Tom Gilson

Progressive Sexualism: The Unspoken Ideology Behind LGBT Activism

The Case of the Missing Ism

The Strange New Movement Without a Manifesto

Quick: what do you call the ideology fueling the LGBT movement? What’s its name? What founding document describes gay activism’s intellectual underpinnings?

Not easy to answer, is it? This is really quite surprising for such an influential global movement.

Virtually every other history-altering movement in Western history has been built on some founding statement or manifesto, and has its own “ism” associated with it. Think of the Jewish and Christian Bibles, the Qur’an, the 95 Theses, the Declaration of Independence, Das Kapital, Mein Kampf, Silent Spring, Letter from a Birmingham Jail, and The Feminine Mystique. These movement-establishing documents are household words among educated Westerners. You could probably rattle off the names of their authors. Even more well-known are the titles “Judaism,” “Feminism,” and all the other “isms” in between.

But what household-word document defines the intellectual underpinnings of LGBT activism? What is its “ism”? Who wrote it down for us? There is nothing.

Gay and lesbian activists have defined their strategies (After the Ball), but never their core ideology — not publicly, at any rate; not in any well-known, widely quoted book or manifesto.

I’m not saying LGBT thinkers have never produced any work of that nature. I don’t know if they have. (If you know of such a thing I’d be interested to read it.) What I’m saying is that if they’ve articulated their ideology, most of the world doesn’t know about it — but most of the Western world has adopted it anyway, whatever it is — blindly and without awareness.

The Usefulness of Masking Your Ideology

This has interesting effects. For one thing, the lack of any definitive “ism” label for the LGBT ideology supports the misconception that gay activists operate free of ideology — which is nonsense: strategically useful for their side, but still nonsense.

For another thing, it explains some of the problem conservatives have faced in fighting back against gay activist thinking. We’re pushing against something real, but not something exists in any solidly defined form. If you push something that isn’t there you will fall over, and the same can happen if what you’re pushing against can shapeshift when you press against it. You look clumsy at best. Worse, when conservatives try to swat at LGBT ideas that don’t exist in any well-defined form, it’s as if we’re swinging at nothing – but not really, for it fosters the appearance that we’re targeting LGBT people instead, which looks ugly.

But without doubt there is an ideology behind LGBT activism. It’s not written, it’s assumed. Its conclusions have the force of law, while its premises remain hidden in assumptions and obscurity. It’s not set forth in any systematic form; instead it’s being promoted through symbols and images, especially in the entertainment media.

Progressive Sexualism

What would we call this ideology, if we could give it a name? From where I sit I think a good label for it would be progressive sexualism. It’s progressive in that it aligns almost completely with the larger progressive movement that characterizes much of America’s elite. It’s sexualism in that it takes sexual identity, liberty, and “expression” to be near-ultimate goods, outweighing even such historic liberties as freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of religion.

How progressive sexualism achieved its prominence in our culture is easy to explain: it’s a simple matter of strategy, well conceived and skillfully implemented. How it justifies that prominence in rational thought is another question. It’s time we asked that question. Actually it’s overdue. We’ve let the LGBT movement go on too long without demanding they explain their beliefs.

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50 thoughts on “Progressive Sexualism: The Unspoken Ideology Behind LGBT Activism

  1. I’d go back to what I posted on“Why These Bathroom Wars? (Intro)” thread. Progressivism has advanced to the point where it doesn’t need or really even want to explain itself or the movements that comprise it. What is important for them is to regularly find causes to “rally the troops” around. To find an issue that sets off the knee jerk reactions that inspire it’s acolytes. They don’t need to explain themselves. They need only to execute the virtue-signaling and bigot-baiting” tactics that elicit the desired response from their supporters and the media that touts for them. With that they consolidate their power and keep the flock in line.

  2. If After the Ball gives a glimpse of the LGBT movement’s strategy to slowly takeover the hearts & minds of the common man, then I suppose And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts is the book that fuels the narrative that the LGBT community was unfairly stigmatized when AIDS broke out (standing by the assertion that AIDS isn’t a gay man’s disease), where a supposed bigoted scientist withheld vital information that would’ve advanced AIDS research. I haven’t read it yet, though.

