I am here to inform you that far too many fathers make lousy fathers. It takes more than a certain sex organ to be a good parent.

Timothy Kincaid
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

LAwaters, my prayers are with you and your kids. Thank God they have you.

LAwaters27
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy, thank you for your prayers and your kind words. It hasn’t been the easiest path, but our family proves the power of love to heal!

I should mention that our two grown daughters (20 and 18 yrs. old) are now doing incredibly well. They are strong and resilient, and more compassionate because they have worked through their pain. I’m so proud of them!

Gary
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

LAwaters27:

Your post contributed more to this conversation than anything I’ve seen throughout.

Those of us who are parents, and in my case grandparents understand. It breaks my heart that I can’t support the scouts. . .but I just can’t.

No religion intended . .God Bless You.

MirrorMan
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

LAwaters27:

Kudos on your courage, tenacity, and constitution. You have, indeed, gone above and beyond, as I am sure any parent would. Also, thank you as well for your contributions to this conversation. You have just eloquently stated exactly WHY marriage equality is not only desired, but necessary – so the children can be properly cared for by a loving, married couple who don’t have to worry about hospital visits, et. al.

Gary
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

thanks mirrorman . .you said what I was trying for. I’m no journalist or poet.

LAwaters27
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Gary and MirrorMan – thank you both for your encouragement and kind words!

It helps to have come from both sides of the debate. Frankly, my partner and I are not fully convinced we want the civil ceremony and government benefits at this point. One of the main reasons to take that step would be for our children, which the CA ruling outlined so well.

More importantly, the CA ruling correctly enumerated why it is a question of civil rights. I have yet to see a legitimate, convincing argument from opponents of gay marriage that adequately explains why same-sex couples should be denied the civil right of marriage.

Instead, there are insults, accusations and contempt. Using the reasoning of Mr. Benkof’s latest diversionary tactic of questioning my qualifications to determine harm, he disqualifies his own arguments used in his article today, since he is not and has never been married and has fathered or raised no children. He could not then speak for opposite-sex marriages or parents!

Challenging me, and everyone else here in that way is not reasonable, open discourse. It’s playground bullying. If Mr. Benkof would aspire to be a voice of reason on his side of the debate, he will need to find a way to heal from all that contempt. It is blocking his ability to be logical or persuasive.

I am glad to have participated here at BTB. I’ve been a reader for a while. I’m looking forward to more discussions!

LAwaters27
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Clarification: our uncertainty about civil marriage is not because of a disdain for marriage or its value to families. We both agree to that. Civil marriage equality is absolutely necessary.

We just have to work through our distrust of our current government and what they will do with the information.

I mentioned it to say that it’s not something I believe in just because it would benefit me and mine.

David Benkof
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

Oh, so now we have an Editor who interrupts our blog posts and “corrects” what he or she disagrees with. I have never done that on my blog, nor ever seen it on anyone else’s. I think people should be able to say whatever they want uninterrupted, no matter how much I think it’s wrong.

If anyone wants to continue the conversation, I’d be happy to respond privately at DavidBenkof@aol.com, or at my blog GaysDefendMarriage.com.

While the Box Turtle Bulletin people have the free speech right to do whatever they want with people’s posts at their blog, I also have the free speech right to choose to engage in conversation in forums where I don’t have to worry that someone will “edit” my posts with their running commentary on my comments.

I wish you all the best. Pia, I especially hope you’ll continue what I think was a productive dialogue with me in another setting, but that is of course totally up to you. FYI a longer version of my “hurt marriage” piece is up at the Web site of the Sun-Sentinel, the second largest newspaper in South Florida.

Have a good night, everyone!

AJD
June 17th, 2008 | LINK

You claim I made a statement that shows I’m a “mediocre writer,” but you didn’t say what journalistic rule I violated.

You know what I wrote, and so does everyone else. Don’t try to misrepresent it.

“Certainly, if I broke a big journalistic rule the LA Daily News would have edited it out, no?”

Not if you misrepresent yourself skillfully enough that the LADN doesn’t suspect you.

