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David Benkof, Signing Off

Jim Burroway

July 13th, 2008

David Benkof has said farewell to his “Gays Defend Marriage” cause:

It is with great sadness that I announce that I feel I must withdraw from openly supporting man-woman marriage in the United States. I recently learned quite a bit of disturbing information that makes it impossible for me to continue supporting a movement I no longer respect. I have not yet decided when or even if I will write about why I’m ending my participation in this debate.

Update: Wayne Besen has a short statement from David expressing his disillusionment about the people behind California’s proposed anti-marriage amendment.

Comments

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Gary
July 13th, 2008 | LINK

I did post this at my home place. . .
THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO START OFF A NEW WEEK EEEEVVVVEEEERRRR. . .

Oh. . .dear . . .lord. . .don’t. . .let. . .this . . .be. . .a. . .ruse. . . .

Bill Ware
July 13th, 2008 | LINK

I just saw this startling turn of events at Maggie’s and was going to e-mail you the news, but then I saw you already had it.

Something about the prop 8 supporters? And here I thought it was your convincing articles that persuaded him to call it a day.

Bill

Timothy Kincaid
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

I wish for David much peace and tranquility as he moves away from this endeavor and takes his life in another direction.

Willie Hewes
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

Thank you, David Benkof.

I did not think you capable of changing your position though logic or reasoning, thought you were (like many) too entrenched in the battle to reevaluate your position. Clearly I had misjudged you.

I wish you all the best in life.

David Roberts
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

I’ve learned not to believe a word out of Benkof’s mouth, and that includes this post.

David Benkof
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

Yes, David, this is part of a secret plot to hurt gay people. Curses! You have foiled my brilliant secret plan. Because distancing myself from the man-woman marriage movement, and refusing to endorse the Prop. 8 campaign is a very clever way to foil the marriage equality movement by… wait, how does my evil plan work again? I forgot.

Musicguy
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

Quite honestly, I feel badly for Benkof. He was so rabid in his beliefs and all of a sudden something makes him give it all up and walk away. I sure wish I knew what that something was.

Ben in Oakland
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

There are a lot of things I could say about this. I have no problem seeing intellectual dishonesty and fundamentalist moral certainty receive its comeuppance, and i think Benkof typifies both. But that has been addressed elsewhere and at length.

I will offer a story and a thought. I was involved on a research basis back in 1969 with the the pro-choice side when Hawaii introduced a liberalized abortion law. As a gay boy of 19 with a very sheltered place in the world, I wasn’t sure how I felt about abortion. I didn’t even know such a thing was possible! But I was smart enough to recognize the fundamental dishonesty of the anti-abortion crowd. I was especially appalled at three things: 1) the practice of showing aborted babies on large placards– any surgery is messy and bloody and yucky, especially 40 years ago– instead of dealing with the issues. 2) the complete lack of concern for back-alley abortions, other than to say– don’t. 3) the resources that were going into trhe legal campaign instead of providing alternatives to abortion.

Then, as now, in both abortion and the place of gay people in our society, it was very clear that abortion was not really the concern, but power, money, prestige, religious fundamentalism, and validation.

I ended up supporting abortion rights not because I thought abortion was a good idea– I still don’t– but because the anti-abortion crowd was just so APPALLING.

Perhaps Benkof has found that out–finally. And i suspect that it has something to do with a remark offered by F Bailey Smith, then president of the Soputhern Baptists, 30 years ago. I’m sure Benkof knows what that remark was, and I suspect he just encountered the attitude one time too many. Paraphrasing I think timothy some time ago, scrath a homophobe, and you’ll probably see the dull sheeny of an anti-semite.

Finally, Mr. benkof, if you are going to complain about ad hominem attacks, you would do well to examine your comment: “my frequently stated position that many if not most gay men are ‘selfish and cruel’.” That’s right up there with Mr. smith above. Gay men as a group are not, in my experience, different from straight men, except that they don’t limit their enjoyment of male genitalia to their own. 90% of the people I have known in my life are kind, generous, warm, loving people, gay or straight. Certainly, my friends are– gay and straight.

