Everyone has a story

differentProbably the best example of how the mainstream media completely games the coverage of same-sex marriage is an article from the Los Angeles Times. “Election leaves gay couple feeling isolated in conservative bastion” is about these two heroic lesbians who opposed Proposition 8 while living in a conservative neighborhood in Riverside County.

The piece isn’t awful, it’s just that it’s overbearing in its one-sided sympathy and the silence of the opposite perspective is deafening. Why not write a story about opponents of same-sex marriage who live in a predominantly gay neighborhood? I live in a town that went 95% for Barack Obama. My neighborhood LISTSERV for parents nearly ran a few mothers out of town when they indicated they supported Sen. McCain. One was told that her conservatism would make it difficult for her children to grow up in this neighborhood with friends. My point is just that this Los Angeles Times story did not have to be one-sided. It could have been balanced out by any number of different perspectives of people feeling isolated in an opposing group’s bastion.

Anyway, after explaining how Riverside County has had a dramatic increase in its evangelical and Mormon populations — drawn by affordable housing, good schools and a safe environment — we hear again from heroines Lorian and Darcie Dunlop:

Both women came from fundamentalist backgrounds and attended religious colleges. And both wrestled for years with the guilt they felt over being lesbians.

“I thought, ‘God, you played a really horrible trick on me — making me think this was really disgusting and then making me gay,’ ” said Lorian Dunlop, who plays cello and volunteers in her daughter’s second-grade class.

She and Darcie Dunlop, who runs an accounting business and sings opera, were married in June and have twin 7-year-old girls.

The couple, both 47, moved to Murrieta from Orange County looking for a place with good schools and space for children. They knew it was a conservative town but believed they could fit in.

“We have always lived comfortably with our neighbors and have always been who we are,” Lorian said.

They made friends with evangelicals and discussed their lifestyle.

“I think it’s important to have a diverse group of friends,” Darcie said. “My hairdresser is a fundamentalist Republican who is also a very nice person.”

Now they wonder if their efforts to blend in hurt them.

What in the world is up with the Los Angeles Timesobsession with the word fundamentalist? I suppose it’s possible that both of these women and the hairdresser (I wonder what a fundamentalist Republican hairdresser is, exactly) were all members of fundamentalist churches. But considering how the word is either a pejorative frowned upon by the Associated Press Stylebook or a descriptor for a relatively tiny group of Christians, are we sure this is the right word to use? I call horse-puckey.

Anywho, the big gaping hole in this piece is the perspective of the evangelical and/or Mormon friends and neighbors of the Dunlops who voted differently. We have this great personal context for the Dunlops — and it really makes the story pop. How about you walk down the street and knock on doors until you get someone to speak about voting in favor of Proposition 8 and why? Or ask the Dunlops if they know anyone who voted for Proposition 8 — and find out why. Ask them about their relationship with the Dunlops and how it affected their vote, if at all.

Heck, I really, really want to meet this fundamentalist hairdresser! If he’s in the story already, why not give him a ring? The fact is that in a country like ours, everyone who votes on public policy and homosexuality has a personal story. It’s not just gay couples that do. It’s time the mainstream media figured that out.

Print Friendly

  • Pamela

    I have friends that live in CA that use other sources for their news. This type of reporting is pretty consistent. They already imply from their tone that their view of fundamentalists is not a good one. I would be afraid to read their actual description of a fundamentalist.

    Unfortunately the mainstream media could care less about getting both sides of a story. They want to inflame people to watch so they can get high ratings and hopefully lots of ad dollars.

  • Thomas

    There is no reason to know why bigots are bigots. Would any media oulet be obligated to give equal time to the views of the KKK and Martin Luther KIng?

  • John

    Thomas, that bigotry stick swings both ways. This is obviously a well balanced assessment of a very one-sided article.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Thomas:

    So the views of a majority of Californians, and all who want to defend centuries of Christian doctrine on this issue, are automatically bigoted and do not deserve fair and accurate coverage in a newspaper serving California and beyond?

    Stop and think about that. As journalism, is that a stance that really helps the LA Times? Do you believe the newspaper should make similar judgments on other controversial issues?

  • Jerry

    So the views of a majority of Californians, and all who want to defend centuries of Christian doctrine on this issue

    Um, Terry, not all of those who were against prop 8 were Christian. I think it’s fair to say that classic Islamic theology would say the same thing.

