Best Wishes and Hopes for Thomas Peters
July 17th, 2013
NOM’s communications director Thomas Peters has been in a serious accident:
Thomas was involved in an accident yesterday evening and has sustained major injuries. He is awake, responsive, and in stable but critical condition. Family and friends are with him.
I’ve tangled with him before and have been sharply critical of him, but today I wish him my best and send him all my hopes for a full and speedy recovery.
Glorious victory in NOMian reality
July 17th, 2013
Brian Brown with the National Organization for Marriage (theirs, not yours) is celebrating today. (NOMblog)
Our opponents and those in the biased media say, “It’s inevitable. You can’t win. Give up…”
I couldn’t disagree more!
In 2008, I heard the same things when we worked on Prop 8 in California…and we WON!
In 2009, I heard the same things when we worked on Question 1 in Maine…and we WON!
In 2010, I heard the same things when we worked in Iowa to oust state Supreme Court justices…and we WON!
In 2011, I heard the same things when we worked in New York to oust legislators who flipped on marriage and betrayed their constituents…and we WON!
And last year, I heard the same things when we worked in North Carolina to pass an amendment to the state constitution protecting marriage…and we WON!
Ah yes, it’s a great day in NOMville. Just look at their glorious victories in California, Maine, Iowa, and New York where the anti-equality group WON!
But over here in the real reality, marriage equality is celebrated in all four of those states. Which, I suppose, bodes well for the future of North Carolina.
This whole declaration of glorious victory is part of Brown’s latest pitch for funds. Which suggest to me that either he has no real need for individual support or he thinks his donors are delusional.
A Most Perfect Description
July 11th, 2013
Yesterday someone messaged me a most perfect description of our opponents.
He and I had been tangling with NOM’s Jennifer Roback Morse on an anti-gay website, pointing out the error of using a tragic case of child abuse as an argument against same-sex marriage. Morse, on her Facebook page, claimed we were defending the abusers — “a couple of pro-gay guys circling the wagons around these creeps,” is how she put it.
It’s enough to make you wonder where she learned to read. I alerted my compatriot and he wrote back this description of Morse and her allies on that site:
Mostly they just talk to each other and, essentially, engage in a conspiracy to take each other seriously.
Read that again, just for the pleasure of it:
…engage in a conspiracy to take each other seriously.
I say that’s a perfect phrase.
It’s fluid, looks good on the page, trips off the tongue, and rewards you with deeper insight the longer you contemplate it. I’m holding on to it, and whenever I encounter a cluster of people swapping statements with no apparent connection to reality, instead of feeling baffled I’ll think: Yes! — they’re engaged in a conspiracy to take each other seriously.
How to Inspire a Movement
June 27th, 2013
Our opponents are putting their bravest faces. Thomas Peters, NOM’s Communications Director, works with a group called Catholic Vote and is pushing the slogan, “The Supreme Court has not ended the debate. It has started a movement.”
That’s an odd slogan, practically an admission that they haven’t managed start a movement up to now. It makes them sound like a blustering loser. And what on earth does the antigay camp in general, and NOM in particular, know about starting or even inspiring a movement?
Actually, quite a bit. In fact they’ve already done it, by following these steps.
- Target a tiny minority in the nation’s wealthiest and most populous state.
- Shock the minority by stripping away a basic human right, one that affects their daily lives in a thousand ways.
- Prove to them they cannot protect their liberty through a polite and deferential silence.
- Force them to fight back by dehumanizing them, declaring their relationships inferior, and their very existence a threat to children.
- Make sure you’ve chosen a state with an enormous media industry, one that is a beacon to the nation’s aspiring creative class.
- Make sure you’ve chosen a minority represented heavily in that industry.
- Tell ridiculous lies about the minority, lies that will outrage their straight coworkers, their friends and family, lies that can’t stand up in court.
- Finally, then, all that’s left is to inspire this minority with what experts call a SMART goal — something specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
And repealing Prop 8 was one smart goal.
Bingo! You’ve created a movement. You’ve created a whole generation of activists and reignited the passion of generations that came before. I’m a living example. I never got involved in the struggle until the antigay industrial complex inspired me to. You need a rally? I’ll launch a rally. And I already create instructional videos for work — why not do a few for the cause?
So it went. You like parties? I like parties. Let’s turn them fundraisers! Let’s make signs and graphics and blogs. Let’s write lesbians and gays into sitcoms and dramas, making them neither villains nor saints, treating them like real people. Let’s go door-to-door and website-to-website, sharing our stories. Let’s create a message of hope, dignity, optimism, and American idealism. Let’s inspire and teach the rest of the country, and let the rest of the country inspire and teach us.
Let’s go on being true — let’s just do it louder.
Of course, California wasn’t the first state to achieve marriage equality — it wasn’t even among the first ten. The fight didn’t begin in this state and it doesn’t end here. And frankly, California’s first lessons came from its mistakes and were about what not to do — not to be hidden, oblique, abstract. But still: California’s the state where NOM worked the hardest and ended up provoking the biggest response, poking the biggest tiger, releasing the biggest torrent, opening the biggest wallet — whatever metaphor you like.
So ultimately we have to give NOM credit. They do know how to inspire a movement. And as a result, Prop 8 and DOMA have been wiped from our nation.
NOM: it’s a staining stench
June 26th, 2013
You already know what the National Organization for Marriage (theirs not yours) has to say, but here’s their message in short.