    I found out about Shilts’ book via Reddit, which was trending on the front page. Shilts himself was a homosexual who died of AIDS.

  3. I also observed that the main targets to carry out this movement of “equality” are millenniums and Generation Y. Add in demographics like the entertainment industry which millenniums and Gen. Y love, as well as those who have non-straight relatives.

    They also cleverly pick out the minority in mostly conservative areas like a gay Southerner or a bisexual soldier. Sometimes it’s even a straight professional sportsman or military general that will write a NYT piece in support of [gay/trans] rights. Get once holdouts of gender differences and “locker room talk” on your side and you win half the battle. It’s all carefully curated.

    The LGBT movement rarely offers any arguments onto why besides the much bandied “diversity, equality and inclusion” card. They will appeal to Stonewall, Reagan’s lack of support, and homeless LGBT youth to say they’ve suffered enough. They are innocent lambs just wanting to hold their “lover”‘s hand.

  4. Virtually every other history-altering movement in Western history has been built on some founding statement or manifesto, and has its own “ism” associated with it.

    It’s unclear what you mean here by “founding statement or manifesto”. Here’s why:

    Think of the Jewish and Christian Bibles

    As I’m sure you’re well aware, the modern NT canon didn’t exist until long after Jesus’ death. You’ll probably say that it wasn’t that long in historical terms, and that’s true, but the fact remains that Christianity was founded sometime around 33 A.D. – well before there were any councils or Catholic churches.

    The Declaration of Independence

    I wouldn’t really consider this a founding *ideological* document for american independence. The constitution, or even Paine’s pamphlet ‘Common Sense’ fit better here.

    Das Kapital

    I’m not sure what this is supposed to be a founding document for, but it sure isn’t communism. If anything is a founding document for communism, it’s The Communist Manifesto, published almost 20 years prior to Das Kapital. (and, for the record, a lot of communists disagree with Marx on a lot of stuff)

    Mein Kampf

    While it’s true that this book discusses what would later become nazi ideology, it’s important to remember that a big factor in Hitler’s rise to power is that he was willing to intimidate, threaten, or outright murder his political opponents; his writing didn’t really play a big part in that.

    Letter from a Birmingham Jail

    The civil rights movement was absolutely not built upon this. Not only was the civil rights movement well underway by the time it was written (King was arrested in Birmingham 8 years after the Montgomery bus boycott), it was literally what it says – a letter, and in response to in article in a newspaper. Also, by the way, King represented only one “sub-philosophy” within the civil rights movement. There were others, such as the approach favored by Malcolm X – and they all played a part. The idea that the civil rights movement was some kind of monolith with one specific ideology is a historical fiction.

    Other works you mention, such as the 95 theses and the feminine mystique, in contrast to these other works, *did* mark the beginning of movements, or at least close enough.

    Gay and lesbian activists have defined their strategies (After the Ball), but never their core ideology — not publicly, at any rate; not in any well-known, widely quoted book or manifesto.

    This is because, like the African-American civil rights movement, there is no ideology. Rather, there are ideologies. We’re not a monolith.

    What would we call this ideology, if we could give it a name? From where I sit I think a good label for it would be progressive sexualism. It’s progressive in that it aligns almost completely with the larger progressive movement that characterizes much of America’s elite. It’s sexualism in that it takes sexual identity, liberty, and “expression” to be near-ultimate goods, outweighing even such historic liberties as freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of religion.

    The ideology you describe doesn’t resemble mine at all, nor does it resemble the ideology of the people that make up the circles I run in. What you’re describing is what could be called the ‘mainstream liberal’ ideology. This is the ideology of those in power, most of whom are not themselves LGBT people.

    We’ve let the LGBT movement go on too long without demanding they explain their beliefs.

    This tells me that you’re not at all familiar with the history of the LGBT movement. You’re not “letting” us do anything. We make the demands here. We (and that’s a general ‘we’) fought back against cops at Stonewall in 1969. We took to the streets demanding liberation and went on hunger strikes in the 70s. We shut down the FDA for a day in 1988. We did the same at the New York Stock Exchange in 1989. We organized a million people and marched on Washington DC in 1993.