    I want first class journalists to be able to look with some reportorial detachment on situations like this where people on both sides are sure that theirs is the side of justice and truth. I want such journalists to approach stories with that understanding. While I don’t expect every single story to be balanced 50/50, I do want that balance to be maintained over time. And I want editors to make sure that balance is maintained. So I come to this blog often to feed my understanding of how from those ideals we are today. Yellow journalism is sadly too easy to find.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    JERRY:

    Of course, that goes without saying.

    So the anti-Prop 8 people plan to begin picketing mosques? I missed that story. Orthodox Jewish synagogues, too? Fascinating.

  • http://www.mikehickerson.com Mike Hickerson

    Perhaps the hairdresser truly is a “fundamentalist Republican”, busily recruiting people to support the 1856 anti-slavery platform and vote for John C. Fremont. I prefer to read the LA Times literally on this one. :)

  • FW Ken

    “Fundamentalist” is used once in a quotation with respect to the hairdresser and it’s likely the women used the term about their upbringing. Gay advocates that I have read tend to apply the f-word to any faith that doesn’t agree “god made me gay”. That’s their problem, not the Times’. Otherwise, the reporter uses the more appropriate “evangelical”, unless I missed something.

    I was glad to see why the women feel isolated. Of course, yard sign stealing and epithets at political rally are bi-partisan events, but this is a story to drum up sympathy for the pro-gay side, so it’s understandable. What I found interesting were the disconnects: local anti-Prop 8 rallies in this most conservative of regions. The acceptance of this lesbian couple as persons for 4 years, by, one assumes, the same neighbors who voted against Prop 8. What does it all mean?

  • http://www.muchmorethanwords.com gfe

    If I were doing a research paper on media bias, the hypothesis I would test is that the bias comes forth not so much in how stories are reported, but in which stories are reported.

    In this case, I think you raise an excellent point. It’s an interesting story, and one I enjoyed reading. It helps me to know a bit about what makes these women tick, and that’s a good thing. But a similar article, framed from that person’s point of view, on a Prop 8 supporter would be just as interesting.

    This bias-by-story-selection works both ways, of course. During the election cycle, as an experiment I spent about one week watching Fox News instead CNN and MSNBC, which I usually watch. Actually, I was surprised to find that the reporting I saw was generally fair and balanced. But the difference was in the stories that were reported — I saw more reports on polls that suggested a McCain comeback and stories that saw things from the point of view of a Palin supporter, to give a couple of examples. Individually, such stories were balanced. But in that balance was an imbalance in the story selection, and that’s where I think the bias comes in.

    And that’s what I see here. Telling a reader how a minority that feels persecuted looks at things performs a valuable service for readers. But so would a similar story from the other side, which in this case includes a majority of voters.

    Thomas said:

    There is no reason to know why bigots are bigots. Would any media oulet be obligated to give equal time to the views of the KKK and Martin Luther King?

    Actually, one of the most interesting stories I did when I was a reporter was a lengthy profile of the leader of a local Nazi organization. I wasn’t sympathetic to this person’s views at all, and it was difficult for me to spend about three hours with him, but I wrote the piece pretty much from his point of view as I understood it. I thought it turned out to be very informative and useful for readers who might want to know how they can deal with this sort of movement in society.

    I will not concede the suggestion the supporters of Prop 8 are presumptively bigots. But even if they are, why wouldn’t it be helpful to know why they think what they do?

  • Jerry

    Of course, that goes without saying.

    So the anti-Prop 8 people plan to begin picketing mosques? I missed that story. Orthodox Jewish synagogues, too? Fascinating.

    Actually I think it should be said explicitly so that’s why I dinged you on it :-)

    It’s not an orthodox Synagogue that was vandalized but a progressive one and it was not the anti-8 people that did it but the pro-8 people. And it was not picketing but vandalizing:

    There was more vandalism also Sunday associated with the divide over Prop 8. A progressive Jewish Synagogue in Sacramento was vandalized…
    “Leviticus 18-3″ was spray painted on the wall at the Congregation B’nai Israel following Tuesday’s election.

    http://www.my58.com/news/17943094/detail.html

  • Dave

    There is no reason to know why bigots are bigots. Would any media oulet be obligated to give equal time to the views of the KKK and Martin Luther KIng?

    Remember Skokie? Any idea why the American Nazi Party wanted to march in a Jewish suburb leavened with Holocaust survivors?