“… dismay and outrage … illegitimate … will be rejected by tens of millions of Americans … demanded … miscarriage of justice … overturn the perfectly legal action … over 7 million California voters … rewards corrupt politicians … preserve the right of states … refuse to recognize faux marriages … over 52% of the vote … homosexual groups and activists … a homosexual judge in San Francisco … Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals … liberal judge Stephen Reinhardt … stench … stained … corrupt … betray the voters … illegitimate decision … refuse … rogue decision … corruption … so-called gay marriages … vast majority of American voters … marriage as the union of one man and one woman … major victory for those defending Proposition 8, especially Chuck Cooper and his firm, along with the attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom, and Andy Pugno of the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund.”
Clearly there’s a staining stench over there in nomian reality which leads to delusion.
Thomas Peters Drowning in Denial River
June 26th, 2013
From Thomas Peters, Communications Director at NOM:
SCOTUS makes bad decision on Doma, saying its up to the states. Refuses to rule on prop8. But gay activists failed to get what they wanted.
— Thomas Peters (@AmericanPapist) June 26, 2013
His little mental horizon is focused entirely on SCOTUS’ failure to go to the very limits of what it could do, stamping his foot at our celebration and insisting, “But you shouldn’t be happy!”
Hey, whatever it takes to convince your donors you’re not a complete waste of space, I guess.
June 24th, 2013
Ah, the National Organization for Marriage (theirs, not yours) is an ever flowing font of amusing silliness. And seldom do they entertain more than when they try for visual illustration.
Often it’s stock imagery. Sometimes it’s downright fraudulent, pretending to be one thing when it’s truly the opposite. And sometimes it’s unintentional irony.
Take, for example, this picture they presented to illustrate their usual claptrap about the importance of “one man one woman” marriage. In this instance they are arguing that while race is irrelevant to marriage, gender is all important.
Cute, huh? A bit simplistic and lacking in meaning, but cute.
Except they just weren’t paying attention. It doesn’t take more than a quick glance to see that this particular finger marriage is not only of the same race, they are of the same gender. This isn’t a ‘one man finger, one woman finger’ marriage, it’s two women fingers, with the lesbian on the right opting for a more masculine look.
June 20th, 2013
Sometimes I think the National Organization for Marriage gets so caught up in their own spin that they have no notion of how surreal their proclamations sound. Consider this bit about Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski’s recent support for equality:
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, responded: “Senator Murkowski has sealed her political fate. Alaskans voted by an overwhelming majority (68%-32%) to protect marriage in their Constitution when given the opportunity, and an even stronger majority of Republicans in Alaska supported that move; thus, her betrayal of marriage is tantamount to political suicide.”
For those who have forgotten, in 2010 Sarah Palin and the Tea Partiers ran a candidate against Murkowski in the Republican primary. She just wasn’t conservative enough for them. And when Joe Miller won the primary, they thought that Murkowski’s moderate positions had sealed her political fate.
But Murkowski ran a write-in campaign.
I don’t mean a third party ticket. I don’t mean being listed without a party. I mean that people had to pull out a pen and physically write her name down on their ballot. There hadn’t been a US Senate seat win by write-in ballot since Strom Thurmond in 1956.
Murkowski won. Miller challenged a bunch of the ballots due to misspellings of Murkowski’s name, but she still beat him. He sued and went to court claiming that there must have been fraud (cuz, really, how could that many people go write in her name?) and the courts still said that she won. The people had a choice between ticking the box for a NOM-approved candidate or remembering and writing in a difficult-to-spell name. They chose Murkowski.
So in just what surreal reality – let’s call it a NOMian reality – does Brown think that the Alaskan voters are going to replace Lisa Murkowski with a more conservative candidate?
Inevitably, NOM will whine
June 6th, 2013
If there is one thing that annoys the National Organization for (not your) Marriage more than any other, it’s the notion that they are one the losing side of history, that marriage equality is inevitable. No one wants to think of their efforts as pointless, and especially not an organization that has hefty salaries to pay.
For example, in their amusingly titled blog post “The Tide Has Turned! Victory in Illinois” in response to the failure of the Illinois House of Representative to vote on equality, Brian Brown begins his declaration thusly:
Dear Marriage Supporter,
The myth of gay marriage inevitability died last night in Illinois! [emphasis in the original
So it must have been a bitter feeling that crept into his soul when he saw the results of a Pew Poll:
Yes, 59% of those who support NOM’s position recognize that equality is inevitable and that any money thrown in NOM’s direction could be better spent on reinforcing their own marriage (or, for that matter, on booze and hookers).
NOM Gets Economics Wrong. Again.
May 30th, 2013
The UCLA Williams Institute (I’ll call them “WI”) is predicting an economic boost of $54-103 million in new spending for Illinois if the state legalizes same-sex marriage.
NOM’s Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse does not agree:
The people and legislators of Illinois should not count on extra revenue as a benefit from redefining marriage. These forecasts are based on an elementary economic error as well as highly dubious forecasts. That is why the “Gay Marriage Economic Miracle!!!” predictions have not worked out so well in the past.
I’ve learned Dr. Morse doesn’t have strong analytical skills, but this is her field, so I hoped for more this time. She did not deliver.
Dr. Morse describes the “elementary economic error”:
The same-sex couples of Illinois would have spent that money on other things: vacations, theater tickets, home decorating, pets, cars, doctor bills. Every dollar spent on weddings is a dollar taken away from some other industry!!