    For another thing, it explains some of the problem conservatives have faced in fighting back against gay activist thinking.

    No, your problem is this: you’re fighting to have your ideological views regarding LGBT people occupy a privileged position in social discourse. If you ultimately lose, even if you think otherwise, your lives will be pretty much the same as before. We, on the other hand, are fighting for our own survival and well-being. You’ll lose that fight every time.

  5. Skep,

    Good point on Das Kapital.

    As for the Bible, I do know my history, and the NT was substantially formed, and its several documents were in circulation, at the founding of the Church in the first century, long before they were formally brought together in the canon.

    The Constitution isn’t an ideological document. Common Sense could be considered one, though, as you said, but that would be alongside the Declaration, I think.

    The Civil Rights movement was underway before King’s Letter, agreed, and there were other reasoned documents that supported its thinking. I chose one that would be widely known, and yes, it did contribute greatly to the course of the movement from then on.

    I’m not trying to spar with you here; I’m just trying to answer your question about what I had in mind when I spoke of founding documents or manifestos.

    If there are non-monolithic ideologies behind the LGBT movement, what are they? And please: do you really want us to think you have no unifying ideas whatever? Really?

    I have trouble understanding how you distinguish the LGBT movement from what people in power are doing. I’ve read After the Ball. I know that the gay rights movement had every intention from the beginning to use and to co-opt the power centers. I know from history that it happened. I know that the gay rights movement wouldn’t be a movement without the support of liberal elites.

    So if there’s a way to distinguish true gay rights from the liberal elite version, as you say there is, I’m all ears.

    This tells me that you’re not at all familiar with the history of the LGBT movement. You’re not “letting” us do anything. We make the demands here.

    This tells me that you’re not paying attention to what I wrote, or you don’t understand normal English usage. I didn’t say we let you continue; I said we let you continue too long without making a certain kind of demand in response. But hey, if you think only you “make the demands here,” then look in the mirror and tell me whether you like supporting a totalitarian, boots-on-the-neck movement like that.

  6. You forgot one of the demands you made successfully, by the way. By the same kind of power play you forced the APA to change its position on homosexuality as a mental illness, regardless of any science and regardless of the actual opinion of mental health professionals. (Read chapter 1 of Critical Conversations.)

  7. And the idea the this movement doesn’t have a manifesto isn’t complete true. Left wing ideology has many manifestos from the writings of Marx and Engles to Mein Kampf to Rules for Radicals. Now, it’s true that none of these are directly about the LBGT movement but the American left is diverse movement that ties any number of causes together. However, the goals of all these are the same. The consolidation of power, the limitation of personal freedoms and the prohibition of dissenting opinion. It isn’t, anymore, about the ideology. It’s about the tactics as I mentioned above.

  8. Tom:

    The main blog page shows that this post has nine comments, and they’re listed in the sidebar, but when I click on the article I don’t see any comments. I’ve checked in Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Comments on other posts are working just fine in all three browsers.

    If you need to respond to this in order to troubleshoot, please email me at [email protected]

  9. Better now? I was able to reproduce the problem. I messed with one plugin that I didn’t much expect to make a difference, but now it’s working for me. Same for you?

  10. So if there’s a way to distinguish true gay rights from the liberal elite version, as you say there is, I’m all ears.

    The difference is in the name – liberal. I’m not a liberal, I’m a leftist, and so are most of the actual activists. Leftists, generally, advocate direct action over gradual reform. For example: there are many places in the U.S. where it’s legal to fire someone for being gay. A liberal’s preferred strategy is to petition the courts and eventually get laws passed. That strategy sometimes works, and when it does, good. But a leftist’s preferred strategy is to conduct sit-ins or strikes against businesses that actually discriminate, or to organize unions. Basically, the same strategies that MLK and others used – see for example the Montgomery bus boycott, the Selma marches, and the Greensboro sit-ins.