    What they really wanted was a parade permit for a rally in the Chicago park system. The Chicago bureaucracy was stalling by foot-dragging. So the ANP applied for a march in a Chicago suburb that they knew would flat-out deny them their First Amendment rights and create a public scandal. It worked, the ACLU was dragged into it, and that organization was damaged for years by withheld funds. Before it was over, the Chicago bureaucracy folded and the rally was held, attended by more counter-picketers than ralliers and more cops than both.

    If someone had shown an interest in the ANP’s situation and what they really wanted, the whole Skokie and ACLU loop could have been avoided. Journalistic shunning of bigots is bad policy.

  • Jeremy

    Why not write a story about opponents of same-sex marriage who live in a predominantly gay neighborhood? … It could have been balanced out by any number of different perspectives of people feeling isolated in an opposing group’s bastion.

    This is a disingenuous construction. If the article was about two Obama supporters in the middle of deep red country, then a comparable counter example would be fair and appropriate. Indeed, if this was an article about two people who opposed Prop 8, the comparison would also be appropriate. However, the LA Times article is about something different and particular: two married women living in a pro-Prop8 community in the aftermath of the passage of Prop 8. Whatever one thinks of same-sex marriage, these women now face a situation that is altogether different from, say, a pro-Prop8 couple living in the Castro. The women are legally married, for the moment; whether they will continue to be married is very much in question. No mixed-sex couples are in danger of having their marriages voided, nor would they have been had Prop 8 failed.

    An article about that hypotehtical pro-Prop8 couple in the Castro might make for an interesting read. Still, it is not warranted simply for the sake of “balance” as the comparison is fundamentally different. With respect to Mollie, this blog post is an example of how opponents of same-sex marriage game their own coverage of the issue, by asserting a false equality between the stakes for heterosexuals and the stakes for non-heterosexuals.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Jeremy,

    Are you actually positing that only homosexuals have a stake in how society defines the public institution of marriage?

    Really?

  • Stoo

    Only homosexuals stand to be directly affected.

    The “opponents of same-sex marriage who live in a predominantly gay neighborhood” that you mention might still have the issues of living amongst neighbors they disagree with. But nothing has changed at any point for them *personally* regarding the concept of marriage. They could before, they still can, whether gays can or not.

  • FW Ken

    Only homosexuals stand to be directly affected.

    Well, no. Social Security survivor benefits and other marital perks will be paid for by taxes. I can’t find the source data right now, but the public cost of extending the marriage franchise is not inconsiderable.

  • Pamela

    I checked the LA Times web site earlier today and just a few minutes ago. It is pretty evident that the slant of this is not just because they were legally married before Prop 8. There is inherent bias about Prop 8. Two things I found interesting when I checked the online paper. The next article I read was about Prop 8 supporters being frustrated about the protesters since the people voted this in a second time. All the supporters were at least 60 years old, two of them were identified as (1) an evangelical Christian and (2) a pastor. The one person that was 40 saw no big deal about it and was glad to see the protest. Basically it appears that only older people have those religious beliefs. From what was not said it implied that only religious people voted for it. I’m sure nothing could be further from the truth.

    I also found it interesting that there was nothing in LA Times about the GLBT racist protesters hurling racial slurs at blacks when it was reported that 70% of blacks voted for Prop 8. They have no idea if the blacks they screamed at were a part of the 30% that did not vote for it. That happened in their community also. Why was nothing reported about that? At least the Huffington Post reported this and said it was wrong for them to do this. They also felt that it was not just religious people that supported Prop 8. Considering the focus of the blog in general I did not have a lot of trouble with that article. Maybe that one should have been posted in the LA Times (with some language masked). It was more well rounded to me. I will need to check this again but I believe they got the side of the blacks as victims of these so-called tolerant GLBT people. To me articles like this are equal time for this LA Times article referenced here. You can just imagine how blacks, especially those that have not gotten past the violence against blacks, felt hearing that madness. NOTHING on the LA Times website. That speaks volumes to me. They are one-sided on purpose.

  • Dave

    The second article that Pamela cites, blunts the claim that the LA Times is only covering one side of this issue. Once again there is no failure to Get Religion at issue here.

  • Stoo

    Ken, fair point but a bit of extra tax really isn’t an impact on one’s life on the same scale as ability to marry a loved one.