Not…exactly. Despite the italics and double exclamation.
Morse’s point is based on simple economics — simplistic economics, rather. The idea is that when people receive income, they either spend it or they save it, and if they save it, then banks lend those savings out to businesses and other consumers to spend. So every dollar is spent one way or another, and every dollar of income spent one way is just a dollar that can’t be spent some other way.
But consider this: What if the economy’s not so great? In a climate of fear and uncertainty, households usually try to cut back their spending. And businesses have little incentive to invest or expand. Dollars go unspent. You end up with usable but shuttered storefronts, functional but empty factories, and qualified but unemployed workers.
Economists call this the liquidity trap. A perfectly sensible decision by consumers and and businesses to spend less and save more (be more “liquid”) results in lower spending overall, “trapping” the economy in a recession unless we somehow find a way to boost spending back up.
A few signs can tell you if you’re in a liquidity trap. When interest rates plummet, it means businesses must not be competing hard for bank loans to finance expansion. That’s the situation now. Also, it’s not a good sign if businesses are sitting on mountains of cash rather than putting it to productive and profitable use. That, too, is our situation now.
The experts at the Williams Institute, however, do understand the liquidity trap. First, they estimated the number of same-sex couples likely to marry, factored in the average cost per wedding in Illinois, and then made this adjustment:
Also, only spending that comes from couples’ savings would truly be “new spending” for the State’s businesses, rather than money diverted from some other expenditure. To take these factors into account, as in previous studies by the Williams Institute, we estimate here that same-sex couples spend one-quarter of the amount that different-sex couples spend on wedding arrangements.
Emphasis added. In other words, they figured same-sex couples would use savings to pay for about a quarter of their wedding costs, and this is the only spending they counted.
[Note to Dr. Morse: When you're rebutting someone, and they've already preemptively struck down your primary objection, then you need to deal with that instead of pretending it's not there. Failing to do so is either dishonest or sloppy.]
- In 2008, WI predicted 2917 Iowa same-sex couples would marry in the first three years after it became legal, but in 2011 reported that only 866 had done so in the first year.
- In 2008, WI predicted sales tax revenue of $2.7 million per year for the first three years, but in 2011 reported it was only in the range of $850,000 to $930,000 for the first year.
As Dr. Morse says:
In addition, the gross but unacknowledged discrepancy between the inflated prediction of 2008 and the ecstatic report of success in 2011 cries out for explanation.
Fair enough. I’m disturbed that WI didn’t explain or even acknowledge the discrepancy, too. But Dr. Morse continues:
That explanation is simple: the Williams Institute seriously over-estimated the number of same-sex couples who would marry.
Well, it’s not quite that simple, especially if you’re trying to discredit the Illinois predictions.
First, as Dr. Morse should recall, the economy tanked a few months after WI issued its 2008 report. Marriage rates fell across the country (from 7.3% in 2007 to 6.8% in 2009), and it’s not unreasonable to think long-established couples delayed their ceremonies until the world settled down. In addition, the average spent per wedding dropped in Iowa, too.
I suppose it’s possible we’ll have another once-in-a-lifetime meltdown next year, but unless Dr. Morse is counting on it, those factors don’t apply to Illinois.
What WI really got wrong in 2008, though, was wedding tourism — the number of non-Iowans who would come to the state to marry. WI thought 54,723 out-of-state couples would do that, and this number was so far wrong it’s almost comical.
With some trepidation, then, I checked to see how much wedding tourism WI had factored into its Illinois forecast, and the answer is…
That’s right, zero. WI learned from its mistake, and this year when it predicted a $54-103 million boost from legalizing same-sex marriage in Illinois, it didn’t factor out-of-state couples into its calculations.
That’s a huge correction from the Iowa analysis. Now, you’re free to remain skeptical of these estimates (as a former Ph.D. candidate in economics, I’m skeptical as hell!) but at least be an informed skeptic. Who knows whether Dr. Morse doesn’t understand that this correction occurred, or she understands but is ignoring it to buttress a false case against the Illinois forecast. It’s the standard NOM question: incompetence or deception? All we can know for sure is that if you want a rigorous, well-informed analysis…don’t go to Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse.
It’s Not the Principle, It’s the Prejudice
May 22nd, 2013
Here’s something that baffles me. Our opponents complain that laws banning anti-gay discrimination violate their religious liberty, but they have no qualms about laws against religious discrimination.
For instance, Catholic Charities of Boston chose to shut down adoption services rather than place kids with married same-sex parents, and decried it as a violation of their religious freedom — even though they were fine with not being allowed to discriminate against Jews. For many faiths, belonging to the wrong religion, or failing to accept the right Savior, is a permanent ticket to Hell. What could be more important to them when choosing a parent than that?
Yet we hear not a peep from them about these religious discrimination laws. Somehow it’s only a violation of their freedom when it comes to the gays. But principles are only principles if they apply them consistently. If they search for why we sometimes see their principles as bigotry, this is a good place to start.
For example, picture this scene a newly-promoted manager being mentored by an executive.
Exec: You need to foster a safe and productive work environment. Don’t disparage people based on their gender.
Manager: Of course not.
Exec: Or their race.
Manager: Of course not.
Exec: Or their religion.
Manager: Of course not.
Exec: Or their orientation.
Manager: How dare you! This is an egregious violation of personal liberty! I’ve never seen anything like it! What is this, the Soviet Union?
