Yet Another Reason Why the Media Diasppoints Me

Over the past few days, the general news media has been fraught with storied about Phil Robertson’s anti-gay comments and A&E’s subsequent suspension of the show Duck Dynasty.  Although the comments Robertson made are vile, it’s not someone I really care about.  While this non-story gets a large portion of media attention, the atrocities against LGBT individuals in Uganda are being given very little attention.  Just yesterday, the Ugandan parliament passed the bill which makes allows for people to be potentially jailed for life due to engaging in homosexual acts.  The bill also prohibits people from renting to LGBT people or even providing HIV counseling.  The bill is obviously bad and obviously extreme.  It is very likely to be passed into law.

Although there have been strides towards marriage equality in all 50 states over the past week, I feel the atrocities of the Ugandan bill greatly outweigh the positives that have occurred for LGBT rights in the United States.  This bill affects a lot more people in much significant ways than the marriage equality rulings do, and it certainly has much more effect of people than what some reality TV show person says about gay people.  The media’s priorities are not in the correct order; these days, entertainment is passing as news in many circles.  While there may be some news outlets that are reporting what they should be, most are not.  Additionally, if we, as a whole, think speaking about some persons unsavory opinions is more important than speaking about people possibly being jailed for life just for being gay, then we, as a whole, need to rethink our priorities.

“If you won’t listen to reason, there’s always…Towanda.”

On “Tolerance”

The word “tolerance” gets thrown around a lot in many different circles.  Often, in debates, one side will call the other intolerant of their views, and vice versa.  In the United States, many people who subscribe to liberal views want to be viewed as tolerant of opposing views.  However, when they critique the views of conservatives, conservative people will try and identify a hypocrisy in liberal’s views, saying they aren’t truly tolerant because they don’t agree with their views.  I feel this whole dichotomy over-simplifies the use of “tolerance” when it comes to debate, and it’s time that is changed.

The most important thing I want people to realize is that blanket “tolerance” is not a virtue.  Some seem to think that being tolerant of something is synonymous with being good or being right, but that isn’t always the case.  There are obvious things that people should be intolerant of, like genocide, rape, exploitation of people, starvation, and poverty, among other things, but things get a little more nuanced when we talk about “culture war” issues or neurodiversity.

So, are there things I am intolerant of?  Yes, absolutely, and that’s not a bad thing.  There are a lot of things I am intolerant of.  A few examples: I am intolerant of the idea that religious beliefs should dictate public policy, I am intolerant of people who will blame rape victims for their rape, and I am intolerant of the idea that autistic individuals should spend their lives trying to act “normal” in order to appease society.  Intolerance is part of forming any argument of belief you may have.  You don’t have to be tolerant of everything in order to put yourself in the right.  A degree of intolerance provides evidence of applying critical thinking skills into forming your argument.  The important thing is striking the right balance of tolerance and intolerance.  When arguing, you must show enough tolerance to critique ideas, and not people.  Critiquing people and showing blanket intolerance for them does not get your point across and show a lack of critical thought on your part.  In short, do your research, know what you’re talking about, and solidify your position on an issue.

So, my final point is that intolerance is not something you should be afraid of.  It is a tool, but it is one that must be used carefully and with a lot of thought.


“If you won’t listen to reason, there’s always…Towanda.”

About the Rulings

So, I figured I’d write a quick post.  The Supreme Court rulings went the way I pretty much expected them to.  I knew there wouldn’t be a seeping ruling, declaring same-sex marriage legal for all 50 states.  It’ll be legal in California in a short period of time again.  Also, Section iii of DOMA was overturned, which is to be expected.  The narrow 5-4 rulings were also expected.  It’s not everything that needed to be done, but it is progress.

