Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Critique: The liberal case against Gay Marriage


The liberal case against Gay Marriage by Susan M. Shell

It is refreshing to read a left-leaning argument against gay marriage. Democrats should stand against gay marriage, as should Liberals. There are many Liberals against Gay Marriage who have been cowed into silence by the interest group politics and group-think. It is politically incorrect to speak out against gay rights. In addition, the radical left has done a horrible dis-service to honest debate by portraying the real opponents to gay rights as (only) the extreme right wing. Since most reasonable people don't want to be associated with them, it is easier to be quiet, and accept "modest" and "moderate" progressiveness.

Susan Shell shatters that idea. There is a credible case to be made against gay marriage from the Left. She does a good job.

Where I disagree is that she accepts the notion of Gay Rights itself. Shell believes that a "liberal" can't be against gay rights. They can be against gay marriage though.

While obviously I agree with the latter, the former is nonsense.

As Democrats, and liberals we make judgements everyday about people, situations, etc. And no it is not only to protect society or the weak.

-the way people smell.
-the way people dress.
-the food people eat.
-acceptable good manners.

...and so on.

People are entitled to have an opinion to dislike a given sexual activity or relationship. Shell seems to admit this (sort of) when she talks about liberals being illiberal if they demanded that society abandon all distinctions between marriage and other unions.

I take it one step further. Liberals can be against gay rights. Just like Liberals are against Incest. Just like Liberals are against eating horses. Just like Liberals are against many other things.

But again we must highlight those on the left who make an honest case supporting traditional marriage.


Max said...

This is an article entirely without argument. A statement to the effect that one can be a liberal and opposed to both same sex marriage and gay rights is just that - a statement.
Reading between the lines, the suggestion appears to be that, like incest or eating horses, any endowment of legal rights and protections to gay folk naturally arouses the disgust of people, including liberals.
If disapproval and disgust at the nonthreatening behavior of others is to be the bell-weather of how we apportion rights in society, you will certainly find yourself at the receiving end of unfair discrimination sooner or later.
You are on the losing side here, morally and historically, thank goodness that you're opinions don't inform policy.

Craig Farmer said...

The main idea that needs to be amplified is that Democrats and Liberals can have a "good heart" and be "in good standing" with the Left YET oppose gay rights. I liked this article because it articulated a left-leaning reason to oppose gay marriage. But implicit was the idea that since I think it is normal for men to be with women and women with men; and homosexual activity abnormal; that is illiberal.
That is wrong. I have the right to define my preferences. The American people have a right to define their preferences. We all do every day. One more example:
We dislike people with "bad manners" like "passing gas" in a public situation. If someone blatantly did that, unapologetically we would judge them harshly. As a society we have that right. But what happens when a group claims those rights?

Max said...

You've now made explicit your argument.
Homosexuality is abnormal and morally equivalent to bad manners - somewhat toned down from your previous comparison with incest and horse eating. Ergo, because homosexuality is fundamentally negative, a person is not illiberal for opposing rights and protections for gays.
In Caucasian populations, less than 10% of people are red haired. We do not class redheads as abnormal. In every society where reliable measurements have been made, between 5-10% of the population are gay. This is not abnormal either, to the contrary, given the vastness of human society, the fact that this is constant across societies strongly suggests that this is a very normal part of human behavior.
It therefor strikes me as the height of illiberality to oppose equal treatment of a minority.

Craig Farmer said...

1. Society has a right to define behavior as immoral,wrong, bad, strange, etc. We are not talking about people. We are talking behavior. I can look at history and name plenty of things that at least 5-10% of people have done that we as a society can label as off-limits. Therefore that should't be a standard.

2. Every society has had left-handed people. I am left-handed. Various studies show between 10-15 percent of people are left-handed.
Using your logic it would be wrong to discriminate against left-handers in any way. Everything we do should be "neutral". Yet, our society has to make choices. Do we drive on the right or the left. Do we read from left to right or right to left.

Other rational discrimination:

tall people-- There have always been extremely tall people who get bad treatment. Even at amusement parks, everyone but the extremely tall can enjoy.

blind people-- There have always been blind people. While we make some accomodations, we necessarily discriminate against them. Imagine if we said that everything in society must be equally accessible to them as everyone else.

3. People with red-hair aren't relevant because they don't relate to behavior. It would be wrong to discriminate against them because of that. There is no debate they were born that way. But to my knowledge it is just vanity (good or bad). People can control their sexual behavior, their choice of mate, their lifestyle. And society has a right to draw boundaries, define good/bad.

3. I find it interesting if I find two people of the same gender strange, bad, etc. that is unacceptable. But everything you and others find unacceptable is an outrageous comparison.

People eat horses in other countries. That is nasty.

All people are born nude. It is natsty to walk around nude in public.

All people smell badly at some time. It is bad. We don't celebrate it and change our culture.

Discrimination is rational decision making. We think of it as bad now because the "word" has been used most often to describe bad situations like racial or gender discrimination. But the politically incorrect reality is that it is necessary to prejudge situations and people. It would be impossible to get enough accurate info. in every situation to make the best decision.

Racial discrimination is wrong because the foundation was not valid.

Some gender discrimination is valid because the foundation is valid. For example, if a fire department discriminates against small women, it makes sense not to waste their time giving them a chance. Sure there might be the one small woman in 100 who could do the job, but the time/energy/money wasted giving them an equal chance would be too much. But usually small women would know this and not apply to be a fireman. But what many in the gay rights crowd would be saying is if this lady at 5 foot 2 and eighty pounds wants to be a fireman, don't discriminate against her.

Lastly, I'll talk about pretty/ugly people. However you judge them. We discriminate all the time. Should we stop labeling people pretty or ugly too? Someone who is 500 pounds and has skin problems is just as beautiful as beyonce? And our society should treat them accordingly?

Where's the line? Where any loud minority says so?