If you have a different experience of gay men, maybe you are just hanging around the wrong kind of gay men. Or maybe, just maybe, the obvious fact that you don’t like yourself very much means that the people whom you hang aorund don’t like you very much either. you would do well to read “I’m OK, You’re OK”, and see if it applies to you.

Emily K
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

I also suspect that Mr. Benkof grew tired of being supported by / supporting a movement that makes converting Jews to Christianity – an act I equate to spiritual genocide. They have a special focus on us Jews. They would rather convert 1 Jew than 1000 Gentiles. They are obsessed with us. http://www.outreachjudaism.com provides more info on this.

Emily K
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

I meant to say the movement makes converting Jewis to Christianity a priority – an act I equate to spiritual genocide.

Sorry about that.

John
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

For Mr. Benkof, it always seems to be about him. Emily may be correct that his disillusionment might have to do with Fundamentalist Christian attitudes towards Jews, but it seems just as likely that they personally slighted him.

It is pretty clear from his behavior that he is a few sandwiches short of a picnic. I can’t imagine that Benkof’s allies are any more comfortable being around him than are his enemies.

David Benkof
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

John-

Even Wayne Besen and Timothy Kincaid have been able to show kindness and grace given my unconditional surrender. Interesting that you can’t handle showing the same attitude.

John
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

David,

You have said some extremely vile things about gays and lesbians. You may have left the Prop 8 folks in a huff, but you have done nothing to atone for your hateful rhetoric against gays and lesbians who are just trying to live their lives as full, equal citizens in this society.

According to you web announcement, your abandonment of the Prop 8 cause had more to do with the failings of the people running the Prop 8 campaign than any change of heart about denying gays and lesbians equal rights in our society.

I don’t know what the Prop 8 folks did to offend you, but I don’t fully subscribe to the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” political thought process. Like David Roberts, I doubt that I would ever be able to trust you or anything you said.

TJ McFisty
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

Oh David, just the same “kindness and grace” you gave to Pam just earlier today. You got a lotta nerve.

cd
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

Oh, David is chatty enough that he’s not going to be able to keep the story to himself for long.

Fundies and Christian occultists don’t really go for humaneness or niceties. Their Gods are cruel and so are they.

Timothy Kincaid
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

Guys,

Let’s make civility the theme of this thread.

Rusty
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

I wake up every morning determined both to change the world and have one hell of a good time.
Sometimes this makes planning the day a little difficult. EB WHITE

David Benkof set forth a challenge (for me) and it appears many others with Gays Defend Marriage. Another person, in my earlier life, Stephen Kuder, SJ, (Jesuit priest) challenged me and my other classmates in a philosophy class by having us prove there is no G-D.

I didn’t like how David’s challenges assaulted Gays and Lesbians, but the challenge made me realize how important it is to support the LGBT community. Thank you Benkof.

Jason D
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

I find this interesting, in the same day DB writes this on BTB:

“Even Wayne Besen and Timothy Kincaid have been able to show kindness and grace given my unconditional surrender. Interesting that you can’t handle showing the same attitude.”

He writes this over at PHB:

“Since you brought it up, I thought I’d clarify. I no longer feel comfortable being allied with most of the people who run the man-woman marriage movement in the United States (not counting Maggie Gallagher). I still feel, however, that Pam Spaulding is a nasty bitch.”

Read this for yourself, Pam does no name calling in her post. DB’s response was the very first comment to the post.

But I guess practicing what one preaches has never been a strong point of religious conservatives.

Ben in Oakland
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

Actually, in re-reading what Benkof has written, I have a suspicion.

He just found out that the fundies don’t really give too much of a damn about marriage, even gay marriage,as much as they do about preventing the normalization of gay people through marriage.

