NOM’s Schubert on gender and ethnic identity
August 14th, 2013
Frank Schubert, the national political director for National Organization for Marriage (theirs, not yours) and the architect of the campaign for Proposition 8 and other anti-gay amendments, has a new article on Red State, There is Only One Gender, in which he derides the idea of gender identity. Using the “what’s visible is all there is” argument, he claims that gender-identity is no more real than ethnic-identity.
You might look at my Caucasian features and wonder why I am claiming to be an African American. I may not be a natural descendent of African American lineage, but I feel black and have thus decided to identify as African American. Since I identify as African American, I am African American, and you must accept me as such. Because I claim my identity as an African American, I demand that the law recognize me as such and afford me all the rights and obligations of that ethnicity.
You may think that my decision to claim an African American identity is ridiculous. You would be right. Ethnicity is determined by ancestry and genetic lineage, not by someone’s identified perceptions and “feelings.” But it’s no more ridiculous than the latest craze from the left concerning something they call “gender identity.”
The truth, however, is that there is no such thing as “gender identity” any more than there is “ethnic identity.” There is only gender.
Well, no, I would not necessarily think that someone who looks white but who is claiming African American identity is ridiculous. Irrespective of whatever imaginary “rights and obligations” I might think come with being African-American, I understand that I don’t get to pick who is and who is not.
Perhaps it’s partly because I don’t live in a sheltered environment surrounded only by those who are just like me. Perhaps it’s because I know people who have a non-obvious ethnic identity. Perhaps because I’ve had all sorts of ethnicities assumed about me by other people.
But mostly it’s because of a personal experience.
Many years ago, I was working as an internal auditor for a major air and space company. As part of my job, I was assigned the task of auditing the company’s EEOC program to make certain that it was complying with regulations and policy.
I was working along with my randomly selected sample of employee files when I came across the file of a coworker in my own department. And while the paperwork seemed intact, there was one glaring problem. I knew this girl. And though she had checked “African American”, clearly she was not! Perhaps Latina. Perhaps some other ethnic mix or non-Western-European origin, but this girl wasn’t black.
Uncertain what to do, I discussed the problem with my supervisor, who clearly was black. And I learned something interesting, something that might have seemed counter-intuitive but made perfect sense. As far as the EEOC was concerned, race and ethnicity are not determined purely by the origins of one’s ancestors or the color of one’s skin. Culture, how one was raised, the people who you consider family, and many other factors come into play.
How one identifies is the preferred method under EEOC rules:
If I think I know an employee’s ethnicity, can I just write that in on the report?
A. No. The preferred method of identification is self-identification. Employers need to provide employees the opportunity to self-identify their own ethnicity. If an employee then refuses to do so, employment records or visual observation must be used.
Of course one must have a good reason for the ethnicity or race one adopts. And there is one exception; to legally be a Native American one has to trace to the Indian Rolls (which, due to politics dating back to the Trail of Tears, I cannot, but that’s another story).
But in this case, looks were deceiving. My supervisor knew my coworker’s family and although she “didn’t look African-American” her brothers did.
And as time went on, I met many other people who would not fit well in Schubert’s paradigm. I knew mixed race children adopted by all-white families. I knew two siblings, one of whom identified as German and the other as Black. And I learned that many of the people I meet in Los Angeles are as likely to have grandparents with four different ethnic identities than just one.
Perhaps in Frank Schubert’s world, things are segregated. Perhaps white is very easy to distinguish from black, good people from bad people, male from female. Perhaps he has limited his experiences to those which only fit his expectations.
But when he tries to discuss the real world in the terms of his own limitations, he reveals how truly ignorant he is.
What ELSE Might They Be Wrong About?
November 15th, 2012
Oh, it’s time for some fun. When Obama endorsed marriage equality back in May, the National Organization had something to say about it. It’s time to glance back at those statements and see just how well NOM understands America. I’ve bolded some of the juiciest bits in case you’re short on time, but the full quotes are worth reading, especially if you’re feeling especially schadenfreudy.
Let’s start with this headline, glorious in its certainty:
The Obama campaign is beholden to gay marriage financiers and is counting on an energized base to carry him to victory this November. But it’s an approach that is likely to backfire, alienating large parts of the constituency that carried him to victory in 2008…President Obama’s announcement is likely to spark a divisive battle over same-sex marriage in the Democratic Party platform this summer. Same-sex marriage will be a defining issue in swing states, especially states like Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and Nevada where state marriage amendments are threatened by President Obama’s position.
NOM gave us this quote from their favorite political consultant, full of sagacity and wisdom:
The left is jumping for joy at their accomplishment, forcing President Obama out of the closet on gay marriage. Their celebration will be short-lived, though, because they have very likely cost him the presidency. The presidential election is not going to be decided in states like California where George Clunie and Nancy Pelosi are cheering President Obama’s gay marriage “evolution,” but based on how voters in a series of swing states cast their ballots – states like North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada. President Obama and his buddies on the left have thrust the issue of same-sex marriage front and center in these swing states. How is that going to play? Not well for Obama.
Here’s NOM in all its foot-stamping determination:
The definition of marriage was already headed for the ballot in four states this fall; now it will be one of the defining issues of the presidential election. No state in this country has ever voted for gay marriage. Just yesterday North Carolina voters sent a clear message that America wants to preserve marriage. We intend to win the marriage debate this November.
And you might say this one backfired on them:
Pres. Obama may be basking in the applause of the media, and rolling in cash from his gay millionaire bundlers, but American now has a clear choice: a president who supports gay marriage or one who stands with the majority of the American people.
How did that “clear choice” work out for you NOM?
That’s just a sampling. Browse their blog and you’ll find many more:
This is sinfully delicious. NOM is currently in full damage control mode right, inventing reason after reason why they didn’t really lose on November 6. But no matter what they say now, they were simply, fully, and woefully wrong about Obama, marriage equality, and America. Instead of rationalizing away their disaster, they ought to be asking:
If we were so wrong about this, what else might we be wrong about?
But I suppose if they were that thoughtful and aware, they wouldn’t be in the business they’re in.
Frank Schubert Reacts
November 7th, 2012
I am, of course, very disappointed with the very narrow defeat it appears we’ve suffered in each of these four states. It appears that we have lost by a point or two in each state. It’s important to consider that these battles occurred in a very difficult political landscape. We were contesting in four deep blue states and were outspent very badly in all of them – at least four-to-one, and greater in some states. I have to accept that losing in this very difficult political environment was always a real possibility.
“I firmly reject the spin surely to come that this result signals a fundamental shift in American opinion in support of gay marriage. It means that we very narrowly lost four difficult contests in four very deep blue states after being badly outspent. Despite the outcome, I am extremely grateful to all the donors, volunteers, staff, vendors and committee members who were part of our team. I am honored to have played a role in these campaigns to preserve marriage in America. It is an institution worth defending, and I look forward to continuing to play a role in this historic debate