Although it’s not great, I am happy that the Supreme Court punted Prop 8 because the proponents didn’t have standing.  It basically tells groups like NOM and FRC that the Supreme Court doesn’t buy their shit about being “victims.”  Now, when NOM shoots out another “story” for their silly little “Anti-Defamation Alliance”, people can respond by saying, “You’re full of shit, and the Supreme Court thinks so, too.”  Prop 8 was punted because the proponents of it couldn’t show any demonstrable harm that rescinding Prop 8 would cause them.  We all knew they had nothing, and now it is recognized in the highest court of law.  Another advantage of this ruling is that other states could possibly overturn their ballot measures and cite this case as precedent.  Perhaps, marriage equality could come to more states more quickly.  So, the ruling is certainly something we can work with.

However, I am not happy about the Supreme Court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act.  It shames me to realize that I haven’t followed this as much as I should have.  Although we may have made progress on racial prejudice since the 1965, it is undeniable that racism and white privilege still exist in this country.  I believe the protections need to still be in place and it is a shame that they won’t be.  It is a tragic injustice, which should be given as much coverage as the Prop 8 and DOMA rulings.

“If you won’t listen to reason, there’s always…Towanda.”

DOMA and Prop 8 Rulings this Week

So, I started a thread about my feelings about marriage equality when I learned of the Supreme Court rulings that would be made about DOMA and Prop 8.  So, it’s finally the week when they’re supposed to come out.  A lot of people are sitting on the edge of their seats about what the Supreme Court is going to do (and, frankly, I’m curious, too) and what the outcomes will mean for marriage equality going forward.  A lot of the attitudes I have seen concerning this issue range from people wanting the Supreme Court to uphold “traditional values”, whatever those are, and there are others who want the Supreme Court to show how progressive it is to uphold marriage equality.  Both sides seem to view this as a controversial and complicated issue.  I don’t.

My feelings about both of the rulings are that they could have been settled in 20 minutes at the maximum.  It takes nothing more than a fifth grade knowledge of United States government and civics to realize that Section iii of DOMA and Prop 8 are both unconstitutional.  While other people may be begging and pleading for the Supreme Court to rule their way, I’m screaming “Just overturn them, already!  Come on!  This isn’t hard!  Let’s talk about something else!”

There are other things to talk about, especially concerning LGBT issues, that are more urgent than marriage equality, yet get no media time.  Marriage equality gets all of the air time because it’s easy.  People are the most able to comprehend this issue, versus other issues, such as the rate of gay homelessness, trans* issues, non-binary gender identities, and the many issues that gay minorities face.

In short, I’m hoping the Supreme Court rules the way it’s supposed to.  DOMA will be gone, Prop 8 will be gone, and marriage equality will be legal in all jurisdictions of the United States.  Then, since we will have this simple issue out of the way, we can finally talk about important, tougher issues.

“If you won’t listen to reason, there’s always…Towanda.”

What Marriage Equality Supporters are Up Against

Last night, while surfing through Jeremy Hooper’s Good As You blog, I came across a video of a young woman, which she titled Why Did It Become Hateful to Support Marriage, shown below.  Please watch this video before continuing to read.

The young woman is named Anna Maria Hoffman.  She is a conservative writer and vlogger who was an intern at the Family Research Council.  According to her profile on Counter Cultured, she is “very passionate about social issues.”  While I find no fault in being passionate about things you believe in, a lot of what she believes, at least on the issue of marriage equality, is based upon shoddy logic, a failure to look at the issue critically from both sides, and on half-truths and outright lies which have been pedaled to her by groups like FRC.

So, now lets get into the video.  She starts by noting how supporting gay marriage is “cool” these days and how not supporting it is considered uncool.  She posits this issue as comparable to some sort of high school popularity contest.  She makes it seem as though people who support marriage equality do so in order to be popular, which is completely inaccurate.  She doesn’t seem to be able to grasp that people have well-formed arguments in support of marriage equality and support it because they believe it is, objectively, the right thing to do.  She also doesn’t seem to be aware of the numerous ways LGBT people have been discriminated against throughout the history of the United States.  Her trivialization of this issue, referring to it as a popularity contest, is highly offensive, and shows a flagrant disregard for the real issue at hand.