It must be a terrible thing to not only have to give up your prejudices, but give up the money and the power associaed with them.

would Randy Thomasson be anything but pathetic if he didn’t have the ‘gay agenda’ serving his cause? Everything that comes o ut of the man’s mouth indicates he has the inteligence of a portapotty. He’d actulaly have to go out and ifnd a real job.

Jim Burroway
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

I remember my disillusionment back in my closeted days on discovering how so-called professionals and moral leaders – people I trusted and admired — would bend over backwards to lie about people like me. I’m ashamed to say that I believed them at the time. If you had known me in those days, you would have hated me. This is my main motivation for working on this web site.

I think I can understand perhaps some of what David may be experiencing right now. These things take time to process. I wish him well.

Jason D
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

hit submit too fast.

it should say:
But I guess practicing what one preaches has never been a strong point of certain religious conservatives.

David Benkof
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

Jason D-

Pam Spaulding called me an ex-gay, and refused to correct it even after it was conclusively demonstrated to her that I am no such thing. I stand by the description I used for her, which I will not repeat out of respect for the tone Timothy Kincaid has requested for this thread.

Gary
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

I admit I’m guilty of gloating and I won’t say I’m proud of feeling that way either . . .however, I cannot forget the lies, deceptions and misrepresentations that David has published over the past few months.

At every turn, honorable people have expended time and energy exposing his harmful and dangerous prose.

David has freely and recklessly provided fuel to anti-gay religious zealots. He’s distorted facts to create a smokescreen. The same people who were encouraging these fabrications are now using these words to promote their hate and fear-based program against decent, loving families.

The damage has been far-reaching and hurtful.

When this type of hate hits the core of ones humanity we have the choice to either take action or just take it.

I think that, perhaps David has experienced first hand the vitriol of his supposed cheerleaders.

I move forward as a skeptic of Davids intentions. . .warily move forward. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

But I also move forward knowing that religious freedom, freedom from religion and freedom of speech are the things we all hold and defend to our core.

cowboy
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

I’m wondering if any part of Mr. Benkof’s disillusionment is in how the Mormons are supporting Proposition 8. You probably won’t find any nefarious tactics by the Mormons but usually they are well organized. They have professional motivators (Stephen R. Covey), they have capital-rich resources (not just tithes), and they are near lemming-like strident in anything they support.

The only hope is when (not if) Senator McCain drafts Mitt Romney as his Veep candidate. It will shift their focus a bit…but do not discount their motivational skills in a political arena.

Boy, what I wouldn’t do to have some dirt on the Mormons if Mr. Benkof has something to tell…

David Roberts
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

I think I can understand perhaps some of what David may be experiencing right now. These things take time to process. I wish him well.

The difference here, Jim, is that Benkof really does and did know better — this isn’t his first time around the block. And regardless, none of that can defend his utterly vicious communications behind the scenes. This is not a nice person, and I do not trust him. If you have come to a different conclusion, that’s certainly fine — just make sure you have all the facts available to believe. We will see I suppose.

I would rather believe you are correct, I just find it difficult. But as someone suggested, genuine, heartfelt apologies for what he has done, both publicly and privately, along with a substantial and lasting change in behavior would go a long way to making it easier.

Thomas
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

http://www.gaysdefendmarriage.com is no more.

The above link, as well as any link from Google if you search for the website or one of the articles, just leads to a white page.

I am sorry to hear that it was not the mountain of logical evidence that changed his mind, instead of an unknown turn of events. I hope his weblog returns in a new format (and domain name) so he may continue to push for other social changes he finds important.

I may not have liked most of what he professed to stand for, but I enjoy seeing something I am passionate about from other perspectives.

I wish him well; and I hope others here at BTB can move on rapidly toward other news.

John
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

I’m glad that Mr. Benkof has withdrawn his alliance with the pro Prop 8 crowd, yet I still do not trust him nor would I care to associate with him. I say this not really for many of the things he said prior to this announcement. He owes me no apology nor do I seek one from him on that score. No, what I have a problem with is frankly, his attention-whoring. Even this announcement of his is filled with unnecessary drama: from the hush-hush ‘mystery’ surrounding the reasons for it, to his numerous teasing comments on different blogs today. Whatever Mr. Benkof’s true motives in all this I leave to between him and God but he has done and said enough for me not to take this at face value.