“I learned my journalistic skills primarily at Stanford.”

Stephen Glass learned his journalistic skills at the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school. Jayson Blair learned his journalistic skills at the University of Maryland at College Park, home to a prestigious journalism school and publisher of AJR. David Benkof learned his journalstic skills at Stanford.

“Where did you learn your journalistic skills?”

Ball State University

“And what rule did I violate?”

I’ve already listed those, more than once.

“There you go again about how I “lied” about being a columnist for several gay newspapers. It is unquestionable that my columns have appeared in more than 75 gay and lesbian newspapers in 47 states over the last 12 years.”

Freelancing is not the same as being a “columnist for several gay newspapers.”

“Since May, my new column has appeared in five different papers. That’s pretty good for a new column. I’m negotiating with a sixth, which is a bigger paper than any that currently run my work. Where’s the lie?”

Do you mean that you’ve been contracted to write columns for these newspapers on a regular basis? If so, then it’s news to everyone here. If not, then you’re lying.

“Timothy-

I turned in my column to the Daily News on Sunday, and Monday I said I was willing to try to identify myself differently. Is there a problem?”

Wow! In one posting, you claim to be a columnist and then imply that you’re not. I rest my case.

Evan
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

“If anyone wants to continue the conversation, I’d be happy to respond privately at DavidBenkof@aol.com, or at my blog GaysDefendMarriage.com.”

And just like that, she stomps away…

LAWaters, thanks for sharing a little piece of your life.

Warmest thoughts and prayers to your family.

Jason D
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

“Oh, so now we have an Editor who interrupts our blog posts and “corrects” what he or she disagrees with. I have never done that on my blog, nor ever seen it on anyone else’s. I think people should be able to say whatever they want uninterrupted, no matter how much I think it’s wrong.”

It’s called the Comments Policy. It’s meant to keep discussions civil, and information accurate. You’d know that if you read it, and your post would be edit-free if you’d followed it.

LAWaters, all the best to you and yours, you deserve it!

Bruce Garrett
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

“I think it’s really funny that as one of the people causing the harm to opposite-sex marriage and traditionally religious people, you feel qualified to determine whether in fact there is harm. Shouldn’t we let the people allegedly being harmed be the ones to determine whether there is, indeed harm? Should we let the Boy Scouts decide whether their policies hurt gay men and boys?”

And while we’re at it, let’s let the people who believe in UFOs determine whether or not they really exist.

Bruce Garrett
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

Oh, so now we have an Editor who interrupts our blog posts and “corrects” what he or she disagrees with. I have never done that on my blog, nor ever seen it on anyone else’s. I think people should be able to say whatever they want uninterrupted, no matter how much I think it’s wrong.

Your blog, your rules. Their blog, their rules. Oh…wait… Their blog, your rules too. Just like it’s their life, but your rules too. That about it David?

Bruce Garrett
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

You missed my point on infidelity. The problem is not that gays cheat on each other, it’s that when they have sex outside the relationship, they don’t think they’re cheating.

And this is different from heterosexual cheating…how? Cheats of either gender and sexual orientation all have their little ways of rationalizing it. Whether it’s sexual cheating or otherwise. You for instance. You probably still think you weren’t cheating by listing all those folks as agreeing with your position on same sex marriage when they didn’t.

Extending marriage to male-male couples changes the nature of marriage to mean a bond that does not necessarily agree to be monogamous.

Not necessarily. If all we have to be is as monogamous as heterosexual married couples generally are, that’s a pretty low bar to reach actually.

Bruce Garrett
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

Do gay couples that are not monogamous (about two-thirds of them) lie through the omission of key facts when they go on television and claim they’re just like any straight couple, they just want their rights?

First, where do you get your figure there? Second, are heterosexuals who rail against same sex marriage as destructive to marriage, while simultaneously engaging in their own adulterous affairs, also guilty of omitting key facts? Third, what about the one third of gay couples you are willing to admit Are monogamous? They have to suffer for the sins of the others? Then why don’t monogamous heterosexuals also have to suffer for the sins of the ones who aren’t?