  • Dale

    Stoo:

    California already has a “civil unions” statute that provides gay couples with rights equivalent to heterosexual couples. Proposition 8 wasn’t about benefits and legal standing; it was about the use of the word “marriage.” Both sides had the same thing at stake: whether their concept of marriage would be enshrined in California law. I don’t see how gay couples had any more at stake than the proponents of Proposition 8.

  • Dave

    I don’t see how gay couples had any more at stake than the proponents of Proposition 8.

    Nothing would have been taken away from proponents if the measure had failed. What gay couples had at stake was whether they would be treated as second-class citizens, something with which proponents were not threatened.

  • Dale

    What gay couples had at stake was whether they would be treated as second-class citizens, something with which proponents were not threatened.

    No, by redefining marriage, the California Supreme Court rejected the proponents’ idea of marriage–if Proposition 8 treats gays as “second class citizens,” because it rejects same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court’s decision did the same to the supporters of Proposition 8 because it rejected their idea of marriage as between a man and a woman. Not only that, but the Court bypassed the legislative process, denying the basic, express right set forth in the Constitution: the right of the citizenry to make its own laws.

  • Dave

    Dale, the parallel of having one’s definition of marriage written into our out of law is a distraction. Prop 8 took away marriage from gays, and that makes them second-class citizens.

    At one time gays were thought of as individuals. Over the last few decades society has become aware of the existence of gay couples behaving quite similarly to heterosexual couples. Denying them marriage is a stigma of second-class citizenship.

    The right of the citizenry to make its own laws has always been limited my minority rights and, since the end of the Civil War, considerations like equal treatment; it has never been absolute.

  • Lorian

    Dale, gay couples in CA have all the state-level rights of marriage by way of Domestic Partnership (except, of course, the right to marry), but none of the federal rights. The path to obtaining those federal rights and protections for our families is almost certainly through obtaining the state-level right to marry in a few states, and then challenging the inconstitutional Federal DOMA, which exempts gays from the constitutional protections of the Full Faith and Credit Clause.

    That is the importance of “equal marriage” to most gay-parented families like mine. Not to “force” a word or a concept down anyone’s throat, but to take one step closer to being able to protect my children with the more than 1000 rights and protections that go with federal recognition of ones marriage, and which are available to not one single gay couple in this country.

  • Lorian

    FW Ken, in Post #15,

    Your concern for the taxpayer if gay marriage is legalized, due to the fact that gay couples would now be entitled to collect their deceased spouse’s social security, shows a marked insensitivity to the fact that gays are normal, tax-paying citizens just like you. We pay into the same system as you do, but when our spouse dies and we count on their income to support ourselves and our children, we do not have access to claim their spousal social security payout, like you would, should your spouse die.

    Are you honestly going to claim that it is unfair that gay people be able to claim the same tax-funded benefits as you, when we pay into them at the same rates as you do? Really? Personally, I think that if we cannot access the same federal tax breaks and social security benefits that straight people can, we should also be taxed less than straight people are taxed. Seems only fair to me.

  • Carly

    I think Mollie brings up a very pertinent point in journalist reporting today and deciding which issues and stories are important to write about. Each journalist will indefinitely have their own tone but the most important thing is how the media decides which stories are important to give coverage to.
    Proposition 8 obviously will and has gotten a lot of attention because of how recent the story is and because a majority of the public finds it interesting and a hot topic to read about. However, I agree with Mollie that journalists should be aware of all parties and groups being discussed in their articles. Writing just about the gay couple that lives in the conservative community does not give the reader the full picture and also presents the case as one of gay intolerance. Additionally, the entire community in which the couple lives seems to be portrayed in a negative light.
    Media reporting is a controversial topic and it is great Mollie is questioning the LA Times reporter’s coverage of Proposition 8 because there are many of Americans who just take the story for face value when there is really much more behind an article.

  • FW Ken

    Actually, Lorian, I am single, which means that the costs of marriage in society are disproportionately borne by me in any case.

    So what do I get for my money? Do same-sex couples contribute to social stability at about the same rate as different-sex couples? Do they consume social services (police response and court costs – marriage and divorce) at about the same rate? What about the children raised without either a mother or a father? These questions, by and large, apply to domestic partnerships as well as marriage. Remembering, of course, that “data” is not the plural of “anecdote”.

    I understand that you claim ontological status for your sexuality, and you are entitled to your opinions. You are not, however, entitled to make me pay for your opinions, which are founded not on scientific, anthropological, or theological facts, but on propaganda.

