Pat Buchanan joins Manhattan Declarers in ‘civil disobedience’ fappery

Pat Buchanan takes a break from race-baiting to pledge his support for “civil disobedience” against marriage equality. Like all the other pundits advocating this, he is unable to explain just how this would work.

How does anyone “disobey” a law that doesn’t affect them? Marriage equality, as Maurice Williamson said, “is fantastic for the people it affects,” but it does not change anything for anyone else.

Marriage equality does not compel Pat Buchanan to start doing anything. It does not compel Pat Buchanan to stop doing anything. It does not force Catholic or white evangelical clergy to conduct or celebrate same-sex weddings. It does not compel such clergy to bless, accept or acknowledge such marriages.

Marriage equality does not even require people like Pat Buchanan, or the Catholic bishops, or the signers of the Manhattan Declaration, or white evangelical clergy to be any nicer to LGBT people than they have already proven incapable of being. It requires nothing from them.

And that means “civil disobedience” is simply not possible. It is a law that people like Pat Buchanan cannot either obey or disobey.

All this talk of “civil disobedience” from anti-gay folks like Buchanan and the Manhattan Declarers is just posturing. It’s part of the fantasy role-playing game in which they stroke their egos by pretending that they’re heroic champions of morality — the rightful heirs of Wilberforce, Bonhoeffer, King, Rustin, Parks, Gandhi and a host of others whom they would condemn and mock if they were still living.

Pat Buchanan, like the authors and signatories of the Manhattan Declaration, is just masturbating.

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  • TheBrett

    I think he’s full of shit, and that’s being generous. When gay marriage is legal across the board in this country, most people will quickly come to accommodate themselves to it. Even these so-called “civil disobedience” people will come around, because the fact is that most people don’t like it when most other people consider them to be an embarrassment.

  • Orclove

    Thanks for including Rustin. I really do appreciate it, as opposed to the more-usual “CIVIL RIGHTS == MARTIN LUTHER KING!!!1!” *


  • Yeah, what are they gonna do, go en masse to the clerks office and apply for straight marriage licenses?

    Or maybe falsely represent themselves as not-straight and try to do all those other things they warn us marriage equality will bring, like marry their dogs, children??

  • Magic_Cracker

    Well, if Pat Buchanan were to kidnap a gay couple, make them sign a marriage license, take them to a Catholic church, hold a gun to the priest’s head to force him to perform the ceremony, and then shoot himself in head to make it all stop, that could be seen as a form of civil disobedience, seeing as suicide is illegal.

    In other news, did anyone else see the story a few months back that Bay Buchanan retired from politics, specifically, political commentary on TV, because she was tired of being angry all the time over unreal nonsense?

  • Vermic

    Marriage equality does not even require people like Pat Buchanan, or the Catholic bishops, or the signers of the Manhattan Declaration, or white evangelical clergy to be any nicer to LGBT people than they have already proven incapable of being. It requires nothing from them.

    I’d have never guessed it would be possible to invent a lazier form of protest than eating fast food at Chik-fil-A, but by God they found a way.

  • If he really wanted to make sure same-sex marriage stayed illegal, he should marry a dude in a state where it’s illegal and take the case to the Supreme Court where it can be overturned.

  • This might be pedantic, but isn’t Pat Buchanan too overtly racist to be a “race-baiter” per se?

  • ZipZapZoop

    Is it really that hard to imagine civil disobedience? What about the woman in Washington State being sued for not supplying flowers for a same-sex wedding? What about an adoption agency that refused to treat same-sex couples as married? Or an employer that refused to treat married same-sex couples the same as married straight couples with respect to benefits? You may think that any of those actions are wrong or stupid. But they are easy-to-imagine scenarios of people being forced by the law to acknowledge SSM and refusing to do so on the principle that such a forced recognition is unjust (from their perspective, that is.) Sounds like civil disobedience to me.