Jason D
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

“Jason D-
Pam Spaulding called me an ex-gay, and refused to correct it even after it was conclusively demonstrated to her that I am no such thing. I stand by the description I used for her, which I will not repeat out of respect for the tone Timothy Kincaid has requested for this thread.”

Ah yes, that’s a perfectly acceptable and justifiable way for a grown man who wishes to be taken seriously as a voice of reason to react to what amounts to miscategorizing him.

How silly of me.

Ben in Oakland
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

Well, maybe he just found out that as far as the prop 8 people are concerned, he just found out that he is the punchline of two very old jokes:

What’s a fag? The homosexual gentleman who just left the room.

What’s a kike? The jewish gentleman who just left the room.

Since i’ve been called in my time a kike, a fag, and a faggot kike, I know how hurtful THAT can be. It’s enough to make you take your ball and go home.

David Benkof
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

Jason D-

We all make mistakes. I correct mine. Pam Spaulding left hers up, which is appropriate for someone of her low character. I won’t use the two-word description of her I think is most apt, but people can find it at her site.

Patrick
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

I think it is worthwhile keeping in mind that Mr. Benkof hasn’t changed his opinion on anything *except* working with some of the people behind prop 8.

Everything he wrote about on this site – as far as I am aware – he still stands behind.

While I strongly disagreed with him on almost everything – it is too bad the site is taken down. There were some interesting discussions there.

David Benkof
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

Patrick-

I agree with almost every word of your post. I did not own the site, but had decided I did not want to blog there anymore, and thus had no problem when the site owners saw no purpose to leaving it up without a blogger.

Oh, and it’s not “some of” the people behind prop. 8. I am uninterested in working with any of the people behind prop. 8.

werdna
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

David-
If you did not own the site, who did?

Ben in Oakland
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

Methinks I’m smelling the tip of the tail of a rat here.

First, gay marriage is bad. then, well he might hold his nose and vote for it if he were a CA resident. And now, it’s the people behind it that are bad.

Gee, i sure wish DB was someone whose word was his bond. I’d give worlds to know what was actually going on here.

David Benkof
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

Ben-

Would you prefer me to go back to openly opposing same-sex marriage? Let me know. Tell you what: for every LGBT person who asks me to do so, I’ll give one really good reason marriage should be between a man and a woman. Otherwise, I won’t give any. Let me know.

Emproph
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

I’d like one really good reason as to why you think you’re more qualified to define my marriage than I am.

David Benkof
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

NOTE: I have sworn off participation in the marriage debate, and am only giving examples of reasons to oppose “marriage equality” when LGBT people ask for examples of them. Please note that while I do so below, this is for the sake of intellectual argument only, and I take no public stand on Prop. 8 or “marriage equality” in general.

Emproph-

Feel free to define your marriage however you want. Have a threesome. Marry your dog. Marry a member of the same sex if you want to. I don’t care. But when you come to the government and demand that the non-marriage that you are a part of be treated like it was actually a marriage, then your private reindeer games start to affect me, and my family, and the children in the state, and the freedoms people once had to live their lives according to their values, rather than having the gay community shove its values down our throats. I mean, I know from experience that gay people are really good at shoving things down each other’s throats, but you should keep that in your bedroom where it belongs (or maybe your bathhouse if you’re into that) and leave Americans who understand what marriage is alone.

It is my preference not to continue to debate marriage, which is something I’m trying to stop doing. And Emproph has had his/her chance. I will not continue the conversation, unless another LGBT person asks for another reason (on a purely theoretical, intellectual level only) someone might oppose marriage equality.

Emily K
July 14th, 2008 | LINK

“…I know from experience that gay people are really good at shoving things down each other’s throats, but you should keep that in your bedroom where it belongs (or maybe your bathhouse if you’re into that) and leave Americans who understand what marriage is alone.”