Forth, do you ever think about what you’re saying? Gay couples who have sex outside the relationship, Are like any straight couple…that have sex outside the relationship. And as we’ve seen all too sickeningly lately, a lot of those are in government, busily defending marriage from same sex couples…like the devoted and faithful one third of them you mention up there.

Your problem isn’t with fidelity, it’s with homosexuality. Otherwise, you’d be holding up both the faithful same sex couples and the faithful opposite sex couples, as examples to the rest. Instead, you’re exalting heterosexual marriage, whether its faithful or not, and condemning same sex couples, whether they’re faithful or not. This isn’t about faithfulness with you. It’s about homosexuality. Nothing else.

werdna
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

Bruce, in fairness to David’s point about cheating, there are plenty of people (gay, straight, whatever) who are in long-term, committed relationships but who do not make sexual exclusivity a condition of that relationship. My fiancé and I have been together for 18 years and we’ve always had an open relationship. When one of us has sex outside of our relationship it’s not (necessarily) cheating as long as it doesn’t violate the trust, love and commitment that is the basis of our relationship. It’s not that we’re “rationalizing it”, it really isn’t cheating because it’s allowed in we’ve decided to organized our lives. When we get married next month we will continue to have an open relationship, only at that point it will be an open marriage–much like the open marriages of many opposite-sex couple who’ve preceeded us.

It works for us, but we also know many couples who are monogamous, which works for them. We also know couples who aspire to have open or monogamous relationships who struggle to meet their ideals. Commitment is tough and every couple works it out in their own way, no big news there.

The thing about the way Benkof argues is that he’s half right about some things, but he distorts the kernel of truth to draw absurd conclusions. So for him to leap from a vague reference to “the research” that 2/3 of gay men in long-term relationships–relationships that were not legal marriages, it should be noted again–are not monogamous to the conclusion that 2/3 of gay male couple who will marry will have this kind of relationship which will then destroy marriage for everyone is just absurd logic.

Clearly his purpose in citing this dubious (or at least extremely conditional) “statistic” is not to support any logical argument but simply to invoke the boogey man of gay men as irresponsible, selfish hedonists who just don’t deserve the reward of legal marriage. It’s transparent, but still aggravating. I’m personally pretty much bored with his whole little show, but I have a feeling we’ll be dealing with him for a while longer. Hopefully some of the media outlets that publish his work will begin to realize what a nutjob he is.

Bruce Garrett
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

Yes, I’m sure you believe that every human being has a single sexual orientation that is etched on their DNA. Good for you. I don’t. And many gays and lesbians don’t either.

Well count me among them then because I don’t either. I do think sexual orientation is genetic, but “etched” is cheap rhetoric. Most all of us go through at least one change in sexual orientation in our lifetimes. It’s called puberty. It wouldn’t surprise me that some of us may go through other changes as we grow and get older. But that’s still something quite beyond our control to will. It just happens.

Just because your hair changes color somewhat throughout your life, doesn’t mean that hair color isn’t determined by genes. Your natural hair color anyway. I have a friend who is Asian on his father’s side, and had beautiful jet black hair in his teen years. Then sometime in his thirties it started picking up the brown from his mother’s side. It’s vaguely reddish now, and starting to go gray. Just because something is genetic doesn’t mean its expression is fixed throughout your lifetime. But just because it may change, doesn’t mean it will either, or that you or anyone else can make it change.

A left handed person can train themselves, with much difficulty, to use their right hand. But they are still left handed. Sexual orientation is like that. Behavior is the expression of the thing, not the thing itself. This isn’t rocket science.

So…in light of all that…I have a suggestion. Let people be what they will be. If you’re worried about whether they love boys or girls, you are worrying about the wrong thing. Worry that their word is good. That they can be trusted. That they keep their promises. That they do their share of the work. That they care whether or not their community and their country are better for their having walked in it. Worry that the people they take into their arms are better for having been loved by them, and not worse. That’s the important stuff. Everything else is detail. You are fixating on the detail and missing the essence. Maybe that’s why you’re so loose with the truth.