I can imagine your reaction: Rob, you’re being an ass. You’ve mocked our opponents before, but this goes too far. They’d have to be ridiculous, self-righteous loons without an ounce of self-awareness to have such an over-the-top reaction, so divorced from reality, and it does us no good to tar them with such ridicule.
And I would kick shamefully at the ground and admit my fault.
Wait, no, I’d point you to this controversy over DOJ Pride.
DOJ Pride is a group for LGBT employees in the Department of Justice. They’ve distributed some helpful tips to DOJ managers about dealing with LGBT employees (I haven’t confirmed that they’re genuine, though I hope so), and the National Organization for Marriage is wallowing in a mucky sty of outrage. They’re promoting this spin on it from super-anti-gay Matt Barber:
The document is chilling. It’s riddled with directives that grossly violate – prima facie –employees’ First Amendment liberties.
You can view the document here and decide for yourself whether these are “directives.” They seem more like “helpful hints” from a group with no policy-making authority. But let’s look at what the document says:
Managers are essential to creating a workplace climate that is welcoming to and inclusive of all employees, and thus maximizes performance and productivity. In fact, managers have a more direct impact on workplace climate for employees, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees, than nondiscrimination and EEO policies and even co-workers.
Creating a work environment in which LGBT employees feel welcome and included has been shown to boost the performance and productivity of LGBT and non-LGBT employees alike. It also allows LGBT employees to build the kinds of open and trusting relationships with coworkers and managers that
are necessary for professional success.
So, what can a manager do? Here are seven practical tips to help managers create a truly inclusive workplace climate for all employees, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Here’s what Matt Barber and NOM tell us is really going on:
Following are excerpts from the “DOJ Pride” decree. When it comes to “LGBT pride,” employees are ordered:
- “DON’T judge or remain silent. Silence will be interpreted as disapproval.” (Italics mine)
That’s a threat.
And not even a subtle one.
Got it? For Christians and other morals-minded federal employees, it’s no longer enough to just shut up and “stay in the closet” – to live your life in silent recognition of biblical principles (which, by itself, is unlawful constraint). When it comes to mandatory celebration of homosexual and cross-dressing behaviors, “silence will be interpreted as disapproval.”
All italics belong to Matt Barber. And so do the lies. This excerpted bullet is not about “LGBT pride” or “celebration” of anything. According to the guidelines, this is about what to do when an employee comes out to you. That’s it.
(Just as a side note, here’s the eternal, self-answering question: If our opponents have such a good case, why must they tell lies?)
DOJ Pride offers further guidance:
- If an employee comes to your office, closes the door, and says “I’ve been meaning to tell you this for a while: I’m gay,” DO thank them for trusting you enough to tell you, ask if they’ve been made to feel safe and welcome in the workplace, and let them know about DOJ Pride.
- Sometimes the best reaction is a “non-reaction,” meaning not silence but a matter-of-fact, don’t-skip-a-beat response. For example, if an employee mentions her same-sex partner in passing, as in “My partner Janet and I saw the best movie this weekend,” DO react the way you would had she said “My husband Jeremy and I saw the best movie this weekend.” Ask about the movie, where they saw it, if they went out to dinner beforehand, etc.
What a strange world our opponents inhabit, where treating your gay staff the same way you treat your straight staff is some kind of special treatment and celebration of LGBT pride.
But what if you’re a manager who thinks personal lives shouldn’t be mentioned in the workplace? Simple — follow the guidance and treat everyone the same: impose this gag order on all employees, gay or straight (though I’ve never worked in such a hellhole).
Also, let’s be clear on this freedom of speech issue. If you’re at the office and your employee tells you, “We had my son’s bris on Saturday,” don’t silently ignore them and certainly don’t say, “You know if he doesn’t get baptized by a real minister he’s going to Hell, right?” Because you don’t always get to say any damn thing you want to at work, not when your job as manager is to foster a healthy work environment, not when that’s what you’ve been hired to do. This isn’t widely or wildly controversial — until it comes to gay people.
But Barber and NOM continue in their break from reality:
- “DO assume that LGBT employees and their allies are listening to what you’re saying (whether in a meeting or around the proverbial water cooler) and will read what you’re writing (whether in a casual email or in a formal document), and make sure the language you use is inclusive and respectful.”
Is this the DOJ or the KGB? “[A]ssume that LGBT employees are listening …”?
You thought my Soviet Union crack was parody, didn’t you. But no. Good lord, apparently it’s now a sign of LGBT-tyranny for us to listen when people speak and read what they write.
This is paranoia. This is why we speak of bigotry and homophobia, of psychological issues that run so deep its victims (and I mean the homophobes themselves) break from reality and drop into an abyss of derangement.
It’s not just NOM. Barber’s cry against tyranny has swept through the blogosphere. And some of these people who are so upset often are our bosses, our managers, our colleagues. It’s a great reminder for us. However far we’ve come, there’s still a population out there who feels the boot of oppression when they’re told to treat gay people like…people.
A Conversation, Not a Lecture
May 8th, 2013
I’m thinking we could start a whole new blog about all the things our opponents do that doom them to failure. For instance, right now the National Organization is pushing really hard on a strategy that seems to assume no one actually knows any gay people.