  • Stoo

    Dale:

    I see what you’re getting at and there’s a few points here i hadn’t thought of. But i’m not convinced. Since straight couples can at least still get married, whichever way the decision goes, then they have less at stake. Unless they’re going to decide that marriage is worth *nothing at all* if gay couples can do it to. Which is rather… melodramatic.

  • Dale

    Lorian wrote:

    The path to obtaining those federal rights and protections for our families is almost certainly through obtaining the state-level right to marry in a few states, and then challenging the inconstitutional Federal DOMA, which exempts gays from the constitutional protections of the Full Faith and Credit Clause.

    I disagree, not so much because the children of gays and lesbians deserve less protection than other children, but because a strategy that forces that a substantial social change through the court system, rather than public dialogue and legislation, undermines the democratic process.

    As a single person, I don’t see why people in long-term sexual relationships should be given any legal preferences at the state or federal level. The social and political erosion of marriage in the last half-century has basically gutted its primary social purpose; that is, an orderly way to provide for reproducing and raising children. Instead, it’s become a token of emotional commitment to a personal relationship that’s easily broken. Redefining marriage so that its procreative aspect is superfluous only adds to that erosion.

    Instead, the focus should be on new public policies that provide greater protection for children. A child has an interest in the social and economic stability of the child’s parents. If that is accomplished by allowing two adults to adopt a child and obtain state and federal benefits, with a corresponding continual obligation to provide each other with economic and social support, that should be the policy regardless of the sexual nature of their relationship. By the same token, both those who have biological children and those who adopt children should not be released from responsibility for the economic and social well-being of the other parent, merely because they don’t feel an emotional attachment and don’t have sex. If a person doesn’t want to risk a lifelong economic commitment to an unequal partnership, he or she shouldn’t have children.

    If this is about protecting children, then let’s protect children, not dun somebody’s sexual mores as “hateful,” and use the legal process to demand acceptance of certain sexual behaviors.

    We’re off topic here, so I’m going to leave it at that.

  • Lorian

    Actually, Lorian, I am single, which means that the costs of marriage in society are disproportionately borne by me in any case.

    So what do I get for my money? Do same-sex couples contribute to social stability at about the same rate as different-sex couples? Do they consume social services (police response and court costs – marriage and divorce) at about the same rate?

    Yes. Statistically, our committed relationships are very much the same as those of straight people. The problem with statistics comes in when people compare apples to oranges, and include every date, every casual relationship on one side, and only relationships from the other side in which a marriage license was obtained. Let’s compare apples to apples (as the graphic above so clearly implies. Since gays do not have the right to marry in most states, it requires a little more care and determination for an ETHICAL scientist to set up a VALID study, and include only couples from each sample group who have made similar commitments.

    If we include every frat boy, teenager and bar-hopper in the hetero group as qualifiers of what constitutes a “relationship,” we come up with STUNNINGLY different results.

    What about the children raised without either a mother or a father? These questions, by and large, apply to domestic partnerships as well as marriage. Remembering, of course, that “data” is not the plural of “anecdote”.

    Data demonstrate that children raised by a single parent, in general, do poorly by comparison with children raised in two-parent homes (though such studies tend to include a great number of children of traumatic divorce, poverty and abandonment, so perhaps they are somewhat skewed even for considering strictly a question of comparitive heterosexual parenting).

    On the other hand, studies of actual children of same-gender parenting in which the children are brought up in homes with two loving, stable, nurturing parents, find that such children do equally well, are equally healthy and well-adjusted, as compared with children raised by opposite-gendered parents.

    Again, it is very important if one wishes to obtain valid scientific results, that one compare apples to apples.

    Of course, if one’s goal is simply to perpetuate prejudice and injustice, then one will feel quite comfortable conducting studies which compare apples to oranges.

    I understand that you claim ontological status for your sexuality, and you are entitled to your opinions. You are not, however, entitled to make me pay for your opinions, which are founded not on scientific, anthropological, or theological facts, but on propaganda.

    Not true. There is a large body of research which points to a strong genetic component in the etiology of same-gender orientation. It is almost certainly not as simple as a “single gay gene,” but then, neither is left-handedness. And yet we do not deny the genetic basis for left-handedness.

