A Conversation, Not a Lecture

Rob Tisinai

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.

Bill Herrmann

May 8th, 2013

There already is a web site for that: goodasyou.org where Jeremy Hooper has been cranking out just those same observations for quite some time now. He’s also been working with HRC on the NOM Exposed project at hrc.org/nomexposed.

I’m sort of surprised that you haven’t heard of him.\

[Bill, I do enjoy Jeremy’s blog, but even he does more than merely point out their self-defeating tactics — perhaps I should have said you could run a full time blog devoted exclusively to the ways they shoot themselves in the foot.]


May 8th, 2013

Point 1: radical feminists have been trying to destroy marriage for at least fifty years. I don’t think the Gay Agenda had been formalized at that point.

Point 2: NOM’s idea of a “conversation” is roughly akin to that of the Catholic hierarchy — “We talk, you listen.” Mmm — make that “identical.”

Ben In Oakland

May 8th, 2013

I commented on th\is inane citation a few weeks ago, where the usual fundelibangelist cited it for his proof that gay people want to destroy marriage.

“So you cite someone no one ever heard of saying something nonsensical at some conference that no one ever heard of to prove that all the people who want to get married actually want to destroy marriage?”

Doug Johnson

May 8th, 2013

Reminds me of the former commenter here named “NorthDallas” who always used to find the most extreme quotes from gays and use it to “prove” his “point” that all gay Democrats support NAMBLA or some other idiocy.


May 8th, 2013

Gee, it’s almost like we are a diverse group with many different viewpoints, which cannot be summarized by a single quote from a single person. Like human beings or something! I know other lesbian, gay, and bi folk who actually do think that marriage is a crock and hope very much that it goes away, but those aren’t, for the most part, the people fighting for marriage equality, they are the ones criticizing HRC and the like for what they perceive to be a narrow and misguided agenda. And I know plenty of lesbian, gay, and bi folk who want nothing more than to be able to marry, dream of their weddings, want to start a family the same way their friends and siblings are doing it … So, yeah, apparently being lesbian, gay, or bi does not in fact cause one to immediately agree with everything that every other lesbian, gay, or bi person has ever said or thought!

It is also very odd logic to posit that a group would fight like hell for decades to get the right to participate in an institution which they in fact wish to destroy. NOM apparently believes we are more like viruses than people.

I do think, though, that whether or not we’re trying to destroy marriage depends on how one defines marriage, and how one defines destruction. If marriage is defined as a formalized union between two people who love one another and wish to form a family unit, then no, of course we aren’t trying to destroy that, that’s what we want to have access to. If you define marriage as an institution that formalizes and solidifies gender roles, as NOM does, then yes, we are trying to destroy it in the sense that we are trying to liberate it from that constricting definition. To them, expansion and inclusiveness, or really any change at all feels so overwhelming and frightening that it seems like destruction, so they naturally conclude that this is what we are trying to do.

And, actually Henry, we have common cause with radical feminists in wanting relationships to not be dictated by outdated gender roles. The extent to which the women’s movement, with the help of its more radical elements, has laid the groundwork for us by giving our culture the ability to conceive of women functioning adequately as a family unit without men, and men having the ability to be fully capable providers of childcare without women — that can’t really be understated. I don’t really understand the swipe at them.

Jim Hlavac

May 8th, 2013

As an avid follower of right wing tea party blogs I was amazed to see this Masha Gessen all over the place — seems no gay person on any gay blog ever heard of her — and because she had written a book on Putin and needed the publicity she concocted her statement — and seems to have sent it out to all our opponents — I can’t figure out how else they could have come across her. She was a nobody who showed up. This woman seems to be a one person gay marriage wrecker — and it would behoove gay blogs to rip her apart.

I certainly haven’t been at this for 40 years so that some immigrant from Russia (which she is) can come here and just take over the discussion. Who is this woman, where did she come from? How did she get her message out to dozens of tea party blogs so quickly all at once?

Inquiring minds want to know.


May 8th, 2013

Jim, this woman hasn’t taken over the discussion nor does she need to be ripped apart. She’s wholly irrelevant. Only the far right wing give a damn about her, and they’re never voting for our rights, anyway.


May 8th, 2013

Admit it Rob, your statement about not plotting to destroy marriage is a clearly misleading statement to distract from your true nefarious plot of making brunch a mandatory meal of the day. :P

Timothy (TRiG)

May 8th, 2013

Well, some thinkers I deeply respect have said somewhat similar things. Greta Christina, for example, has an article about how gay marriage will destroy traditional marriage. And I think she’s smart and right on the money. Admitedly though, it’s not quite as apocalyptic as NOM’s dreams.



May 9th, 2013

The first mistake is accepting NOM’s definition of marriage. It’s a very limited definition, and as Greta Christina points out (thanks for that link, Timothy), it is by no means the “only” definition. It’s not even a particularly accurate definition.

When you eliminate that self-serving and inaccurate “definition,” lo and behold! marriage does what it has done throughout the ages — it changes, but it survives.

And as for Masha Gessen — who?