Next, she goes into how who don’t support marriage equality are called “homophobic, hateful, heteronormative” and “bigot”.  This type of commentary has been used countless amounts of times before by groups like FRC and NOM.  They say and do things which are bigoted and offensive and then have the audacity to complain about being called names.  They try to play the victim when they are the ones trying to deny same-sex couples access to rights opposite-sex couples have.  They know this ploy distracts from the real issue at hand and attempts to make them look innocent when they really aren’t.  This “we’ll be called names” strategy says a lot about people who do not support marriage equality.  By using this strategy in her video, Hoffman shows to her audience that she is more concerned about being labeled homophobic and hateful than about whether or not her words and actions are homophobic and hateful.  This type of thought process is incredibly narcissistic and shows a complete lack of concern for LGBT people as well as people who do not share her views.

(On somewhat of a side note, the way she uses the term “heteronormative” in this video makes it clear she has no idea about what heteronormative means.  Although she admits she just “learned” about the term, she quickly dismisses it as “weird.”  Displaying willful ignorance is not exactly the best way to put yourself in a good light.)

So, now, in a completely predictable fashion, Hoffman complains about how it doesn’t make sense that people call her name just because she is “supporting marriage”.  This goes back to the “play the victim” card I have explained before.  Additionally, using the phrase “supporting marriage” is highly disingenuous for many reasons.  (Please refer to this post for a more detailed explanation of why it is disingenuous).  To put it simply (for this post), denying same-sex couples access to a marriage license is not the same as supporting marriage, and it is inaccurate to think otherwise.

Hoffman then goes into a list of the problems that marriage has, in general, in the United States today.  Although most of these issues are legitimate issues that could use some work, none of them have anything to do with same-sex couples gaining access to a marriage license.  Same-sex couples having access to a marriage license does not cause people to get divorced, nor does it contribute to the rise of absent fathers, or single mothers.  Hoffman conflates these issues, as many others before her have, blaming the mere existence of gay people and same-sex couples for the problems opposite-sex couples have.  This constitutes bad logic and the connections she makes have no basis in reality.

Finally, Hoffman finishes by restating how she is trying to “support marriage”, how every child wants and needs a mom and dad who are married to each other, and how people need to “stop the hate.”  As with the rest of the video, she is rehashing old talking points which have been used by numerous groups opposed to marriage equality.  The only one point I haven’t really touched on is the idea of children needing a mother and father who are married.  Since this issue needs a large amount of explanation, I will be speaking about how that argument is fatuous and not reality-based in a later post.  Finally, her call to “stop the hate” is just one final display of the general narcissism that many who don’t support marriage equality possess.

Overall, Hoffman’s video is nothing new.  Still, I felt the need to post about it.  This video shows us a lot about the anti-marriage equality base in general and the thought processes which contribute to it.  Most importantly, it shows how people at the top of anti-gay groups, such as FRC and NOM, package issues, and what their supporters are made to think.  Those people know they have to hide their actual animus towards LGBT people in these pre-packaged talking points which are very carefully worded to sound relatively harmless and nice.  The people on top systematically lie to people like Hoffman, getting them to believe their lies and to not think about these issues with a critical lens that includes both sides of an argument.  Perhaps, Hoffman is, in fact, a victim; however, it is not at the hands of gay people, but rather, the people she has been answering to.  If it wasn’t for them, she would not be posting videos like this one, which are full of inaccuracies, allowing a host of internet-users to view her as ignorant, uninformed, and stupid.

Since Hoffman is still young, I do have some hopes for her.  I hope one day, she can rise above the narcissistic thought processes she was taught by groups like NOM and FRC.  I hope one day she will realize the work she has done has not been in the business of protecting families, but solely in the business of denying same-sex couples access to rights opposite-sex couples have.   I hope one day, she will see how homophobic, hateful, and bigoted her words and actions really are.  I hope she can have that moment of reflection where she eschews her bigotry and comes to a realization of how wrong she was and how nothing she had previously said was substantiated by facts or reality.  I hope she breaks off the blinders that were placed on her.