NOM, you understand, has proof — proof! — that gays just want to destroy marriage. It comes from a lesbian activist I’d never heard of, Masha Gessen, who spoke at the Sydney Writers’ Festival (which, despite its name, is apparently where All Official Pronouncements of the Gay Agenda come from):
It’s a no-brainer that (homosexuals) should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist. . . . Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there—because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.
The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist.
NOM takes this statement as proof that:
Same-sex marriage activists certainly do want marriage …but not for the reasons you might think.
And this is a:
…frank (but honest) statement of a viewpoint more common than most people think among those who purport to favor same-sex marriage.
“Purport”? Nice word choice. And finally:
The fact is that ending marriage as we know it is a stated objective of the people pushing this agenda!
[All emphasis theirs.]
A few decades ago, NOM could have lectured America about Masha Gessen and it very well may have worked. But not anymore, because NOM doesn’t seem to understand that in 2013 we’re having a conversation, not lecture. A few decades ago, most people only heard about gays and lesbians from our opponents. Today, though, a huge segment of the straight population now has the power to find a gay person they trust and simply ask: “Hey, you really looking to destroy marriage?” But do they even need to?
Will’s conservative family doesn’t think Will and I are trying to destroy marriage.
My co-workers don’t think Will and I are trying to destroy marriage.
The neighbors who bring their dogs to our home for playdates don’t think Will and I are trying to destroy marriage.
All these people take Will and me more seriously than they do Masha Gessen, and NOM merely destroys its credibility when it tells them Will and I are lying. The only people who think Will and I are trying to destroy marriage are those who don’t know us, who aren’t friends with gay people, who are so insulated they can view teh gays as an abstraction instead of someone they sit with at lunch or family dinners. And that backward population — that population is shrinking.
Our Opponents’ Confessions
May 7th, 2013
Sometimes I hear a line of reasoning so bizarre that all I can do is look for the psychological issues behind it. I find this happening quite a lot with opponents of same-sex marriage, and the irony is that often their stated goal is to offer an objective justification for their beliefs, but what they deliver is so idiosyncratic, so utterly dependent on a strange and subjective inner life, that all they end up doing is proving their own irrelevance.
Look at three cases: Doug Mainwaring, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, and Robert George. Each of them says something that actually turns out to be true — true for them, true of them — but in a sad and sometimes baffling way.
Doug Mainwaring is one of NOM’s favorite homosexuals; he gives testimony against same-sex marriage. Apparently he married, had a child, left the family to be one of those hedonistic gays, and then reunited everyone under the same roof in a sexless relationship with his wife so that his offspring could be raised by Mom and Dad. And you know what? Fine. But then he writes this:
Over the last couple of years, I’ve found our decision to rebuild our family ratified time after time. One day as I turned to climb the stairs I saw my sixteen-year-old son walk past his mom as she sat reading in the living room. As he did, he paused and stooped down to kiss her and give her a hug, and then continued on. With two dads in the house, this little moment of warmth and tenderness would never have occurred. My varsity-track-and-football-playing son and I can give each other a bear hug or a pat on the back, but the kiss thing is never going to happen. To be fully formed, children need to be free to generously receive from and express affection to parents of both genders. Genderless marriages deny this fullness.
Well, one thing’s for sure. With Doug Mainwaring for his dad, that kid definitely needs a second parent in the house. Doug ought to be saying this in shame as a confession of his inadequate parenting. But it never occurs to him that many fathers — conservative, heterosexual fathers included — are quite comfortable giving their sons a kiss and a hug.
This, by the way, is another example of why we’ll win: another statement by another opponent guaranteed not to persuade, but to garner a reaction of what-planet-are-you-from?
The takeaway: When Doug Mainwaring talks about the limitations of having two fathers, he’s just telling us something about himself.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien
Former Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland made the news into two completely different, shocking but not entirely surprising ways. First, he opposed same-sex marriage in the UK, calling it grotesque, analogizing it to slavery, and declaring same-sex civil unions to be:
…harmful to the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of those involved.
And less than a year later, O’Brien was forced to resign due to a long history of making unwanted sexual advances to priests, and for having been physically involved with one of his accusers for years.
Now that O’Brien has been humbled I can look at him with pity. He was so twisted by his beliefs that any half-relationship he could could dare to attempt would inevitably be “harmful to the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of those involved.”
The takeway: When Cardinal Keith O’Brien talks about the harm done by gay relationships, he’s just telling us something about himself.
Robert George is a distinguished Princeton professor who writes terrible, almost incoherent Natural Law arguments against homosexuality, birth control, and masturbation. His goal is to show that Catholic teaching can be derived rationally.
His work is a lot like what would happen if I heard about a Ryan Gosling kissing booth: my goal would be just to get there, no matter how labored, tortuous, or ridiculous the route. It’s the same way with Robert George and the view that masturbation is wrong: The Church says it is, so that’s his destination, and it doesn’t matter labored, tortuous, or ridiculous his reasoning, as long as he gets there.
Here are some key quotes:
The body is not rightly treated as a machine for having experiences…
[I]t is contrary to reason—bad and immoral—to sacrifice one’s psychosomatic integrity, or to instrumentalize a part of oneself, for the sake of some desired experience, whether it is getting drunk, enjoying a psychedelic drug trip or having an orgasm…
In masturbation and other non-marital sex acts, by contrast, ‘one does not choose to act for a goal which fulfills oneself as a unified, bodily person. The only immediate goal is satisfaction for the conscious self; and so the body, not being part of the whole for whose sake the act is done, serves only as an extrinsic instrument.’…
[Acts like masturbation] damage personal integrity insofar as those acts effect an existential alienation of the body from the conscious self by simply using the body as an experience-inducing machine. Thus, such behavior should, for moral reasons, be avoided.