  • Except none of those things are directly related to same-sex marriage; they are LGBTQ discrimination issues, which, although related, aren’t the same thing. The woman in Washington being sued is not being sued because she wouldn’t get married to another woman, she’s being sued because she is discriminating against a same-sex couple, which is expressly forbidden under Washington law.

  • And knowing Washington (in which two of the top-ten most LGBT-friendly cities in the U.S. are located) a flower shop with such policies is likely to find its patronage decreasing.

    The market here simply does not want that.

  • ZipZapZoop

    I concede your point on the technicality of the first example (though in spirit I think it still makes sense and I think that the WA referendum contributed to the AG’s willingness to sue under anti-discrimination statutes). The other two examples are definitely cases where a distinction is being made based on marital status. If marriage is redefined so that married same sex couples must be included, it most definitely means putting employers and other people in a situation where the state demands recognition of same sex marriages. A refusal to comply with such a state-demanded recognition is not hard to imagine and relates directly to the state’s redefinition of marriage. Why wouldn’t that be civil disobedience?

  • It’s legal to refuse to rent a hotel room or apartment to a couple that isn’t married. If that’s your policy for couples regardless of sexual orientation, then the civil disobedience issue would just be about refusing to recognize the legitimacy of SSM.

  • Madhabmatics

    He’s a race baiter in the same way that a guy throwing dynamite into a lake is a fish baiter.

  • Carstonio

    Buchanan was pushing hatred on behalf of Nixon when I was still riding a tricycle. Hard to tell how much he sincerely believes that SSM opponents will be forced to go against their consciences, and how much he’s preying upon the fears of others with that belief to keep his commentator’s gig. I suppose the question is not all that relevant.

  • smrnda

    Are you suggesting that employers should have legal veto power over providing benefits to spouses they don’t approve of? How far would you let that go? I see ’employer has a right to refuse benefit to partner if they don’t approve of your marriage’ as a move into serfdom. If employers don’t like who you are married to, I say tough sh*t for them.

  • Hexep

    Or how someone who tries to lure kung fu teachers out of their schools is a master baiter.

  • Carstonio

    It’s a mistake to assume that treatment of same-sex couples as married qualifies as “recognition” of same-sex marriage, at least in the moral sense. The assumption defines the conscience so broadly that the agency could only maintain it if homosexuality didn’t exist.

    No, equal treatment of same-sex married couples is a recognition that the sexes that the clients choose for spouses none of the agency’s business. It’s unreasonable and illogical for the agency to believe that it’s somehow homosexuality or same-sex marriage – the agency doesn’t have that power, or at least it shouldn’t. Or to believe that equal treatment amounts to a moral taint on the agency.

    Not long ago the Catholic Charities in DC ended foster care and public adoption services altogether rather than place children with same-sex couples. While other agencies did fill the void, the move spoke very poorly of Catholic Charities’ morality. They obviously felt that expressing disapproval of private marital decisions was more important than making sure children have parents.

  • mreed2

    The question is not “is it /appropriate/ for employers to refuse to extend benefits to same-sex couples if the state recognizes same-sex couples” (I answer that question no, and I suspect everyone reading this blog would answer it the same way) — it is whether or not such an act would qualify as an act of civil disobedience, and in my mind, yes, it would. The key qualifications are: 1) The law applies directly to you and 2) You willingly disobey it to draw attention to the law you disagree with.

  • I suspect that this is what’s Buchanan and the rest are getting at when they talk about “civil disobedience,” if we assume that they’re doing anything other than engaging in the sort of fantasy role-playing that Fred suggests (which they clearly are doing, it’s just possible that there’s more to it than that).
    But of course they’re aware that making a call for that sort of specific action is encouraging business owners to violate anti-discrimination laws, so they’re keeping it vague.
    The vagueness also helps to stoke fears of churches somehow being forced to recognize marriage equality, and that being the slippery slope by which our fraudulently-elected Islamoatheist CommieNazi Kenyan President will ultimately impose Sharia law that requires people to get gay married to their pets.
    Or whatever the hell it is these fucking idiots are so goddamn terrified about.
    On a happier note, yesterday I became a great uncle. I like to say that I became “the greatest uncle,” as I was already a “great” uncle.
    In any case, I’m very happy for my niece, who will make a great mother, though really it seems like she was born just yesterday, and I blinked and somehow she went from being that baby who was squeezing my finger to having a baby of her own.