    These actions are lauded today, but in their time they were heavily criticized by those who King referred to in Letter as “white moderates”. Likewise, the liberal elite version of LGBT rights could be considered “straight moderates” (I have in mind here people like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton).

    But hey, if you think only you “make the demands here,” then look in the mirror and tell me whether you like supporting a totalitarian, boots-on-the-neck movement like that.

    We’re the ones with the boots on our necks. We’re just fighting back. For example, the FDA shutdown I mentioned was in response to the FDA’s repugnant handling of HIV drugs. People were literally dying every day.

    You forgot one of the demands you made successfully, by the way. By the same kind of power play you forced the APA to change its position on homosexuality as a mental illness, regardless of any science and regardless of the actual opinion of mental health professionals.

    Hold on. Are you saying that you disagree with that change, and that you think the APA should go back to classifying homosexuality as a mental illness?

  11. BillT said:
    Left wing ideology has many manifestos from the writings of Marx and Engles to Mein Kampf to Rules for Radicals.

    I find it odd that you group the writings of Marx and Hitler together. Perhaps you’re not aware of this, but the most left-wing people (communists and anarchists) despise nazis. So much so that when a bunch of neo-nazis decided to hold a rally in Sacramento recently, those left-wing people showed up and beat the crap out of them. Now, maybe you don’t agree with that course of action, but it’d be pretty hard to argue that the people literally beating up nazis hold favorable views of nazism.

  12. Hold on. Are you saying that you disagree with that change, and that you think the APA should go back to classifying homosexuality as a mental illness?

    Read what I wrote, you leftist activist who only wants to make change rather than provide reasons for it.

    While you’re reading what I wrote, you might also re-read the OP. Just because you want to make the world the way you want it to be, regardless of how others want it to be, doesn’t mean anyone in your camp has explained clearly what’s good about that change and why anyone else should agree with it.

    You compared yourselves to MLK Jr. I think you should be embarrassed over that. You do know about the Letter From a Birmingham Jail, after all. Sure, many people disagreed with him, but he explained himself.

    Or don’t you think that’s worth bothering with?

  13. We’re the ones with the boots on our necks. We’re just fighting back. For example, the FDA shutdown I mentioned was in response to the FDA’s repugnant handling of HIV drugs. People were literally dying every day.

    Nice way to change the subject.

    You described a boots-on-the-neck strategy you’re carrying out. Do you like being that way?

    (And if you hadn’t noticed, HIV research is no longer exactly a good example of boots on your necks.)

  14. Skep at 14:

    Dodge.

    Whether Naziism is left wing or not, strong cultural movements generally have manifestos. That was the point.

    The one you’re ignoring.

  15. Yes, HIV needed to be researched. Yes, it was important. Yes, it’s good that we’ve made progress on it. Yes, continued research is good.

    But don’t let those truths distract you from this one: research had already provided a nearly 100% foolproof way to prevent catching HIV: faithful monogamy. (Not even necessarily heterosexual, though that certainly helps.)

    You put your own boots on your own necks there.

    I have sympathy for the illness. I lost a friend and I also lost a first cousin to AIDS. I have empathy for the loss.

    But I do think that when we’re talking about who’s responsible, we need to keep the whole picture in view.

  16. Tom, it’s not really clear what sort of explanation you’re asking for. I could give explanations all day for why I think that LGBT kids shouldn’t be bullied, or why LGBT adults should be allowed to marry, or why they should have the same access to housing that everyone else does, etc. But I don’t have anything like a “gospel of LGBT-ism” to give you, and frankly, the idea of that sounds really weird.

    I mean, yes, of course I have ideological reasons for holding the positions on LGBT issues that I do, as does everyone else who holds any kind of position. But there’s not a single all-encompassing viewpoint behind all of them. My positions on bullying, and marriage, and housing, etc. have different reasons behind them.

  17. If you’re not the one who can write the manifesto, I understand. That takes a certain kind of person, with a certain skill set.

    But I’d still like to see some kind of coherent explanation for gay rights becoming so suddenly important — important even beyond the basic freedoms that sustained our country through its first 200 years.