In case that’s opaque, here’s my brief (and surely inadequate) summary:
- Having an integrated mind and body is self-evidently good. Thus anything which breaks that integration is bad.
- Masturbation means the mind is treating the body like an instrument for its conscious gratification, thus alienating the body from the mind and destroying that self-evidently good gratification, making it harmful and immoral.
- This is also true of gay sex or any other sex act that doesn’t culminate with a married penis in its married vagina.
Robert George’s logic on sex is unfathomable to me. I read his words but doubt my understanding because they so completely contradict the experience of my own life. It’s like reading an intricately-reasoned argument that you shouldn’t keep elephants in your house because they’re too small to keep track of; there’s no need to dismantle the argument line by line — it’s enough to answer, “Have you seen an elephant?” Or, in George’s case, “Have you had sex?”
Sex, with someone you love, purely for emotional closeness, does not split the mind and body. It unites them. It dissolves the barriers between body, spirit, and mind.
And masturbation? Masturbation is one way the mind discovers the body. It can be something you do to clean the pipes and stop your body from yelling at you, but it can also be — for adolescents, especially — a fundamental way of exploring your entire self. Not just mind, not just body, not just emotion, but all three at once.
So all I can do is wonder at the inner life of a man who not only came up with this reasoning, but who thought it would convince others. This speculation is worth what you paid for it, but here’s my best attempt: I can imagine a man who has been taught that masturbation is wrong, sinful, wicked. It exposes weakness of mind and character. He tries to abstain, but every time he gives in he’s hit with guilt, and his conscious mind feels betrayed by his body. And that, folks, is mind-body alienation.
The takeway: When Robert George talks about the morality of sex, he’s just telling us something about himself.
Of course, when all of us talk about sex or love or family, we’re really just telling people something about ourselves. We know this. The last few generations who’ve grown to adulthood know this (most of them, anyway). The only people who don’t know this, it seems, are our opponents.
NOM Exec: Should Conservative Women Just Shut Up and Have Babies?
May 3rd, 2013
Perhaps I’m overstating what NOM executive Jennifer Roback Morse said in an email blast today. I’ll just post it without further comment; all emphasis in the original and, no, this is not a parody:
The Social Conservative movement is dominated by women. Every audience I address, the ratio is at least two to one female, sometimes much more.
Is that a bad thing? And what can we do about it?
We want to have our babies, and be supported by our husbands in stable lifelong loving marriages. It is no surprise that we care about the social issues.
You and I know that men care too. They want their babies. And if they don’t want to get married as badly as we do, once they do get married, they are often more doggedly loyal and committed than we are. Divorce triples a man’s probability of suicide, but doesn’t affect women’s suicide risk at all!! The guys definitely care!
Feminists have marginalized men from these conversations. They called any men who disagreed with them “male chauvinist pigs.” Men came to feel they were not welcome to express reservations about the radical feminist agenda. And since men have a natural, almost instinctive desire to please women, protect women, and not anger them,
men shut down and shut up.
I think it is a bad thing!
Shutting up the men is a great defense. Getting men off the playing field leaves women with children alone to defend themselves against the radical women who view children as enemies to their ambitions.
So, what can we do about it?
Invite your husband or boyfriend, sons, nephews or fathers, to the First Ever Ruth Institute Gala Dinner and Live Auction. Why? Because this will not be your average “lovey dovey hearts and flowers, let’s all be nice to kids” event. (Though, there will be flowers on the table!)
WE ARE HAVING A VERY MASCULINE
MAN’S MAN AS OUR KEYNOTE SPEAKER.
You may have seen Tim Clemente on CNN, giving his expert opinion about capturing the Boston Marathon Bombers. He’s a former counter-terrorism agent for the FBI. That expertise got him into Hollywood, as a technical consultant on law enforcement and military issues. Producer, writer, actor and stuntman: those are just some of his roles in Hollywood.
Robert Gagnon Explains Why Consensual Gay Relationships Are Worse Than Bestiality and Incest
May 1st, 2013
Jeremy Hooper was forwarded a lengthy email chain sent to over seventy social conservative anti-gay activists in advance of the National Organization for Marriage’s Ruth Institute’s conference at the end of May. Among those receiving the email chain was Exodus International Alan Chambers, who tired of the anti-gay rhetoric and, after asking to be removed from the chain, finally added Hooper’s email address to it. In one email response, Robert Gagnon called Chambers to task for “secretly adding the name of someone whose whole objective is to promote sexually immoral behavior and abuse those who uphold what Jesus and Scripture regarded as sacred.” Gagnon also went on to justify his use of the word “perverse” to describe gay people:
The verb “to pervert” is from the Latin meaning “to turn thoroughly,” i.e. away from the truth or right course of action. Applied to sexual practice, a perversion is “any of various means of obtaining sexual gratification that are generally regarded as being unnatural or abnormal.” Paul in Scripture makes a point of singling out homosexual practice as sexual behavior that is manifestly contrary to nature in that it is clear that a man and a woman are sexual complements or counterparts, not males with males or females with females. He als refers to such behavior as self-”dishonoring” (Atimazo / atimia) and as “indecent/shameful behavior” (askhemosune). The Levitical prohibitions and some Deuteronomical texts add the description of to’evah, something abominable or abhorrent to God. The latter (along with Revelation) adds the epithet of of “dogs” to men who actively emasculate their appearance to attract male sex partners in a cultic context, treating themselves as “sacred” (hence the Hebrew name qedeshim). Bestiality is an even more unnatural form of sexual practice since it is cross-species. Adult-consensual incest is also a particularly perverse form of sexual practice since it involves sex with someone who is too much of a familial same. But Scripture treats homosexual practice as even more severely unnatural because the male-female requirement for sexual relations is foundational for all that follows (so Genisis and Jesus) and because sex or gender is a more constituent feature of sexual behavior than kinship.