  • Lorian

    Dale said:
    I disagree, not so much because the children of gays and lesbians deserve less protection than other children, but because a strategy that forces that a substantial social change through the court system, rather than public dialogue and legislation, undermines the democratic process.

    Dale, changes involving social justice and civil rights have almost universally come through decisions of the courts in this nation. If such protections could be voted in through popular vote, there would be little need for them. Civil rights are a necessity specifically because popular opinion affirms discrimination against groups in need of civil right protections.

    Without court decisions such as the one which overturned anti-gay marriage laws in CA, MA and CT, we would still be living in a country where it was illegal for blacks to marry whites and legal to deny blacks equal access to schools, restaurants, transportation and other public accommodations and state services.

    Discrimination is CLEARLY a matter for the court’s intervention.

    As a single person, I don’t see why people in long-term sexual relationships should be given any legal preferences at the state or federal level.

    Perhaps not, Dale. But if they ARE given such preference, due to a societal belief that the state should support institutions which foster the care and upbringing of children, as well as fostering the dependency of individual citizens upon one another for their well-being, taking some risk off of government, and, by implication, other citizens such as yourself, then such preferences should be equally awarded to ALL citizens who commit to engage in such relationships, don’t you agree? If you want to ban gays from marrying because you don’t want the government to accord special treatment to married couples and their children, then you must, perforce, be able to also instantly deny such accommodations to hetero couples, or you are in violation of equal protection statutes.

    The social and political erosion of marriage in the last half-century has basically gutted its primary social purpose; that is, an orderly way to provide for reproducing and raising children. Instead, it’s become a token of emotional commitment to a personal relationship that’s easily broken. Redefining marriage so that its procreative aspect is superfluous only adds to that erosion.

    The procreative aspect of marriage is already not a factor in existing heterosexual marriage rights. We don’t screen for fertility before allowing couples to marry, Dale. In fact, we allow couples to marry who are clearly beyond their child-bearing years. We allow people to marry who have had vasectomies and hysterectomies. There is no procreative requirement for citizens to obtain civil marriages.

    While marriage is certainly important for it’s protection of families with children, it also provides benefits to childless couples simply because they tend to function better as self-supporting, stable societal units, requiring less intervention and assistance from the government. This is true of both gay and straight childless couples.

    Instead, the focus should be on new public policies that provide greater protection for children.

    I agree with all of what you say in this paragraph, Dale, (including the part I didn’t quote), with one caveat: This is ALREADY what marriage, and the pertinent family law governing marriage, parental rights, and divorce provides. That’s the point. What we need is to allow ALL families equal access to those rights and protections, and find ways to reduce divorce rates, stabilize families, and protect children. That’s what marriage is all about. Excluding an entire group of families from participation and protection in that institution is counter-productive to your goals as you state them above.

    If this is about protecting children, then let’s protect children, not dun somebody’s sexual mores as “hateful,” and use the legal process to demand acceptance of certain sexual behaviors.

    Dale, it doesn’t appear that we are in disagreement. Nobody wants to “dun” anyone for their religious beliefs. What we want is equal access to the societal mechanisms for the protection of our families, without people’s religious beliefs being injected into this civil process.

  • FW Ken

    Citations for your data would be helpful, Lorian. I have known lots of gay couples and few relationships lasted more than a couple of years. And I’m not talking about tricks and one-night-stands, either. Gay friends are pretty honest about that with me, as well, but then, the gays I know don’t seem to need

    Well, it’s worth remembering that science has purportedly proved all sorts of things over time, and we later learned that the conclusions were bad. Anyway, even if same-sex attractions were genetic, so is diabetes and alcoholism. Not to mention Down Syndrome, Altzheimer’s and a host of birth defects.

  • Lorian

    FW Ken:
    Citations for your data would be helpful, Lorian. I have known lots of gay couples and few relationships lasted more than a couple of years. And I’m not talking about tricks and one-night-stands, either. Gay friends are pretty honest about that with me, as well, but then, the gays I know don’t seem to need

    As I’m sure you realize, gay marriage has not been legal in this country long enough to accumulate too much in the way of divorce statistics. I cannot provide you with the average duration of committed gay relationships vs their equivalent straight counterparts. If that is sufficient cause for you to claim that children of gay couples do not deserve the protection of civil rights, then there’s not much I can do to convince you otherwise, I suppose.

    If the length of a marriage is the test to determine whether children of that marriage determine civil rights, then there will be a great many children of heterosexual families in this nation deprived of civil rights protections.