  • That wouldn’t be “civil disobedience”, it’d be “Failing to do one’s job”

  • Carstonio

    I wouldn’t put it past Buchanan to engage in real fantasy role-playing against SSM, such as disrupting wedding services. I suppose that would be uncivil disobedience.

  • Remember, in their fantasy, it’s going to be illegal to be a christian, and catholic priests will be legally forced to perform same-sex weddings. So they imagine that continuing to go to church, preach intolerance, and refuse to officiat at same-sex weddings would all be “civil disobedience”.

    It’s like the NRA claiming that americans should practice civil disobedience by refusing to hand in their guns (since there is no law in effect or proposed which would require them to do so)

  • MaryKaye

    If Buchanan employs people in a state where SSM is legal, and one of those people is in a SSM, he could commit civil disobedience by refusing to treat them as married for the purposes of benefits given to married employees. I think he would be able to get away with this with regard to Federal statues because of DOMA, at least until it’s struck down, but wouldn’t have a leg to stand on with regard to state statutes. He might then be sued. I doubt he would go to jail–it’s the kind of white-collar crime that never seems to send people to jail.

    He would, of course, then be in the bizarre position of claiming that his Christianity requires denial of help to the sick and denial of fair wages to workers. But that’s nothing new.

    It seems to me that only two classes of people can break this particular law: (1) employers and their agents, (2) government officials who grant marriage licenses or administer marriage benefits. But (1) covers a whole lot of people.

  • smrnda

    I think you’re right, at least as to the definition. The problem is that historically, ‘civil disobedience’ is something that a less powerful person does to protest the status quo. Most of the ‘civil disobedience’ of anti-equality people is more privileged people using their power to make less powerful people miserable. It would be like a mine owner saying that his refusal to abide by OSHA standards is ‘civil disobedience.’

    I guess the main difference is that when people engaged in civil disobedience, it tended to bring out the fact that they were being pissed and shat on by society. In these cases, it’s likely to have the opposite effect.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    As others have pointed out, Buchanan is suggesting “civil disobedience” in areas of employment law, housing law, right to refuse service, etc. So it takes real chutzpah for him to cite “priests and pastors march[ing] for civil rights” in his argument defending these types of discrimination.

  • deltmachine

    MAY DAY!

    the culture industry – the ideology of death


  • stardreamer42

    I suspect that this is indeed the sort of thing he’s thinking about. However, the other thing to keep in mind is that “civil disobedience” includes the willingness to accept the consequences of your behavior. The black people who sat at “all-white” lunch counters and demanded to be served knew full well that they were going to be beaten and jailed and then beaten again worse. Do you think any of the people Buchanan is talking about (or Buchanan himself) is willing to lose their job or face prosecution for violating the law? Not a chance. Which means that they’re not talking about civil disobedience at all — they’re just brats having a temper tantrum because no one will treat them like Special Snowflakes who don’t have to do their damn jobs.

  • stardreamer42

    Buchanan has always been absolutely rabid batshit insane about homosexuality, far more so than about any of his other pet issues. The newspaper in my former city carried his editorial column, and the tenor of the language whenever he touched on the topic of homosexuality was completely different than for any of the other things he wrote about — pure frothing vitriol, without even a pretense of logic or coherence behind it.

    I used to wonder when someone would out him, but now I think it’s unlikely. He’s so far back in the closet that he can see Narnia.