You missed the part discussed above where I pointed out the Rauch reference was an editing error, an honest mistake.

Like all the others? Said hi to Nadine Smith lately?

I just don’t understand your point about Judaism and the law. Why can someone support policies based on their secular belief system, or their MCC belief system, but I can’t support policies based on my Jewish belief system? Now *that’s* something unconstitutional.

Perhaps it’s that you’re reading the first amendment backwards. Try forwards.

Timothy Kincaid
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

Fannie’s Room has an analysis of Benkof’s claim that the Gay Community should change its priorities.

Timothy Kincaid
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

David Benkof says:

Oh, so now we have an Editor who interrupts our blog posts and “corrects” what he or she disagrees with. I have never done that on my blog, nor ever seen it on anyone else’s. I think people should be able to say whatever they want uninterrupted, no matter how much I think it’s wrong.

However, on the 17th, Benkof said

You claim I made a statement that shows I’m a “mediocre writer,” but you didn’t say what journalistic rule I violated. Certainly, if I broke a big journalistic rule the LA Daily News would have edited it out, no?

Because Benkof knows that while an editor seldom addresses opinion, they do address factual content. Benkof can believe or opine whatever he likes. He cannot state that a link is to a Snopes debunking that is non-existent or to a study that is not a study. Usually such efforts would be addressed in separate comments. But due to the length of the thread, I felt it important that these corrections to untruthful claims about links not be lost.

If he wishes to make claims about debunkings that don’t exist or about studies that are not studies, he can do so at his site.

Timothy Kincaid
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

It is unquestionable that my columns have appeared in more than 75 gay and lesbian newspapers in 47 states over the last 12 years.

This is typical of David Benkof.

What is left out of this statement is that the bulk of these writings were before he dropped his gay identity and left the gay community to go study in Israel. It appears to be only in the past few months that Benkof has dedicated himself to writing for the anti-gay cause.

It’s the difference between “I used to be a gay columnist a decade ago” and “I am now an anti-gay writer who has had a single article published in a handful of gay papers and currently has one agreement with one gay paper for ongoing content”.

Jason D
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

Marriage Equality is fair to everyone. Gays get to marry, straights get to marry, every couple gets their relationship recognized, everyone’s kids and next of kin are protected, it is a win-win situation. Religions don’t have to approve if they don’t want to. Religions that do approve get to have the weddings they’re already performing be legal.

What I’ve noticed is that those of the Religious Right persuasion are obsessed with control. It’s displayed in their decidedly anti-choice politics. They have a rulebook, and don’t just want to follow it themselves, they want EVERYONE to follow it. Thus they see the ability to choose to not follow the rulebook as an attack on their faith. The existence of other options not only frightens, them, it angers them. They start from the position of already knowing what’s “good” and what’s “bad” (with no evidence, no study) and then find data, sources, articles to support it. They start with the answer, and try to destroy the question. If they can’t outlaw the choice, the option, then they want to maintain stigma, violence, and negative consequences for those “choices”. Oh, and yes, being gay IS a choice, because God didn’t make gay people, it says so in the Bible. Page 3, 2nd paragraph. Go look.

If you know about condoms, you might have sex before marriage. Which is a no-no. If you have sex before marriage, well then you’re stuck with whatever happens. Babies? You’re raising them. Disease? You’re paying costly medical bills and or just dying. No HPV vaccine, that’s just helping people be slutty, and we can’t have that. Rape? Well, that’s just unfortunate, here’s a bible, you’ll need it, “Mom”. Obey, or you suffer.

If you know about homosexuality, you might try it. If you try it, you might enjoy it. Well, don’t expect anyone to ever accept it, expect to be hurt, expect no help, no protection from violence, no support unless you change. If you’re hurt, if your family is hurt, if your kids are hurt — it’s you, not us, that’s hurting them. You’re wrong, and you deserve every bad thing that happens to you. Obey, or suffer.