    (Yes, yes, I know that not all groups enjoyed those freedoms — but they knew what they were, they knew why they were important, and they knew what they were missing. The thinking behind it had been done — just as I’m asking of gays now.)

  18. This is a digression, but it’s important so I’m gonna comment:
    But don’t let those truths distract you from this one: research had already provided a nearly 100% foolproof way to prevent catching HIV: faithful monogamy.

    1. HIV is a virus, and biologically, it’s no different than any other virus. it doesn’t care whether you’re having sex or not – it’s transmitted via bodily fluids. While sex is the most common transmission risk, you can be as faithfully monogamous as possible, or even completely celibate, and still catch it. To be “nearly 100% foolproof” you also have to avoid all situations where it’s possible to contract HIV. That means that you can’t be most kinds of doctor, you can’t be a professional wrestler, you can’t receive a blood transfusion, you can’t fight back if assaulted, and if you’re out in public and someone’s in a terrible car accident, you can’t attempt to stop their bleeding. And many other things.

    (Not even necessarily heterosexual, though that certainly helps.)

    I’m not sure how that helps. A faithfully monogamous homosexual couple is exactly as likely to contract HIV as a faithfully monogamous heterosexual couple. If no one in the relationship has HIV already, the chance of contracting HIV via sex is zero. The HIV virus has never and will never spontaneously generate in someone’s body.

  19. If you’re not the one who can write the manifesto, I understand. That takes a certain kind of person, with a certain skill set.

    Well, perhaps I could, if you were more clear about what you’re looking for. What specifically does MLK’s Letter have that LGBT activists have failed to produce?

    But I’d still like to see some kind of coherent explanation for gay rights becoming so suddenly important — important even beyond the basic freedoms that sustained our country through its first 200 years.

    If all you’re wondering is why there’s so much “noise” about it now, when there wasn’t in the past, that’s easy. It’s because there’s far less of a chance now than in the past of us being murdered when we talk about these things. It’s not that these things are more important to us now – they always were this important. It’s just safer now. And, our rights don’t clash with “the basic freedoms that sustained our country through its first 200 years.” It’s just that we also want those freedoms.

  20. Skep @21, if you’re trying to imply that HIV transmission is independent of human behavioral choices, forget about it.

    If you have to ask the questions you asked in 22, then you’re not the right person to meet the need.

    You don’t want the same freedoms that have stood our country in such good stead for its first 200 years. You don’t want basic human rights, you want “gay rights.” You insisted on a “right” to create an institution for yourselves (gay marriage) and even to give it the same name another institution was already using (marriage).

    You insist on a new right for bathroom access to be determined by a person’s private psychology.

    I could go on, but I don’t think you’ll listen. Your language of wanting the same freedoms is disingenuous, but you’re so involved in it you’ll never see it.

  21. If all you’re wondering is why there’s so much “noise” about it now, when there wasn’t in the past, that’s easy. It’s because there’s far less of a chance now than in the past of us being murdered when we talk about these things.

    That is such an astonishingly incomplete, unaware, surface-level explanation, I’m amazed you would offer it in public, especially here on a thread where the call was made for something thoughtful.

  22. Tom, I find it ironic that you’ve accused me of totalitarianism here; yet you just published a new post where you say that Jesus ‘fits his offices to himself’ and call him a ‘conquering king’. You say ‘he will not be elected by popular or electoral vote, he will not negotiate for passage of his policies, his opinions will not be open to debate, and his decisions will not be subject to override. He will claim his kingship, and he will be our acknowledged sovereign in all ways.’

    It seems that your issue with totalitarianism isn’t that it’s totalitarian; just that we’re lacking the right totalitarian leader.

    also:
    If you have to ask the questions you asked in 22, then you’re not the right person to meet the need.

    Maybe this is why you can’t find a manifesto. I asked you for clarification on what you expect and you declined to give it. What am I supposed to do? Write something anyway in the vague hope that it’ll satisfy you? Write ten different things from ten different approaches? I mean seriously, most of your examples of founding documents bear little resemblance to each other in terms of genre, formatting, and content.