Classy.

Well, David, if you want to REALLY swear off participation of anything, a logical step would be to stop talking.

David Benkof
July 15th, 2008 | LINK

Emily K-

I would be happy to stop talking. If LGBT people stop asking me questions, I will say nothing. If they do, I don’t understand how you should be the one to determine I shouldn’t answer, especially since you have a track record of talking about me in forums where I’m not allowed to respond. Classy.

Jason D
July 15th, 2008 | LINK

Or you could just be quiet because it would be the smart thing to do.

Seriously, one google search by a potential employer is going to show more than you really want people to know about you. Argumentative, vulgar, control and self-esteem issues.

I’ve never seen you successfully refute any point, and you certainly don’t know how to talk to people in anything other than condescending manner.
You just keep digging the hole for yourself, one comment at a time. Most people would just move on, shrug, and go do something fun.

Most people understand that if you respond to every bit of criticism, you’re essentially saying that critic has a valid point, and sometimes the best way to really shut them down is to be silent. To not care and let whatever controversy exists blow over.

You fancy yourself a wordsmith, I would think that there are better uses of your time. From an artistic and economic standpoint, this doesn’t make sense. You’re wasting all your creativity on people who aren’t paying you.

This is a war of words, and you said that you’ve declared an unconditional surrender. So be quiet.

John
July 15th, 2008 | LINK

Well I see that Mr. Benkof is just validating what I said yesterday: he’s an attention-whore. ‘Nuff said.

Emproph
July 15th, 2008 | LINK

David Benkof says: But when you come to the government and demand that the non-marriage that you are a part of be treated like it was actually a marriage, then your private reindeer games start to affect me, and my family, and the children in the state, and the freedoms people once had to live their lives according to their values, rather than having the gay community shove its values down our throats.

That’s not a reason, that just a nebulous assertion. The reasoning behind it being that you, your family and your children would have to *think* about it, or some variation on that. The same reasoning could be used to prevent you and your ilk from getting married – because my children would then learn that the supremacist lifestyle was a legitimate one.

So we’re on equal footing as far as that goes, which is why I asked specifically about why you think you’re more qualified to define marriage than I am. But I think I just answered my own question with the example I used above.

You’re more qualified to decide that only heterosexual marriages should be legally recognized because you’re a heterosupremacist, in that you feel heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality, and thus, heterosexual relationships/marriages are superior to homosexual relationships/marriages.

As far as I’ve been able to determine (because they rarely if ever say so outright), the main reason people feel this way is because they feel that heterosexual love is superior to homosexual love. FOTF’s Glenn Stanton comes closest to this admission with:

Q. Shouldn’t two people who love each other be allowed to commit themselves to one another?

A. Absolutely, and people do that all the time. But we don’t call it marriage. There are lots of loving commitments that are not marriage. Friends are committed to each other, a parent is committed to a child, grandparents to their grandchildren, and people are committed to their pets. All of these are forms of love. All of them result in commitments. None of them is marriage.

So a hopefully more pertinent question to you David would be: Is this what you believe about our love, and thus, the reasoning behind the belief in the inferiority of our marriages?

If so, everything else would seem to fall into place. If we aren’t intelligent enough to understand that our love isn’t true, then we really can’t understand the most important truth that exists. And if we are incapable of understanding what is most important in life, then we truly are fundamentally corrupt.

To legitimize our marriages then, would be to then legitimize our corruption.
__
Generally speaking, do you feel that that is an accurate assessment of the perspective of the pro- ‘1 man 1 woman marriage’ crowd/movement?

David Benkof
July 15th, 2008 | LINK

Jason D-

Nothing I wrote will show up in the searches my potential employers will do, since none of it is in Hebrew, and I plan to spend my entire working career in Israel, in Hebrew as much as possible. But I appreciate your concern.

Of course you don’t think I’ve ever successful refuted any point. You’re one of the people trying to [comment redacted since it refers to a topic I no longer disscuss].