  • Will Hennessy

    Well, at least he found something to do…

  • Katie

    I think that, in the mind of the florist, refusing to sell flowers to the couple who was getting married might have been ‘taking a stand against same-sex marriage’. Apparently the couple had been buying flowers there for years, as had other QUILTBAG types who lived in the area. This wasn’t a problem for her, selling flowers for a Gay Wedding was the issue.

  • Lori

    Congratulations on the new addition to your family. I have no doubt that you will indeed be the greatest uncle. And I know exactly what you mean about having time flying. I have two nephews who are dads and it’s a little weird.

  • DavidCheatham

    Actually, no, that’s not legal.

    First, let’s clarify…couples do not rent hotel rooms. Rooms are rented to individuals. (Of course, under some state laws, spouses all own each properties, so in a technical sense, you’re renting to both, but that’s a random side effect of marriage law. A hotel room is always in _someone’s_ name. Apartments and whatnot might be under multiple people, but it’s not worth it for hotels to figure all that out.)

    Now, as to why it’s not legal: It’s actually illegal to discriminate based on marital status. That is, it’s illegal to refuse to rent a room to a single person when you would rent it to a married person.

    So to refuse to rent to a gay couple that is married because you don’t recognize their marriage is nonsense…you’re not allowed to refuse to rent to people because they’re not married to start with!

    Now, what is _hypothetically_ possible without tripping over marriage discrimination law would renting a room to someone and asserting that they only have the right to have family in that room, in an attempt to keep out non-spouses.

    However, _that_ sort of thing tends to fall down on ‘renter’s rights’ laws. Basically, landlords cannot just randomly keep people off the rented property that the renters want on the property without _some_ sort of justification.

    I don’t really know how much these sort of laws apply to hotel rooms, though, and it’s possible that a ‘family’ rule could, indeed, keep out _unmarried_ gay couples. (Along with keeping out all sorts of other business and shooting yourself in the foot.)

    However, as the way to have someone removed from a hotel room would be to _call the police_, and if the renter has a contract stating that only their ‘family’ can be there, and the owner is attempting to remove their legal spouse, I suspect the police will just laugh and leave. The _landlord_ can’t remove people from his rooms. (Of course, maybe _this_ is the civil disobedience they’re talking about…kidnapping gay people and forcibly removing them from their rented hotel rooms.)

  • Em

    You’re not supposed to be posting on the Internet, Dennis. Do you want to go back to jail?

  • misanthropy_jones

    if bucky and his ilk had a civil bone in their bodies, they wouldn’t be looking to disobey…

  • Fusina

    Regarding the first person mentioned.

    1) Does she supply flowers for weddings as a usual thing?
    2) Does she have a shop that sells to anyone who enters off the street?
    3) Does she do flowers for Jewish or Muslim couples?

    If these are all things she does, she doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on. Or a religious one either.

  • Carstonio

    Despite the long parade of professional homophobes revealed as gay, as a matter of principle I refuse to make any conclusions about their colleagues without solid evidence. Odd that no one makes similar accusations of straight celebrities who strongly support gay rights – during the Red Scare, anyone who condemned McCarthyism was accused of being a communist or a sympathizer.

    Having said that, any such revelation for an A-list homophobe like Buchanan or Dobson would be like the Holy Grail.

  • The legality of civil unions for same-sex couples went into effect in Colorado today. On May Day, of all days.

    Buchanan, you are losing this battle.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Nobody in this country has the right to live in a padded room where they never, ever encounter anything that offends them.

    People who are against marriage equality do not have the right to never hear of, encounter or have to acknowledge it. They have the right to not be forced into same sex marriages, they have the right to talk their fool heads off about how they think it’s wrong, they have the right to not have their churches forced to perform same sex marriages…You get the point.

    But they do not have a right to discriminate simply because they think being gay is icky.

    If that was a right, then I would have a right to never, ever hear anything about fundamental Christianity, because I’m against it and it can be a trigger. Jews would have the right to never have to hear about people who don’t keep kosher. Jehova’s Witnesses would have the right to never have to encounter medical treatments.