Look, just do what we tell you to. Don’t think for yourself, that’s what got you into this mess in the first place. You can’t be trusted to make your own decisions, just do what we say. Obey, or suffer.

David Benkof
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

It appears that many people are continuing to ask me questions and try to dialogue with me here at boxturtlebulletin. For those who missed it the first time, let me restate: I am happy to answer anybody’s questions and react to anybody’s arguments in private E-mail (DavidBenkof@aol.com) or at my blog, or even at another venue you suggest. But I’m not willing to respond to your questions and arguments at a Web site that has an “Editor” who “corrects” what he thinks are the “mistakes” of people he disagrees with. I’ve never done that at GaysDefendMarriage.com, and I’ve never seen it done anywhere else either. One of you seems to think I’m demanding that this site follow my rules. I never did that. I simply said that under this site’s rules I’m not comfortable engaging in dialogue. I will engage in debate at any of the thousands and thousands of sites that have rules that don’t involve people’s comments being interrupted without their permission.

I am quite eager to respond to the many comments above, especially the blatant, demostrable lies about Nadine Smith, but I just don’t feel safe here, so I’m going to respectfully follow Mr. Kincaid’s recommendation and limit my substantive comments to sites that allow for more freedom and open debate.

Thank you. I’ll stop by to read what you’re saying from time to time, but if you want substantive responses, we’ll have to move the conversation elsewhere.

Timothy Kincaid
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

Benkof’s continues to use his deceptive and dishonest self identification – well after claiming he would change. From at the bottom of his article in the Providence Journal today:

David Benkof is a columnist for several gay newspapers around the country. He blogs at GaysDefendMarriage.com and can be reached at DavidBenkof@aol.com.

Ben in Oakland
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

I wasn’t going to make another statement about Bunk-of, but I do have some observations that have bothered me, and I’d like to get them off my chest. So, here’s a few for you, Davey.

“Gays defend marriage” It seems to be only the Bunkster writing there. So the word ‘gays’ is a lie– it’s just you. Likewise, your own publicity says you are ex-gay, not gay, formerly gay, and bisexual (though you just haven’t met the right girl yet– good luck with that!!!). So gay is not really quite so true any more, either.

That you believe marriage needs ‘defending’ from the homosexual agenda (where’s my goddam copy!!!???) tells me everything i need to know about your ideology. and every thing you have written has just confirmed that– long on ideology and belief, short on fact, deficient in compassion. Sounds just like every other homophobe out there that thinks that sexual orientation actually means something. That you claim some sort of authority on these matters because you were, or are, ‘formerly’ ‘gay’ just means that your self hatred does not know its own ‘limitations’.

Here are a few examples of this.

you wrote “…I would dare criticize two unfortunate gay community “heroes” – Matthew Limon and Gwen Araujo – both of whom had gay sex with men without their consent.” Gwen did have sex with those men. Absolutely. But she did do it with their consent. They admitted that. but if you want to believe that they ‘had no idea’ that she was he, then you are completely lost in a fairy tale world. (But we already know that– you believe in the Ex-Gay fairy).It is possible that if she only performed oral sex on them, they were not aware that she was biologically male, though she had a life and a community of which these men were also a part. However, if she had anal sex with them, it is incredibly unlikely that they failed to suspect her biological gender. Most people do not have sex fully dressed with no touching or looking.

Gwen’s murderers were attracted to her precisely because of tendencies which they would not like to acknowledge, especially to themselves. She was “safe” because she at least appeared female. These tendencies are possibly homosexual, or possibly directed towards pre-op transsexuals; there is a plethora of pornographic websites devoted to just that interest. However, when others found out about Gwen’s true gender, histrionic outrage and brutal murder were the perpetrators’ only protection against public knowledge and scorn of their personal shame. For many people, a sin is a sin only if it is found out. (Telephone call for Mr. Haggard!!!)