It is my contention that homosexual practice is a more serious violation of Scripture’s sexual norms than even incest, adultery, plural marriage, and divorce. (The reader will note that I did not mention bestiality because the evidence from ancient Israel and early Judaism suggests that bestiality is a worse offense than same-sex intercourse.) [Emphasis in the original]
I guess in the six years since then Gagnon’s sorted out God’s mind on bestiality and, unsurprisingly, Gagnon’s God now agrees with Gagnon that gays are worse.
In addition to Gagnon’s close association with the NOM, he is also a founding board member of Restored Hope Network, comprised of a group of break-away ex-gay ministries which left Exodus International after Exodus president Alan Chambers acknowledged that “the majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation.” Chambers also repudiated the particular type of counseling intended to change sexual orientation known as Reparative Therapy, and he has declared that Exodus will no longer take sides in the political debates surrounding gay rights, including marriage rights.
Don’t be fooled by pretty talk, NOM opposes ANY rights for same-sex couples
April 30th, 2013
The National Organization for Marriage often pretends that they don’t oppose same-sex couple having some accomodations for their relationship, they just want to defend the definition of marriage. They lie.
As an illustration, today NOMBlog has a commentary about the ruling by the Texas Attorney General that cities and municipalities cannot offer any rights to same-sex couples.
In a six-page opinion, Abbott found that the constitution “prohibits political subdivisions from creating a legal status of domestic partnership and recognizing that status by offering public benefits based upon it.” He said city governments and school districts constitute political subdivisions.
That was a news report about Abbott’s position. But this is what NOM itself had to say:
Patrick is concerned that Texas law states “cities, counties and school districts cannot subvert the will of Texans” but that this is precisely what is happening in those municipalities and school districts which offer same-sex partner benefits.
The petty snideness is hard to miss. Don’t be fooled by the pretty words they use in the press; NOM has never met a lie that they thought was prohibited by the Bible.
The Gay Liberation of Straight Men
April 19th, 2013
I’ve discovered that NOM’s new official expert, Anthony Esolen, is so wrong about so many things that you can gain insight just by contemplating the opposite of what he says.
Back in 2006, Anthony offered 10 non-religious reasons for opposing same-sex marriage. Here’s #5:
It will curtail opportunities for deep and emotionally fulfilling friendships between members of the same sex, opportunities that are already few and strained. This is particularly true of men.
This was a disastrous prediction. It’s not just that his reasoning is convoluted, but that events have proved him laughably wrong.
As you may know, it’s tough to summarize Anthony’s arguments. He never uses one word when twenty will do, and he’s never seen a paragraph he couldn’t improve by stretching it with flowery repetition. Here, though, is the meat:
…now the condonement of homosexuality prevents [boys] from publicly preferring the company of their own sex. This is simply inarguable. If a George Gershwin nowadays shows up at Maxie Rosenzweig’s house all the time, while his pals are outside on the streets playing stickball, then there must be something up with George and Maxie.
And then, apparently without realizing it, Anthony proceeds to refute himself:
Therefore unless they are comfortable with the meaning, they will shy away from one another.
Exactly. Really, I wish I could put my hands on Anthony’s shoulders, look him deep in the eye, and say, “Exactly. The problem arises not when homosexuality is condoned, but when it is condemned.”
For instance: I’m not straight, left-handed, or Canadian. But rumors to the contrary wouldn’t freak me out, and certainly wouldn’t make me change my actions or associations — because I don’t see anything wrong with those traits, and neither does the society in which I travel.
However, if I lived in a world where I could be shunned, disowned, fired, or lobotomized just for being left-handed…then, yeah, I might be more worried about people thinking I’m a left-handed deviant monster, and might work harder to squelch those rumors.
Fast forward to 2013. Same-sex marriage is legal in much of the country; we’ve had 7-years of non-stop national conversation about gays and lesbians; and a new generation has matured thinking, What’s the big friggin’ deal.
The result? A culture where people talk freely of man crushes and bromance. A culture in which one of the most popular TV shows is practically built around the friendship and spicy, flirtatious chemistry between two of its handsome and avowedly heterosexual stars.
Granted, this pop culture phenomenon isn’t on the same plane as the friendships Anthony pines for – David and Jonathan, Enkidu and Gilgamesh, John the Baptist and Jesus Christ (!) — but the fact that cannot be denied (the thing that is “simply inarguable”) is that men are freer to delight in each other than at any time in recent memory. And Anthony Esolen, god bless him, may misunderstand it completely but has pointed out the reason for this liberation: Straight men find it easier to create intimate, loving friendships when they have no reason to give a damn whether people think they’re gay.