May 9th, 2013

Jim Hlavac,

What in the world does her nationality have to do with anything? Pretty intense anti-immigrant sentiment you esposuse there. When anyone comes into America and becomes a citizen, they are then American. Your anti-Russian screed sounds a bit familiar, but not usually something I hear on the left.
Pretty sad.


May 9th, 2013

Timothy (TRiG)-

The article you shared isn’t the same arguments used by the person noted in this article. The person in this article has the stated intent to abolish marriage. Comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges.

Greta talks about the natural changes that the insitution of marriage goes through each time marriage is expanded from what it previously was. The idea that male and female gender roles have had to change when marriage changes, or racila intolerance shifts when marriage changes, and all changes she discusses are normal changes in the institution, as evidenced by past historical times, Women’s movement changed marriage, etc..

The other individual discusses that the goal, from the onset was to abolish marriage, two very completely different things. Not to mention that the article by Greta is also addressing the fact that marriage equality wouldn’t even be on the table if not for the changes that were enacted by the former movements. And, well, not only that but Greta doesn’t REALLY talk about Marraige being “destroyed” in the sense the other individual does. She uses the term more tounge in cheek.

I just don’t think the comparrison is fair to Greta.

Priya Lynn

May 9th, 2013

Zeldamina said “I know other lesbian, gay, and bi folk who actually do think that marriage is a crock and hope very much that it goes away…I don’t really understand the swipe at them.”.

I think the swipe is perfectly understandable and justified. If you think marriage is a bad thing then don’t have one but who the hell are you to think you should get to dictate to everyone else that they can’t have one either? No one else’s marriage is hurting you, you have to be a real a-hole to want to deprive others of something you can refuse and which doesn’t hurt you.


May 9th, 2013

Priya, your edit of my comment takes it out of context in such a way that it very much distorts what I said. I mentioned LGB folk who are not marriage equality proponents to point out that we have diverse viewpoints. The swipe Idid not understand was the one at radical feminists, many of whom have helped lay the groundwork for marriage equality and support our cause.

Priya Lynn

May 9th, 2013

Zeldamina, I don’t think the swipe was at radical feminists as a group, but rather at this specific feminist for saying marriage should be destroyed. So, when you said you don’t understand the swipe at radical feminists I assumed you meant feminists like this one who want to destroy marriage – her position is indefensible and abhorrent.

Priya Lynn

May 9th, 2013

I think its like Jim said, she wanted to attract attention to herself to help sell her book about Putin so she said something provocative she doesn’t even believe to do so.

Really, she’s the one that’s lying when she says “we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.”.

No, we are not lying when we say that and you know it. There’s no way the gay couple down the street marrying is going to change any heterosexual couple’s marriage. We’re telling the truth and you’re lying about us to attract attention to yourself.


May 9th, 2013

The state of “Marriage” has changed many many times, and to think that it will not change because we may get the right to be married is dishonest.

Marriage has changed a number of times throughtout history, as in who may enter into them, what rights women have under the contract, the right to choose your own spouse, all of those things are changes that occured to marriage because of expanding the rights involved. Women in marriage used to have very little rights, if any at all. Those things have changed by changing the rights of women in marriage. Blacks and whites can get married, and that did change the face of marriage at least in the USA.

We used these expansions and changes in marriage to further our fight for equality, to now deny them is very disengenious.

What some people are confusing is that change can occur withour altering the basics of the union, 2 people comming together to take responsibility for each other in a legally recognized contract. We are not changing that aspect of marriage, but we have and are changing other aspects. It’s dishonest to protest to the contrary.

Priya Lynn

May 9th, 2013

Oh, marriage may change or it may not, but if it does change it won’t be because gays are getting married and marriage most certainly won’t be destroyed because gays are getting married.


May 9th, 2013

Good grief, that stupid “scandal” reached NOM? I bet my Russian friends won’t be happy to learn that.

So I’ve read the full text of what she said at that festival (in Russian), and it was something to the effect that marriage in its current form was irrelevant to her because her children had a total of five parent figures (herself, her ex-wife, her current wife and some sperm donors, I think), and since she couldn’t have all those people legally acknowledged as their parents, marriage as it is it should exist. Of course she was quoted out of context in Russian too, much to the annoyance of some Russian activists who do live in Russia and have to deal with all the ignorance there.

I’m dying for sleep now, but I’ll try to find the whole thing later. But I don’t even know which language it was originally delivered in.

Priya Lynn

May 10th, 2013

Darina said “marriage in its current form was irrelevant to her because her children had a total of five parent figures (herself, her ex-wife, her current wife and some sperm donors, I think), and since she couldn’t have all those people legally acknowledged as their parents, marriage as it is it should exist.”

Did you mean to say “marriage as it is it should exist” or “marriage as it is it shouldn’t exist”?


May 10th, 2013

Sorry, Prya, I was too sleepy. That should be “marriage as it is
shouldn’t exist”


May 10th, 2013

Ah, the original is in English after all. And after an unsuccessful attempt to listen to an audio file of it online, I discovered that there is a YouTube video (well, actually audio) on NOM Blog, and Rob has even posted a link to that entry.


And here is another “lovely” American organization that quotes part of that speech:

Alas, such things still can be used to scare the ignorant people in Russia.

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