  23. He is the tight absolute leader. He is the only good one. All others are usurpers.

    I’m perfectly fine with an absolute ruler who is absolutely right and good. Aren’t you?

  24. @Skep:

    I find it odd that you group the writings of Marx and Hitler together.

    There is nothing odd about it. There are various different ways in which Marx and his descendants and the Nazis are close in the political spectrum; the fact they tend go at each other’s threats is quite irrelevant. For starters, the Nazi party was called “Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei” and the “sozialistische” is not mere decorative rhetoric.

  25. The issue at the core of this discussion is this: Should the Christian Bible (or any other religion’s holy book) dictate the laws of our country. I say, no. I say that the Constitution, alone, must dictate the laws of the land, and at this present time, the Constitution, as interpreted by our highest court, dictates that LGBT citizens have the same rights as everyone else.

    Period.

    Just as I will not stand silently by and allow Muslim fundamentalists to impose Islamic Sharia law on our citizenry, I will not stand silently by and allow Christians to impose their religious laws on our country. We are not a Christian nation. The name of the Christian God is found nowhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. We are a secular nation founded upon the belief that Church (religion) and State should be separate.

    If this country discriminated against redheads, the agenda of redheads would be to end the discrimination against them. Plain and simple. No need for a “declaration of purpose” or a “manifesto”. The same with the LGBT community. They simply want to enjoy the same rights as everyone else: to love and marry whom they choose without persecution from others.

    It’s that simple, folks. You are trying to conjure up a sinister plot against the American way of life. It is no such thing. It is called “liberty and freedom for all”.

  26. In regards to the Transgender bathroom issue. There is a simple solution: individual bathroom stalls in all public restrooms. Individual shower stalls and changing rooms in all school locker rooms.

    I am a parent of small children. I share the same concern about a man being in the same restroom with my young daughter. Individual bathrooms take care of the problem, and I predict that this is what will happen.

  27. at this present time, the Constitution, as interpreted by our highest court, dictates that LGBT citizens have the same rights as everyone else.

    Well, of course they do!!

    Silly to even suggest that was in dispute.

    The question isn’t whether LGBT people have equal rights, but whether they should have rights and institutions specially created for them. Same-sex marriage is not equal access to marriage, it’s a new version of marriage created for them. Equal bathroom access is a new right to choose bathrooms according to one’s mental representation of oneself rather than one’s physical biology.

    When the Court interprets the Constitution to allow rights like these:
    a) It isn’t finding those things in the Constitution. They’re not there. And
    b) The answer it gives is still just 5 to 9 justices’ opinion. It’s final in a legal sense but that doesn’t mean we can’t still show they’re wrong in any other sense.

    I’m sure you wouldn’t say the Dred Scott decision was final and true while it was in force, would you?

    Finally:

    The same with the LGBT community. They simply want to enjoy the same rights as everyone else: to love and marry whom they choose without persecution from others.

    No. This is either disingenuous or woefully uninformed. They’re insisting on the right to do so with full approval and participation by others, willingly or unwillingly. If it were just “without persecution” the picture would look a lot different than it does for many florists, bakers, wedding venue owners, and calligraphers around the country.

  28. RE #30:

    Simple, yes.

    If there’s room.

    If there’s money.

    If the space and money have no better ways to be used.

    If there’s no debate over whether the space and money could be used in better ways.

    Then yes, it’s really quite simple.

  29. Our Constitution never mentioned that all citizens over the age of 18 had a right to vote. So if we must abide by the original intent of the authors of the Constitution, we would limit the right to vote to white, male, landowners.

    The definition of “marriage” has been redefined all through history, including biblical history. At one time it was perfectly acceptable for a man to be married to multiple wives. Now it is not. Women were never allowed to be married to more than one man. At one time, an older man could marry a young teenage (13-14 year old) girl. That is now illegal. At one time, blacks and whites were not allowed to marry. Now they are.

    The definition of marriage and who can marry has evolved. Allowing two men or two women to marry each other is just the latest progression in that evolution. It does not infringe on your rights whatsoever.