They’re Just Making Stuff Up
April 16th, 2013
Anthony Esolen is a literature professor at Providence College, a Catholic school in Rhode Island. He’s joined NOM as “the latest addition to the Ruth Institute Circle of Experts” and, well, he’s not off to a good start.
His first contribution is a long, meandering complaint that lust is bad and dominating our culture, while romantic love is good but on the wane. Esolen goes on and on, writing sentence after sentence, each more vague, transcendent, and floppy than the last, until finally you wonder if he’s an actual English professor or just a fictional creation meant to parody one. Here’s a sample:
Beasts copulate; but men and women are meant to marry. They perform the marital act; they know, when they unite in that act, that it is, or it ought to be, the seal of a love that, to quote another of Shakespeare’s sonnets, “bears it out even to the edge of doom.” We are the creatures aware of time, and oriented toward eternity. We know that the act of marriage brings into the bond of love the past generations, whose history we bear in our loins, and the present, and the future, in the child that may be born of the act. We cannot copulate! We cannot forget, when we unite, that we are doing what our parents did…
And I had to stop there because it’s just too funny. It’s a mark of how bad Anthony Esolen’s writing is, this unintended statement that whenever he has sex he can’t stop thinking about his parents (wasn’t there a Friends episode about that?). And, of course, the exclamation point in “We cannot copulate!”
He gives us nearly 1500 words of this, but the very beginning is what really sets me off:
Several weeks ago, Saint Valentine’s Day at my school came and went. There was no dance. There was no concert. There was no ice cream social. There was no party for trading little gifts. There was no showing of She Wore a Yellow Ribbon or Marty or Goodbye, Mr. Chips or Casablanca. There were no foolish and innocent flirtations on the way to class.
I can believe — though I heartily doubt — Esolen went to the trouble of confirming there was no dance, no concert, no ice cream social, no special screening. I do have to wonder how he determined no one threw a party to trade little gifts (though between that and the ice cream social, it sounds like he’s confusing young adults celebrating their love with second-graders in homeroom).
I draw the line, however, at believing there was nobody flirted with anybody on their way to class. That’s when I realized: Anthony Esolen has nothing to say. He’s just sitting at his desk, making crap up. Perhaps he meant this as a poetic flourish or hyperbole, but if so it’s bad poetic flourish and lame hyperbole.
I guess this is trivial, but it’s also symptomatic of a bigger problem: The anti-gay movement in general has nothing left to say. They’re left with meaningless rhetoric or outright lies — as when their attorney at the Supreme Court argued DOMA wasn’t borne out of anti-gay animus, but simply a desire to standardize marriage law across states, or just the other day when NOM falsely claimed once again that the Regnerus and Sirota studies were about same-sex parenting.
If I’ve grown more snarky lately (and I have) it’s because our opponents have stopped giving us red meat to chew over. It’s all cotton candy from them now. Just wave your hand through it and you’re left with nothing but a stickly, sickly mess.
Maine Supremes hear NOM’s argument about why they alone don’t have to follow campaign law
April 11th, 2013
The State of Maine requires that campaigns disclose their contributors. The National Organization for Marriage pretends not to think that they are required to follow that law by engaging in a two step contribution process.
The campaign for banning equality in Maine was a separate organization from NOM. But NOM was their primary (almost exclusive) funder. So contributions were made to NOM and then NOM gave money to the campaign and the campaign only disclosed that NOM was it’s funder, thus keeping the identity of the
Catholic Church original contributor secret.
NOM is arguing that they have no obligation to report the donors, as they were just regular ol’ contributions made for NOM’s general purpose, not targeted contributions to oppose equality in Maine. But the state isn’t buying it and the courts have ruled against NOM in every instance.
Their last ditch resistance is today, where they will make their losing argument one more time, this time to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. I anticipate that the Supreme Court will not find their duplicity any more compelling than have the lower courts or the Federal Court.
Much credit for this situation goes to Fred Karger, who filed the complaints and has consistently pushed for NOM to be transparent.
Help me contact Thomas Peters at NOM!
April 4th, 2013
I’ll have to push today’s video for the National Marriage Organization to tomorrow. Unlike my allies, Brian Brown and Thomas Peters of NOM, I don’t get paid to do this, and thus have other work to complete.
Speaking of Thomas Peters, could you all help me out? Thomas made me sad the other day when he tweeted this:
most gay activists who attack me have less than 10 followers. They don't even have the courage to say mean things with their real account!
— Thomas Peters (@AmericanPapist) April 2, 2013
Actually, it wasn’t Thomas Peters who made me sad, but the gay activists who mocked him for this tweet. See, apparently Thomas’ very big brain is so very strained with his many main arguments against same-sex marriage that he has forgotten about his very sensible policy of blocking gay activists who address him with their real accounts.
I mean, he did that to me, and I totally deserved it. What kind of decent person would ambush the Communications Director of an organization by calling him at work to ask about one of the organization’s communications?
But I also realized — now that I’m blocked I have no way of telling Thomas I’ve switched to his side! Since I don’t have a video to post today, would you mind taking those 60 seconds to tweet one or more of my videos to Thomas? And also to NOM?
I’d surely appreciate it. I feel confident in saying my little videos completely capture the spirit and depth of their organization.
PS Here are some short links for you:
- Redefining marriage: http://goo.gl/mVmp5
- Think of the children: http://goo.gl/QQVlO
- Leviticus: http://goo.gl/zzXY6