    Anecdotally, however, my partner and I have been together for over 17.5 years, and I know many other couples who are well over 20 years together. Does that mean that every gay marriage will last a lifetime? No. Should people who fail in a marriage have their civil rights taken away? Sounds a little draconian to me.

    Well, it’s worth remembering that science has purportedly proved all sorts of things over time, and we later learned that the conclusions were bad. Anyway, even if same-sex attractions were genetic, so is diabetes and alcoholism. Not to mention Down Syndrome, Altzheimer’s and a host of birth defects.

    If you want to consider same-gender orientation a “genetic disorder,” feel free. But that doesn’t change the fact that we have a long-standing precedent in this country of not depriving those with genetic differences of their civil rights. And the instances in which this HAS been the case are considered among the most shameful in our nation’s history. Consider the “eugenics” movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and their compelling of forced steririlizations of “mental defectives.”

    I was privileged to hear a friend this past voting day, tell the story of how her younger sister with Downs Syndrome went to the polls and voted for the first time.

    We don’t disenfranchise people or deprive them of civil rights in this country because they are genetically different from us.

  • FW Ken

    We don’t disenfranchise people or deprive them of civil rights in this country because they are genetically different from us.

    Absolutely. However, we don’t re-define our society around their disabilities.

    I don’t usually engage this subject in public forums, except that you were presenting opinion as fact, and I find that offensive. Of course, the media routinely equate the same-sex marriage with interracial marriage and that’s ridiculous: disordered sexuality and race are not parallel. The gay rights movement is a lot more like the abortion rights movement than the racial struggles. I realize that you have a different opinion, shared by none other than the governor of California. But that doesn’t make you right.

  • Dale

    Lorian wrote:

    Without court decisions such as the one which overturned anti-gay marriage laws in CA, MA and CT, we would still be living in a country where it was illegal for blacks to marry whites and legal to deny blacks equal access to schools, restaurants, transportation and other public accommodations and state services.

    The 14th Amendment to the Constitution banned discrimination on the basis of race. There is no text in the constitution that protects homosexual marriages. According to your reasoning, the Supreme Court has the right to amend the Constitution because five of the Justices disapprove of a law. That’s an easy way of depriving your fellow citizens of their right to participate in democracy, a right that is explicitly set forth in the Constitution.

    Your opinion is right in your own estimation, so therefore you can ignore the legislative process and force it on everyone else. Don’t be surprised if people refuse to cooperate, and point out that you’re playing fast and loose with the Constitution.

    If you want to ban gays from marrying because you don’t want the government to accord special treatment to married couples and their children, then you must, perforce, be able to also instantly deny such accommodations to hetero couples, or you are in violation of equal protection statutes.

    The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment doesn’t address homosexuality–unless, of course, you take upon yourself the privilege of amending the constitution without following the proper process.

    I think that eliminating civil marriage is a possible compromise–that way, the state avoids endorsing anybody’s idea of what marriage means.

    The procreative aspect of marriage is already not a factor in existing heterosexual marriage rights.

    Nonsense. We wouldn’t have marriage if it weren’t for procreation. Laws and social structures don’t evaluate every single instance of a relationship to determine whether or not the state has an interest in protecting the relationship. It’s enough to identify an appropriate class of people–pairs of male and female–who procreate, and to extend benefits and protections to them. If you want it to be more exact, fine; make the benefits and protections conditional on having and raising children.

    Dale, it doesn’t appear that we are in disagreement. Nobody wants to “dun” anyone for their religious beliefs.

    Sorry, but my experience tells me that’s false. In fact, the California civil rights statute covering sexual orientation has already been used to target Christian doctors who don’t want to perform artificial insemination for lesbian couples. Never mind that the plaintiff could easily get the procedure done somewhere else by a doctor who doesn’t object–she felt “bad” because the doctor didn’t approve of her sexual behavior. The purpose of this kind of litigation is to intimidate anyone who publicly criticizes homosexual behavior. I have every reason to believe that gay marriage laws will be used–and are intended to be used– in the same way.

  • Lorian

    Dale, the decisions to legalize gay marriage in MA, CA and CT were all based upon the Equal Protection clauses in the Constitutions of each of those states. This constitutes interpreting the law, not legislating from the bench.