    Yes, changing bathrooms to individual stalls will be expensive, but if that is what society wants to do, it can. President Trump can rescind Obama’s executive order on this issue, and that might delay the “bathroom issue” for awhile, but I predict eventually the American people will demand equality.

    I’m sure that many conservative men were not happy about giving the right to vote to women at the turn of the twentieth century, but they got used to it and it soon was no longer an issue of contention. This (the bathroom issue) too shall pass.

  30. The definition of marriage has always been man-to-woman. Even polygamy (with very rare exceptions) has been man-to-woman; the women were not married to each other. Anti-miscegenation and child-marriage laws all recognized that real, genuine marriage was possible between races or with children. They only contested the idea that those marriages could be good. So their passage or repeal did nothing to change the definition of what marriage was, only of what kind of marriage was desirable.

    So your examples get you nowhere; they do not exemplify the point you’re trying to illustrate at all. They contribute nothing to your case.

    The “evolution” to gay marriage is real, but is it good? I contend that it descended (with modification) from heterosexual “just you and me, babe,” marriage, which descended (with modification) from historically-understood marriage in a new environment beginning around the middle of the 20th century, in which sex and marriage and conception and child-raising were all biologically and sociologically decoupled from one another, resulting in diminishment in family strength, increasing divorce rates, weaker communities, and children hurt by divorce.

    Same-sex marriage is a natural progression from “just you and me, babe,” marriage. That doesn’t make it good, right, or wise.

    You can argue that it makes it what it is. That’s what evolution is, after all: the survival of what survives. I will agree that it is what it is. I will not follow any implied inference that what is must be good.

  31. President Trump can rescind Obama’s executive order on this issue, and that might delay the “bathroom issue” for awhile, but I predict eventually the American people will demand equality.

    Equality is fine and good. I support it. Equality of what? Equality of biology? That’s objectively observable (at least in theory if not in practice). Or equality of “this is what I experience myself to be on the inside”? This is tougher by far, and your guess that it’s inevitable is a wildly optimistic one.

  32. When women and blacks were granted the right to vote, the meaning of “vote” didn’t change. When gays were given the privilege to marry, the meaning of “marry” did change.

    The Supreme Court did not make marriage legal for same-sex couples. It created a new institution and gave it the same name and same legal standing as the old one.

    Your analogies fall short for being non-analogous.

  33. Well, I think we are arguing over semantics. I believe that our views are what they are due to our concept regarding the origin of “marriage”. You see it as an institution created by a supernatural being, designed as a life long contract between a man and a woman (or multiple women). I see marriage as a human invention. And as a human invention, it’s definition can change as humans see fit.

  34. Re-read your comment just now, Gary. We’re not arguing over “semantics,” we disagree on what marriage is.

    And (see #36) your analogies still fall short for being non-analogous (did you think you could just ignore that?). And you still haven’t answered my earlier “equality of what?” question.

    This is not a poke-and-dodge forum. This is a discussion page. Discussion includes (among other things) discussing. Simply announcing your opinion isn’t discussing. Changing the subject after someone answers your opinion isn’t discussing, either — it’s poke-and-dodge.

    If you think your opinions can hold up to reasoned examination, then show how they can. If you think your opinions are only good enough for announcing and then dropping when someone responds to them, then you don’t think very highly of your own opinions!

  35. dictionary definition of semantics: the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning.

    ” We’re not arguing over “semantics,” we disagree on what marriage is. ”

    If we are arguing over the meaning of the word “marriage” , we are debating semantics, Tom.

    My analogies fall short to you because your definition of marriage is very different than mine. You see it as set definition of a life long contract between one man and one or more women. I see it as a contract between two individuals. Is this different than how most humans have viewed the term “marriage” over the history of mankind? Yes. But since, in my worldview, the definition of marriage is not static—it’s meaning can change, viewing a life-long contract between two men or two women does not change the definition of the term “marriage” to ME.

    “equality of what”, you asked.