That’s all for now.  Until next time, folks, “If you won’t listen to reason, there’s always…Towanda.”

On “redefining marriage”

Many anti-marriage equality proponents speak about how allowing same-sex couples access to a marriage license constitutes a redefinition of marriage.  I suppose they are right about this point, but not in the way they are thinking.  They use terms like “radical” to describe what is happening.  Others have said that marriage is “under attack”.  I realize these people use these terms in order to drum up fear and money out of their followers, but  the use of these terms to describe what is happening is so patently ridiculous, it almost defies logic.

In order to put their words into proper perspective, let’s return to my original, simple argument for marriage equality.  Of course, this means we are focusing solely on the marriage license.  When states allow same-sex couples to have access to a marriage license, the marriage license is changed.  In the spots where the couples put their names, the marriage license will use the term “spouse” rather than “husband” and “wife”.  That is the only thing that is changed on the marriage license.  Everything else remains:  the rights aren’t changed, the responsibilities aren’t changed, the tax status of married couples aren’t changed.  There is only one aspect of the marriage license which is changed, and it has to do with semantics, and not actual substance.

The ridiculousness of their use of the terms” radical” and “attack” does not stop with just the marriage license.  When they talk about “changing the definition of marriage,” they are positing that there is one definition of marriage which everybody should subscribe to.  This does not reflect reality.  There is no one, true definition of marriage, no matter what you believe any deity decrees.  Since every married couple contains a unique combination of people, every marriage is defined in a different way, based upon the shared values of the couple.  Some couples make their marriage about serving a deity, some make it about adopting a large number of children, some make it about travelling the world together and not having any children.  Each of these definitions of marriage are equally legitimate.  In terms of the state, after the couple gets a marriage license, the state does not care what they do with it afterwards.  There are no laws mandating what civilly married people are supposed to do, and there is no way the state could regulate what they do.

Anti-marriage equality proponents’ views on marriage are so myopic that they should not be considered to be legitimate.  To them, marriage is defined by a biological male and a biological female joined together, and not too much else (note: many anti-marriage equality proponents speak about the production of children when they speak about a biological male and a biological female joining together, but I will go into the fallacies of that argument in another blog post).  I find it ironic how the speak about marriage being “unique” when they desire for every married couple to find their myopic mold of what it is supposed to be.  Their talk of marriage being redefined is not rooted in reality and should not be treated that way.

That’s all for now.   Until next time, folks, “If you won’t listen to reason, there’s always…Towanda.”

How People who Don’t Support Marriage Equality Misuse the Word “Protect”

There are entirely too many anti-gay groups which claim they are trying to “protect” or “preserve” marriage by making sure same-sex couples are denied access to a civil marriage license.  Their reasoning for protecting marriage, as they call it, is just as inane as describing their work as “protection” or “preservation” of some sort, but I’ll go into how their reasons don’t hold any actual merits in subsequent posts.  Here, I am just focusing on how ridiculous it is that these people use the word “protect.”

It is pretty common knowledge that people use words like protect and preserve to mean saving something from a negative occurrence or its total demise.  With this as our working definition, let’s consider how the issue of marriage equality relates to it.  For this, let’s refer to my very simple argument from my last post (a very simple argument for a very simple issue).  To reiterate, those who are for marriage equality are for allowing same-sex couples access to a civil marriage license, which is a right opposite-sex couples already have.  The end result is that both same-sex and opposite-sex couples have access to a civil marriage license.  To put it another way, let’s say opposite-sex couples are represented by one candle and same-sex couples are represented by another.  The opposite-sex couples’ candle is lit because they have access to civil marriage licenses in all jurisdictions throughout the United States.  The same-sex couples’ candle is not lit because they do not have that same access.  The act of allowing same-sex couples access to a marriage license is basically the same as lighting the unlit candle with the fire of the lit one.  So, the end result is two flames; the original one burning with the same heat and intensity as it did originally.