    And the country would basically cease to function, because there’s no way to systematically censor every encounter every single person will ever have to make sure it adheres to their list of okay and not okay.

  • Jim Roberts

    Except that none of these things apply to churches and religious churches which have a variety of ways to avoid hiring people they don’t want to, up to and including causing them to sign agreements to specific a specific moral standpoint as a condition of employment (see: the woman who was fired for getting pregnant because it was a violation of her employer’s “code.”)

    I mean, really, what does this mean? Pat Buchanan REALLY isn’t going to hire gays this time?

  • Keulan

    The anti-gay bigots keep using the words “civil disobedience.” I do not think it means what they think it means.

  • Makabit

    One scenario I picture coming out of this: a straight couple presents themselves at some church where same-sex marriages are performed. They try to get their wedding done by the pastor of said church, or on their facilities, knowing that for whatever reason (you have to be a member, Labor Day weekend is already taken, you have to take their class first, whatever) they will be denied. Then they claim that it’s because they’re straight, and flip the hell out, in front of the press.

    I expect to see it happen.

  • Makabit

    I am reminded of a PJ O’Rourke piece, in which he talks about how the Panamanian opposition managed to find a way to make littering and traffic jams a form of political protest in a Latin American country.

    “Imagine how fast we’d have been out of Vietnam if golfing and watching Mayberry RFD had been anti-war,” he muses.

  • Reminds me of in The Simpsons when Moe ran for a city council position while pretending to be gay (It Makes Sense In Context) only to get “outed” as straight and lose support, saying:

    “Hey, who are you gonna vote for: Me, who pretended to be gay, or a Republican, whose policies are so anti-gay they prove that he’s super-gay?”

  • I could also see them being roundly mocked, like that Canadian couple who complained that same-sex marriage had adversely affected them — their argument was that their marriage certificate said “spouse” instead of “bride” and “groom”, and this gave them a sad.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I shall now seek these people out and attempt to sue them, because I had a drink in my hand when I face-palmed at their stupidity, and that drink is now all over my shirt.

    It makes about as much sense.

  • SisterCoyote

    For some reason, this issue with people misunderstanding civil disobedience has made me think of this comic. “I DECLARE MY DODGE ON YOU!”
    “I think you’re misunderstanding the…”

  • Fusina

    My best friend suggested that perhaps someone could get certified to marry people and then perform SSM dressed as a Pat Buchanan impersonator– make sure to take video and post to youtube. Who knows, it might go over big in Vegas, after all you can already get married by Elvis.

  • Shawn

    I agree with the posters above that some people will be in a position to commit civil disobedience on equality laws, such as employers or county clerks. All that is required is the desire to break the law out of moral conviction, and you can just as easily object to a just law as an injust one.

    That said, they’re probably not going to get much sympathy for doing so, since the whole point of civil disobedience is to point out the injustice of punishing you for doing whatever you did. “My beliefs require me to treat other people unequally” isn’t a persuasive rallying cry. It’s the difference between claiming that you are required to die for your beliefs, and claiming that you are required to kill others for them.

  • Mira

    I can think of a protest that doesn’t quite rise to the level of civil disobedience, technically, but has a similar idea behind it. When I was married, the minister said that her policy is only to perform religious ceremonies and not sign any legal paperwork, because she refused to act as an arm of the state in a state without marriage equality. (My spouse and I were like, “That’s awesome, we respect that.” We did find a judge to take care of the paperwork though.)

    There’s nothing to prevent clergy members from having similar personal or even denominational policies in states where gay marriage is legal. I wouldn’t even care if they did, it would only cause a bit of inconvenience for members their own congregations who wanted to be legally married. And I think for Christians in the US, we can afford to distinguish between the religious and political a little more.

  • The_L1985

    I’m not sure if this is Dennis, rather than a copycat. After all, it’s missing that photo of a vacuum cleaner.