    Answer: the equality of all individuals to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (the sense of well-being), self-identifying as they choose, not as society chooses for them, as long as, that expression of identity does not harm or unduly impose on the well-being of others.

  36. Gary said:
    So if we must abide by the original intent of the authors of the Constitution, we would limit the right to vote to white, male, landowners.

    This is not how originalism works. When an amendment is added to the constitution (such as the 19th), it becomes just as much a part of it as everything that was there when it was ratified in 1788, and originalists include all current amendments in their analysis. Furthermore, the original intent view is a minority among originalists, most of whom (including Scalia) favor the original meaning view. To quote Scalia:

    The theory of originalism treats a constitution like a statute, and gives it the meaning that its words were understood to bear at the time they were promulgated. You will sometimes hear it described as the theory of original intent. You will never hear me refer to original intent, because as I say I am first of all a textualist, and secondly an originalist. If you are a textualist, you don’t care about the intent, and I don’t care if the framers of the Constitution had some secret meaning in mind when they adopted its words. I take the words as they were promulgated to the people of the United States, and what is the fairly understood meaning of those words.

  37. Great. So the current understanding of the majority of people of the United States is that the current meaning of the words of our Constitution declare as a right that all people deserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…including gay people.

  38. Here is the data to support my last statement:

    In Pew Research Center polling in 2001, Americans opposed same-sex marriage by a margin of 57% to 35%. Since then, support for same-sex marriage has steadily grown. Based on polling in 2016, a majority of Americans (55%) support same-sex marriage, compared with 37% who oppose it. See the latest data on same-sex marriage.

    —Pew Research Center website
    http://www.pewforum.org/2016/05/12/changing-attitudes-on-gay-marriage/

  39. Gary, not exactly. While it’s true that a majority of americans support same-sex marriage, that’s not the same position as thinking that the constitution supports same-sex marriage (I think it does), or that some approach to judicial interpretation is better than another (I like Living Tree Doctrine*).

    Most americans don’t know much about constitutional interpretation, or even care about it.

    *not the same thing as Living Constitution, and also not the same thing as judicial activism

  40. Gary,

    So the current understanding of the majority of people of the United States is that the current meaning of the words of our Constitution declare as a right that all people deserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happines

    You realize you’re quoting from the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution, right?

  41. Further, your words remind me of what someone said very long ago, during gas shortages in the 1970s, when the government required gas stations to shut down on Sundays. He, too, said it was a violation of our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. (He worked at a gas station and it was cutting into his hours.) Besides the fact that he made the mistake of deriving law from the Declaration of Independence, there’s also the error of thinking atomistically about these matters: that what matters is each person’s individual sense of what constitutes liberty or the pursuit of happiness.

    Gay people are certainly as deserving of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as anyone else. There’s no difference of worth there. The question is what best promotes these goods for the country as a whole.

    Now, I’ve argued elsewhere at great length that gay marriage doesn’t accomplish that good. You can find it here on this blog or in my book Critical Conversations. I don’t intend to replay all those arguments here.

    What I do want to do is just to point out that the argument from life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness doesn’t get a person very far without carefully considering what constitutes life (which is easy), what constitutes liberty (which is harder than you probably think, in terms of the historic meanings of the word) and what constitutes happiness (which I can 99% guarantee meant something different in 1776 than you think it means now).

    Then there are all the questions of what best promotes these goods for the most people.

    This isn’t as simple as you probably think it is.

  42. True. But this statement in the Declaration of Independence has frequently been referred to in legal cases before the Supreme Court as an inalienable right of the American people, understood as implied in the Constitution.

    Would you disagree?

  43. Tom said:
    Does it even matter?

    Given that part of your position over at least the past year is that the law should say one thing about marriage and not another, yeah, it kind of does matter.

    If you want to change your position to “I believe that these things about marriage are true and should be believed by everyone, but I couldn’t care less what the law actually is”, then no, it doesn’t matter.

  44. @Tom #49:

    Whoops, my bad.

    That does kind of matter too, but in a much more roundabout way that isn’t really important to this particular discussion. I can explain it if you’re curious about the workings of SCOTUS, but otherwise nevermind.

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