    As to your discussion of procreation: Eliminating marriage for non-procreative people not only would produce outrage across this nation, but would also NOT eliminate marriage for gay couples, since many of us have and are raising children. Would you also eliminate marriage for adoptive couples? What about couples who are raising children brought into the marriage from a previous marriage or relationship?

    I don’t think you’ll have much luck trying to withold equal civil rights from gay couples on procreative grounds. You’d be stepping on the toes (hearts) of far too many heterosexual couples.

    Now, with regards to your comment about the woman denied fertility services: You apparently did not read original source material about the actual case. I’ve heard a number of people repeat the misconception you state here, so I’m quite certain a very biased source is being read.

    What actually occurred was this:

    The doctors in this case behaved in a manner that was extremely unprofessional and unethical. They treated the prospective mother for a period of several weeks, performing expensive testing and preparation work on her, taking her money in copious quantities, then, in the middle of her cycle when she came in for insemination, they refused to perform the procedure.

    Had she not been able to find a doctor who would perform the procedure for her on an emergency basis, all the money she spent on the cycle (and that is a considerable amount) would have been wasted. She did not file this suit because of “hurt feelings.” She file it because there was actual harm.

    Personally, I feel the court went too far in this decision. I think this is very similar to the pharmacies which do not want to provide birth control to their customers. I think doctors should have the right to refuse to perform elective services with which they have a religious disagreement, but with a few qualifiers:

    1. There must be an equally qualified practitioner available in the immediate area so that obtaining services does not place an undue burden upon the patient.
    2. The doctor unwilling to provide services must freely provide referrals to that other provider.
    3. The doctor must carefully screen all patients and determine in advance if s/he is willing to provide services to the individual, not decide in mid-cycle or mid-procedure to stop provision of services.
    4. The doctor’s policy of refusing services to patients who do not meet the religious criteria must be stated up-front, either in literature given to each new patient, or in a public posting in his/her office, plainly visible to all comers.

    I don’t believe doctors should be compelled to provide procedures that violate their religious beliefs, but I also see how such refusal of services could be interpreted as a violation of the right to equal access to public accommodation, which would prevent doctors from refusing to treat, for instance, an interracial couple seeking fertility services because doing so violated the doctor’s religious beliefs. To weaken the state’s Equal Protections clause by refusing to make it applicable to doctors providing elective services would put many minority groups at serious risk of mistreatment.

    But in any case, these doctors were not sued for expressing a personal opinion, as you imply, but for unethically refusing service in what amounted to the middle of a procedure they had already begun when they initiated the medical treatments involved in preparing this woman for insemination. This was clearly unethical behavior.

  • Lorian

    Incidentally, the difference between the pharmacy not providing birth control and the doctor not inseminating lesbians is that the pharmacy is refusing to provide a particular service to ANYONE, without regard for the patient’s race, gender, orientation, religion, etc.

    The doctor is discriminating between PEOPLE, based upon the (in California) protected status of sexual orientation.

    The doctor is not practicing Free Speech, nor is the doctor being inhibited from practicing his religion, except insofar as the “practice” of his religion treads upon the rights of another citizen.

    Again, I am inclined to believe that a means should have been found to permit the doctor to refuse this service, but on the other hand, I clearly understand why doing so would have been weakening anti-discrimination statutes for ALL California citizens.

  • Lorian

    Really, FW Ken? Saying that you and Fred Phelps both have Free Speech rights which allow you to say offensive things about gay people is “hatespeech?” That seems a little extreme to me. So, then, what would you call your repeated insistance upon calling same-gender attractions (in spite of good scientific evidence to the contrary) “disordered”? Would that be “lovespeech?”

    And what gives you cause to assert that I would in any way wish or cause you harm? I don’t recall ever making a threat against you, or anyone else, for that matter? Are you that paranoid about gay people such that you believe we all wish you harm simply because you consider us to be “disordered?”

    I’ve never been anything but polite you you, FW Ken, and yet you make unfounded accusations against me. I don’t know that this speaks well on behalf of your arguments.

  • Dave

    … About the APA: There was no scientific basis for the previous classification of homosexuality as a disorder. It was a combination of general societal prejudices being absorbed into the profession, plus a massive sampling error: Practitioners had only (known that they had) met homosexuals who were unhappy, because who else goes to a psychiatrist? It’s not propaganda that has eroded the number of professionals who still oppose that change; it’s the experience of practicing in a more scientific environment. …


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X