I always assume that people like it when I respond in comments sections at various Web sites where people talk about me. It’s called “dialogue.” But if you’re saying the people at BoxTurtleBulletin don’t, I’m happy to stop. This will be my last comment in this thread.

I’d be happy to talk to Emproph and anyone else who doesn’t wish me to shut up via E-mail (DavidBenkof@aol.com) or at another Web site of your choosing.

Finally, my essay about why “don’t impose your religion on me” is a really stupid thing to say is up at the San Jose Mercury News: http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_9885085

It is the last essay on marriage (in the United States) I plan to publish.

Jason D
July 15th, 2008 | LINK

And apparently he has to get in the last word. But don’t worry he won’t be back:
“This will be my last comment in this thread.”

It’s 9:10am CST. Any bets on how many minutes till he comes back to post on how he’s not going to post in this thread anymore?

Ben in Oakland
July 15th, 2008 | LINK

Yeah, I read that today. I’ll be writing to htem later if i have a chance. Basically, you are saying that the tyranny of the majority is leigitimate if you agree with it. If that were true, we’d still have segrgeation in the south. and if “The Handmaid’s Tale” is a predictor, the majorty will decide that kikes and fags have no place in the ocming morning in America. but then, you’ll be in Israel.

Disgusting.

Ben in Oakland
July 15th, 2008 | LINK

What i would prefer, Benkof, is that you come clean.

Timothy Kincaid
July 15th, 2008 | LINK

I think it’s best to let David sign off. The tone of the discussion has veered from civil and the topic of discussion is no longer closely related to the posting.

cowboy
July 15th, 2008 | LINK

So, asking for equality is shoving something down your throat? Then, prepare to open wide.

Emily K
July 15th, 2008 | LINK

I guess he’s going to fight for marriage inequality over in Israel, where he’ll find many JEWISH Far-Right allies. This guy just wants an easy win. But something tells me he won’t find it in Israel, either.

Emproph
July 15th, 2008 | LINK

“I’d be happy to talk to Emproph and anyone else who doesn’t wish me to shut up via E-mail”

Why would I trust you by email if you can’t even answer two yes or no questions about the importance of importance?

Kevin Kaatz
July 15th, 2008 | LINK

David,
You said: “Patrick-
I agree with almost every word of your post. I did not own the site, but had decided I did not want to blog there anymore, and thus had no problem when the site owners saw no purpose to leaving it up without a blogger.”

I’m a bit confused here. If I look up the domain info on this site, your name is plastered all over it–you are listed as the Administrative contact, the Technical contact and is registered in South Carolina. The email contact that is given is “Benkof, David webbsgarbage@yahoo.com.”
If you are not the site owner, then who is?

My guess is that it is Margaret Gallagher, at the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy. I guess the email address you give for the domain registry of gaysdefendmarriage.com email address is webbsgarbage@yahoo.com and when I did a search for that, it isn’t your name that comes up, but Margaret Gallagher (http://www.alexa.com/data/details/main/marriagedebate.com).

Maybe you can clear up this confusion.

John
July 15th, 2008 | LINK

From Benkof’s column:

Thus, when I try to restrict legal marriage to man-woman couples – by using my one vote and my First Amendment rights – I am doing what I believe God wants me to do.

And when radical Muslims use the Qur’an to justify murder they are just doing what they believe Allah wants them to do. Perhaps David should recall that the mere existence of Israel, an ‘infidel’ state, in their Islamic Ummah is a violation of their religious beliefs. Using Benkof’s logic, they are completely justified in using any and all means in expelling or killing those Jews and Christians who do not accept dhimmitude.

No David, your right to freedom of religion ends when it impacts me from exercising my rights as well.

Timothy Kincaid
July 15th, 2008 | LINK

David Benkof has left the room. He says that he has left the conversation about marriage. He’s pulled his website. I don’t see any value in continuing to dispute him here.

Rather than extend the conversation in this confrontational (and pointless) direction, I’m going to close the comments on this thread.