You wrote in your comments on the dialy news: “Not only do traditional families want the option of introducing their children to the concept of same-sex couples when they’re ready, rather than when the lesbian couple a few rows ahead of them at the ballgame gets randy”. In short gay people are not allowed to have lives in public, but heteros can.

You wrote: ‘If you’re willing to vote for the California Marriage Protection Act, I’m willing to push for vastly increased protections for same-sex couples in the dozens of states where a lesbian can’t even be sure she’ll get custody of her lover’s children or the right to visit her in the hospital when she gets sick.”

So which is it? Or do I read this correctly. we can have all the rights we wish with your full support except for the right to be treated exactly the same as straight people are, and only then if we are willing to keep ourselves out of the sight of those poor heterosexuals whose heterosexuality and family values are so weak that they can’t even be exposed to the idea of homosexuality.

You also wrote: “I do support increased rights for same-sex partners in those states. The fact they have constitutional amendments barring even domestic partnerships is the fault of gay activists like Evan Wolfson who rushed to sue for marriage in gay-friendly states without caring about the gays and lesbians he was hurting in more homophobic environments.” And i thought it was the Republican Party and extremely right wing christians that promoted those amendments. now i find out it was really (wait for it!!!) ALL THE FAULT OF A GAY MAN!!!! As with gwen araujo, you are only comfortable blaming the victim.

honey– you are one sick puppy.

werdna
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

How many more times do you think he’ll stop by to say he won’t be stopping by any more?

Ben in Oakland
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

Because the boy feeds on this. It is all aobut him, isn’t it?

David Benkof
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

werdna-

I’ll stop by as many times as it takes for people to realize that this is the wrong place to come if they want to talk to me. Although I’m pretty confused about why Ben in Oakland would suggest that I shouldn’t be turning up here when less than an hour earlier he made several comments clearly directed at me including direct questions. If all your questions were rhetorical, Ben, OK, but it didn’t appear so. If you actually want answers, you’ll have to ask me somewhere else.

I love how Mr. Kincaid has now twice cited things I wrote before Monday (in this case a week ago today) and used it as evidence that I wasn’t being true to my word – the word I gave on Monday. It’s clear that he’s playing “gotcha” and this is much more about making me look bad rather than helping me more accurately represent the truth. Since I never saw anything wrong about the old way of writing, I’m not going to change what I’m doing to accommodate the demands of people who won’t be satisfied anyway. Sorry.

Finally, I agree with Mr. Kincaid that people should check out Fannie’s Room. It is thoughtful, incisive, respectful, honest, fair, and reasonable. I have left a detailed reply at her Web site. A lot of you, perhaps especially Mr. Kincaid, could learn much from the way that woman blogs.

TJ McFisty
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

Just when I thought his Google Alert bot broke.

It’s clear that he’s playing “gotcha” and this is much more about making me look bad rather than helping me more accurately represent the truth.

Well, you put it out there, and he critiqued it. That’s what happens when you write things for public consumption. In your case, your own words make you look bad. It happens.

Ben in Oakland
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

No. My comments were strictly rhetorical. Really just to get it off my chest. I don’t expect an answer because 1) you have provided precious few of them, and b) when you talk to anti-gay people who are driven by antio-gay ideology, one really can’t expect anything out of their mouths that doesn’t serve that ideology.

For some reason, the more anti-gay claptrap i hear, the more pissed I get. Especially when it is inconsistent, hypocritical, highly selective, highly self-serving ideology masquerading as religion or intelligent discourse.

Since I can’t bitch-slap you, Daddy dobson, Randy Thomasson, alan chambers or any of the other people that gain their power, money, sense of superiority, sense of self-righeousness, or self validation through their bigotry, I have to vent somewhere.

So i do it here. Now that i have said what i wanted to say, i can do something else.

Like destroy marriage.

(that’s called irony).

