Archive for August, 2012

The problems with the gay rights movement and how they can be fixed

The recent Chick-fil-a kerfuffle has been somewhat amusing to me.  Pretty much everyone has known for years that Chick-fil-a owner Dan Cathy is a devout Christian who supports “traditional” marriage which means he supports banning gay marriage.  Cathy confirms this opinion in an interview and suddenly he’s the next closest thing to Hitler according to the news media, left leaning politicians, and many gay rights groups.

Now, I don’t happen to support Cathy’s views.  As a libertarian, I believe that government shouldn’t be in the marriage business at all and that consenting adults should have the right to form whatever kind of relation ship they want whether it be straight, gay, or multi-partner.  I don’t really care what people do in the privacy of their own homes and neither should government.

What amazes and somewhat amuses me is that while there are many people like me who would be willing to support gay marriage and other gay rights issues on grounds of liberty or other principles, the gay rights community seems to go out of it’s way to alienate as many of those people as possible with Chick-fil-a being just the most recent example.

The list below is nowhere near comprehensive but it gives some of the biggest examples of what gay rights groups do wrong and recommendations for changes they could make. These are written as if speaking directly to a gay rights supporter:

  1. Fighting hate with hate – Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who hate gays and some of them are even willing to assault and kill those who are gay or suspected to be gay.  Most evidence points to those people being in a small minority.  Most people who oppose gay marriage don’t actually “hate” gays.  Sure they might believe that homosexuality is a sin or a mental disease or hold some other unflattering and possibly offensive view but for the most part are accepting of gays in every other situation except marriage.  Given enough time and exposure to gay people, most of these folks can be converted or at least have their opposition to gay marriage softened. Unfortunately, many gay rights supporters react hatefully towards all those who disagree with them often referring to “traditional” marriage supporters as right wing neanderthals, backwoods hicks, hate mongers, Nazis, and more.  Sorry guys but you cannot bully people into supporting your cause.  All attacking the other side will do is fortify their opposition.   Sure, you may get a few companies throwing support behind you that otherwise wouldn’t because they fear boycotts but even then you wont really gain much. It is much better to realize that most people who oppose you are decent human beings who have some sympathy for you and could be converted if shown how kind and loving gay people can be.  Show them the compassion you want them to show you and you will get much farther much faster.  No, it wont work instantly and it wont work on everyone but given time and patience, it can win the battle. Keep in mind that most people disagree with you or at least people who are against gay marriage feel more strongly about it than those who strongly support gay marriage.  I believe 32 states have held popular votes on gay marriage and every single time gay marriage lost.  It’s one thing to treat a small minority as evil tyrants but when you are treat most people that way, it’s going to work against you
  2. Fighting discrimination with discrimination – It’s natural to want to do unto others what you feel they are doing on to you but like above, this ends up working against you.  I don’t agree with Dan Cathy’s views but I likely would have gone to Chick-fil-a on the “appreciation day” earlier this week if there was a Chick-fil-a in my town.  Why? Because of all the government officials who talked about banning Chick-fil-a from their towns.  If you are angry that someone supports government action to discriminate against gays, you cannot support government actions that would discriminate against people for their religious and political opinions.  As far as I know, Chick-fil-a has done nothing illegal and does not deny employment to gays or service to gays.  Sure, the boss might be a prick but if we can ban his business for his beliefs about marriage, cant cities and towns also legally ban businesses that support gay marriage?  Again, remember that more people are against you than with you so allowing this kind of precident will likely do more harm to the gay rights movement than good.  Protests, if done peacefully, can be effective and are perfectly acceptable.  Tell people why Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-a are wrong, say it often, and say it loudly. Reacting to discrimination with more discrimination leads to the kind of turnouts Chick-fil-a saw on “appreciation day”.
  3. Don’t reinforce stereotypes – A lot of the most vocal opponents of gay rights issues often portray gays as sexual deviants.  The gay movement then goes on to hold gay pride parades and street fares where we get to see gay people dressed in leather fetish outfits, as glitter fairies, and other sexually provocative outfits which often included exposure of breasts and buttocks.  In some of these gay pride events, there have been  sexual acts performed in public with children present.  So, what are straight people suppose to take away from these parades?  Are gays not really sexual deviants despite the public displays of deviance?  Or are gays sexual deviants but we are suppose to accept deviant behavior?  I’m confused.  The thing is, most of the gay people I have known in my life are pretty normal when compared to straights.  Sure, most of the gay men I have know where very effeminate and a good portion of the lesbians I have know have been a bit on the “butch” side but otherwise they were no weirder or deviant than most straight people.  If you want to have parades that show your pride in your sexual orientation, fine.  Just don’t be surprised when people seeing the gimp outfits come away thinking gays are deviants
  4. Be consistent – President Obama recently came out in support of gay marriage which was greeted with cheers from many a gay activist.  What troubles me is many of those same activists supported Obama anyway when his official position was to oppose gay marriage.  Even his most recent evolution on the issue is to leave the issue to the states which pretty much embraces the status quo. I’m not saying that gay people shouldn’t support Obama.  What troubles me is that there was little if any opposition to Obama from gay rights groups when he officially opposed them but when a conservative business owner states the exact same position the president once held, we have boycotts, protests, and all kinds of opinion articles and news stories trashing the man.  On the other side, where was the celebration when Dick Cheney came out in support of gay marriage?  After all, he came out in support months before Obama did.  Why is it that Democrats who oppose gay marriage often get a pass while Republicans who oppose gay marriage are regularly slammed?  The answer of course is that most outspoken gays seem to be on the political left so are automatically more forgiving of others on the left and more hostile to those on the right.  Once again though, you are in the minority politically speaking.  Poll after poll after poll has shown that this country is center-right with self identified conservatives typically doubling the number of self identified liberals.  Just as above, making enemies out of more people than you make friends with will not help you.  On a more principled level however, shouldn’t all people holding the same views on gay marriage be treated the same by gay marriage supporters?  I’m not saying gay marriage supporters should not have voted for Obama in 2008 as gay marriage was obviously not the only issue but why treat him with kid gloves on this issue?  Why not throw more support behind conservative or libertarian politicians who hare your same views on marriage?  If you are willing to overlook your principles for some but not for others, that is what we call a double standard.  Double standards are easy to spot and do harm.  There are likely many right leaning politicians who would be willing to break from social conservatives on gay marriage but know that thanks to the double standard, they will likely not see much support from gay rights groups and activists no matter what their official position on marriage is.  Why then should they switch sides when they know that gay marriage opponents wont be as inconsistent?

As you can see, all of these points follow a similar theme: don’t make enemies of potential allies.  While supporters of gay marriage may be in the minority, the trend is in their favor with recent polls showing a more even split and some even showing majority support for gay marriage.  Opponents of gay marriage can’t do much to slow this trend in public opinion but ironically those who support gay marriage can and likely have slowed the momentum by alienating people.

If you want to stop hate, stop being hateful.  If you want to promote love, try loving everyone even if they disagree with you.

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