When same-sex couples are granted access to a civil marriage license in all jurisdictions in the United States, opposite-sex couples will, in no way, be stopped from obtaining one.  There is no reason to believe that opposite-sex couples will obtain civil marriage licenses in lower rates than what the rate was before same-sex couples were allowed access to a marriage license.  The marriage license will remain the same as it was originally.

Since none of the rights and privileges contained within the marriage license are being changed, it is not experiencing anything negative, nor is it experiencing its ultimate demise. Therefore, there is no reason to use the words “protect” or “preserve” when taking about denying same-sex couples access to a marriage license.  The people who fight against marriage equality are protecting nothing; their work hurts same-sex couples and does nothing for opposite-sex couples.

“If you won’t listen to reason, there’s always…Towanda.”

Marriage Equality: What Should be One of the Simplest Issues of Our Day, but Somehow Isn’t

Since we will see the Supreme Court weigh in on the constitutionality of Prop 8 and DOMA at the end of next month, I feel I need to speak on the matter.  Although I am glad about the advances that have been made recently regarding marriage equality, a lot of me feels like screaming, “Come on!  This is really that difficult?”  To me, marriage equality should be a no-brainer.  In an ideal world, this issue would be resolved in 5 minutes and then we can talk about something else.  But, we don’t live in an ideal world, hence why I am writing this post, and will be writing subsequent posts.  This post will focus on how I believe supporters of marriage equality are not presenting the argument for marriage equality in the most effective way they can, and how to make the argument more effective.  Subsequent posts will focus on how the anti-marriage equality side of this debate doesn’t have a real argument, and how (you guessed it!) they misuse words.

So this post: How proponents of marriage equality could present their argument in a more effective way.

I have watched entire too many “debates” on this issue on different television networks.  They all say the same thing: Pro: Marriage is about two people loving each other coming together.  Anti:  Marriage is about procreation.  Pro: Gay couples have children.  Anti:  Children need a mom and dad, churches, blah, blah blah….  Nothing ever gets resolved and no one’s minds are ever changed.  I supposed this is done for the ratings, and not for advancing anything, but that’s another issue in itself.

So, let’s put this issue in it’s proper focus.  Let’s take all emotion out of both sides of the issue.  After we do that, we are left with the central issue at hand:  Whether or not same-sex couples should have access to a civil marriage license.  Now, we start by explaining what a marriage license is: a contract which affords couples certain rights, many in the form of tax reductions and other benefits.  A couple can have access to a marriage license by going into city hall with two witnesses, going up to the clerk, asking for the license, and paying the fee (of course, there are probably differences with this process depending on jurisdiction).  That’s it.

This is why I don’t like the argument that has arisen over this issue.  Most of the topics both sides bring up are irrelevant.  Churches are irrelevant.  The “public understanding of marriage” is irrelevant.  Children are irrelevant.  Hell, even love is irrelevant.  It’s completely legal for two people who just met to get a marriage license and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.  It doesn’t matter if they even see each other after getting the license.  I realize most people don’t do that, but nothing is stopping anyone from doing so.

In short, the marriage equality issue is somewhat like an onion.  Both have many soft layers that can easily be pulled off and thrown away, leaving a small core.  Looking at the small core, the issue is incredibly simple and clear.  One type of couple has access to a contract that another type of couple does not have access to.  The reason why I support marriage equality is just as simple:  I don’t see any legal reason against it.

My final point:  if supporters of marriage equality framed the issue in terms of the marriage license, they win.  When groups like the National Organization for Marriage talk about Catholic charities closing down because they lost their tax exempt status, they should ask “How does denying same sex couples access to a marriage license do anything to stop this issue from happening?”  They won’t have an answer, because there is no substance to their argument, and because that issue concerns anti-discrimination laws, not marriage licenses.

I will have much more on the fallacies of the arguments people make against marriage equality in future posts.  Until then, folks, “If you won’t listen to reason, there’s always…Towanda.”