MirrorMan
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

Well, I checked out Davey’s bit of drivel, and it is really no different that anything he has said before: ‘Show me your data’, which, roughly translated, says ‘Do my research for me so I don’t have to’. Also unchanged is his view that ‘It was that way a while ago, so it hasn’t changed’ mentality. To wit: ‘HRC claims to work on all kinds of issues relating to LGBT people. When I worked at HRC as a legislative intern in 1992, HIV was a much bigger priority than it is now. What changed other than the color of skin and the size of the wallets of the gay and bisexual men dying of AIDS? I’d really like to know.’
Yeah, nothing has changed in 16 years, except protease inhibitors, prevention campaigns, condom distribution, ad nauseum.

I love that he wants people to come to his mountain to talk to them, because then he can block you, bury with false statistics, and call out his hounds instead of defending his ridiculous comments. You really should read the article, though, because Fannie is just one more person taking Davey apart, and he really can’t stand it when you don’t agree with him.

How sad.

(And please note, I am not responding to him here. I have better ways to waste my time.)

Evan
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

This is so funny…

He runs away to his pink website where people don’t call him on his constant lies, and then he comes back.

Runs away to pink website where people don’t call him on his constant lies, and then he comes back.

Runs away to his pink website where his multiple personalities (Note: those are the “gays defending marriage”) are free to argue with each other with a pink background, and then he comes back.

PiaSharn
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

It’s a bit late (sorry, Dick Blick is having a sale, and I got distracted by art supplies) but I just wanted to clarify something I wrote earlier about civil unions vs. marriages.

I am aware that civil unions vary from place to place, and that most of them do not offer the full benefits of a legal marriage. I am also aware that even if one has all the benefits on the state level, one is still excluded from the federal benefits.

I used the phrase “as long as we get the same legal rights and protections” on purpose. I am not satisfied with civil unions that do not offer less protection. And I certainly want same-sex couples to have the rights of marriage on both the state level and on the federal level.

Mr. Beckof was (as he usually does) writing a bunch of lies about what I believe. He had said, “You’re just upset because it hurts your feelings to have to have a different word, it makes you feel less equal. Poor baby.”

This, like much of what he writes, is a load of BS.

When I was still living in MI, I noticed a trend in a lot of the conservative Christians who lived there. Many of them had little to no problem with same-sex couples having the same legal protections, what bothered them was having it called “marriage”. I think it’s because they have a hard time not seeing the word in a religious context.

One suggestion I remember hearing was that the word “marriage” be used for the religious ceremony, while the term “civil union” be used by the government for the legal aspect. (This would apply for both same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples.) And I’m fine with this; I don’t care what term is on the paperwork as long as I am treated equally by the law.

Do civil unions as they currently exist offer equal protection? No, and I want that to change.

Mr. Beckof seems to think that the only thing I care about is the word, which is very untrue. I care about the rights, priviledges, and protections. Like the Bard, I simply happen to believe that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Jim Burroway
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

Okay now everyone, let’s keep the ad hominen attacks out of it. There’s plenty to comment on. No need to get personal.

Scott Smith
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

“I’ll stop by as many times as it takes for people to realize that this is the wrong place to come if they want to talk to me.”

Remind me. What’s the point in talking to Benkof? Oh yeah. A trial of patience for us as he dodges questions, warps reality, misrepresents others and shills for the anti-gay right. I guess it also facilitates exposing him for the self-aggrandizing liar that he is.

cowboy
June 18th, 2008 | LINK

There is more than the “not-marriage-but-equal” issue here too. I call it: BITE_ME (But It’s Essentially Marriage Equality).

I’ll never have the opportunity to be sealed (married) in one of those ornate rooms in the Mormon Temple. Nor will I ever have the opportunity to walk down the aisle in a grand Cathedral like in Maria did in The Sound of Music.

But whatever you call it…BITE_ME when it comes to taxes and perks that comes from being married in every legal sense.

And no funny looks when my life-partner and I book a honeymoon suite at one of those Sandals Resorts.

Protect Marriage Equality » SF Chronicle Runs Op-Ed By Author Accused of Being Antigay Activist in Disguise
June 26th, 2008 | LINK

[...] to Timothy Kincaid at Box Turtle Bulletin, …[A]t first glace David appears to be a young gay man who believes that there are better [...]

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